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Chassis No.
AM 115/S49*1251*
  • One of just 14 European specification 4.9 SS Spiders built, ten LHD and four RHD
  • From the final year of production and ordered with desirable options including hard top, power steering, extra driving lights and Autovox radio
  • Concours condition following total 'ground up' six-year, £340,000 rebuild by one of the world’s leading Maserati restorers, completed in 2019 and backed up by detailed invoices
 
Probably the best in existence, one of only four to this specification

1972 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 SS Spyder

 “Cruise missiles blending supercar pace with luxury saloon opulence, the gorgeous Ghiblis are finally getting the recognition they deserve… Value-wise, the open cars were always another game altogether; only 125 were built and this 4.9-litre SS – chassis AM115/S491251 – is one of only four right-hookers, supplied new in the UK to the future Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a lad of about 20 at the time. If the Spider is almost beyond pristine, the 4.9 SS coupé is merely immaculate.” Journalist Martin Buckley testing this car against a Ghibli coupé, October 2018.

A strong contender for the ‘most handsome car of the 1960s’ title, Maserati’s Ghibli debuted at the Turin Motor Show in November 1966. Styled at Ghia by the young Giorgietto Giugiaro and named after a Saharan Desert wind, the Ghibli rivalled the Ferrari Daytona for straight-line performance – its top speed was close to 170mph (275km/h) – and looks. More than fifteen feet long and nearly six feet wide, the Ghibli occupied an inordinate amount of space for a mere two-seater, but perhaps the most startling aspect of its appearance was the height, or rather the lack of it.

 

The Ghibli used a tubular steel chassis with a live rear axle, leaf springs and a single locating arm. The power unit was Maserati’s venerable four-cam, 90-degree V8, an engine derived from that of the 450S sports car and first seen in road-going guise in the 5000GT. This was used in 4.7-litre form up to 1970 when a 4.9-litre ‘SS’ version became available. Power rose to 335 bhp and performance was stunning, with 60mph (100km/h) attainable in barely six seconds.

 

Even more sensational was the handsome Ghibli Spider, launched in 1969 and the direct rival of the Ferrari Daytona Spider. Giugiaro’s styling for an open-top version was arguably even more successful than the coupé and is regarded as a classic of sports car design.

 

Ghibli production ended in 1973 after 1,149 coupés and just 128 Spiders had been built. To settle the debate over Spider production breakdown, these figures come directly from the factory archive:

 

4.7 litre: Total of 82 cars built (56 manual, 26 automatic)

4.9 litre ‘SS’: Total of 46 cars built (39 manual, 7 automatic)

Like the open Daytona, the Ghibli Spider sold well in the USA: 70 cars were destined for that market (40 with the 4.7 litre engine, 30 the 4.9 litre ‘SS’ engine)

 

To summarise, of the 39 ‘SS’ Spiders with manual gearbox, 24 went to the USA, 1 to the Lebanon and 14 Maserati Ghibli SS Spiders were built to European specification with manual gearbox: ten LHD and four RHD.

 

We believe that this is arguably the finest Maserati Ghibli Spider in existence, having restored two of the other 13 previously.

 

Why is this Ghibli SS Spider so special?

 

First of all, rarity: almost the same number of Ghibli Spiders were built as Daytona Spiders, but very few Ghibli SS Spiders were built to European specification, without the ugly add-ons required by US safety and emissions authorities, and this car is the rarest of the rare as a right-hand drive manual SS Spider (one of four).

 

Secondly, its specification: this Spider was ordered with optional hard top, power steering, driving lights and Voxson radio. A small detail known to few buyers, late Ghibli Spiders such as this car have a more attractive central dash layout, with chrome bezels surrounding rocker switches rather than plainer lever controls.

 

Thirdly, the car is very well documented, thanks to careful previous owners who kept good paperwork, diligent research and factory assistance. The file makes fascinating reading, accompanied by build sheets and factory certificate of origin.

 

Finally, and importantly, the depth and quality of the restoration by some of the best craftsmen in the business is second to none. British specialists McGrath Maserati, who have looked after this car for several decades, were commissioned to complete a total, no-compromise restoration which started in late 2012 and was finished six years later, in 2018. No aspect was left untouched and an estimated 5,000 man-hours were required. Invoices for this work total £340,277, making it almost certainly the most expensive Ghibli Spider restoration ever undertaken.

 

Since completion of this work, this exceptional UK-registered Maserati Ghibli SS Spider has been run in by the owner and re-checked and tested by McGrath. It is currently in Italy with Carrozzeria Cremonini for fitting of the hard top and is now ready for next summer – and many more – in a collection where only the very best is good enough.

 

Provenance

 

10/9/71 – Ordered from the Maserati factory by their London agents

10/11/71 – 4/2/72 – Factory construction

10/2/72 – Factory road test (301km) and sign-off

11/2/72 – Factory dispatch date

Spring 1972 – Believed delivered to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, graduating from Sandhurst Military College, UK

9/7/72 – Qatar registration ‘98487’ issued

12/12/79 – Car leaves Qatar, probably for Italy (still owned by Al Thani)

c.1980 – Restoration work in Italy organised by Ubaldo Sgarzi of Lamborghini (Al Thani was a major Lamborghini client)

c.1984 – Sold to collector-dealer Jean-Claude Caveng, Geneva, Switzerland and registered GE 308810

1986 – Sold by Caveng to Heathmans of London, a dealer and Lamborghini agent.

7/9/87 – Sold by Heathmans to Vincent Isaacs, London

1/10/87 – UK registered RYY 203K

2004 – Sold to Stephen Dowling of London and Brisbane, Australia

30/4/2004 – Imported to Australia

23/4/2012 – Exported from Australia and re-imported to UK

2012-2018 – Restored by McGrath Maserati for Dowling

5/9/2018 – Offered at RM Sotheby’s London auction, est. £850,000-1,150,000 (plus 10/12% premium), not sold

11/2019 – Shown on Maserati Owners Club stand at NEC Show

 
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