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    Trident answers boyhood prayer

    CAR: #Maserati-3200GT / #Maserati / #Maserati-3200GT-Tipo-338 / #Maserati-Tipo-338
    OWNED BY Nigel Lawford
    FROM Derbyshire
    FIRST CLASSIC 1975 Lancia Fulvia S3
    DREAM CLASSIC Maserati Ghibli SS
    BEST TRIP The Bealach na Ba (Pass of The Cattle, Scotland) in a Mercedes-Benz SL

    The trouble is, I buy a car and then I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Why? Well, the cars I have collected over the years mostly have something in common: they have been implicated in a memory of an event in my life, or of an individual. Are there others out there who share similar sentiments?

    I spotted my first Maserati at Oulton Park in 1967 – a brand-new, Giugiaro-designed Ghibli in yellow. I was 13 and it left a big impression on me, such that I told my elder brother that one day I would own a Maserati. Fast forward nearly 40 years and I did indeed buy a Maserati: a 3200GT.

    The occasion was my turning a half-century. The car was nearly new and I still think it’s the perfect colour combination – Blu Sebring with Grigio Chiaro leather. And, being a manual version, it demands concentration if you would prefer to remain on the Tarmac.

    The GT has cost a small fortune in maintenance, but it results in a smile whenever I get behind the wheel. Values of this model may shoot up one day, but that’s not the point; my Maserati has soul, and therein lies its true value.
    I need to mention my wife at this stage. Having tolerated my passion, she finally achieved retribution when she bought a lovely Mercedes-Benz R129 SL. Again, it’s a car whose Value will undoubtedly increase like its predecessors, but no doubt long after we’ve departed this world! Another member of our ‘club’ is a Porsche Boxster S, which was owned for many years by my elder brother. He and I used to argue over the merits of Porsche vs Maserati, but sadly he passed away a few years ago and it was obvious tome that I should take it on. I have to admit that the handling and braking are far superior to my 3200, but when it comes to noise and presence the GT still wins. The Porsche has been cosseted, but as the years pass it may become physically impossible for me to squeeze into it. Yet this matters not because I shall never sell it – how could I?

    Recently, over a pint, a fellow enthusiast suggested we should buy something a bit different: enter the Bentley Turbo R. It was supposed to be a ‘project’ aimed at keeping two retirees out of mischief while they attempted a rebuild, but this plan has gone badly wrong because it is almost like new! The pleasure now is in admiring the craftsmanship of these Crewe-built cars.

    I’m afraid that over Christmas I retreated to the garage to keep the Bentley company, suitably reclined on what must be the most comfortable seating ever created, sipping a brandy – a mildly decadent memory that has already put a marker down for permanent residency. Finally, in another moment of madness, a second Maserati joined the fold: a Gran Turismo Sport, purchased to celebrate my retirement. It’s still too new so continues to depreciate, but my reward is to enjoy this car’s slightly unhinged dual personality: a benign Dr Jekyl in auto mode, it changes into an antisocial Mr Hyde upon a press of the Sport button.

    What have I learnt from owning these cars? One valuable lesson is to live for the day and enjoy the moment. For some, cars are a means of transport; for others, an investment, kept idle in the fear that extra miles will harm values. But for me, it’s more complicated: I find it hard to say goodbye to a car that has helped create a memory – to sell it on after a year or two, often to an uncertain future, seems to be a little disloyal. Irrational, I know, but what price a memory?

    Then again, I may be suffering from a strange disease: one that has no name and is, I fear, incurable!
    ‘I find it hard to say goodbye to a car that has helped create a memory; to sell it on seems a little disloyal’
    Maserati 3200 looks great in Blu Sebring and Lawford reckons it’s a blue-chip investment.

    Lovely cabin and all-important manual ’box
    Fabulous signature ‘boomerang’ tail-lights
    Maserati 3200 looks great in Blu Sebring and Lawford reckons it’s a blue-chip investment.
    Just part of the Lawford fleet (l-r): Gran Turismo Sport, 3200GT, Mercedes-Benz SL and Porsche Boxster S 986
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    Surprisingly simple pleasures. You wouldn’t think it, but Maserati’s revamped GranTurismo delivers old-school charm. Words Colin Goodwin. Photography Barry Hayden. #Maserati-GranTurismo / #Maserati-GranTurismo-MC / #Maserati

    Hidden under an acreage of plastic, but visible if you lean in and have a good look, are the crackle-finish red cam covers of the Maserati GranTurismo’s Ferrari-built 4.7-litre #V8 .

    This seductive power plant goes back a long way; it’s essentially the same engine that was fitted to the Ferrari 360 Modena, which in turn was a tweaked version of the motor in the F355.

    We don’t know when the replacement for the current GranTurismo will be here (it’s several years late already) but one thing’s for sure – it will have a turbocharged engine under its bonnet. Emissions targets will demand it. For now we have this facelifted GranTurismo and its open-topped brother the GranCabrio. It’s a typical cosmetic job with only the bits that are not too expensive to change coming under the scalpel. There are new bumpers front and back and a deeper front grille that’s been influenced by the one fitted to the Alfieri concept car. The MC versions (MC standing for Maserati Corse and sitting above the standard Sport) get a carbonfibre bonnet with scoops and cooling ducts. Inside there’s a new infotainment system which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

    For anyone who is frustrated by car manufacturers’ incessant addition of features and systems that actually reduce the pleasure of driving, the GranTurismo is a great relief. That engine in particular is a wondrous thing. It delivers its 460bhp the old-fashioned way, with the power increasing as the revs rise. There’s nothing of the flat torque curve that modern turbochargers bring but instead a thrilling increase in thrust as the 7500rpm red line is approached. And, in case you’re wondering, the previous model’s 4.2-litre option has been dropped due to lack of demand.

