When Maserati first showed its all new Khamsin to the public in 1972 it was the ravissant new style that shook the world. The new edgy, or should we say flat design language set a new standard for a brand new decade. The front and rear screen were oriented almost horizontally, the car had no radiator grille and the tail lights floated in a full glass rear panel. The front mounted V8 was placed so far back the car made the ideal 50/50 weight distribution which, together with the all new independent suspension at all four corners, gave the car een excellent road holding. A genuine Gran Turismo, but this time with Seventies flair.
When Bart Jonkers first set eye on the hydraulic glance of the Maserati Khamsin, the feelings were mixed to say the least. This wasn’t what he recognized as a Maserati, it didn’t have the lascivious curves of its predecessors, not the sexappeal of the sports cars he knew up til then. But those sleek lines, those minimalistic details Marcello Gandini drew Bertone a dream for the future, well he just couldn’t let go of them. The sharp wedge, the enormous glass surface, those daring a-symmetrical slits in that gigantic bonnet, all design elements that make the Khamsin the true masterpiece it is.
The Khamsin was developed under Maserati’s new owner, Citroën. That didn’t just mean a larger budget, but also acces to a completely new range of techniques from the warehouse of the French misfit. The self centering hydraulic DiRaVi power steering unit was shared with the quirky Citroën SM, just like the unequaled high pressure brakes. It makes the Khamsin not just looking as if it came from outer space, it makes it drive like something from another world too. It feels and reacts just that little different than what we are used to in a car from that era, well from any car from any era actually. Steering and breaking do take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you start to appreciate what those crazy frogs came up with. It handles light, sharp, but of all very comfortable. A Khamsin cuts through the wind as if the elements can’t touch it. A Khamsin is the wind, just like the Egyptian desert gale it was named after.
The Maserati Khamsin never became the big succes it should have been. Maybe, just maybe its exterior and technical design were a bit to far out of this world. In the eight years Maserati produced the Khamsin, only 435 were built. That makes this magnificent Gran Turismo, with its mighty V8 engine and a top speed of 270 genuine km/h a real rarity these days. Appreciated by the true connaisseur, who understands the potential that is hiding underneath Khamsin’s sleek skin.
Text: Marc GF Zaan
Photography: Leonie Hahn
Film: Mirko Cocco