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Ferrari 365 GTB / 4, Lamborghini Miura S, Maserati Ghibli SS: the stars of the auto quartet

Uli Jooß
Ferrari 365 GTB /4, Lamborghini Miura S, Maserati Ghibli SS
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It's hard to say why, but back then the Maserati Ghibli was always my personal hero. Maybe because he is in the quartet of super aces in his category next to Lamborghini Miura, F errari 365 GTB /4 and Monteverdi Hai 450 SS were the underdog in terms of performance and top speed. Or because the Ghibli in dark blue looked like a serious, serious car next to the yellow Ferrari, the orange Miura and the red Monteverdi.

Only 125 real Maserati Ghibli Spiders were built

Even today, more than thirty years later, the Maserati Ghibli looks grown up alongside its quartet rivals. It's dark green and, unlike the Ghibli from the card game and the legendary auto motor und sport test from 1969, a Spider. Not one of the 125 real copies built between 1968 and 1973, but at least a conversion of the Carrozzeria Campana in the SS version with the 4.9 liter engine. The small body forge from Modena used to build various bodies for Maserati and De Tomaso, among others, and is now one of the best addresses in Italy for classic Maserati parts and a well-known restoration company.

In addition to the dark Maserati Ghibli from the inventory Fritz Neuser, who not only runs a Ferrari and Maserati agency, but also owns a large collection of classic cars, published the yellow Ferrari 365 GTB /4 Daytona almost petite. Mario Bernardi, specialist in classic Ferraris, brought the coupé with him to the photo session.

Lamborghini Miura crouches hardest on the asphalt

Even next to the not exactly tall Maserati Ghibli and Ferrari 365 GTB /4 Daytona, the ultra-flat Lamborghini Miura from the private fleet of an Alsatian jeweler disappears into the asphalt. Only its poison green paint does not allow it to completely submerge next to its two competitors. In bare numbers, it doesn't read that dramatically: The Miura is just 6 and 14 centimeters lower than Ghibli and Daytona. The wheelbases are also quite similar: the Ferrari has the classic dimensions of 2,400 millimeters, 10.5 and 15It's centimeters more with Lamborghini and Maserati.

Ferrari Daytona with Beetle wheelbase, but with space for the V12

You would like to put a tape measure on the Ferrari 365 GTB /4 Daytona so impossible At first glance, it seems that the low, stretched Daytona has exactly the same wheelbase as a VW Beetle. All the more astonishing is the achievement of Pininfarina, who managed to bring a twelve-cylinder engine, plenty of space for two and a 100-liter petrol tank into shape in such a small space.

Photos only convey the real beauty of this car sculpture very imperfect. You have to stand in front of him, walk around him slowly and let the tense simplicity of the forms and the restrained aggressiveness of his expression work on you for a few minutes.

And of course take a seat in the narrow leather armchair behind the small steering wheel. The quartet player's dreams come true in an unspectacular way: You sit in, like in any other car. It is a little narrower and it smells of well-cared for, old leather. The twelve-cylinder under the long bonnet wakes up spontaneously and with precisely that loud rattle of the valve train that Klaus Westrup so aptly described in his Daytona test in 1973 and that many ten to twelve-year-olds at the time could still recite by heart today.

Daytona-V12 is a close-up of the Colombo engine

With a little gas, the rattle almost disappears in the roar of the twin-pipe exhaust system. For the technician, the 4.4 liter sound system is called Tipo 251, and it goes back to the engine that Gioacchino Colombo designed for the Ferrari 125 Sport from 1947. Even if the Daytona engine has almost three times the displacement of the original twelve-cylinder, twice as many camshafts and almost five times as much power, the structural similarities cannot be overlooked: aluminum block at a 60-degree angle, wet cylinder liners and a crankshaft with three planes, each offset by 120 degrees, like a straight six-cylinder.

The elaborate engine of the Ferrari 365 GTB /4 Daytona is pious. The clutch and gearshift are almost as easy to operate as in an Alfa Bertone. The steering and brakes do not require excessive operating forces either. It's already a little rougher than in a contemporary mid-range car, but there is hardly more than a hint of the truck-like character indicated in many reviews and you should deliberately move the gear lever to the correct level of the open setting, but otherwise you don't need any special skills to drive in the Daytona. At least as long as you are traveling slowly.

You can feel the speed in theArmen

As soon as the Ferrari, which weighs a good 1,600 kilograms, is a little faster, and this is still possible in an alarmingly short time with this 30-year-old car, it becomes clear that the Daytona is not for beginners. Now it is getting even louder in the interior, the needle on the rev counter snaps to 70, and the long, delicate gear lever shoots a little easier through the backdrop.

Handling and straight-line stability are still flawless. But unlike in modern, fast cars, you can feel the speed immediately in your arms, buttocks and ears. One likes to think that the Ferrari Daytona is 275 km /h fast, but doesn't necessarily want to try it out on a German autobahn.

