Budget Super Car?: 1974 Maserati Merak

1974 Maserati Merak

The Maserati Merak is by no means the best Italian sports car nor is it the most desirable Maserati either. There is something about it that still catches our attention though. It has a certain flair about it that makes it special. Sure it is powered by a V6 engine, but in its day it was by all rights a super car. While Ferraris and Lamboghinis of this vintage now fetch big money at auction, the Merak is still a budget super car. This one was recently pulled from a Californian barn and is in need of a complete restoration. The seller has listed it here on eBay and is asking $7,200.

Merak Motor and Transaxle

The seller’s asking price might seem like a bargain for a super car, but we know there is no such thing as a cheap super car. Like we said earlier this Maserati is powered by a V6, the same one found in the Citroen SM. While it is cheaper to work on than an Italian V12 or V8, it still isn’t for the budget minded enthusiast. If you have a working knowledge of Maserati engines or a mechanic that does, you might be able to get the original motor running again, but it will still need to be reinstalled in the engine bay. Finding any missing parts could get expensive, so lets hope everything is still with the car.

Maserati Merak Bonnet

Being in pieces is never a good sign for a super car. It typically means one thing, mechanical failure. The seller doesn’t state why the motor was pulled out, but claims all the major parts are with it. We would be very cautious buying this project and would want to bring an expert with us to take a look at the motor. For all we know the motor was pulled out for a service and never put back in. A closer inspection should reveal what exactly happened and whether it is salvageable.

Maserati Merak Barn Find

Buying any of the so called “budget” super cars is a gamble and should always be taken on out of love for the car, not profit. We see lots of issues with this particular car, but if it is solid enough we might contemplate buying it and seeing if we can source a more reliable motor to install in it. This might sound like sacrilege to purists, but perhaps a Fiero drivetrain could be made to fit in this gorgeous body? What do you think? Would you save this one from the barn or should it be left in there?

Source: Maserati

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Comments

  1. jason

    My gosh get your facts straight, same motor as a Delorean? really? These cars are awesome for what they are and its a Maserati engine, used in the SM… and in case you didn’t notice selling for over 50k in Europe and rising…

    • jean lecointe

      Hi Jason,
      The De Lorean was powered by a Renault V6 engine which is is much more common that the V6 Maserati which equipped the SM.
      The Renault engine was also much more reliable.

  2. Mark E

    Usually I’m the last one to suggest this, but a different drivetrain seems to be a good idea here. I’d definitely keep the original to sell later with the car, though.

  3. Jeff Craven

    The Deloreqn motor was actually from PRV, not Citroen. It may have been the same or similar to the PRV motor used in the Renault Alpine A310. It is not the same as the Citroen-Maserati motor used inthe Merak and the Citroen SM.

  4. carbuildindex

    There is no such thing as a cheap Maserati. Price of entry may be low Now, but this needs to be put into the hands of someone who has the cash to restore it correctly and not worry about being upside down for the next decade (or two…). That, or just store it as is until it is worth something if you can’t afford to do it right. After all, autonomous cars will be around in the not to distant future and people will start to value a car that has an actual driving experience. A Fiero engine will just devalue it further and put it further down the list of existing desirable vintage examples now and in the future. You’d be better advised to buy it and leave it as is in storage than butcher it with a Fiero engine. This will be worth something more than it’s asking price in most of our lifetimes, the key is to just be patient and not do anything rash!

  5. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Lets see, Virginia title, car is in California, motor is out, lack of pictures or description to encourage bidders, seller offering no help with picking up seemingly scattered parts, starting bid of $7200+.

    Thinking unless there is a PPI, I would pass on this.

    • Horse Radish

      I agree. All the tell tale sign of a head ache transaction.
      BUT, the only thing speaking for this sale is, that (hopefully) this car is still in the barn and offered by the person or family that has had it for some time.
      It would require time and presence of the buyer to pick it up, and ascertain inclusion/collection of all vital parts.
      So E-bay was really not the right way to sell it.
      Exposure maybe, but ……..
      If it’s a flipper just selling it with wrong locale or previous owner’s photos I would run from this….

