Estimate: £52,000 - £57,000
La Dolce Vita. Style. Passion. Elegance. These are the carefree ideals that informed the evolution of the Italian car industry. Stop a random passer-by on the street and ask them which country builds cars with the most passion, they’ll invariably cite Italy as the lotharios of the automotive world. It’s just a fact of life, and it stems from the seeds of striving through hardship, carving a niche, and capturing imaginations.
The Maserati name dates back to 1926, when the three eponymous brothers, Alfieri, Ernesto and Ettore, who had all previously worked at Isotta-Fraschini, used their combined skills and know-how to open a tuning shop. After the end of the first world war, they started making racing cars under their own name – Maserati evolved primarily as a racing outfit, the road cars paying for the real business of the day: taking scalps under the chequered flag.
So the provenance is strong, and as the decades wore on, so the focus on quality road cars grew and evolved. As for picking the most desirable Maseratis… well, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel. The world wouldn’t be the same without the 250F, the most iconic of all racing Masers.
The early Quattroportes were magnificent, and you’d be happy to give garage space to any of the cars named after winds – Mistral, Khamsin, Ghibli, Bora, take your pick. But the car we have here, the Indy, represents a truly fascinating chapter in the marque’s history. You see, the late-1960s saw the bubbling up of the impending oil crisis – while this meant extreme strangulation of engines for the Americans, it had broader financial implications for the Italians; basically, it was a case of sink, swim, or find a lifeboat. In Maserati’s case, this rescue ship came in the form of Citroën. The Indy was the first model produced under Citroën ownership – a slightly larger alternative to the Ghibli (which was a 2+2), the new Indy was a full four-seater grand tourer, offered at launch with a 260bhp 4.2-litre V8. It was named in honour of Maserati’s victories at the Indy 500 in 1939/40, and from 1970 a more powerful 292bhp 4.7-litre version was offered. Of a total production run of 1,104 cars, just 364 were built with the 4.7-litre engine.
The car we have here, then, is a rare treat indeed – a representative of a new dawn for the iconic manufacturer, in a spec level you’re supremely unlikely to happen across in the wild.
The story of this Maserati begins around 250 miles from the place of its birth in Modena; the car was delivered new to its first owner in Rome, in April 1971. A European-spec left-hand-drive car, it crossed over to South Africa in the 1980s, where it eventually ended up in a static private collection from 1995-2005. The Indy then underwent a two-year restoration, something which it still wears beautifully today.
More recently, the car has benefited from a full mechanical renovation in 2016 in order to truly restore this elegant four-seater grand tourer to its Dolce Vita glory. All of this work was carried out by top-flight specialists and is validated by the presence of an official Maserati Certificate of Authenticity, confirming that this is a true and correct matching-numbers car.
The seller is the Indy’s first UK owner, who has recently spent almost £3,000 at The Ferrari Centre in Maidstone going over the car with a fine-tooth comb: this work included tuning and balancing the carburettors, fixing a power-steering leak, replacing the clutch master and slave cylinders, and renewing the brake flexi hoses. As a result, the Maserati is in exceedingly fine fettle – a turn-key car that’s ready to go.
The Maserati is wearing its restoration well. The work was carried out in South Africa between 2005-07, and the car is still close to flawless today, with glorious paint that really sparkles in the sun, even and correct panel gaps, and a satisfying thunk when closing the doors, boot and bonnet. Naturally there are a few age-related blemishes, but it really is an exercise in nitpickery: a handful of teeny-tiny stone chips to the nose, and a piece of slightly lifting chrome trim at the base of the window on the passenger door. One of the taillight units is cracked at the corner, and there are a couple of badge holes on the bootlid where marque emblems presumably once resided. On the whole, however, this is a beautifully presented and near-faultless example of an obscure classic; something which wouldn’t look out of place on a concours lawn, and yet is very much ready to leap across continents if required.
Under-bonnet presentation is sublime; following the recent expensive overhaul, everything beneath that vented hood is as Maserati intended, the 4.7-litre V8 bearing all of the correct accoutrements and, of course, being the original engine that was supplied with the car back in 1971. The underside of the car is also impressively solid – perfectly straight and with no signs of corrosion.
