1978 Maserati Merak SS Garage Find

1978 Maserati Merak SS

The thrill of dragging home a exotic “garage find” like this 1978 Maserati Merak SS is alluring, but sometimes the reality of the situation isn’t as romantic. After you get it home, you have to figure out why it was parked almost 30 years ago and forgotten. The seller has tried to figure out what is wrong with it mechanically, but hasn’t been able to pinpoint anything specific. The interior and exterior do look good though so it might be worth a look if you are a Maser guy. If not, you might want to keep looking. Find it here on eBay where bidding is currently at $3k with no reserve. Thanks goes Marc N for the tip!

Maserati V6

The seller mentions that they don’t want to abuse the term “barn find” when referring to the car, so they are going to call it a “garage find” and a “time capsule”. Ironically they they also state in the same paragraph that “No attempt to even clean it was made”, as if that makes it better. Personally, I would rather they have called it a barn find and given it a quick bath. That all seems silly to me, but this is one heck of a find no matter what you decide to call it. With supposedly only 17k miles on the clock and minimal rust, surely some collector will snap it up.

Merak red interior

The red leather interior is well preserved and looks like it could be cleaned up easily. That gives normal guys some hope that they could save this car for minimal outlay, but you have to keep in mind that what ever is going on under the hood is going to get expensive. I love the exotic barn… er, garage find just as much as the next guy, but sometimes you have to be realistic about what you can do at this point in your life. Sometimes it is best to start with something more affordable before moving into the big leagues because it would be a shame to see this go back into the “garage” for another 25 years…

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Comments

  1. Don C

    Hey, if the engine is too expensive to repair stick a Chevy V-8 in there. Chevrolet V-8’s seem to be able to power almost anything. Then you could have a dependable but still an exotic Italian car.
    If I wasn’t in the middle of a restoration project right now I would definitely be interested.

    • tom999p

      Ya, sure…. just drop a chevy v8 into an extremely rare and exotic car, smart thinking….

      Like 1
    • Howard Member

      Don’t feel bad, Don, that’s what I’d do. Isn’t much good if you can’t get an engine part for it. Maybe that’s why it was sitting for so long in the 1st place.

      • tom999p

        Well if that’s the case, then why not just buy a chevy to drop a chevy engine into it, that way you’ll have all the feel of chevy power in front of you without destroying an exotic car. Leave the super expensive rebuild and restoration to collectors and people who will give this very rare car the attention it deserves. The fastest way to destroy the value of a rare and exotic car is to put a chevy engine into it.

        Like 2
  2. Charles

    Dropping a Chevy engine in it and enjoying the car makes more sense then getting overwhelmed with an exotic with a bad engine, no parts, and no means to get it running again. That’s why cars like this one often get shoved back into a corner for another long sleep.

  3. Jason

    “Ya, sure…. just drop a chevy v8 into an extremely rare and exotic car, smart thinking…”

    Why is tom999p such a troll? Wish this site had an IGNORE feature.

    Like 1
  4. charlie Member

    Put the Chevy in, have a good time, keep the original engine and parts, and when you sell it, the buyer has options. I have a ’93 Allante, Northstar engine, the exhaust sounds just like a mid-80’s GM V6, that is, a relatively high pitched (for an exhaust) tinny sound. I am replacing the muffler and tail pipe with an aftermarket that sounds like a V8 should, not loud, but deep. And I am keeping the perfectly good original so in ten years, when this car becomes “desirable” it can become “original” again. Meanwhile I can drive it. I suppose I could add the BMW fake recorded exhaust that plays through the speakers.

  5. dbigb1 Member

    Well I think think these were mid engine so it would be a tight fit for a v8/ and why a small block chev??? try to be creative and not so been there done that!! How about a v6 ?? some of these are making over 300 horsepower!!!!

    Like 1
  6. JW454

    I’d much rather have a car that I could drive and enjoy rather than a car with a non-repairable engine sitting in the corner. Putting some other type of engine in it to make it run and drive? I wouldn’t hesitate for an instant.
    If it was a Rembrandt with a tear in it, I’d turn it over, slap a piece of masking tape on it and hang it on the wall and enjoy it. This stuff of being so concerned that it’s absolutely factory correct is a bunch of hogwash. Life is short… enjoy it while you can and let everyone else do the same.

    • Robert J.

      I would do a swap too if it was pre-76. Citroen engine in a Maserati? The Merak has one for you. To me, that sounds like a recipe for divorce. No Chevy 350 is going in that bay though because this is a mid-engine rear wheel drive car. Unless you are an armchair dreamer, there are much easier Mid engine to RWD transmission combinations out there. In any case. you will have to do massive amounts of fabrication up front to get a more reliable engine in there.

      Like 1
  7. DT

    This car is a time capsule,and very low mileage.The parts are available.This car should be restored and I assume it will be,It would look sweet like new.Just because a car is stored,does not in any way mean it has mechanical problems,and some cars were stored with just one or two small problems

    Like 2
  8. Charles

    If parts are available hopefully someone will buy it and return it to running condition.

    It’s interesting to run across a barn find and unravel the reasons why it was parked in the first place.

    We bought an Isetta once that the PO had removed the engine, rebuilt it, reinstalled it and could not get the timing set right on the magnito. He was never able to start it. We hauled it home, set the timing, added some fuel and started it right up.

