History of the Maserati Ghibli

July 15th, 2015 by

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Maserati might as well be Italian for racecar. It essentially is, although technically it’s the last name of the six brothers who began building racecars in 1926. From that date forward, despite changes to the company and all the peaks and valleys that dot the automotive landscape for any manufacturer, Maserati maintained its elite automaker status.

The Ghibli, pronounced “gib-lee,” a coupe named for the hot, dusty North African desert wind, was first manufactured in 1967 and is currently in its third generation on the road. If high-end, sleek sports sedans are your thing, rush over to your local Maserati Albany NY dealership and experience all the ways that Maserati embodies “Excellence Through Passion.”

The First Generation Ghibli: The 1960’s Stylish Pace-Setter

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First introduced at the November 1966 Turin Motor Show, the initial generation of Maserati Ghiblis were two-door grand touring cars. Designed by then 29-year-old Girogetto Giugiaro, during his time working for Ghia, the Italian autobody maker, the steel-bodied Ghibli was all about enjoying the ride to your destination. Yes, it was performance-driven and certainly inspired an enthusiastic and thrilling driving experience behind the wheel. But, the real heart of the Maserati Ghilbi was about arriving wherever you were headed in relaxed style, like being fashionably late.

In a lasting design detail honoring the Maserati brothers, the Ghibli features a trident on its front fender, which evokes the statue of Neptune located in the Piazza Maggiore of Bologna, the Maseratis brothers’ hometown. Although the prototype of the Ghilbi featured only two seats, the actual manufactured cars added two rear seats.

Equipped with a front positioned 4.7-liter dry sump V8 engine paired with a five speed manual or available three-speed automatic transmission, the Ghibli could sprint from zero to sixty miles per hour in 6.8 seconds, and boasted a record high speed of 155 miles per hour. The Maserati Ghibli was instantly recognizable, thanks to its giant windshield, pop up headlamps, and alloy wheels. Inside, drivers and passengers could enjoy leather sports seats.

Check it out in this video clip of an original 1967 cherry red Maserati Ghibli:

By 1969, the Ghibli was available as a convertible. The topless Ghibli Spyder was a two-seater, outfitted with a convertible soft top that stored behind the front seats, or a removable hard top. Also introduced in 1969 was the Ghibli SS, sporting a 4.9-liter V8 engine, topping out a maximum speeds of 174 miles per hour, the fastest street-legal Maserati ever seen at that time.

Before being discontinued in 1973 and replaced by the Maserati Khamsin, Maserati successfully sold a total of 1,170 coupes and 125 Spyders – of those, 25 were represented by the Spyder SS. The Ghibli wouldn’t make a comeback for nearly twenty years. But when it did, it meant business. Moreover, this first generation of Ghibli would be monumental in establishing Giorgetto Giugiaro as the automotive designer of the twentieth century.

The Second Generation Ghibli: A World Record-Breaking Engine

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The comeback finally came in 1992, this time at the 62nd Turin Motor Show. Engine levels depended on the target consumers. Those Ghiblis sold in the Italian market were 2.0-liter V6 engines, mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

Exported Ghibli’s featured a 2.8-liter V6 engine, which was initially paired to a five-speed manual, but later upgraded to a six-speed in 1995. Optional four-speed automatics were also offered. The focus for this Ghibli was on luxury, not just performance, as evidenced by the Connolly leather interior upholstery, trimmed with burl elm accents.

An updated version of the Ghibli was released at the 1994 Geneva Motor Show. Upgrades included a spruced up interior, while exterior enhancements boasted new wing mirrors, bigger and redesigned 17-inch alloy wheels, ABS brakes, and adjustable electronic suspension.

Later that same year, Maserati introduced the Ghibli Open Cup racing car with two sport versions released in 1995 as seen in the Ghibli Kit Sportivo and limited production Ghibli Cup. Reflective of its Open Cup racing inspiration, the road-ready Ghibli Cup was equipped with a 2.0-liter engine, producing 325 horsepower, which was more powerful than the Bugatti EB110 or Jaguar XJ220.

You could see the Cup coming, thanks to its 5-spoke Speedline wheels and race-reminiscent quad-palette colors in red, white, yellow, or French blue. The racy Open Cup ran in 1995 and 1996, with only twenty-five total racecars produced, making this car a target for enthusiasts and collectors.

Additional improvements on the Ghibli Cup came in the form of the 1996 Ghibli GT, thanks to specific improvements on its suspension and transmission, and due to upgrades like seven-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels and black headlight casings.

Another object of desire among collectors is one of the sixty Ghibli Primatist models made to celebrate the 1996 victory of Guido Cappellini, who broke the World Speed Record on Lake Lugano in a speedboat powered by the Ghibli Cup’s V6 engine. Watch the Maserati V6-powered speedboat slice across the water’s surface at an alarming speed:

The Primatist models were designed to celebrate the Cappellini’s aquatic victory and featured an ultramarine exterior and a two-tone blue and turquoise leather interior, with burr walnut trim. Like it or not, it is definitely eye-catching and certainly a departure from the traditional race-inspired design themes. Besides, with only sixty made, owning an original Ghibli Primatist offers some seriously exclusive, albeit somewhat bizarre, bragging rights.

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In 1998, the Ghibli was replaced by Maserati’s 3200 GT. Fifteen years later, the Ghibli returned once again. From the looks of things, it is here to stay and even features some first-time ever engine innovation, never before seen in the Maserati lineup. In teaser commercials which aired during the 2014 Super Bowl, Maserati declared “We have prepared. Now we strike.”

The Third and Latest Ghibli Generation: Today’s Sports Sedan, Ready to Strike

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And strike they have.

First introduced at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show, today’s generation of Ghiblis come in three engine options, including a first-time ever diesel engine on a Maserati. However, thus far, the diesel engine is only available in Europe.

All three are 3.0-liter V6 engines, with either a twin-turbocharged 330 horsepower, a 400 horsepower gasoline-powered engine, or the European 271 horsepower turbo diesel. Standard operation is provided by an eight-speed automatic transmission, with available all-wheel drive on the 400 horsepower option.

The 2015 model year offers the same twin turbocharged and intercooled 3.0-liter V6 engines, producing between 345 and 404 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. With a top speed of 175 miles per hour, the 2015 Maserati Ghibli is able to sprint from zero to sixty miles per hour in 4.7 seconds.

The Ghilbi’s lightweight, aluminum chassis supports loads of standard equipment, including: a limited-slip rear differential, Brembo compound brake discs with customizable calipers in black, red, blue, or silver, all-leather interior, and technology like Bluetooth, navigation, and satellite systems.

Optional features provide personalization potential from a multiple-color exterior palette, leather interior options, including two-tone treatments, and different wheel choices. For an extra $1,770, you can equip your 2015 Ghilbi with a sunroof. It’s worth it. Remember, it’s all about the ride.

Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 15 city and 25 highway miles per gallon from the Ghibli’s 21.1 gallon fuel tank capacity. Starting at the base MSRP of $69,800, the 2015 Maserati Ghibli comes with the manufacturer’s four-year or 50,000-mile basic warranty and four-year or 50,000-mile powertrain coverage.

Although Maserati has historically pursued “Excellence through Passion,” the manufacturer has now branded the current Ghibli generation with the slogan, “The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary.”

Get to your Maserati dealer and discover just how opposite of ordinary the 2015 Maserati Ghilbi really is. 

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