    Eight- and even nine-speed automatic gearboxes are the norm these days but the Maserati makes do with its six-speed ZF torque converter transmission. That might sound behind the times for a modern GT but, like the GranTurismo’s hydraulic power steering, it works more than adequately. Simply kicking down a gear coming out of a corner is enough to give you decent thrust but you can tap down a couple of ratios with the always-active column-mounted paddles if you want to.


    Maserati may well wince at the comparison, but the 2018 model-year GranTurismo is similar in many ways to the current Ford Mustang. Both are cars that remind us that you don’t need 600bhp under the bonnet and that in the modern world a car that is a pleasure to drive at 30mph is more desirable than one that can deliver 300kg of downforce at 175mph. The next generation GranTurismo will probably be faster, cleaner and more sophisticated. Maserati’s challenge will be to create a car that achieves these goals without losing any of the current car’s simple appeal.

    Left and below The looks have been tweaked, the interior updated, but the big appeal is the muscular driving experience.
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    To be rediscovered urgently! Citroën SM Nobility obliges by Vincent Desmonts. Photos Laurent Villaron.
    She had everything for her: sumptuously innovative lines, unparalleled comfort, uncompromising handling and even an engine to the nobility all Italian. And yet, the SM was a bitter failure for Citroën and, beyond, for the high-end French. Regrets eternal...

    At the turn of the 1970s, France had dreams of grandeur. The laborious reconstruction is coming to an end, and the country is resolutely moving towards a radiant future where technology will triumph. Two dates particularly symbolize this conquering optimism: on 2 March 1969, the supersonic Concorde made its first flight to Toulouse; On 11 March 1970, the Citroën SM was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

    In the air and on earth, the domination of engineering tricolor is total. The Concorde as the SM represents a sort of absolute summit of sophistication and push the limits of physics, the first carrying a hundred passengers to Mach 2, the second combining absolute comfort and total road efficiency. Technological perfections, stinging commercial failures. Greatness and decadence. In the absence of being able to take the orders of the late Concorde, let us install ourselves at the wheel of the "Concorde of the road"!

    The car, which is kindly lent to me by Jean-Marc, is an injection model of 1972, one of the first of its kind, the SM initially benefited from a feeding by three carburettors Weber body notoriously complex to regulate. For Jean-Marc, this car has a special flavour: "My father was a great fan of Citroën, he had almost all models ... except the SM! At the time, with two big teenagers and a dog, it was not really the ideal car, so he preferred a CX. "The" citroenism "being a contagious disease, the son will inherit the virus of his papa ... and will eventually acquire the SM that was missing in the dynasty! "I bought it twenty-six years ago. My father thought it was a funny idea to choose this old thing, that I should have taken a youngster's case, like a Peugeot 309 GTI! But I wanted to give him this pleasure. It was my first old car. Jean-Marc immediately attacked a complete renovation project to restore the car in perfect condition. Much more recently, engine and box have been reconditioned. Now, the beautiful starts in a quarter turn, hot and cold. A real beast of burden!

    A STYLE

    Should we return to the emblematic lines of the SM? Everything in it fascinates, starting with its proportions: interminable hood, remote cockpit, truncated rear, uneven tracks. And then there are, of course, a host of details that are not to be found anywhere else, as this ramp of headlights (those in the center rotate at the same time as the steering wheel) under a canopy, registration. Or this air intake on the hood, adorned with rafters. Or these very low tail lights and connected by an orange headband ...

    She deserves her surname

    This Citroen leaves no one indifferent: we adore it, we hate it ... or change. Younger, I was baffled by this atypical physique. Today, I am admiring. Incredibly modern in 1970, it remains fascinating almost half a century later. The cockpit is a concentrate of the time, with its curved seats (totally devoid of lateral support!), Steering wheel and oval counters, or its many touches of chrome.

    Behind this apparent frivolity hides a rather rigorous conception. The ergonomics are particularly elaborate, with a driver's seat with multiple adjustments and a steering wheel adjustable in height and depth, a refinement very rare at the time. So the driving position is excellent. There are however some false notes, like the instrumentation little readable, or the famous car radio installed ... between the seats.

    But do not complain too much: the air conditioning was (already) standard! Our trial takes place in the beautiful region of the French Vexin, hilly, wooded and game. A small paradise for lovers of nature, but a real torture for cars seen the state of dilapidation of the secondary network. But the SM has it magical that it seems to hover over the road. Holes, bumps, speed bumps and other nest-drops are literally rubbed out. It is no longer a car, it is an iron! More surprising, despite its balloon tires and its fascinating softness, the SM does not "lay" at the first turn: its hydropneumatic suspensions also act as an anti-roll, so that the lack of maintenance of the seats is no longer really a problem ... at least for the driver.