The exterior chrome trim is all in outstanding condition, and the Indy wears a set of Borrani alloy wheels (including the spare) – a few minor scuffs to the lips, but otherwise very presentable. The tyres are a budget brand but are new; the owner says that if he were keeping the car, an upgrade to a set of quality tyres from Blockley would be next on the to-do list (these are c.£150 apiece, so not dauntingly expensive), but even so this fresh set of rubber is more than good enough to keep the Indy ticking over for the summer and beyond.
The interior is a truly wonderful place to be, its carefully restored hides feeling at once fresh and new, and befitting a car of this age. The seats recline as they should, the dash is pristine and uncracked, and all of the controls operate as you’d expect – including the distinctive pop-up headlights.
As you’d hope for a 1970s Italian grand tourer, there’s a hefty and muscular feel to the Indy. It’s a luxurious and exquisitely crafted thing; not a lithe and slender supercar, but instead the sort of machine that could whisk you across Europe at Blue Train speed without breaking a sweat, before loping casually into Casino Square and catching the eye of every moneyed passer-by.
It’s effortlessly cool, and a huge part of its character is that brawny V8: launch models received a 260bhp 4.2-litre version of the motor, but for this mid-era car it was engorged to 4.7-litres for a more-than-enough figure of 292bhp. This can happily haul the Indy well beyond 150mph – not that you’ll feel obliged to act hedonistically of course, as that cossetting interior’s soothing embrace is a supremely relaxing place to be. But this is very much a driver’s car; whereas many Indys were supplied with an automatic transmission, this one features the desirable 5-speed ZF manual for increased driver engagement.
The ride and handling are excellent. While this was the first Maserati model to be built under Citroën ownership, the French firm’s complex hydropneumatic suspension arrangements hadn’t yet filtered down to Italy, so this car wears a combination of independent coil-sprung front end, leaf-sprung rear and a live rear axle, along with all-wheel disc brakes and power steering. All of this adds up to a car that’s eager and lively down country lanes, but also comfortable and smooth, ironing out the creases of modern tarmac to paint the experience in the sepia tones of the 1970s.
Having recently been serviced and had its carbs balanced, the engine runs smoothly and perfectly; it has good compression, and all of the car’s electrics operate as they should. So this is not the stressful experience that early-1970s classics can serve up – quite the opposite, in fact. Every flex of the throttle releases a warming infusion of endorphins.
For some enthusiasts and collectors, the appeal of a 1970s Maserati lies in the fact that it isn’t a 1970s Ferrari. This isn’t to denigrate Ferraris, but to highlight the reality that a Maserati is a slightly less obvious choice. And that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s any hint of a compromise in such a decision either; a classic Maserati represents the fabulous distillation of generations of motorsport and fast-road prowess. The passion is intertwined within its very DNA. And in the early 1970s, these credentials were used to inform a thoroughly upmarket and premium direction for the marque’s grand tourers. Building on a base of such attractive and exciting GTs as the 3500GT, Ghibli and Quattroporte, the Indy took all of this know-how, panache and finesse, and backed it up with Citroën’s nous and market smarts. The Indy is arguably the ultimate connoisseur’s choice when it comes to classic Maseratis, and the mid-era 4.7 infuses a frisson of extra vivacity over and above the launch 4.2 model.
So the Indy is a fine choice, and this particular Indy is the one to have. Being a certified matching-numbers example, which has lived a pampered and cherished existence as well as receiving a sympathetic and high-end restoration as well as a correct mechanical overhaul, it ticks all of the boxes when it comes to desirable 1970s sports cars. The fact that this one has lived so many diverse lives in different parts of the globe means that it has more than a few tales to tell. But best of all, this sublimely presented and beautifully pristine Indy is a properly usable turn-key car. If it were bought by a collector, it could happily take pride of place in a static collection or effortlessly scoop trophies on the concours scene. If it were bought by somebody who wanted to use it as it was originally intended, as a pan-European grand tourer, it’s more than capable of that too. Whatever the aspirations, this Indy offers lifestyle options that most classic Italians can only dream of.