The gorgeous Maserati Indy is 50 years old

50 years ago, the first Maserati Indy rolled off the Modena production line. While it’s one of the lesser-known models in Maserati’s back catalogue, the Indy is an utterly fabulous machine and its history is worth recounting.

The Indy started life as a styling exercise created by Vignale for the 1968 Turin Motor Show. Maserati was casting round the Italian design studios for a body to go on its new four-seat grand tourer and snapped up Vignale’s Giovanni Michelotti-penned concept. It appeared again at the Turin show as a fully-fledged Maserati in ’69.

Named after the legendary Indy 500 race that Maserati had won in ’39 and ’40, the Indy was based on the powertrain and running gear of the two-plus-two Ghibli supercar, slotted into a shortened version of the Quattroporte saloon’s chassis.

At launch, the Indy came with a 4,139cc V8 engine fed by four Weber carburettors, bolted to a five-speed manual gearbox. The motor wasn’t quite as powerful as in the Ghibli, but 260hp wasn’t to be sniffed at in ’69. Maserati quoted a top speed of 155mph, making it one of the fastest four-seaters in the world.

The Indy was big car with conventional double-wishbone and coil spring suspension at the front, and an outdated live axle on leaf springs at the back. While not best suited to twisting mountain roads, it was devestatingly fast on sweeping A-roads and motorways in the pre-speed limit age. So long as it wasn’t specced with the slushmatic auto ‘box.

In 1970, a fuel-injected, 290hp 4.7-litre engine was added to the range, capable of 174mph flat-out – the same as the iconic Ferrari Daytona which probably wasn’t a coincidence.

1973 saw another upgrade, this time to a 300hp 4.9-litre unit. That was fast enough to get you thrown in jail, even in the Seventies.

Production lasted for six years until ’75, by which time 1,102 examples had been built – quite a lot by Maserati’s standards at the time.

An indirect replacement arrived in ’76 in the form of the Kyalami, essentially a badge-engineered version of new owner De Tomaso’s Longchamp with slightly different styling and Maserati – rather than Ford – engines.

It wasn’t until ’86 that an all-Maserati four-seat coupe appeared again when the Biturbo 228 was launched. That lasted until ’92 and it would be 18 years until another came along, the rather glorious GranTurismo.

The car you see here is a 4.7-litre Indy America, owned for the last 30 years by a Modenese local who gazed longingly through the Maserati factory fence when he was a kid. And it’s delicious.

Maseratis are massively undervalued against their contemporaries from Ferrari and the Indy is a case in point. A good one will cost less than £100,000, a tenth of the value of that Daytona we mentioned.

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By Graham King

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