    My 82 Trans AM was parked because the transmission was faulty from brand new. The dealer would not fix it. Lucky for me the PO placed it in an air conditioned room. There it sat untouched, however it remained in perfect unmolested condition. When I bought it, all it took was fresh gas, a new battery, and the car started right up. We had the transmission rebuilt, and had a running driving car. Consequently today I have a fully documented 82 WS7 with 24,852 miles on it. We replaced the OE tires last summer.

    My 86 TA was parked in the basement because the first owner got sick and had to go to a nursing home. After she passed, her family sold the car to me. That car currently has 30K actual miles on it with a full history from the build sheet to today.

    Cars are parked for various reasons. Often there is a good story in there somewhere.

    Like 1
  9. >

    These engines are reliable when they’re properly sorted and maintained. Value for these models is rising and it would be foolish to carve this one up with a swap. If you can’t afford to fix and maintain it, buy a Mustang. Or a ‘Camero’.

    Like 1
    • Robert J.

      Yes, their reliability is on par with the engine in a Porsche 928, a Yugo GV, a Triumph Stag, Renault Le Car, Trabant… That is why you see them out on the road so often.

      • William Rekow

        I have a Yugo GVX. It’s literally the most reliable car I have ever owned. You just have to treat them like they’re a car, not a toaster.

    • Donek

      Agreed!

  10. J Thorpe

    There is an issue with the timing chain since it is disconected(see picture).
    See http://thecarnut.com/Merakdesc.html for a history, they talk about known timing chain problems.

    Quote from site: “The Merak V6 engine is known for timing chain problems, something unheard of for the V8. It is
    imperative that the two upper chains be properly tensioned. The lower chain is self tensioning and many times failed.”

  11. Dave Wright

    I was a Maserati guy in the years this car was built. Drove a new one at a dealership in Europe. They were not a great car new. One of the early Citroen attempts to become mainstream. They were slower than a common 911 and much more expensive. They billed them as a smaller Bora but the Bora was built as a more or less pure Maserati with little Citroen influence. It was the start of Maserati’s decline durring the Citroen ownership that was only recently turned around by new Fiat ownership.

  12. Adam

    I have always wondered why Maserati chose SS for this. I cant be the only one that think’s of the German secret police.

  13. C. Stone

    I just bought one of these 1975. It is a basket case. My friend has owned the car for 30 years and he purchased it from the original owner. The car has 6900 original miles and still has the original tires it came on it from new. Then engines in this car are not reliable and require a lot of maintaining for them to work properly. The original owner didn’t do the required timing chain adjustment at 3500 miles so at 6500 mile the chain jumped off and locked the engine up. My friend rebuilt the engine and it now has maybe 200 miles on it. However it has been sitting for about 5 years and not started. If I decide to keep the car , I will surely do a engine swap. v-6 turbo and make a adapter for the trans axle. these engines were gutless at best. I don’t believe doing a engine swap will hinder the value all that much providing you do a clean job and it looks factory. Many Italian and French cars of the 60- 80’s era had American V-8’s. Pantera, Bizzerini. Facel Vega, sunbeam and some others. The key to any motor swap is for it to appear factory and look period for that era,and not all cut up. When you go to sell it , sell the original engine with the car if they even want it. 180 hp in a exotic car is hardly exotic. If you’re smart about it, sell the original parts to fund the project of the engine swap. The bare engine blocks are selling om ebay for 1800.00 as are the cyl heads at 1100.00.. Personally I don’t care about being a purist. I am a car guy and I like to enjoy a car. When it comes time to sell , remember there’s a ass for every seat. There are plenty of people that would really like a exotic that could be a everyday driver. That’s my two cents worth anyhow.

    Like 1
    • Dave Wrigth

      You will reduce the value by 50%

      Like 1
      • Robert J

        I would happily pay 50% MORE for a Maserati Merak that had a modern, reliable drivetrain planted in it. Why? Because you would have a Merak that you could actually drive and enjoy. Someone’s work, and indeed it would be a lot of work, planting a new drivetrain in the Merak would definitely make it worthwhile for me.

      • Dave Wrigth

        Spoken like someone that could never afford to buy a Maserati in any event. If you want to Frankenstein a car…….get a Fiero or a plastic kit car. You have a good engine, use it and maintain it as it should be.

        Like 1
      • Curran

        who cares ! I never buy a collector car for what its worth in the end. I have had several cars ( over 80) some I make money on some I have lost money on. I dont want to seem like a ass, but I buy cars cause I can. The Merak has a crap design engine as do a lot of automobiles. But i guarantee you this my friend when I finish this car and one was to look under the hood, you would swear it came from the Maserati factory like that. I build custom cars for a living and have so for close to 35 years. I enjoy driving cars and i like for them to be reliable. the engine in this car is not. as a matter of fact this car has only 6900 miles since new and already has had the engine replaced at 6700 due to crap designed timing chain problem..

  14. charlie Member

    Right ON. Some people desire these cars as investments, some as museum pieces, and some, like me, as things to drive around in. I had an incredible ’39 MG SA drop head with a Hudson engine, Buick headlights, Ford pickup truck taillights, hand made right rear fender, not quite matching right front fender, no way would a museum ever want it, it had been so bastardized, but it was great to drive, absolutely reliable, and met a lot of good people who had no idea what it was until they got close and saw the Octagon on the radiator and then said, “I never knew MG made a car this big”.

  15. Curran

    Oh and Dave I have owned in recent years 3 Corniche convertibles, Ferrari 348 GTS, Porsches etc. so well yeah I guess your right I couldn’t afford to buy a Maserati. How smug is that answer ? lol

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