The Maserati Khamsin was a two-door 2+2 coupe available from 1974 to 1982. With only 435 units produced in total, the Khamsin is another exclusive piece of automotive history from Maserati. Its moniker followed the previous Maserati history of using wind names, and the Khamsin is a dry, hot, sandy windy blowing in the Egyptian desert for around fifty days per year.
Maserati Khamsin Design and Introduction
It was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, their first work for Maserati which would eventually grow into a lasting relationship through many Maserati models. The prominent rear section with sharp angular designs contrasted the more rounded shape of its predecessor Ghibli. The Khamsin was produced during Citroën’s ownership of Maserati, attempting to meet the demands for a front-end grand tourer somewhat reminiscent of the previous Ghibli. The mid-engine design found in the Bora was found to be a bit unconventional and less in demand that the standard front-engine design, which allowed for roomier passenger compartments and different handling characteristics. Another design challenge was caused by the oil crisis in the early 1970s. High displacement engines had not only been difficult to keep fueled up, they also fell out of popular demand and were sometimes seen as wasteful machines that could be avoided. On top of that, regulatory demands swept across the globe, favoring small-displacement engines with increased fuel economy. Other regulatory challenges related to the tail lights and bumper also plagued this vehicle. The Khamsin was a performance car that simply didn’t fit the legal mold. The production version of the Maserati Khamsin was first unveiled at the March 1973 Paris Motor Show, one year prior to the regular production. It was sold with alongside another V8 2+2 grand tourer, the Maserati Kyalami from 1976 to 1982.
Engine Specifications and Performance
Utilizing a 4.9L V8 engine with 16 valves, the Khamsin produced 320 horsepower (330 PS) at 5,500 RPM and 356 lb ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. Double-barrel 42 DCNF 41 Weber carburetors were used to feed the air fuel mixture into the engine, along with performance-style dry-sump lubrication. A 5-speed ZF manual transmission put the power to the road, featuring a single-plate dry clutch. Those who wanted additional convenience could opt to get a 3-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission. Top speed was claimed to be 170 mph (270 km/h). The all-steel monocoque construction with insulated tubular subframe to support the rear differential and suspension provided excellent handling capabilities and weight reduction. The double-wishbone suspension used all around were a major improvement compared to the past solid-axle leaf spring suspension ford in the Ghibli. Dual exhaust system used two resonators and twin exhaust tips, while the dual fuel tank system from the Ghibli was carried over in part. A smaller side tank connected to a main tank under the cargo floor, feeding through one fuel filter. Braking was taken car of through vented disc brakes on al four wheels, with hydraulic assistance. The Citroën ownership resulted in many uses for the hydraulic systems, including a speed-sensitive variable assistance steering system that made parking at low speeds easier. The seats and pop-up headlights used hydraulics as well.
United States models were subject to modifications to meet new regulations regarding bumper height and lighting. Maserati attempted to appeal the NHTSA’s decision to prohibit taillights in the rear vertical glass panel, but were unsuccessful and eventually changed the design to allow their vehicle to be sold in the US. Maserati had to move the lights down and add a protruding bumper below the tail lights. It was just one of many ways that the Khamsin didn’t meet the ever changing world in the post-energy crisis.