  6. David H.

    I don’t think the Merak shared engines with the DeLorean. The Merak shared engines with the Citroen SM, and made power in the 180-190 hp range. The DeLorean used the Peugeot/Renault/Volvo V6, which was found cars such as the Volvo 264 and made around 130 hp (as it did in the DeLorean). Both 2.8 liters, but the Maserati/Citroen had much higher performance.

  7. Don Andreina

    As someone (or many) have stated within these pages; when it comes to an exotic like this you’re better off buying the best example you can afford. If this is all you can afford, you’re better off buying a nice Fiat or Alfa or Citroen. Unless you’re a Maserati mechanic, of course…

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I’d have to agree with you, Don; there are more complete versions of this available somewhere. However, this might be an ideal project for someone with some skills and lots of tenacity. I’ve seen guys pick up basket cases a lot worse than this and turn them into a masterpiece.

  8. Doug M

    Love the inboard brakes and keep it original…..

  9. Mark McKibbin

    The motor is a Maserati not a Citroen. Citroen owned Maserati at the time and used the engine in the SM but it was designed and built by Maserati.

  10. Brian

    These days, it’s not hard to sink 10-15 grand into a “decent”, i.e. not show, restoration of a mid 60s VW Beetle. There no was this is going to be a budget resto. Maybe you could hold the line somewhat with a “restomod” and switch drivetrains (as previously suggested) but its going to cost 5 figures, at minimum, no matter what you chose to do, if your going to attempt to do a good job with it. Finding restoration parts will likely require you to speak a second language!

    I’ve never seen one of these cars before and I think it looks a decade ahead of it’s time. Personally, I have no idea what it’s worth, but it would be fun to mod it! No car this sporty should have the punishment of Citroen mechanicals! But where the rubber meets the road, I’m passing on it for $7.2G (I like it, but I don’t love it) since alot of fun can be had elsewhere for alot less money! This has the pontential to be the most expensive headache imaginable!

    • jack looney

      The engine was pure Maserati and was great while it was running, but had many reliability problems. Yes, Citroen owned Maserati at that time and had them design the engine for the SM. The first ones were 2.7 litres but increased to 3.0 litres in 1973. The Merak used the 3.0. The transmission and inboard ft. brakes were all Citroen and the same used in the SM, (also a Lotus model) and were very reliable. The most common problem for the engine was the primary timing chain which could break or slip a tooth. When that happened, the valves would hit the pistons and cause major damage. Also, like many other Italian engines, oil consumption was excessive and needed to be checked regularly. I was a Citroen dealer in the 70’s and sold the DS and the SM cars.

      • Josh Mortensen Staff

        Thanks for the info Jack! There is a lot of conflicting information out there about these, so it’s good to hear from someone that actually dealt with Citroens during this era. I’ve heard this engine can be difficult to work on in the Merak, how was accessibility in the SM?

  11. Rick

    Be easy enough to find that missing taillight – just go to the junkyard and find an old first series 240Z or a 70s Volvo

  12. Dolphin Member

    The best thing about this is that it’s a parts car from Virginia that spent time in California and probably has some useable parts. But that depends on whether the body panels and drivetrain are useable or shot, whether the interior is still in the car and not baked to death or eaten up by creatures, and whether any of the systems have functioning parts. With the drivetrain sitting out on the garage floor a big part of it is a roll of the dice. Then you would need to sell about $8K worth before you have your investment back and start to make a few bucks.

    Life’s too short to roll the dice here. Pass.

  13. Robert J

    French mechanics and Italian Electrics. I’m in. Actually, I harbor a vision of rebuilding a Merak, but I never bite off more than I can chew… and this sir is one hell of a bite.

