Coops Ghibli Part 2

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I hope you're all sitting comfortably

Berichtdoor Coops1 » do 07 okt 2010, 14:34

Ghibli.jpg


The Purchase 2007
The collective wisdom of 25 years worth of classic-car magazine reviews has only added to the atavistic sense of caution built in to this, and I suppose, every Yorkshireman. With a further forty-four years of fine-tuning I new that sense was about to take it’s toughest test when my wife and I pulled up the driveway of an impressive house on the outskirts of Nottingham. It was a beautiful, sunny September day last year and the Silver 1969 Maserati Ghibli parked on the driveway looked incredible. John, the previous owner, is a motoring journalist of long standing and it was clear, after nearly twenty years of ownership, he knew how to present the car to best effect i.e. polish it and park it in the sunshine.
Ghibli 3.jpg

We took it out for a test drive with John driving first and at seventy-six he had clearly lost none of his enthusiasm or skill gained while driving many of the most important cars of the last forty years, happy to get the tail-out on a full circuit of the nearest round-a-bout. Then it was my turn. It took a little getting used to driving this LHD example with a long reach to the steering wheel and knees almost touching elbows, a common trait of Italian cars of the period I’m told. A few polite but urgent reminders to keep left (and did I detect a slight tremor in the voice) told me I would need to get some more practice being on the wrong side of the car. “It’ll be perfect for all those long European trips though”, I lied to myself.

Sitting in his lovely garden after the drive with VAT in hand we ‘talked turkey’ and I managed to haggle the price down a couple of grand but I must have been giving strong buying signals as it already felt like a done-deal. Kim (my wife), with the combined effect of the Vodka, the sun and a blow to the head she had received while cramped in the back of the two-seater during the test-drive was offering valuable support to the vendor with comments like; “…go on, buy it, you know you want to…”. I just sipped at my beverage and tried to look inscrutable.

So I was now the proud owner of a car I had adored from afar for more than two decades. After more trips to the NEC Classic Car Show in Birmingham than I care to remember, it was the first one I had ever seen in the flesh, let a lone driven. But what can you do? When a middle-aged man’s fancy turns to thought’s of Spring-jaunts and Summer-rallies and Winter rebuilds it’s time to give in, throw that Yorkshire caution to the wind and take a chance.

The History
The original Ghibli was one of the most successful models in the company’s history up to that point with a total production of 1274 of all variants built between 1967 and 1973 including 125 spiders. An un-specified number of coupes have been chopped into spiders owing to their greater value but personally I think it’s a shame as the hard top, to me, is the better design with it’s ultra low roof-line and almost horizontal back window. The Giugiaro design first appeared at the Turin motor show as early as 1964 where it was seen on the Ghia stand by members of the Orsi family, then owners of Maserati prior to the Citroen takeover, and chosen to become their next GT as a replacement for the Mistral which continued in production until 1970 alongside the Ghibli. Shown at Turin again in 1966, the Maserati Ghibli was very well received and went into production the following year.
The quad-cam 4719cc V8 produced 330 BHP at 5000 RPM with a top speed of 160 MPH and 0-60 time of around 7.5 seconds. In 1970 the Ghibli SS was introduced with capacity now up to 4930cc thanks to and increased stroke length and a modest increase in power output to 335BHP. Thanks to the gearing the top speed remained roughly the same but the 0-60 time was now under the 7 second mark. The Ghibli is no lightweight at 1647 kg, offering a respectable 14 – 18 mpg under normal driving conditions but low single figures can be easily achieved with only a little encouragement, which doesn’t offer a long touring range from its twin 50 litre tanks.
All-round Girling vented discs offer good stopping power and excellent pedal feel while the power steering, an option on the Ghibli, responds well and helps no-end with low speed manoeuvring. Considering the cost of this car in the 1960’s, which was considerably more than comparable Ferrari’s and Astons of the day, the suspension design is more Ford Transit than Ferrari Testa-rossa. with independent double wishbone and coil springs at the front and leaf springs at the rear. So; easily out-paced by your average modern hot-hatch in the twisty bits then, but this means of conveyance was intended as a luxurious, high-speed, intercontinental missile for people of taste, not some second-division mid-fielders’ ‘crotch-rocket’.

A couple of stickers on the airbox indicated that the car was originally sold by a company called E. Bjarsch in Schlieren, Switzerland and after a little ‘Google-ing’ I managed to find them still in business with their website indicating their status as an Alfa Romeo dealer and Maserati specialist sine 1958. I contacted them via an e-mail link on the site and although they spoke no English and I no German I managed to communicate with them through an on-line translation service; I would type my message in English, hit the translate button, then copy and paste the translated text into the e-mail and when his response came back I did the same thing in reverse. A little drawn-out, I’ll grant you but worthwhile as they were able to fax me copies of the original order documentation from the Swiss Maserati concessionaire and the sales invoice showing the original colour as Celeste Chiaro (sky blue metallic) and the options; power steering and air-conditioning. It even showed the trade-in vehicle, an Alfa Romeo Guilia 1750.
So, my car started out life in Switzerland, the property of a ladies dress-making magnate in Geneva. After about one years’ ownership it was sold on to its second owner in Zurich who kept it for the next twenty years before finally finding its way to the UK via Jersey and onwards to Nottingham and our new, old-friend John. If it continues onward at this pace and general direction I guess it will be with its next keeper in Reykjavik by around 2028.

