Although first displayed at the Geneva Auto Show in 1975 the Merak didn?t actually go into production until 1980. It was discontinued in 1983 after 1832 units marque were produced. At the time it became Maserati’s best-selling model.
Merak was based on the Bora, Maserati’s first mid-engined car which had a very distinctive all-steel body by ItalDesign and was produced between 1971 and 1980. The Merak used not only the Citroen’s complex hydraulics and underpinnings but also some body panels from the Bora. From the front it was almost impossible to observe any difference between it and the Bora.
It was powered by a 3.0-litre 164 kW V6 DOHC engine and transmission borrowed from the Citroen SM. This was a much shorter engine than that used in the Bora allowing two rear seats to be used. There was also a 2.0-litre version for local sales designed to beat the higher taxes in Italy.
Citroen had acquired a controlling interest in Maserati during one of Maserati’s bouts of insolvency. Initially it also used much of the interior fittings from the SM but later models were redesigned to use more conventional Maserati fittings.
Although the Merak was not known as a particularly quick car it enjoyed good sales because of its impeccable handling. Many buyers who fancied themselves as Maserati owners realised that this was a car which not only had the image but one which they could handle on regular roads. This two-door 2+2 sports coupe took 8.2 seconds to reach 96 km/h from a standing start with a top speed of a little over 200km/h.