    I would definitely forgo the Citroen engine. A small Rover/Buick V8 can be mounted to a Porsche transaxle using a rare but available adapter plate. Still, even if I spend a thousand hours on this project, it is going to cost $15,000 conservatively and that is the kind of money that slows my monkey brain down long enough to allow some slim ray of wisdom to light my path.

    Cheers.

  14. Dave @ OldSchool

    ” Citroen engine ” LOL

    That V6 was Maserati design and built all the way. Just because Citroen owned Maserati for a while doesn’t make it any more a Citroen motor than a Dodge with a Hemi has a Fiat motor..

  15. Dan

    I agree with Dave. This Maserati should be powered by a Maserati engine. Citroen may have used a Maserati engine in the Citroen SM, and Citroen may have owned Maserati for a while, but that does not make this a Citroen engine. Also, the DeLorean’s engine is a different story. It was the PRV V6 made in cooperation by Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo.

  16. Jesse Mortensen Staff

    Josh was incorrect when he stated that the engine was Citroen designed and shared with the DeLorean. His research and comments in a previous post lead him down that path. Here is a link from the official Maserati site that should clear up any confusion.

    The post has been corrected, but this error did bring up an interesting point. Although the engine used in the Merak was designed by Maserati for the Citroen SM, it was very similar to the later PRV engine. Both were basically V8s with two cylinders lopped off with a 90 degree angle between the cylinders.

  17. Jim-Bob

    Well, if you are looking for an engine donor, what about a Maserati Biturbo? They used a variant of the Maserati/Citroen V6 engine and can be had for less than the cost of rebuilding the original. All you would need to do is figure out a EFI setup (on the later models…early ones had a carb) Just keep the original engine around, and pickle it in oil and a vacuum sealed plastic bag to limit further deterioration. Another possible option would be a V8 from a 1980’s Quattroporte, if it uses the same bellhousing flange (didn’t the Bora use the V8?). The real issue then becomes how to get the rest of it working. Finding a clutch, brakes, hoses, seals, suspension bushings, etc. will be much more difficult, unless they share components with also odd Citroens of the era. I would also worry about the state of the interior. While you could just have it done in a quality vinyl with alcantara inserts, it will still be expensive and could run you over a grand.

  18. Jesse Mortensen Staff

    Heck, if we are going to do an engine swap, why not go with that PRV engine we were discussing earlier? You could pull one out of a Volvo 264 and it should fit without too much hacking. Parts would be cheap and you could even brag to people that it has the same engine as the DeLorean! Haha, just kidding guys!

    • Horse Radish

      ….almost had me there , Jesse.
      For a moment I thought you had lost your marbles there.

    • Brian

      For a moment there, I thought you had a Cavalier engine snafu on your hands!

  19. Tom S.

    Re: “The post has been corrected”. Well, except for some misplaced apostrophes. :)

  20. RickyM

    Be wary of buying low price Supercars. There was a great Top Gear UK episode where the guys did just this and Jeremy Clarkson left most of his Maserati engine all over the road.

    • Gerardo Mascorro

      Yeah, just after he ‘serviced’ the engine and drove it with that ‘I’m going to puke the road’ engine noise. I agree with your point tough, cheap things become the most expensive ones.

  21. paul

    Oxymoron…..No such thing as a budget super car, oh you may buy one cheap but the parts $’s very quickly eat into anything you might have saved. You can buy budget 12 cyl Jags all day long but the first time you need to get into the engine for even a waterpump, since it takes a day in man hrs just to reach it then the part then another day to put it all back, $$$$$$!!!!!

    • Horse Radish

      the look under those Jaguar XJS hoods is daunting.
      I have three of them and never so much as changed a spark plug on them.
      I should have seen your comment 15 years ago and would have had a couple of vacations instead of three car sized paperweights in my yard.

    • Brian

      …or do a 350 conversion on that xj and your good to go!