The Bodywork and rebuild
I’d read that the Ghibli’s V8 is so strong it is possible to be impressed with the performance even if there is a problem: cracked pistons, broken rings, damaged bores, that sort of thing so for my own peace-of-mind I had a cylinder leakage test carried out and the results came back positive, much to my relief. The work was carried out by I.N. Racing in Nottingham where I had sent it for some cosmetic surgery. They had looked after the car for pretty much its entire UK life and having visited the premises I had every confidence that they would do excellent work. The workshop alone is like a mini classic-car show with classic racers of the 50’s and 60’s in every corner from Aston Martin DB4 GT, AC and ALTA Bristol’s to Ferrari Testa Rossa and Maserati 250F as well as some very tasty road cars like the Aston DBS, Lancia Aurelia Spider and Lotus Elan.
On the surface it seemed pretty good but once the paint was cut back, the rot to the door bottoms and wheel-arches suggested that it may take a little more time and a lot more money than was originally anticipated. Well Duh! , as the youngsters these days so succinctly put it.
Bodywork 5.JPG
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Coops Ghibli Part 2

Berichtdoor Coops1 » do 07 okt 2010, 14:43

After 3 months in the shop having new metal ‘let-in’, a re-spray and a water pump rebuild I have been getting to know the car (Hector, as Kim has christened it. Not Hector the Greek hero of antiquity mind you but Hector as in ‘Smelly old Hector’ of Hectors House fame (a childrens TV show in the 60’s and 70’s), referring to that heady cocktail of fusty carpets, old leather, petrol and hot oil that I kind of like) better. A 4.7 litre model, it is now in pretty good shape having only 78,000 kilometres on the clock at the time I took ownership (now 96,000 kms), with massive torque it has a very easy power delivery and makes an incredible sound through its stainless steel exhaust.
A tendency to wander and a dislike of even the slightest cross-wind has lead to new tyres just this month. The Pirelli P4000’s have transformed the ride, grip and handling while almost maintaining the original look of the high-profile Pirelli Cinturato’s that it was wearing when I collected the car. At least 25 years old, the Cinturato’s where showing their age with cracks appearing between the tread and on the side walls. These tyres are now available again through Longstone tyres in the UK but are pretty expensive at around £320 ish pounds each. So it was a choice between Michelin XWX at £230 each or the P4000’s at £90 each. I decided to have the wheels refinished at the same time which were looking a bit shabby with the magnesium-alloy furring-up beneath the old paint. I suppose that the modern Pirelli’s may mask some of the original period feel of the car but considering the improvement in straight line stability alone I reckon it was a worthwhile investment. It has also eliminated a vibration caused by a slight but noticeable ‘oval-ing’ of the old tyres. I shudder to think of the consequences of a blow-out riding on the old rubber at high speed. I’ve since purchased some replica aluminium wheels for daily running around and kept the Magnesium originals stored away from winter salt and weather.

More recently I’ve had the engine out done a top end rebuild and restored the front suspension and engine bay. Oh! And after a trip to the Techno Classica in Essen a while back (which I can thoroughly recommend by-the-way) I treated myself to a Becker Europa radio which just looks the business, sounds great and has even been modified to accept my iPod.
Engine 5.JPG

Engine 10.JPG

Engine 11.JPG

On the 20th of April 2008 I attended my first local car club event at Fort Paull close to the mouth of the river Humber in Yorkshire. I arrived at Beverley Market Place, the muster point for the FBHVC ‘Drive-it-day’ 2008 event, and the rain started to fall almost immediately. We had quite a varied procession of classics taking the circuitous route through the East Yorkshire villages before our eventual arrival at the venue. The rain couldn’t dampen my spirits however as I was delighted to receive both, best in class and best in show, wheyhey!!! Alright, so it’s not Pebble Beach, just a small local club event but I mean…come on! It was perhaps a combination of something a little unusual and somewhat exotic for the judges to vote on, as I’m sure there were other more pristine classics on show, but I was happier that a pig in muck as I drove away clutching my trophies and rosettes, eager to show Kim the evidence of my (well…the cars’) achievement. With a big grin on my face, I pulled out onto the exit road listening to that big V8 rumble and the sound of rain-water sloshing around inside my newly-skinned doors.
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Re: Coops Ghibli Part 2

Berichtdoor Momus » do 07 okt 2010, 14:49

Nice and impressive (goes for both your articles). applaus06
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Re: I hope you're all sitting comfortably

Berichtdoor Vince » do 07 okt 2010, 14:50

My goodness... That's a beautyfull car you've got there, Coop!

Is the interior tan leather or is it red? I can't say for sure by looking at the pictures...

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Re: Coops Ghibli Part 2

Berichtdoor Vince » do 07 okt 2010, 14:52

Why 2 different topics, Coop? If you want me to combine them just tell me......

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Re: I hope you're all sitting comfortably

Berichtdoor Coops1 » do 07 okt 2010, 15:08

Hi Vince, yeah it's red. The car when new was Celeste Chiaro (metallic sky blue) with all black leather but the last owner changed it to red when he had the car resprayed in silver about 20 years ago. Here are a couple of interior shots
Int 1.JPG

Int 2.JPG


I've been thinking recently of changing the carpets to black but I guess the grey works with the bodywork.

Coops.
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Re: Coops Ghibli Part 2

Berichtdoor Coops1 » do 07 okt 2010, 15:14

Vince schreef:Why 2 different topics, Coop? If you want me to combine them just tell me......


A message flagged up saying I was limited to 3 images per post so I split it into two. Pity really because I had about 20 images lined up for the article. maybe it's not so bad afterall because it is a long piece. It could get a bit boring.

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Re: I hope you're all sitting comfortably

Berichtdoor Modena » do 07 okt 2010, 15:21

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L-L
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Re: Coops Ghibli Part 2

Berichtdoor 3200 BT » do 07 okt 2010, 16:51

You can just reply to your own topic and attach 3 more. Rinse and repeat :)
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Re: I hope you're all sitting comfortably

Berichtdoor Vince » do 07 okt 2010, 16:51

*needs fresh undies* @!#$

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