    In general, beyond her comfort, the SM amply deserves her surname of "Her Majesty". Its track record is

    Incredibly serene, its wide front lanes ensure a great stability in curve and its road behaviour is still perfectly current. Even braking has not (too) aged ... once you get used to this tiny mushroom it is better to brush than to sink. So imagine in 1970! What car could have held such a high pace, so long, in the hands of just about any driver?

    It's simple: none. It is not I who said it, it is José Rosinski, obviously very impressed by the SM Injection during his test for Sport Auto in 1972 (see previous page)! It is necessary to make an aside about the direction, the famous Diravi which caused a lot of ink to flow. This "reminding direction" was the first to offer variable speed-dependent assistance. The system used the hydraulic system pressure and a centrifugal governor connected to the output shaft of the gearbox to adjust the assistance in terms of the appearance: very gentle manoeuvres, firmer highway. On paper, it's great. In fact, it's ... disturbing! The Diravi filters all the sensations that could rise from the front axle, leaving only the centering force, which remains active at all speeds.

    Practical when maneuvers, where it is enough to release the steering wheel so that it returns to the point zero. More disturbing on the road, where the recall is too marked in the great curves. And in the tightest corners, it's the ultimate acceleration (only two turns from stop to stop) that surprises: one tends to overbrack! Some will see intolerable defects, others, simple peculiarities which are just the attraction and originality of the SM.

    A "V8 AMPUTED" RATHER EFFECTIVE

    What about the block? It is of course a #Maserati-V6 , designed by Giulio Alfieri from an 8-cylinder, which explains its opening at 90° and its idle an irregular strand. But this 2.7-liter engine is quite modern for its time, with a block and alloy cylinder heads (but cast iron liners), four camshafts head and two valves per cylinder. It is lightweight (140 kg) and of remarkable compactness, so that it has been possible to install it very backwards with respect to the front axle for a better distribution of the masses. It offers performances which were certainly not extraordinary, but which are still very correct today. José Rosinski clocked the SM at 30.5 s on the stopped start kilometer, the excellent aerodynamics allowing a maximum speed of more than 220 kmh.

    In terms of character, the Maserati V6 is distinguished more by its roundness than by its sound, finally quite enough. The 5-speed gearbox (installed in front of the engine), with the control well guided, is a pleasure to handle. The commercial failure of DM, which has many reasons, has been widely discussed. First, Citroën dealers were reluctant to take over the costly Porsche or Mercedes from the wealthy clientele attracted by the SM. Then the incredible technical complexity of this auto disarmed the mechanics. As for its high consumption (20 litres - 100 km according to Jean-Marc!), It could no longer fall badly, in full oil shock. Finally, if the American market first welcomed DM, absorbing one third of production, a sudden change in regulation will ban purely and simply hydropneumatic suspension cars. In 1975, Michelin sold Citroën to Peugeot, which quickly disposed of #Maserati (sold to de Tomaso). Sacrificed on the altar of industrial rationalization, the SM will preserve forever a taste of lost paradise.

    True, the Citroen SM is full of defects. Its rear seats are symbolic, its chest is monopolized by the enormous spare wheel, its engine lacked character and its direction has what to baffle the most impassive driver. But his ability to swallow the miles at great speed, serenely and in a princely comfort fascinates forty-seven years after his appearance. She has cast a spell on me: I am in love!

    Technical data #Citroen-SM / #Citroen / #Citroen-SM-2.7IE / #Citroen-SM-ie / #1972

    Engine 6-cylinder #V6 at 90°
    Cylinder capacity 2670cc
    Distribution 4 overhead camshafts, 12-valve
    Maximum power 178bhp at 5500 rpm DIN
    Maximum torque 232 Nm at 4000 rpm DIN
    Power supply #Bosch electronic fuel injection
    Transmission Manual transmission, 5-speed
    Suspension front / rear Independent wheels, Hydropneumatic spheres
    Brakes 4-disc front / rear
    Wheels Front / Rear tires 205 VR 15
    Dimensions 4.89 x 1.84 x 1.32 m
    Weight 1490 kg
    Tank 90 liters
    Price in France 1972 58,200F
    Price EU 2017 18,000 € approximately
    Performance Max speed: 228 kph / 0-62 MPH (0 to 100 kph) 8.9 s
    Fuel consumption average / 29MPG / 11.2 litres 100 km
    CITROËN SM INJECTION 1972
    THE OPINION OF ... VINCENT DESMONT What Sport Sport said ... August 1972
    "IT HAS NO COMPETITION IN TERMS OF PERFORMANCE-COMFORT-SAFETY SYNTHESIS"

    BY JOSÉ ROSINSKI

    Driving a SM remains a source of wonder. It is not that it is perfect, of course, but it retains in some respects - not least - such an advance on everything that is being constructed at present, it demonstrates such a personality, and it dispenses Such satisfactions that it continues to stand quite apart. Undoubtedly, for road use made long journeys, it is difficult to find a competitor in terms of performance-comfort-safety synthesis. Certainly there are cars that are brighter, more manageable, more amusing, but, it seems to us, none that can surpass the SM in the set of qualities that it offers. Criticism, we have always to oppose it: the ratio of external bulkiness / habitability is ridiculous, the visibility towards the front is mediocre, the braking control ensured by the absurd DS type button lack of progressivity, the accelerations are far from The capacity of the luggage compartment is devoured by the voluminous spare wheel which throne there... But, in the end, all this does not count in front of the extraordinary balance of efficiency of road that reaches the SM thanks to Its exceptional steering with progressive assistance and its unparalleled suspension, serving excellent mechanics. It is necessary to have conducted a SM on a secondary national in mediocre state to realize the absolutely astounding level that this efficiency achieves.