Much less is one wanting that in an Lamborghini Miura. He asks for far more compromises as soon as he gets in. The narrow bucket seat can only be moved a few millimeters in the direction of the bulkhead, the steering wheel is stuck between your knees like a racing car, and without the help of an insider you are pretty lost looking for the start button.

He's sitting invisible under the instrument panel. A gentle touch unleashes an inferno of noise just a few centimeters behind the permanently mounted headgear that sounds as if the ear canals are directly connected to the air filter box. The Lamborghini developers experimented with different materials in order to achieve a partition that was as noise-insulating as possible. The success is extremely modest. It sounds a little more poisonous than in the Ferrari, the four-liter short-stroke engine seems to rev up faster, hang a tad better on the gas.

Sensation: transversely installed V12 in the Lamborghini

As a Lamborghini in 1965 presented the chassis of a mid-engine prototype under the designation 400 TP at the Paris Salon, it was no less than a sensation. Street sports cars with mid-engined engines have existed before, such as Matra Djet and De Tomaso Vallelunga, but such a car with a transversely installed twelve-cylinder drive (TP stood for transversal posterior) was something completely new.

It was also new that the drive of the Lamborghini 350 GT, which had been drilled out to four liters, was locked in a housing with transmission and differential. This was the only way to fit the twelve-cylinder, designed by Giotto Bizzarrini for front-engined vehicles, between the rear axle and the passenger compartment.

The driving forces behind the 400 TP project were the engineers Giampaolo Dallara and Paolo Stanzani and the test driver and developer Bob Wallace . They wanted to put a vehicle suitable for competition on the wheels, which is why they also oriented themselves on the victorious mid-engine racers Ferrari 250 LM and Ford GT 40. That was of course not in the spirit of Ferruccio Lamborghini. Classic Gran Tursimo in the style ofLamborghini 350 GT were cars to his taste with flat, uncomfortable racing planes, he couldn't do much.

Nuccio Bertone created a reference design

When the first complete prototype then presented its exciting Bertone dress to the enthusiastic audience at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show, the boss's resistance disappeared. The Nuccio Bertone company had with the Miura Something that only a few designers succeed in every few decades: They invented the reference design. All mid-engined sports cars that came afterwards were based on this model, and they had to be measured against it.

It is controversial who now set the tone for the Miura at Bertone. The fact is that head of design Giugiaro left the company at the end of 1965 for Ghia, where he immediately sat down at the drawing board with the Ghibli designs. His successor at Bertone was Marcello Gandini.

Regardless of who it was: At least to the front, the view from the deep bucket seat is excellent. To the rear you can neither see much in the small exterior mirror nor through the narrow window. But you don't need to be overly interested in what's going on behind the Lamborghini. Even very few modern cars have the slightest chance if you really accelerate in the Miura.

The Maserati Ghibli spoils its crew

Even a Maserati Ghibli SS with the 4.9- Liter engine has to work hard to follow the Lamborghini to some extent. Which is also due to the fact that the performance data for the mighty eight-cylinder may have been slightly exaggerated. The fastest Ghibli ever measured was, what a coincidence, the 4.7-liter test car with 310 hp in auto motor und sport 11/1969. It ran exactly 274.8 km /h and accelerated from zero to 100 km /h in seven seconds. The SS engine was certified as having 335 hp. Unfortunately, independently measured performance is not available for this engine.

Instead, the Maserati Ghibli welcomes its pilot in a very well-kept atmosphere. The fine ambience in light leather with comfortable armchairs and a comfortable seating position behind the beautiful three-spoke steering wheel is reminiscent of an airy, noble hotel lobby after the more Spartan Daytona and Miura cockpits. No wonder, the art of stylish furnishing was a tradition at Maserati that continued into the comparatively inexpensive and inconspicuous biturbo of the De Tomaso era.

Serenity and nobility in the Ghibli

It's easy to forget that the Maserati Ghibli is also a real supercar. You just have to start the engine. The dull idling boll is a bit reminiscent of the more profane US eight-cylinder. Even with a slight throttle it gives way to a loud roar, no doubt about thatabout it: Here is a fine Italian drive unit with many camshafts at work, which was actually designed for a racing car. The base of the Ghibli engine made its debut in 1958 in the hapless 450 S, but then began a triumphant advance through the Maserati model range from the 5000 GT, Quattroporte and Mexico to Ghibli, Indy and Bora to Khamsin, Kyalami and Quattroporte III.

But it is not the ancestry of the engine that is the most impressive thing about this Maserati. It is the serenity and nobility with which this mighty Gran Turismo achieves breathtaking performance similar to that of the twelve-cylinder competition. A tuned express train locomotive would have to drive in a similar way if you were allowed to turn on the steam valves.

Seen in this way, the Maserati could just about maintain its place as the favorite quartet hero. If the author hadn't carelessly test-driven Ferrari and Lamborghini beforehand. Maybe we are waiting for an exit in Monteverdi before we finally make up our minds.


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