The Obscure Maserati Kyalami

The 1970s was a time of uncertainty for Maserati. The fabled Italian brand was in the midst of collapse at the start of the decade, having been bought out by Citroen who was suffering issues of its own.

Still reeling from the unreliable Italian built engines of the SM and suffering the impact of the rather nasty oil crisis of 1973, Citroen was also trying to court Peugeot to ease its financial hardship, so it had no love for ailing Maserati.

By the time former Formula One champion Alejandro de Tomaso stepped in to save the brand in 1975, Maserati was in dire straits. De Tomaso — no stranger to the auto industry, having founded his own eponymous car company and acquired the Ghia and Vignale coachbuilding studios as well as the Innocenti car company — quickly commissioned Pietro Frua to transform the De Tomaso Longchamps into a Maserati, using taillamps from the Citroen SM.

De Tomaso named the car the Kyalami, after a South African raceway, and plans were made to launch the car two years later. Production ran through to 1983, with 200 examples sold — marginally better than the Longchamps, which sold a paltry 395 coupes between 1972 and 1989.

The Kyalami was just the stop-gap needed before the arrival of the Pierangelo Andreani-designed Biturbo in 1981.


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