    THE PRETTY LEVER OF GEARS IS PLEASANT TO HANDLE. BUT THE SEATS HAVE LATERAL MAINTENANCE.

    OVAL FLYER, OVAL COUNTERS, HOT COLORS: SM CASSETTE IS A CONCENTRATE OF SEVENTIES!

    "Like the Concorde, SM represents a sort of absolute summit of sophistication"

    FRAGILE HEARTS, ABSTAIN: THE GAS PLANT WHICH HELD UNDER THE HOOD WILL BRING YOUR NERVES TO RUDE TEST!

    One of the distinguishing features of the SM style is the ventilation grille hitting the rafters on the hood.
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    / #Maserati-Levante / FALL #2016 / #Maserati / #USA

    Better known for high-end sport cars and luxury sedans, Maserati has taken the inevitable step to offer a high-end, coupe-like sporty SUV: the Levante.

    Built on the Ghibli sedan platform, the Levante follows Maserati naming tradition, and is “inspired by a warm, Mediterranean wind that can change from mild to gale force in an instant.”

    Base models start at $72,000, and are powered by a Ferrari-built twin-turbo 3.0-liter #V6 engine making 345 hp. Top-trim S models — which reach skyward from $83,000 — crank out 424 hp. Both are hooked up to an eight-speed automatic. Different drive modes alter the exhaust note, shift points, and suspension firmness.

    Maserati pegs the Levante S hitting 60 mph from rest in a brisk 5.0 seconds while the base model goes from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive and an adaptive air suspension with five height settings, along with forward collision warning with brake assist, lane departure warning, and a surround view camera.

    Rounding out the standard feature list is Fiat-Chrysler’s’ 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen with navigation, heated and vented front seats, and a dual-zone climate system.

    CR’S TAKE While we expect a rich interior, fit and finish needs to be a step up from what we found in our Ghibli S Q4, whose craftsmanship was not up to snuff for a $90,000 car.
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    Test location: Sicily, Italy
    GPS: 37.59999, 14.01535
    Maserati Quattroporte GTS
    The current Quattroporte has so far been a more luxurious, less driver-focused machine than its predecessor. Has a facelift changed that?


    The saloon car with the world’s most exotic name for something as prosaic as ‘four-door’ has just had a mid-life facelift. That means a subtle resculpting of the front and rear, a reworked interior, minor calibration tweaks to gearbox and engine, and new GranSport (sporty) and GranLusso (more luxurious) trim options. The UK line-up comprises a diesel (V6, 271bhp), the S (twin-turbo V6 petrol, 404bhp) and the rangetopping GTS, as driven here.

    The £110,405 GTS’s Ferrari-built twin-turbo V8 produces the same 523bhp at 6800rpm as before, and despite 479lb ft from 2250rpm (on overboost, and also unchanged), it’s entirely happy with being wrung out right to the limiter. It’s an oilysmooth engine, but its note won’t make you grin from the moment you twist the key. It is, however, capable of sending the Quattroporte GTS to 62mph in 4.7sec and on to 193mph.

    ZF’s familiar eight-speed ‘HP70’ gearbox is still the sole transmission choice, with 100-millisecond shifts. It’s a great partner for the V8, and can be shifted manually either by sturdy, tactile metal paddles mounted on the steering column or via the central shift lever. It’ll let the engine headbutt the limiter in manual mode, but will also rather confusingly kick-down beyond a poorly defined point in the throttle-pedal’s arc.

    Sitting behind the grille is now an active shutter that varies the airflow into the engine bay according to the engine’s requirements. This speeds up the cold-start procedure by closing, enables every model to have the same size radiator (saving money), and improves the airflow under the car by closing again at high speed. It also makes for a ten per cent reduction in aerodynamic drag, reducing the Cd to 0.28.

    Inside, the reworked centre console features a new, higherresolution infotainment screen, and the leather chairs and general fit and finish are as sumptuous as you’d hope for, given the price tag. For those being driven, rear leg-room is very generous, but occupants appreciably over six foot in stature will find the headlining rather close in the front seats, and brushing their head while sitting in the rear.

    Dynamically, the big Maserati is much the same as before. It all starts promisingly at low speed, aided by impressive refinement that new ‘cavity’ sound insulation has improved still further. The steering has real weight to it, and the Quattroporte is now an outsider in retaining hydraulic power assistance.

    That sounds like a good omen, but the benefits aren’t there in practice: there’s a surprisingly pronounced ‘sneeze factor’ around the straightahead, and then unnatural ramping up of weight thereafter. There’s little to be gleaned from the rack during cornering and it also suffers from kickback over poor surfaces, compounded by a ride that can be confused by the same challenge, the variable Skyhook dampers stumbling over larger intrusions that impact far too much into the cabin.

    What remains is a very different car to the old ’03-’12 Quattroporte, and a much better limousine than that car ever was. But it’s also much less of a sporting drive, with a far from ebullient character and a reduced presence, and while these latest improvements are certainly worthwhile, the same flaws remain in a luxury-limo class with some outstandingly talented members. Those rivals include everything from the Aston Martin Rapide S at the upper end to the recently revealed new Porsche Panamera (see Radar) and the BMW M5. It’s a disparate market but one thing that links them all is a breadth of talent that the Maserati can’t quite match without the old car’s charm to call upon.

