Parked for 30 Years: 1974 Maserati Merak

Here at Barn Finds we’ve seen a few Maserati Merak project cars that have emerged from the woodwork over the last year or so. This one looks to be quite a good one, and it also appears to be quite competitively priced. It is located in Astoria, New York, and is listed for sale here at Gullwing Motor Cars. The asking price for this Italian thoroughbred is $23,500.

The Merak has been off the road since 1989, and its Red paint still carries the dust from all of those years in storage. We don’t get any photos or information about the state of the underside of the car, so hopefully, all is well under there. I would also like to know why the car was parked in the first place. It is to be hoped that it wasn’t because of some underlying problem. Looking the car over, the fit of all of the panels look quite good, with consistent panel gaps. The paint has deteriorated quite a bit and looks like it is beyond the point where a simple buff and polish will revive it. The next owner is going to need to budget for a complete repaint, and this will need to be done to a pretty high standard if the vehicle’s ultimate value is going to be maintained. Similarly, those distinctive alloy wheels are going to also require restoration, but there are plenty of companies that can perform this work at a reasonable price. I did notice that the rocker molding is missing from the driver’s side of the Merak. While this is a pain and will mean that a replacement will need to be sourced, at least we can see that there are no signs of rust under it. Thankfully, the glass, along with the remaining trim, and the badges all look like they are in good condition. So that at least means that the next owner will be spared the expense of locating and buying a huge number of replacement parts.

The interior of the Merak actually doesn’t look to be too bad, and I think that it may be possible to revive it with little more than a really good clean. I will place a question mark over the carpet because I’m not 100% sure on that. Otherwise, the dash, pad, seats, door trims, and all of the other upholstered surfaces look like they could revive quite well. There is an aftermarket radio/cassette player fitted, and the next owner might just choose to leave that in situ, rather than making any changes.

The Merak features a mid-mounted 2,965cc V6 engine, which sends its 190hp to the rear wheels via a 5-speed transaxle. This is the part of the car which would worry me the most. I would like to know just how healthy the engine is because a rebuild is not a particularly cheap exercise. Given the fact that the Merak has been sitting for 30-years, this may still be a necessary evil. I also don’t like the aftermarket air cleaners fitted to the brace of Weber carburetors. Apart from looking out of place, there is also every chance that they would rob the engine of power. The original air cleaner had a pair of tubes that were routed to the back of the car to pick up cold air. These air cleaners allow the carburetors to suck in hot air directly off the top of the engine. That’s not good for peak engine performance. So, mechanically, the Merak is a bit of an unknown quantity.

A few months ago I wrote about this Merak which had been in storage since 1996. Once again, it was a car that appeared to be solid, but its mechanical condition was also unknown. The biggest and most glaring difference between the two is that the car in that article was listed at $49,000, while this one is half that price. When it comes to potential values, very little has changed since I wrote about that last car. A good one can be found for around the $45,000 mark, while an immaculate example will run closer to $60,000. At least compared to the last car, there is a bit more room to move on the cost of restoration to return this one to its former glory.

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Funkiest Steering Wheel, EVER.

    Like 2
    • RayT Member

      Looks like a Citroen SM wheel to me.

      So do the engine, and those green spheres behind it. Most, if not all, parts are available, if not cheap. $23.5K is just the beginning….

      Like 6
  2. JammerX19

    Who just parks a Merak (or any exotic for that matter) and just walks away? I will never understand this.

    Like 6
    • Bill

      Joe Walsh

      Like 20
      • Matt Tomi

        Bill, simply the best comment….EVER

        Like 3
    • Kevin Harper

      Pretty simple actually. They stretch to buy a low price exotic and when something breaks they can’t afford to fix it and they refuse to sell it because the price of a broken car is so much less than what they paid for it. They may also promise themselves to fix it as soon as they have a little money.

      The car just sits and sits.

      Like 16
  3. Bruce

    While I like these the performance is not great, and they are difficult to work on. One advantage is that the factory keeps in inventory of every part that was put on each car and keeps that records forever because they used parts from different suppliers over the years and made changes on the line as parts became available so you need that information to be certain. If this is not an SS version and you need a rebuild I would spend the money to take it up to that standard. The performance difference is noticeable.

    They are comfortable cars and visually stunning. The flying buttresses clean up the design far better in real life than the photos suggest. Surprisingly they were well made. Crude in spots like all hand made cars are the construction is quiet good and better than their competitors of Ferrari and Lambo at the time. This is especially true of the electrical systems.

    Keep it rust free and I do not think it will ever go down in value and would be a fun ride.

    Like 3
  4. Joe Machado

    Tires show signs of sitting in water and mud. Console has water stains. Hurricane Sandy victim? Wires going places all alone. Cheap fix battery clamp?

    Like 4
  5. Kevin Harper

    I really don’t know how Gullwing stays in business, are there that many suckers out there?

    My guess is that they purchased this one for half of the 23k and are now just waiting the right person to come along.

    OK on this car. I use to own a Merak and I paid a good bit less than 20k for it and it was a nice driving car. They are fun but not rocket ships and in truth I preferred the 308GT4 and Espirit to it.

    They do look and perform much better if you change the bumpers to Euro, but this is not a simple swap.

    It does use a lot of Citroen parts as Maserati was owned by the French firm at this time. I personally do not like the feel or complexity of the Citroen system, but they did build thousands of cars with it and it does function well. Also you get to play “What Citroen did it share this with?” and if you get it right you can get the parts much cheaper.

    Citroen parts are not terribly hard to find but you are probably going to Europe to order parts, anymore this is not a big deal. There are a few special tools required but they are available. There use to be a place in Santa Clarita CA called SM World that specialized in these, but I have heard that they may have closed which is a shame.

    Other items – Engines do have a known timing chain fail point. There is a fix for the tensioner but make sure it is done. Oh and I hate the spare tire hump on the rear deck on these. I think this was done to allow room for the Citroen hydraulics. Other ones have a flat deck lit which looks so much better and it another reason to dump the Citroen hydraulics.

    I think the prices of these are going to fall as many of it’s contemporary (Read Ferrari 308) are falling.

    Would I like another. Yeah and this would not be a bad one but my maximum bid would be about 10k and i am sure gullwing would not let it go for that.

    Like 5
    • Peter

      What did the hydraulics operate?

      • Concinnity

        Brakes, clutch, and pop-up headlights, and less and less as De Tomaso took over from Citroën and ‘conventialised’ as much as he could to cheapen the car.

  6. 71FXSuperGlide

    First time I’ve ever seen an alternator and an A/C compressor facing inwards to the engine.

    Whoever buys this better have some deep pockets.

    Like 1
    • Peter

      Google a photo of Ferrari 365 GTC/4 for a backward alternator

  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    That Peter Kumar sure has a nose for finding the absolute worse examples of exotic cars.

    He must sell some because he’s still going strong.

    Like 2
  8. Kevin Harper

    Brakes are the big one, mine had standard but I had a Khamsin with the system. They are very effective and pressure sensitive. It is just weird.
    Other items are window lifts and headlight lifts. I think that is about it.
    It is not as extensive as used on a Citroen and it is a good system, but I think it works better on a luxury car rather than a sportscar.

    Like 1
  9. grant

    That car has been in water.

  10. T-BONE BOB

    car has been sold

  11. Joe Elliott

    Did anyone happen to get the serial number from Gullwing before it sold? (I’m curious if this might have come from my late neighbor’s collection.)

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