4 December 2021

More than an old car #182: Maserati Indy

After a rather hectic week, it is a relief to have some time set aside for more writing. Having trawled through my archives, I was inspired to cover this rather unique 1972 Maserati Indy: it has been a while since I wrote about continental cars and I figured that though the trident brand is relatively well-acquainted with many (for good or for worse), few people would be aware of the rich history behind the older models..

The Indy was conceived as an alternative to the 1960s Ghibli, featuring a V8 engine and seating for 4 people. 2 coachbuilder prototypes were introduced at the 1968 Turin Motor Show, one by Ghia and the other by Vignale: Maserati already had established relationships with both coachbuilders as they had designed other cars for the company. The Vignale design was chosen and was launched subsequently at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show: its name was a reference to Maserati's 2 victories at the Indianapolis (Indy) 500 race in 1939 and 1940.

The genius of Vignale's design was evident in the Indy's side profile: the full-width window hatch flowed down to a cut-off tail incorporating the now-standard horizontal rear light clusters above a full-width rear bumper. Despite not possessing the long low line of the Ghibli, the use of retractable headlights helped to accentuate the flowing lines of the car. In 1970, a larger 4.7 litre engine was introduced and major changes were made to the dashboard: a grab handle was fitted and the aircon vents on the centre console were removed. Instead, it was replaced by gauges for temperature and fuel, and even an analogue clock.

In 1971, cars bound for the North American market were renamed to 'Indy America', and a 4.9 litre engine was also introduced. Externally, an extra grille was fitted on the hood and the Borrani wheels were increased in size to 15 inches. The Indy was available in both automatic and manual transmissions, and was rear-wheel drive despite the engine being located at the front of the car. This unit was powered by a 4136 cc V8 engine (instead of the 4719 cc version), allowing it to reach a top speed of 250 km/h with an acceleration of 7.3 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4740 mm long and weighed 1650 kg, with a fuel consumption of 19.2 litres/100 km.

Production of the Indy ended in 1975 with no direct successor. A total of 1,104 units were made, of which just 74 were in RHD. The Australian registration suggests that this was 1 of 5 4.2-litre version with a manual transmission sold new in the country! This particular unit has a burgundy exterior with a cream interior, and has clocked about 63,000 miles currently. It was sold in 2016 for A$16,612, where it was acquired by a local classic car collector. Despite being exhibited a few times over the years, it has not been road-registered locally. Indys were not known to be sold in Singapore, though a 4.9 litre unit was test driven here in 1973. The automatic version was noted to have a quick start and the controls were smooth and responsive, along with the brakes. There was praise for the ample rear seat space, although the long seat belt and aircon vent positioning left much to be desired. 

Older Maseratis tend not to be well-recognised, perhaps because of its general lower presence in popular culture etc. Whatever it is, this obscurity is something that is right up my alley and I hope that this has been informative about its presence right here in Singapore. Perhaps you may be able to catch it at exhibitions or even registered on the road!

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