    + Still pretty, even more refined, and still with Specification a V8
    - Off the pace dynamically


    Specification #2016 / #Maserati-Quattroporte-GTS-VI / #Maserati-Quattroporte-GTS / #Maserati-Quattroporte-VI / #Maserati-Quattroporte-GTS-M156 / #Maserati-Quattroporte-M156 / #Maserati-Quattroporte / #Maserati /
    Evo rating 5
    Engine #V8 , 3798cc, twin-turbo / CO2 250g/km
    Power 523bhp @ 6800rpm
    Torque 479lb ft @ 2250-3500rpm
    0-62mph 4.7sec (claimed)
    Top speed 193mph (claimed)
    Weight 1900kg (280bhp/ton)
    Basic price £110,405
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    DESIGN
    AUTO ITALIA’S DESIGN CONSULTANT CHRIS HRABALEK DISCUSSES THE FINER POINTS OF AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN

    / #2016 / #Maserati-Levante / #Maserati

    Levante is the name given to Maserati’s 102- year awaited SUV; a vehicle with conceptual origins spawning more than a decade, originally in the form of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s 2003 Maserati Kubang GT Wagon concept, and more recently through Marco Tencone’s in-house effort, the 2011 Kubang concept named after a warm Mediterranean wind.

    The Levante introduces a new era for the Trident intended to push annual sales beyond the 50,000 unit mark. The fact that half of all cars sold in the premium luxury segment are currently SUVs – and with predictions of a further increase to more than 75% by 2020 – is a solid reason why no premium luxury OEM can afford to ignore this lucrative segment. This is why traditional brands ranging from Aston Martin and Bentley to Jaguar and Rolls-Royce have traded their model heritage for a ticket on the SUV development bandwagon; after shaking heads at Porsche management for the past two decades.


    If an OEM wants to survive and continue to build sportscars, they need to give the market an SUV first, it seems. The Maserati Levante is manufactured in three different engine configurations – including one Diesel – with powerlevels ranging from 275hp to 350hp and a list price to start in the low £50,000s. Maserati aims to target the image of the Porsche Cayenne combined with the pricerange of the Porsche Macan, resulting in the Levante as an elegant Italian alternative to a premium luxury SUV such as Jaguar’s F-Pace, et al.

    Designwise, this has translated into traditional SUV proportions combined with surface-treatment and styling-themes quoted from the contemporary Maserati catalogue; namely a sloped coupe-like roofline, muscular rear wings, as well as the Alfieri concept inspired front grille, the trio of air vents on the front wings and a signature trapezoidal Cpillar graphic. Designing by numbers.

    Its not as if there is anything significantly wrong with the styling of the Levante, but at the same time, one would be hard pressed to proclaim it ‘iconic’. Like many of the recent premium luxury SUVs, it achieves its target: a pile of pre-orders and a waiting list higher than most terrains it will end up being driven on. Yet, one wonders, if there will ever be another luxury SUV as unique and significant as Lamborghini’s ‘Lambo-Rambo’ LM002.

    Automobiles in the ’50s and ’60s were built and bought with the knowledge that they will outlive the owner, but today’s products have traded craftsmanship for volume; think ecological canvas bag vs. handstitched leather bag. As successful as the Maserati Levante will undoubtedly become, it also mirrors the attitude of today’s consumption society and for this very reason the Levante is arguably perfect.
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    Maserati’s no-brainer arrives Get used to it: here comes a Modenese luxury SUV / Words Richard Meaden / Photography Roberto Carrer / #Maserati-Levante-S-435 / #Maserati-Levante-S / #Maserati-Levante / #Maserati / #2016 / #Maserati-Levante-275 /

    Levante. At Least the name of Maserati’s all-new SUV feels right, even if the idea feels uncomfortable. The days of rakish Khamsins and pocket-sized Meraks are over, but never has the Trident’s march into the luxury mainstream been more apparent. And SUVs account for half the one million premium luxury sales.

    What’s it like? As SUVs go it’s a lithe-looking thing that trades thuggish bulk for less threatening curves, and it features a plush and pleasingly original interior. The petrol-powered Levante S 435 isn’t coming to the UK but the oil-burning Levante 275 is. Both motors are turbocharged 3.0-litre V6s and both employ the same slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

    Maserati set itself the goal of offering best-in-class ride and handling – no mean feat given SUVs traditionally offer approximations of one or the other. It’s impressive, therefore, to discover that the Levante hits both targets, thanks to an inherently sound 50:50 weight distribution, an all-wheel-drive system that can send 100% of the torque to the rear, a torque-vectoring rear limited-slip diffential, and sophisticated multi-mode adaptive damping – all of which offer a supple ride and surprising poise. This is an SUV you’d actually enjoy threading along a good road. It’s not bad off-road, either, thanks largely to a smart hill descent system and a 40mm ride-height lift.

    A top speed of 143mph and a 0-62mph time of 6.9sec are brisk rather than blistering, but more than adequate for everyday use. Pricing is yet to be announced, but is predicted to be between £53,000 and £55,000. That’s keen for the class, not least given that the Maserati name still carries kudos. The Levante might offend the purists, but it is undeniably an impressive machine. Moreover, if it enjoys the success Maserati predicts (and which it deserves), it will fund the more indulgent GT sports cars we all long to see.
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    The #Ligier-JS2 / #Ligier-Maserati-JS2 / #Ligier / #Ligier-Maserati . French supercar with Maserati power. French Curves The French supercar with Maserati Merak power designed by Pietro Frua. Story by Andrea Cittadini. Photography by Roberto Carrer.


