Maserati followed-up its first mid-engined supercar - the Bora - with the similar Merak. Launched in 1972, the latter was intended as competition for Ferrari's top-selling Dino 246 and used a stretched, 3.0-litre, 190bhp version of the four-cam V6 that had debuted in the Citroën SM. The French firm owned Maserati at the time, so the Merak made use of the SM's transmission, power-operated, all-disc braking and, more controversially, Citroën's quirky instrumentation, though this applied to left-hand drive cars only, right-hand drive examples using the more conventional fascia of the Bora. The unitary construction chassis, all-independent suspension and impeccable handling remained basically as the V8-engined Bora's, though the Merak offered the convenience of '+2' seating in the rear and superior all-round vision thanks to its distinctive rear 'flying buttresses'.
Competition from Ferrari's new Dino V8 prompted the introduction of a more powerful version - the Merak SS with 220bhp engine and revised interior - for 1975. Widely recognised as one of the finest, if not the finest, of contemporary V6s, the Merak SS engine proved smooth, powerful and capable of delivering its urge over a surprisingly wide range for such a high performance engine. Like any true thoroughbred, the Merak possessed handling commensurate with its breathtaking acceleration and 150mph maximum speed. 'Performance and handling are the raison d'être of a mid-engined sports car, and the Merak's astounding cornering power is a match for its straight-line punch,' observed Motor magazine.
Changes made to the SS suspension greatly improved ride comfort over that of the original Merak, while alterations to the instrumentation, switch gear, and interior, and the phasing out of the Citroën brakes in favour of a more conventional system addressed some of the criticisms levelled at the earlier version. The most successful Maserati of its day, the Merak ceased production in 1983 after 1,832 had been built, 626 of them the SS version.
One of the last Meraks made and one of only approximately 300 right-hand drive models produced, this example has black bumpers and the Bora-style dashboard. In the same ownership for the last 24 years, 'RJR 1Y' was purchased in 1991 from Mr John Hovells, a property developer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who had owned it since 1987. The vendor had taken three years to find an example as good as this one, finished in the most sought after colour of Giallo Fly (yellow) and retaining its original black leather interior.
'RJR 1Y' Currently displays a total of 66,563 kilometres (approximately 41,300 miles) on the odometer and is described as in generally good condition. We are advised that the bodywork has required little attention other than localised repainting to remove stone-chips, etc, the work being carried out by a local specialist and friend of the vendor. Always MoT'd by the same technician at Oakley Service Station, West Auckland, County Durham, the car is offered with all MoT certificates relating to the current and previous ownership plus all tax discs. It also comes with sundry invoices, MoT to February 2016 and a V5 registration document.
Well known within the Maserati Club, this Merak has participated regularly in their events and in addition has won several condition awards at Borders Vintage Automobile Club meetings held at Mellerstain House in the Scottish Borders and at Cumbrian Classic weekends (trophies included in sale).