This is a very, very good time for Americans who like Italian cars. A few genuine Italian home market Fiats are trickling into Chrysler dealerships now that the ownership takeover is complete, Alfa Romeo may finally be returning to the US market with the delectable 4C, and Maserati has decided to offer a pure blooded civilian-sized sports sedan, based on the platform of the really very huge Quattroporte and designed to compete on performance, luxury, and above all price with the more mundane offerings from Germany and Japan. Instead of a middling model Audi or Lexus, BMW or Mercedes, you can have a first class Italian road car. You can have the trident.
I have been very excited about this, as have the car mags, the car blogs, and car lovers in general. Everybody seems to agree that the new Maserati is a worthy competitor with a certain something special that the current top luxury marques, focused as they are on all the latest high tech gadgets, seem to have lost. It is a real driver’s car: elegant and fast. Its name, of course, is Ghibli.
My top priority for this year’s Auto Show was to get my first look at the new Ghibli in the metal. If things went well, I hoped to get close enough to it to get a few pictures. Imagine, if you will, my delight when I saw that Maserati had their own little stand this year (rather than a share of an “exotic cars behind a plastic barrier” setup) and in that stand they had not one, but two new Ghiblis. One was medium grey with a light colored interior; the other was bright blue with a dark interior. They were not on turntables. They were not on platforms. They were not even locked. You could open the doors. You could get inside. You could sit in the driver’s seat, move the seat and the wheel around, and pretend to drive.
It was like they were actually trying to sell you the car, like it was a Ford Taurus or something. There were salesmen answering questions. There were people looking under the hood and in the trunk. There were kids climbing in and out of the the back seat. And there were people, crowds of people, talking about the Super Bowl ad and taking pictures.
The conditions meant that it was impossible to take a good shot of the car as a whole, so here are some small images that may give you some of the flavor of the thing. Pray draw your attention to the steering wheel, which is close to the perfect shape and thickness, and to the dead pedal in the footwell, and of course to the trident. That there should be a proper Maserati road car for sale in the States alongside other cars in its class, competing head to head in the high end of the popular market– that’s not something I expected to see in my lifetime. But it seems that I was wrong.
I guess I have a new lottery car. Thank you, Maserati. You win the Auto Show.
- Tempted? Curious? Want to actually see the thing? Visit the official Ghibli website, where you can see excellent pictures of the whole car taken a) by professional photographers and b) in places where there was both sufficient light and no crowds of people, and also learn all kinds of cool technical details, study the different colors and configurations, and generally Ghibli out if you are so inclined.
- Watch the now-famous Super Bowl ad, “Now We Strike” on YouTube. This was step one of Maserati’s marketing campaign for this car.
- Our nifty new Ghibli sedan is actually the third Maserati to carry that name. Here is a picture of the Ghibli I (Typo 115), which debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1966. It was designed by Giorgietto Giugiaro and was, and is, totally awesome.As always, the Wikipedia can fill you in on the history of the various Ghiblis.
- Like many cars, the Ghibli is named after a kind of wind. “Ghibli” is the Arabic word for certain class of hot winds off the desert, and is used in parts of North Africa as an alternative to the more familiar “scirocco”.