    A Guy Ligier began his racing career riding a motorcycle and became the Champion of France in 1959 and 1960. In 1966, Ligier was the sole French driver in Formula 1 and competed against the best drivers of the era. Following the death of his lifelong friend Jo Schlesser, who was killed in the 1968 French Grand Prix, Ligier withdrew from motorsport and a sportscar project he was developing was put on hold. However, in 1969, Michel Tetu, an ex-Renault engineer joined the Ligier team and persuaded Ligier to revive the project. Guy Ligier named this new car JS1 – 'JS' stood for his friend Jo Schlesser. He displayed the JS1 at the 1969 Paris Motor Show. The body was of Italian design. The French chassis used a steel backbone and was suspended front and rear by double wishbones. It was powered by a mid-mounted Cosworth FVA #Formula-2 engine.

    The JS1 was designed by Michel Tetu who performed the initial aerodynamic tests in a wind tunnel. The car was constructed by Pietro Frua, who was chosen because he was considered to be the best man for the job, but despite his personal status he was willing to defer to Ligier's technical demands. Other designers would likely have been less flexible in following a carmaker's instructions. Frua in contrast, was perfectly happy to do so, and came up with a superb car that still looked absolutely modern.

    The first JS1 to roll off the line was a red car fitted with a Ford engine. Then came the race débuts with the first wins in 1970, several engine changes and an appearance at Le Mans. Ford decided to stop supplying engines and an agreement was set up with Citroën to obtain Maserati power units. Guy Ligier was already well acquainted with the Italian marque after using its V12 in his Cooper F1 in 1966.



    In the meantime Tetu designed the Sport JS3 which competed in 1971, until the arrival of the Maserati JS2, which was also complemented by a road version. Today Michel Tetu is the Chairman of Club Ligier JS2 (www.ligierjs2.fr) and it was thanks to him that we managed to visit the Abrest factory where all the JS2s were made. He observed his creation as though it was flesh and blood and revealed all the secrets of the car and its genesis. He even showed us the original plans and presented us with a copy.

    Tetu explained the concept of the futuristic aluminium and Klegecell (foam) chassis with sandwich and honeycomb construction techniques. He went on to describe the brakes and transmissions, the tests at Autodromo di Modena and the final configuration, which featured the Maserati 2.7 V6 engine followed by the 3.0-litre unit of the Merak and the #Citroen-SM. The SM's transmission was also employed. He also mentioned the three mysterious special electronic injection 24-valve engines that #Maserati made for #Ligier . They were never used because the company had been sold during that time. One of these units is on display in Bernard Guénant's Trident showroom.

    Bernard Guénant is a man from times past: a genuine and knowledgeable aficionado of beautiful motor cars. He's the proprietor of the Maserati Trident-Autosport dealership (www.trident-autosport.com) in La Rochesur- Yon, a smart and rationally laid out town built on the edict of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Vendée district near Nantes. His personal preference lies with Citroën and Maserati, marques that have crossed paths in the past and are acclaimed for the original technical solutions and refined styling of their models.

    Maserati was owned by Citroën from 1968 to 1975, and it was this period that awakened Bernard Guénant's interest in the Italian marque. This brings us up to 1984 when Bernard's garage was operating as a classic car restorer specialising in Maseratis and Ferraris and, from 2004, Ligier coupes with their V6 Maserati engine, an example of which Bernard bought for himself.

    Today the Carrossimo workshop (www.carrossimo.com) is an international reference point for fans of Italian and French sportscars and others, for example there's a 1966 McLaren M1B in the collection displayed at the Trident-Autosport Maserati showroom. Bernard Guénant owns several historically significant Citroëns and Maseratis, including a Quattroporte II, and racing cars including a Maserati Bora Group 4 and the Ligier Maserati JS2.

    The featured Ligier JS2, powered by Maserati's 3.0- litre V6 engine, was a road model registered on 17th October 1973 and subsequently race converted by its then owner Philippe Bordier for use in the 1976 edition of the prestigious French hillclimb championship and later two events in 1977 and 1978. This JS2 was to compete in Group 6 and it won nine class awards and top-ten placings in its group. The livery, initially the official 1975 GT white/blue, was changed for the last two appearances. Bernard Guénant returned the car to its official colours of 1974, the year of the 8th place at Le Mans with Lafitte-Serpaggi. The entrepreneur/driver is still racing the JS2 today at classic car meetings.

    Bernard Guénant's JS2 is unique, an extremely valuable road model that was race converted immediately after purchase. The owner informed us that the JS is an extremely well designed car that offers a measure of neutrality in its handling and is perfectly at home on the road or on the track. There were a total of 83 Ligier coupes built, plus a handful of race-ready cars. Today there are only around 30 surviving cars with prices ranging from €1,000,000 quoted by Artcurial for the Cosworth engined JS2, which came second in the 1975 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, to €650,000 for the JS1-02 and €123,000 (150,000 CHF) for one of the latest series JS2 models from Pfenninger Autos AG in Switzerland. The average asking price for the ‘routière’ version is around €65,000.