  22. John

    A bunch of these were caught in a flood somewhere in the mid-70s and were sold for scrap to various yards around the country. I fell in love with one in a yard in Kansas City Mo, but they were selling it as a complete car. I talked with the yard operator and was convinced that it would cost a fortune to go through it. In 1979 dollars, things like a starter were somewhere over a grand. I still think about that car often, but my wallet is very glad I stayed with something less super. But they were beautiful.

  23. Dolphin Member

    I’d much rather have the seller’s 1961 Fiat OSCA cabriolet on eBay now. Good body, good looking ’60s Italian design, scarce and appreciating model.

    But….. the drivetrain is out so you don’t know how it runs, and the usual disclaimer about providing no help to the buyer is seriously offputting: Just give me the money and don’t ask for more information. That, and twice the price of the Merak.

    • Horse Radish

      on the Fiat:
      not the only one in the world (LOL) I have a near identical (but 1200)…
      word for word the same description as on the Merak.
      this guy seemingly has no time but wants beaucoup Dineros…..
      maybe better to pass up on all his stuff….
      the Mercedes cylinder head with no valves and no cam/bearings for $55 ?

  24. Plasticman

    The rear lights are from a Fiat 124 BC coupe I think. As far as I know theres little wrong with the Maserati V6. Im sure it has its foibles, as does the PRV engine, early ones suffered from timing chain issues and soft camshafts.
    As far as I know Meraks had the 2.7 engine apart from a few with a 2.0 for tax reasons in Italy. Buying any car and expecting to pay peanuts to run it is plainly naive. Thats whats sorts out the men from the boys.

    • Don Andreina

      Nope, those rear lenses aren’t BC Fiat. As far as I know they’re Maserati Merak/Bora only being one of the reasons I wouldn’t go near this.

      • Dave75

        Tail lights look very much like my old 2L 1974 Alfa Berlina – the 4 door version of the spider & 105 GTV. should be the easiest part to source …
        Was sorely tempted by one a few years ago, and despite my yearnings, I didnt yield then and have even more alfas now.
        I understand they are a little underpowered, but Very beautiful non the less

      • Don Andreina

        Good spotting. Now I just need 7 large…

  25. j/k

    Honda/Acura J32A3; 270hp v6, 6-speed manual trans, transverse layout, stand-alone engine management readily available. And VTEC yo! Purists won’t like it, but it’s a Merak. $25k would have you a nice driving exotic.

  26. Marek

    Cars like this make me wonder why the notion of non-running restorations haven’t caught on in the classic car hobby. This car is art and, running or not, deserves to pleasure others in the future. If non-flying plane restorations make sense, why not non-running cars?

  27. Jim Williamson

    You said that they have a citroen engine. That’s not correct, they are fitted with a maserati engine. The citroen SM were fitted with this maserati engine which is probably where the confusion came from.

  28. barthman

    Final sale (3 bids) = $7500 so someone took the bait. Would be interesting to see how that unfolds. The idea of a compatible Maserati drive train makes the most sense unless it is destined to be a donor for more sorted and damaged siblings. (The posting mentioning $1000 starters comes to mind). I hope the transition, in whatever form, is not too painful, financially or visually.

  29. joe

    They are great unit body cars, with horrible engines. See pic of mine. First a steel valve seat came loose. Drove it for days on a loose seat, only made a small tapping noise. So I rebuilt the motor even though only the seat was loose. Then after that rebuild, a valve keeper came loose. Valve stuck open and bent slightly. Car had chevy valves as the hollow sodium valves also break when the age and get brittle. But the car its self drives great, is very solid, Even the citroen hydraulics are reliable and easy to get parts for. Its just like driving a Bora without the power. All parts are available due to the high number of part out cars. Only irritation besides motor is the flat back window – which is angled just enough to falsely pick us reflections from light posts or stores as you drive and flash the reflection I your eyes making you think a car is right on your tail.

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