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Storage Unit Exotic: 1981 Maserati Merak SS

Sometimes it seems that you don’t see a certain car for years, and then several of them pop up all at once. Before I looked at this Maserati Merak, I could have sworn that the last one I’d seen was on an episode of Top Gear (spoiler: things did not end well for the car). Yet a quick search of the site shows that Meraks are no strangers to the readers of Barn Finds. So much for my memory. But here’s one that will be bound to stand out even among its already rare brethren: a 1981 Merak SS. This mid-engined Maserati is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is listed here on craigslist with as asking price of $64,000. Many thanks to Pat L. for the tip!

The Merak originally came into being as something of a side project for Maserati. Following their development of the motor for the Citroën SM, they had a new V6 but no car to put it in. Mount the new engine in a Bora, apply a little design genius (courtesy of Giorgetto Giugiaro) and a lot of French parts (courtesy of their new parent company), and Maserati had themselves a brand new 2+2: the Merak. Yet all was not well with Citroën. The SM might have been an engineering triumph, but is was a sales bust, and this failure coupled with the oil crisis in 1973 was a one-two punch that helped to put the company on the ropes. French government intercession put Citroën under the aegis of rival Peugot, but Maserati was left out in the cold: in 1975, the Italian firm was put up for sale.

This is where Alessandro de Tomaso enters the story and the Citroën elements of the Merak begin to make their exit. The SS was introduced in 1975 and immediately did away with the SM-inspired interior. The single-spoke steering wheel gave way to a more traditional unit, oval gauges became round, and the radio stayed where the passenger can’t reach it– as it should be. In the US version, the Citroën hydro-pneumatics were stripped away in favor of a more traditional suspension, and the car received a boost in power, bringing the engine from 187 to 217 hp. Those extra horses were transmitted to the rear wheels through one of the few Citroën elements to remain, the five-speed transaxle. The new setup pushed the car from zero to sixty in 6.3 seconds, topping out at 155 mph.

Despite a busted mirror and cracked leather, this example looks every inch the exotic Italian supercar. The seller states that the car runs and drives– meaning that there might be only a few items to be addressed before the car is ready to really show its stuff. Amazing to think that a long weekend and a good interior guy might be the only things standing between this and a very nice driver. I can’t be certain of the first number on the odometer, but it looks like a two; that would make it 25,696 miles, which sounds about right. Plenty of miles left for someone to enjoy with this gorgeous classic.


  1. Luki

    Nobody with half a brain would mess with a neglected Merak especialy this beat up example.

    Like 14
  2. Ed H

    Obviously LS swap or walk away.

    Like 6
  3. alphasud Member

    I prefer the Citroen era Merak over this model. I think it looses its charm not being odd. Like I said before it was Maserati’s answer to the Dino.

    Like 2
  4. healeydays

    Love the car, hate the bumpers. They need to be swapped to the European ones.

    A bit pricey for what it is though. These ads are from a few years ago, but gives you a basic idea what they should go for. https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1981-maserati-merak/

    Like 7
  5. Howard A Member

    I’d take the Rambler American,,,

    Like 2
    • Craigo

      You would take a Rambler American?

      A real car guy here🤪

      Like 4
  6. Dr. George Petito Member

    Well worth the asking price! In the EU they are regularly selling for this and much more! Highly collectible and very limited production. Leave it as is. The engines are a work of art and a given engineering masterpiece. Maserati has always been a great auto and historically from their racing prospective and the advanced design, certainly a wise investment. The USA presence with poor marketing has given them a weak perceptive image. That seems to be changing in recent years. For example, in 1970 , Maserati already had 4 wheel disc brakes, mid-engine design , 5/6 speed transmissions, 4 valve engines, etc . etc……think about it. The Corvette in 2020 was announced as mid engine and a revolutionary design???? I own many Corvettes and had other USA manufactured cars. They are far behind technologies that EU manufactures have been using for many years. The Merak exemplifies that !

    The styling and design are state of the art even today. That said, Meraks , like any other high tech car can be troublesome. The Weber carbs on them are difficult to adjust , but when completed they sing with an exhaust sound that all admire. Other issues do pop up but given the years of manufacture, limited production and the drop dead gorgeous styling, they are here to stay and can do nothing but grow in value. Try that with the interest rate the bank is paying you😊👍

    Like 11
    • Quidditas

      The Rensult R10 and R8 in the mid 1960’s already had disc brakes on all four wheels …

      Like 0
    • Bullethead

      Sorry, I love Masers but this is a #4 car at best and the asking price is $20K optimistic.

      GOOD examples sell well in Yurrup, but this one has many (expensive) needs.

      Like 3
  7. Gerard Frederick

    A car for a financial masochist.

    Like 0
  8. Howie

    Not much info. on it, and it is a 6 cyl.

    Like 1
  9. Mike

    Horrible fisheye cellphone pics. Top picture looks like it has its frame bent and the busted mirror makes it look like metal damage on the door.

    Like 1
  10. PRA4SNW

    Thanks goodness the seller states that it has a clean title.
    Enough said…….apparently.

    Like 0
  11. simple man

    I remember when it came into production as a kid. It was always my favorite for style and design. Should park it in a garage, on blocks, with a carbon fiber tarp over it for thirty years.

    Like 1
  12. Joe Elliott

    Umm, Meraks never had a hydropneumatic suspension.

    Like 0
  13. Dr. George Petito Member

    That may be a typo??. They did have a hydraulically controlled breaking, headlight and clutch system that worked very well. I believe that system was dropped in 1976 when Maserati claimed the car their own versus the Citroen era. One that was almost fully restored just sold for $91,000 in the EU; I believe that the one that Cauley Ferrari had recently sold for $79,900. Just a well designed auto …well ahead of its time!

    Like 1

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