    Thanks to its characteristics, the JS2 is destined to grow in recognition and is becoming much sought after.

    ABOVE: Prototype fuel injected 24-valve Merak development engine

    BELOW: This JS2 ran at #Le-Mans in 1975 with Cosworth DFV power.

    ABOVE: The featured JS2 was originally a #1973 road car. It was converted into a hillclimber and competed between #1976 - #1978 .

    LEFT: Originally fitted with a Ford V6, the JS2 became #Maserati-2.7-V6 powered and later Merak 3.0.
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    CLASS-BEATING EXEC AT 41 ANNIVERSARY – 1974 CITROËN CX / #Citroen-CX / #Citroen-CX-Prestige / #Citroen-CX-Prestige-Series-I

    It’s 40 years since Citroen took the plunge and replaced the revolutionary DS. Ian Seabrook charts the history of this big French wedge and the many variants it was produced in. The striking replacement for the legendary DS is now 40 years old, but no less remarkable. We take a look at this car’s history.

    The CX had what’s known in the music world as a tough gig. The Traction Avant had been incredible enough, with its front-wheel drive monocoque construction being pretty revolutionary for the mid ‘Thirties, but Michelin-owned Citroën was only just warming up. When the DS arrived in 1955, the motoring world was still struggling to catch up with the Traction – now here was a car that looked like it was from the future (and felt like it to drive too).

    Both cars had been massive leaps forward in technology, but the CX would not be as pioneering as its predecessors. That may be hard to believe when you consider the impact its sleek lines must’ve made back in 1974, but it was very much toned down from the car Citroën originally wanted to produce. The ‘ #Project-L ’ prototype, which still exists, has a flat-four engine. Other options were a flat-six (continuing a theme explored with the DS during development) or even Wankel power, with a triple-rotor engine tested. Sadly, these experiments, plus the purchase of #Maserati in 1968, left Citroën’s finances in a perilous state. Again.

    So, the CX would be launched under Peugeot’s watchful gaze, as #1974 was also the year that Michelin handed over control to Citroën’s long-term rival. In the end, as with the DS, Citroën had opted for sheer convention when it came to engines – DS engines were tweaked and offered in 1985cc and 2175cc form. The engines were now mounted transversely (rather than longitudinally) and the new gearbox had only four speeds. Suspension was still by double wishbones and hydropneumatic spheres up front, and a trailing arm/hydropneumatic type at the rear. While very few CXs were sold without power steering, most used the same #DIRAVI system as seen on the #Citroen SM. This had speed-sensitive assistance and powered self-centring. It was also highly direct, which makes it very difficult to drive a CX smoothly the first time you try! Interestingly, the CX was actually quite a lot smaller than the DS: The saloon was 11 inches (28cm) shorter, and three inches (7.62cm) narrower.

    UK sales commenced in 1975. From 1976, there was a three-speed semiautomatic transmission offered – the #Citroen-CX-C-Matic . This required the driver to change ratios, but used a torque converter (to dispense with the clutch pedal) and an electrically-controlled clutch for gearchanges. For the first time there was now a diesel option too – in 2.2-litre form. Its 66bhp allowed for a 90mph top speed due to good aerodynamics, though the 0-60mph time of 20 seconds was not exactly brisk.

    ENORMOUS ESTATES

    1976 also saw the introduction of the Safari and Familiale estates – with five or eight seats respectively. The estate had a longer wheelbase – they are in fact enormous. 195 inches (495cm) long, they can be tricky to park but boast plenty of passenger space and a useful luggage area. That long wheelbase was also used for a stretched saloon – the range-topping Prestige. The #Citroen-CX2200 gave way to the 2400 in #1977 , which was available in fuel-injected form in the new 128bhp GTi. This also introduced a five-speed gearbox. #1978 saw the fuel-injected GTi engine fitted to the Pallas and Prestige, with #C-Matic transmission for the #Pallas . The 2400 diesel became a 2500. #1979 saw the first fruits of the Peugeot takeover: The ‘ #Douvrin ’ engine was a joint development between Peugeot and Renault, and was fitted to the Renault 20 and 30, as well as the Peugeot 505. It used a beltdriven, overhead camshaft and while not exactly exciting, proved remarkably hardy. The 2.4-litre, overhead valve petrol engine remained in use and while many hoped that the Douvrin V6 (another joint development, this time including Volvo) might be shoehorned into the CX’s engine bay, that never happened. However, the five-speed gearbox was now offered across the board.

    The quirky C-Matic was seen as the worst of both worlds by many and was replaced by a fully automatic #ZF gearbox in 1980. This was also a three-speed unit and it suited the torquey engines very well. Different front wings, with flared wheelarches, were fitted from 1982 to allow the fitment of wider wheels. Was more performance on the way?

    TURBO TIME

    That extra performance first applied to the diesels, with the launch in #1984 of the #Citroen-CX-RD-Turbo and #Citroen-CX-TRD-Turbo (badged, for rather obvious reasons, #Citroen-CX-DTR-Turbo in the UK). The turbo-charger boosted torque by nearly 50 per cent to 159lb/ft, and power by nearly a third from 75bhp to 95bhp. Top speed rose from 97mph to 108mph and 3.5 seconds was shaved from the 0-60mph time – now 13.3 seconds. This allowed it to beat the Rover SD1 2400D as the fastest production diesel available in the UK. Meanwhile, the 2400 engines were upped to 2473cc and rebadged #Citroen-CX-25 .

