Automotive historians will tell you there is no such thing as a 1973 Maserati Khamsin, but there were in fact five pre-production promo cars made that year.

Johannesburg - A rare “barn find” classic 1973 Maserati Khamsin demo car has found its way from a forgotten corner of a Johannesburg workshop to pride of place on the auction-room floor.

This 4.9-litre V8 coupé was one of just five pre-production Khamsins made in 1973, before full production began the following year - which is why anoraks will tell you there is no such thing as a 1973 Khamsin; officially, there isn’t.

Designed by Marcello Gandini of Lamborghini Countach fame, the Khamsin (named for the hot wind that blows across the Egytian Desert) succeeded the Ghibli as Maserati’s flagship grand tourer. Its 4930cc, 16-valve dry sump V8 was fed by three Weber carburettors, delivering 240kW at 5500 revs and 482Nm at 4000rpm to the rear wheels via a five-speed ZF gear-box or (optional) three-speed Borg Warner auto transmission. Performamce was quoted as 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds and 160km/h flat out.

Only 435 were made - including the five pre-production cars - before production ceased in 1982, partly because its introduction coincided with the 1973 oil crisis.

Period trim

Maserati sold this car to a German dealer as a used vehicle before it was imported to South Africa by a dealer in Northcliff, Johannesburg in May 1981. It stood forgotten in a workshop for five years before its current owner bought it in 1986 and had it refinished in red with tan leather upholstery, in place of the factory blue paint with white interior trim. However, it retains its original Weber carburettors, manual ‘box and period Campagnolo ‘mag’ rims.

The Khamsin’s value has been estimateed at R900 000 - R1 400 000. It will be auctioned, together with a collection of classic Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Triumph and MGB cars at 7pm on Tuesday 30 August on the fourth floor, South Tower, Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, where it can be viewed daily from Wednesday 24 to Monday 29 August.  Click here to see the auction catalogue

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