Complete Maserati Kyalami lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1976 Maserati Kyalami - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1976 - 1983 Maserati Kyalami CoupeKyalami2 Trims 270 to 288 Hp

The Maserati Kyalami was a two-door 2+2 coupe produced from 1976 to 1983. Only 200 units of this exclusive grand tourer were produced. It has a model code of Tipo AM129. Unlike many previous Maseratis with names based on major winds, the Kyalami was named after the 1967 South African Grand Prix held on the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, where the Maserati-powered Cooper T81 was crowned champion. 

Maserati Kyalami Design and Introduction

It was unveiled at the 1976 Geneva Motor Show. This was the first new Maserati model produced under the ownership and leadership of Alejandro de Tomaso. He saved the Maserati brand from bankruptcy, with substantial help from the Italian government.  De Tomaso had been acquiring many Italian motorsports companies in the 60s and 70s, including multiple coachbuilders and a motorcycle company. By venturing into the Maserati brand, he was taking his own car making brand, De Tomaso Automobil, to the next level. By leveraging a similar design from the Longchamp from De Tomaso Automobil, he was able to quickly come to the market with a new Maserati model while also keeping the design and development costs to a minimum. As Maserati was in financial strains at the time, this was a vital way to attempt to stay current without diving deeper into debt. The Longchamp was originally designed by Tom Tjaarda, but Pietro Frua was commissioned to tweak the style to match the Maserati brand more closely. The result was a vehicle with a bit softer lines that was lowered, and made slightly longer and wider. It kept the same grand tourer design, which Maserati had already been famous for, but lost a bit of character making some enthusiasts less than happy.

Engine and Performance

Rather than using the Ford-Cleveland V8 that was in the Longchamp, the Maserati Kyalami featured a 4.2L V8 engine found in past Maserati models, producing 261 horsepower (265 PS) at 6,000 RPM. 125 units of this engine sized were produced. By 1978, a 4.9L V8 was utilized in the Kyalami, increasing performance to 276 horsepower at 5,600 RPM. Only 75 units of the Kyalami were produced with this larger engine size. This was the last Maserati model to use this well-known V8 that had been place in various Maserati models of the time. Four Weber downdraft carburetors and a dry sump lubrication system were used. The top speed of both engine types was reported to be 149 mph (240 km/h) and 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) was around 8 seconds. A 5-speed ZF manual transmission was standard, but a 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission was available as an option. 

Collector’s Market and Regulatory Changes

The collectors market has seen a few Maserati Kyalamis come across the auction board in recent times. And while they aren’t seeking the substantial values that can come with some collector Maserati models, they are still fetching nearly $60,000. This vehicle came at a difficult time for many car makers around the globe. With the energy crisis still in everyone’s minds, the desire for high-displacement engines in extravagant vehicles had diminished rapidly. Not only that, but regulators began clamping down on excessive fuel usage and unnecessarily large engines. While the naturally-aspirated V8 had treated some Maserati models quite well, they began to show their age in this period. In the future, Maserati would regain a bit of prowess by turning to a twin-turbocharged design with a smaller displacement engine. They would bring in the first mass production twin-turbo vehicle in short time, straying away from the V8 found in this Kyalami vehicle. While this marked the beginning of the De Tomaso era for Maserati, it also marked the end of the V8 in a small vehicle.