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In 1967 you could buy a waterfront home on Sydney Harbour for around $16,900 but for the same money, you could also buy one of the most desirable GT cars ever to come out of Italy, a Maserati Ghibli.

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Under that beautifully shaped bonnet sat a 4.7-litre quad-cam alloy eight-cylinder engine, which produced 340 (250kW) horsepower in the old school and could top out at a phenomenal 170mph (273km/h) if you bought the Ghibli SS.

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I knew exactly what a Maserati Ghibli looked like from a very early age, after my father returned from a trip to Europe to negotiate a deal to bring Fiat Fork Lift trucks to Australia (which incidentally didn’t work out) and he told the story of charging flat out in his Fiat 124 Sports only to be passed at 160mph plus, by a car he had never seen before.

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Not speaking a word of Italian, and after six weeks in Italy, he was desperate to find anyone he could converse with in English and caught site of some US Military plates, on what turned out to be a black Maserati Ghibli.

While the Fiat 124 Sports wasn’t a bad thing, the old man didn’t have a hope in hell of catching the fast moving Ghibli, which was travelling at close to maximum speed, and driven by a US Air force fighter pilot, of all people.

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He found this out, only when he saw the car parked outside a café and pulled over to have a chat. The Maserati pilot confirmed he had been sitting on 160mph with the pedal to the metal, literally!

Although the Ghibli was released in 1967, it was shown a year earlier at the 1966 Turin Auto Show, to an enthusiastic audience.

The 2+2 coupe was the work of the Ghia design studio by an employee by the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro who had styled the Ferrari 250 Berlinetta Bertone and Iso Grifo before such classics as BMW M1 and Maserati Bora.

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The fabulous Ghibli Spyder went into production in 1969 and was extremely rare, only 125 were ever built, if you exclude the ultra exclsuive 25 Spyder SS models made.

The Ghibli seemed like a mix of old and new technology with a live axle and leaf springs making up the rear suspension, while ventilated disc brakes were employed on all four wheels.

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Race proven technology also played a role in the Ghibli, with its dry sump lubrication system and V8 engine derived from the superb 450 S racecar.

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Transmission was through a ZF five-speed gearbox (you could option a three-speed auto) and the range was an astonishing 450 miles (724kms) courtesy of two 50-litre tanks.

It was a luxurious ride too, with sumptuous leather seats and power windows, along with plenty of leg and headroom. Switchgear was also well laid out for the driver to access.

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There were a few well-chosen options in the Borrani wire wheels, which were a must have, as well as the driving lights and Blaupunkt stereo unit.

The Maserati Ghibli could be considered Maserati’s finest hour, as it outsold its main rivals, the Ferrari Daytona and Lamborghini Miura.

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We can only hope that the Maserati factory in Modena continues to build such beautiful machinery as the Gran Turismo, but perhaps with a little more power under the bonnet.

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Of course, if your pop has a Ghibli under wraps in the proverbial country shed, it could be worth as much as US$250,000.




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