When it comes to Maserati of 80-90’s, the Turbo bubblegum often appears in my mind. For one of those gums we used to compete in my school days.
It was a red two-door car with small headlights resembling a predatory gaze. It had a decent power and speed. Having such a beauty I could.. however, this car has never become my dream.
Years later, something similar appeared on Moscow streets or in auto ads that fell into my eye. (Now I know that most likely it was Ghibli). There was absolutely no feeling that Maserati was sort of exotic car with “wow effect.”. But the car from Turbo gum cards was and is the most exclusive car having in edition 369 copies. And it was Shamal that was honored to put up the old rich clientele with the “plebeian” in their opinion inflatable small-cubature models. Popular in this century thing called “downsizing” by the will of Alejandro De Tomaso shook Maserati company. It was in a difficult situation, in the early 80s of the last century. Influential and wealthy Maserati fans not only demanded return of liters of еngine displacement, but also did not want to share the famous but lost in price Maserati with “beggars.”Snobbery accompanied biturbo line all the years of release, until Shamal has appeared. It was quite expensive, luxurious and finally with straight-eight engine under the hood.
We tested Maserati Shamal that has older traditions than Ferrari, and no less than a sonorous name.
Comparison with Ferrari is not a coincidence. Societa Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati was found in Bologna in 1914 by one of the seven sons of machinist Rudolfo. Since 1903, he worked in a famous automotive studio Isotta Fraschini, where he showed himself as a mechanic and as a driver . When Maserati company appeared, Alfieri and his brothers Ettore and Ernesto started preparing Isotta Fraschini engines for autosport. In the early 20s, Alfieri successfully competed in races. The focus remained on the development of engines, but at the end of 1925 there were first designs developed by their own. Racing car Maserati Tipo 26 was the first car to have a trident on the grille. It became a brand symbol borrowed from the statue of Neptune in Bologna. Now the goal of the brothers was the conversion of racing successes into commercial ones. Maserati managed to survive the global economic crisis as a manufacturer of racing cars. 1930 brought to the company the first victory at the Grand Prix. The following successes got them thinking to release the first civilian car.
Later it was introduced to the public in Milan in 1931, but did not follow the series.In 1932 Alfieri’s death threw Maserati far back. Having celebrated his 44th birthday, Alfieri still was a leader and ideological inspirer of the enterprise. The 1939 was marked by two important events: the Maserati 8 CTF won 500 miles of Indianapolis. It was a success that remained unattainable for Alfa Romeo, Delage, Fiat and even for Bugatti. The second event was the moving of the company to Modena.
In 1947, the Maserati family left the enterprise to engage in constuction activities. The brothers Bindo, Ettore and Ernesto Maserati founded O.S.C.A. company (Officine Specializzate Construzioni Automobili).
Only in 1957 Maserati began the production of road cars. And Shamal of 1992 for a while became the peak of the long evolution of the company, during which such outstanding cars as Bora, Mistral, Ghibli, Mexico, Indy or Khamsin had been created.
Maserati today reflects external restraint. It has an exquisite interior and more than a powerful engine. In Modena, auto racing was outside the interest circle for a long time , but Barchetta symbolized the return of the brand to the world of racing. Double Spyder iE, coupe 222 in SR and 4v versions, as well as four-door 430 and 430 4v co-exist with Shamal in the company catalog.
Shamal is the name of the hot wind in the desert. After all, Ghibli and Khamsin are also the names of winds But on the road Shamal has nothing to do with a light breeze. It is a hurricane indeed. If you push on the gas pedal harder, the car will explode with all the power of 240 kW (326 hp). Sometimes a driver wants Maserati to blow off all the other cars so that nothing can stop the car with such a temper.
But the dreams dont always come true. 100 km/h is achieved in less than 6 seconds. Therefore, the seat backs must withstand a considerable pressure. Two turbochargers literally blow the power into a V-shaped straight-eight engine with еngine displacement of 3.2 liters.
Overtaking on suburban highways seems lightning-like in the sense of the duration of the exercise. 8-speed manual switches on easily and accurately. And if the engine speed is near the mark of 2800 rpm, you can count on a torque of 436 Nm. The first and second gears are as close as possible. The tachometer needle reaches the red zone at the sixth speed limit.
Although the two small turbines level out the effect of a rough blow after the frightening turbojam, yet the characteristics of the engine require from the driver not only an experienced hand, but also the strength of character. Shamal driver easily reaches the threshold of deprivation of licence or take-off speed. If you open the throttle too early on the curve, there is a danger that a drift will knock an ambitious rider off the planned course.
Straight line movement requires from Shamal driver less time for getting used to. Although even in the second gear, the rear wheels leave black stripes on the asphalt. At a speed of “200” the car is very confident on road. Even with the normal adjustment of electronically controlled suspension, the body does not swing. It’s true, that it takes skill for intensive braking. Without ABS the rear wheels tend to lock.
At the driver’s workplace all controls are located in the field of view, including the control panel of the air-conditioning which is convenient and functional. There is even an oval mechanical clock in the center of the front panel. Seats are quite suitable for tall people. Soft leather effectively prevents slipping, thick rollers provide an excellent fixation of the body.The salon is almost completely decorated with a thin leather. Two adults can comfortably seat in front. The space for the legs tends to zero. Attention to details, on the contrary, leaves much to be desired. In this sense the owner of Shamal should be ready for compromises. There is impressive luggage compartment, 420 liters are more than enough. There is also a sealant can for repairing tires, because there is no a spare wheel.The body of the Maserati model has a characteristic front with ellipsoid headlights. Instead of fashionable round, broken lines prevail here.There are no fancy spoilers and the other participants of the movement do not easily understand what value has fallen into their field of view.
The gills on the hood have an uncommon potential, also as rocker panel expanders. This car is the mixture of unbridled power and unobtrusive appearance. Shamal would certainly be liked by the Maserati brothers.
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