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by Jay Traugott
Before Maserati's design and production quality resurgence under Ferrari stewardship, the Italian automaker built powerful sports coupes like the Shamal. Too bad quality control was nearly nonexistent.
Back in the 1980s Maserati was in trouble. Big trouble. It wasn't just the kind that be fixed with government or private loans. The trouble here was that Maserati's build quality was nearly nonexistent. Just staring at one or any of its cars could have been enough to break them on the spot. This is partially what happens when an automaker is bought and sold too many times over a relatively short period. But things couldn't be more different today thanks to efforts done by Fiat and Ferrari.
Fiat bought Maserati back in 1993 from De Tomaso, the other half responsible for the abysmal Chrysler TC by Maserati. What Fiat quickly realized was that Maserati needed to be completely reworked, beginning with new product. Within just a few years, Maserati began building models such as the 3200 GT coupe, which was followed by the GranTurismo and GranCabrio in 2002. Before the latter two launched, Fiat actually sold half of Maserati to Ferrari. Yes, Maserati was now partly controlled by its former rival but the relationship paid off big time for both. Nothing like two former enemies finding common ground.
Fiat later sold its remaining shares to Ferrari in 1999 and that was when the present day Maserati began to truly take shape. Ferrari basically turned Maserati into its luxury division as well as churning out some incredible road cars such as the ultra-rare MC12, which shared the Ferrari Enzo's chassis and engine. Today, Maserati is profitable again and we thought it'd be interesting to look back on Maserati when it seemed like the end was near. In other words, the late 1980s. With De Tomaso running the show, Maserati focused more on front-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupes instead of mid-engine offerings such as the old Bora and Merak.
After acquiring the services of famed designer Marcello Gandini (amongst other talented people), some Maserati cars began to have more dramatic styling in the form of sharp angles and flat surfaces. For those who aren't aware, it was a young Gandini who designed both the Lamborghini Miura and Countach back in the late 60s and early 70s. While his radical design ideas were somewhat tamed later in life, his signature touches were still unmistakably his and his only. This brings us to the Shamal coupe itself. Launched in 1989, it was powered by a 3.2-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that produced 326 horsepower and mated to six-speed manual.
It was based on the Biturbo coupe's architecture and even the doors, most of the interior and bodyshell were carried over. Where Gandini's signature styling comes into play is the rear wheel design that strongly resembles that of the Countach. Another interesting feature of the Shamal is its black center pillar which also acts as a roll bar. The interior was also decked out with leather seats, temperature control and Maserati's famous oval clock, this time located on the center of the dash. The Shamal's performance was also quite respectable with a top speed of 186 mph and a 0 to 60 time of 5.3 seconds.
Production ultimately ended in 1996 with only 370 units built. This 1991 Shamal that's currently up for sale and advertised on Dutch website samvandalen.com has just under 88,000 miles on the odometer but is otherwise in solid condition. Like all other Shamal's, this one is individually numbered (#202) and the original wheels (not pictured) also come with the car. The list price is just €29,945 and for anyone with a thing for limited edition Italian sports coupes styled by the man behind the Countach, then you just happen to be in luck.