"There's nothing we like better than odd, rare racing cars and homologation specials. And the rally version of the Citroen SM is particularly odd, rare and special. Conceived as a flagship for the performance potential of the Citroen/Maserati collaboration, "
Good Karif, is this car now the desirable brute it always wanted to be?
Was Maserati behind the times, or ahead?
I’m a child of the ’80s. The early ’80s.
And that puts me in an awkward position. As I was growing up and developing a taste for cars – identifying badges and body shapes from my bedroom window whilst watching the era’s square-shouldered cars belch out 4-star fumes as they passed – I was forming opinions on which cars I thought were good, and which were not.
That means I was introduced to Maserati in the early ’90s. I remember my dad cooing over something white that, to me, looked like a Cortina with dubious panel gaps and a garish trident ruining the grille.
I don’t know whether the first one I saw was a Ghibli (AM336, launched ’92, not the original), or a Biturbo, or maybe a very rare Karif like the one here. I don’t remember because I didn’t particularly like it and bother to commit it to memory. I’d made curvier cars out of five bits of Lego.
It wasn’t until I learned more about F1 history and Maserati’s involvement (and trailblazing) in the early days of Grand Prix racing, further bolstered by the boomerang-tailed 3200 which appeared in ’98 that it clicked – Maserati was a cut above normal cars. And was supposed to be desirable and otherworldly.
Looking back now, the design of that Cortinesque triple-box had appeared outdated in an era when even the Micra was getting curvy, and sales were so poor in the UK I can’t help but think others must have agreed. What was this great brand doing?
Now, though, as middle-aged people are in a position to finally buy the cars they yearned for as a child and desperately reach back to rose-tint-enhanced days gone by, we see sharp-edged cars of the ’80s being cool. A Mark 3 Escort is now, amazingly, a cool design. We recently featured an MG Maestro, and even more recently the Renault 5. These cars are now desirable.
Which brings us to the Karif that Coys had in their showroom recently.
Am I right in thinking this car is now incredibly cool? Is it actually a really desirable vehicle to own?
A rare Italian car that isn’t in bits is kudos aplenty from the start; and the Maserati brand is now very strong and holds its head high in the hierarchy of car marques, for sure. This car affords those benefits plus a little bit of the “I knew about Maserati before it was cool” bragability. Add that to the fact that these square-edged designs are now so rare due to the rise of aerodynamics and pedestrian safety, means you’ll get the finger-pointing from young kids that, secretly, sports car owners actually love.
Throw in the fact that this 285 bhp Karif can (or could) hit 60mph cleanly in under 5 seconds whilst cosseting you in a cosy interior means you’re actually looking at a car that’s ticking all the key boxes.
Maybe now, finally, after almost 30 years of waiting its turn, this Maserati Karif is suddenly the desirable car it was always intended to be.
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