    In 1985, Citroen bolted a turbo-charger to the GTi, to create the #Citroen-CX-GTi-Turbo . With 168bhp on tap, performance was certainly quite exciting. 129mph was in reach, and 60mph came up in just 8.2 seconds. These cars were beautifully detailed too – the alloy wheels included T-shaped holes. The non-blown 2.5-litre petrol engine also became available in the bottom of the range R spec – as the #Citroen-CX-25RI . Oddly, this larger engine retained overheadvalve construction, right up to the end of production.

    The Series 2 facelift took place in 1986, with plastic bumpers replacing the sleek metal originals. Inside, the rotating dial speedometer and rev counter were replaced with conventional dials, but the unusual switch lay-out remained, with paddles for the lights and wipers, and rocker switches for the indicators, which still didn’t self-cancel. A new 22TRS midrange model filled the gap between two-litre and 2.5-litre, and used a stretched version of the Douvrin overhead cam engine. 1987 saw more changes, with the launch of Turbo 2 versions of the petrol and diesel. Confusingly, Citroën was claiming 169bhp for the GTi Turbo 2, despite the fact that top speed had risen to 138mph compared to the 168bhp GTi Turbo. 60mph now came up in just 7.7 seconds. Even more dramatic was the change to the DTR Turbo 2, which could now top 120mph and blast to 60mph in less than 11 seconds. That was remarkable for a diesel at the time – only the Mercedes-Benz 300D Turbo got close, and that needed 500 more cubic centimetres and two more cylinders.

    But the CX was on borrowed time by now. Citroën launched the XM in 1989 (another anniversary) and while CX estate production continued until 1990, that was phased out once the new XM estate came online.

    With 1.2 million CXs sold, the CX was a rare thing indeed – a large French car that sold well. The XM never got close to that success, with only 333,775 sold. The C6, which even stole the CX’s famed curved rear window glass, sold a paltry 23,421. The problem was, while Citroën always aimed for the CX to have a long production life, it gave time for the rest of the motoring world to catch up. The CX was almost without rival for sheer class and comfort when new – aside from Jaguar’s XJ6 perhaps. By the mid ‘Eighties, the market for large, luxurious cars had become a crowded one.


    THE CX REPUTATION

    It must be said, the CX doesn’t have the best of reputations. Not quite how you might expect though: The complex steering and suspension systems are pretty robust. The main issues are electrics and trim quality. Even when the cars were brand new, they had a reputation for being problematic when it came to electrical kit. Sometimes they would just not start for no apparent reason. Other times, electrical equipment would just be flaky. This wasn’t the sort of thing you could get away with on an executive car, and is perhaps one explanation why sales dropped off towards the end of production.

    These days, however, with most survivors in the hands of enthusiasts, such problems have largely been overcome. Troublesome cars are unlikely to have survived.

    It has often been said that if you drive a CX a few miles, you’ll hate it forever. Drive one a few hundred miles though, and you’ll never want anything else. The driving experience is so different that it really does take a long time to adjust. Once you’ve experienced the comfort, handling and ergonomics though, few things compare so well. The later Turbo 2 models, petrol or diesel, offer remarkable performance – though most CXs are capable of a decent pace.

    When buying, service history is certainly nice to have. The hydraulics may be robust, but only if service schedules have been adhered to. Similarly, the strong engines invite scrimping. They will tolerate a fair amount of abuse.

    Corrosion is the main concern though. Effectively, the CX has a separate chassis, made up of subframes front and rear, and longerons between the two. Rot here can be tricky to repair and often spreads into the floors. Sills are another weakness, and on saloons the sunroof – panel and aperture – is notorious for getting crispy with age. Water leaks from the windscreen only hasten the demise of the floor. Door bottoms also get crispy.

    In terms of the hydraulics, make sure the suspension rises swiftly and the steering feels consistent. Watch for the correct operation of the electric height control on the Series 2 models – it can jam and make a constant clicking noise.

    WHY YOU SHOULD BUY ONE

    The best examples of the Citroën CX are now nudging towards £10,000 – possibly more if fresh from restoration or in perfect, original condition. GTi Turbos are sought-after, as are the diesels as most have been run into the ground. £4000-6000 gets you something pretty good, £2000-4000 may get you something low-spec but sound enough. It’s now pretty rare to find a half-decent runner for less than a grand. Projects can still be very cheap as restoration costs are high. However, specialist and club support is excellent.

    TODAY’S PRICES

    With thanks to: drive-my for its invaluable info in producing this feature

    Early Citroën CXs included the quirky rotating dial speedometer and rev counter gauges.

    The #1986 facelift removed the rotating dials in front of the driver, though the trademark Citroën single-spoke steering wheel remained.

    The Citroen-CX-Prestige is a saloon that has the same wheelbase as the lengthier estate models, as such there’s tons of room in the back for rear passengers.

    Facelifted CXs lost their metal bumpers, which were replaced by integrated, modernlooking plastic affairs.

    Who would’ve thought it would be possible to make an estate CX even longer? This is a factory-approved conversion by French coachbuilder Tissier.

    Early CX with chrome bumpers. Turbo – a word to gladden the heart of any CX enthusiast who’d like to get from A to B faster.
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