Skip to main content

Maserati Khamsin

Maserati Khamsin 1970s Italian classic sports car

Let it never be said that the automotive world lacks 'atmosphere'. The Le Mans racetrack has a straight named after the 'mistral' - a cold wind, which blows through southern France. And, Ford's 'Zephyr' references a gentle breeze - which has meandered through many a piece of poetry over the years. But, there was another automotive legend, which played upon this ethereal theme. Maserati's 'Khamsin' was named after the scorching gusts, which sear through Egypt each summer. Marcello Gandini - of design house Bertone - was brought in, to draft the Khamsin's super-sharp shape. The fluid lines of the bodywork were fabricated from steel. Spanning the back was a glass panel - inside which, the tail-lights sat in 'suspended animation'.

Technologically, the Khamsin was a tour de force. Its four-cam V8 abutted the bulkhead. Front-engined, though it was - with a full tank of gas, weight distribution was 50/50. The motor was an all-alloy marvel. Its 320bhp gave a top speed of 153mph. Torque output was a splendid 354lb/ft - at 4,000rpm. The Khamsin's power-band stretched all the way from 800-5,500rpm!

When the Khamsin entered production - in '74 - Citroën were still a part of Maserati. A year later - and they were gone. The Khamsin, though, felt the full hydraulic force of the French giant. The steering, brakes, and clutch - plus, pop-up headlights, and driver's seat adjustment - were all Citroën-controlled. There was 'double-wishbone' rear suspension. Only the dashboard let the side down a tad. The haphazard array of dials and switches was in marked contrast to the simple elegance of the exterior. Mere nit-picking! Unveiled at the '72 Paris Show, the new Maserati was as stylish as you liked. And yet, it was also practical - those huge torque reserves providing abundant carrying capability. And, on top of all of that, as its name implied ... the Maserati Khamsin went like the wind!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chrysler Airflow

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! The lines of its bodywork were drawn from aerodynamics - at a time when that discipline was a mere glint in a boffin's eye! Certainly, it was far from being routinely used in automotive design. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgling craft. A 'wind tunnel' was duly developed. Even today, such systems are considered arcane ... but, in the early '30s, they were tantamount to a black art! The engineering wizards overseeing the project were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton. Breer was the catalyst ... he had been first to be smitten by the science of aerodynamics. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when Orville Wright - father of aviation - was brought on board! More than 50 test cars were built. By means, then, of painstaking refinements, the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.But the Airflow was not just about aerodynamics. 'Weight lo…

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…