1981 Maserati Kyalami 4.9 ***Understated Sophisticated Classic***
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1981 Maserati Kyalami with a 4.9 litre engine and an automatic gearbox.
There is confirmation on file from Maserati Classiche that this particular car was completed on the 16th February 1981 and it was finished in ‘Blue Sera’ (dark blue) with a white leather interior. A colour scheme the car still caries today.
This particular example is one of the four factory right hand drive Maserati Kyalamis which were delivered new in South Africa. It is understood to be one of only 11 factory right hand drive Kyalamis built with a 4.9 litre engine and an automatic gearbox, making it an exceptionally rare car.
Unfortunately the early South African history of this car is not known. It was understood to have come from a long term owner in Cape Town who sold it in circa 2008 to an architect, also based in Cape Town. Interestingly, he also owned a yellow Maserati Merak SS at the same time. The car was then sold in c2011 through Motostars in Cape Town to a client based in Johannesburg. It was then registered in the Gauteng Province as CL15GS GP.
The current owner, who is a well known and a well respected Maserati enthusiast based in Melbourne, purchased the car from classic car specialists Crossley & Webb, in Cape Town in August 2020. At the time of import the odometer read 16,418 km. There is an import approval on file dated 12th March 2021.
The car was imported into Queensland and subsequently complianced and registered. It was then sent to Maranello Pursang Motors in Melbourne who did some minor repairs on the car. The transmission was serviced, which included replacing thee selector seal and lever seals, the speedo drive was repaired, the thermos fans were repaired, a new windscreen washer bottle was installed, new sparkplugs were installed and the carburettors were adjusted.
Today the odometer reads 17,715 km, which is understood to be 117,715 km. The car looks to be totally original both inside and out and is in very good condition for an original car that is forty two year old!
Like its predecessor, the Mexico, the Pietro Frua designed Kyalami is subtle, but elegantly striking at the same time. No matter where you start, your eye is ultimately drawn to the long raking bonnet, with its multiple crease lines and subtle curvature which terminates at the Maserati trident on the front grill.
The colour of ‘Blue Sera’ suits the car perfectly and it looks absolutely stunning out in the sun. The paint work presents well from a meter away and in the photos but upon closer inspection there are a few stone chips, small scratches and blemishes here and there. The one most noticeable is on the lower section of the driver’s door. The paint still has a strong depth of colour and a nice deep gloss to it. The bright work on the car is generally in good condition. The rubber section of the bumpers show some light wear and discolouration. The front Maserati badge is worn and should be replaced. The panel gaps are very good, there are no dents and no signs of corrosion. The wheels are a real feature on a Maserati Kyalami and they have been recently refurbished and are in excellent condition. They are currently shod with Federal 215/65/15 tyres which are date stamped 094 (week 09 1994). They would be due for replacement based on age. All the glass, including the lenses on the lights are in good condition. We did notice a small chip on the front windscreen which has been repaired at some stage. Fortunately, it is almost at the bottom of the windscreen and not noticeable when you drive the car.
The interior of this car presents exceptionally well and its condition belies its age and originality. The upholstery has aged gracefully and the leather still remains soft and supple. There are no tears or cracks in the leather and the seats still provide ample support. All the instruments present well and appear to be in a good working order. The light blue Alcantara dashboard, which is in excellent condition, is definitely a feature and really suits the car. Even the carpet is in good condition. The Maserati badge on top of the gear selector is worn and is something we would replace. The air conditioning system in Italian cars of this period was never great, but we are pleased to say it is working and it is blowing cold air.
The engine bay is neat, clean and tidy. Like the rest of the car, everything under the bonnet is also very original. The car retains its trademark diamond patterned under bonnet matting, and the often missing knurled air cleaner nuts. Importantly, all of the ID plates remain in place. The boot is similarly presented and it looks to have been sparingly used. The diamond patterned matting and carpets are all in good condition.
After taking the time to admire the interior, we make ourselves comfortable behind the wheel in preparation to take the car out for a test drive. It should be noted that the driving position is excellent. The car starts easily and fairly quickly settles into a smooth idle. The big V8 sounds fabulous. It has an exhaust note that means business, but in a sophisticated kind of way. This is no muscle car. We impatiently allow the car some time to warm up and then we put the gear selector into drive. First impressions are really positive. The engine has loads of power on tap and the gear changes up and down the box are smooth. Out on the open road the car is a very comfortable and it is a very easy and really nice car to drive. Back to the engine . . . when pushed, the big V8 will bark, but driven sedately you can hear the engine without it being too noisy. We were really impressed with how the car drove on our test drive. It just goes about its business in a very efficient, almost Germanic way. The car feels solid on the road, it handles well and importantly it also stops easily and in a straight line when you hit the brakes. A new set of tyres would also further improve the drive of the car.
We did notice a slight nocking noise at low speed which appears to originate from the drive shaft. This could very well be a universal joint which needs replacing. The brakes are also a little ‘squeaky’ which can most likely be rectified by changing the brake pads.
Accompanying the car is its spare wheel, jack kit and some recent documentation.
- Rare, factory right hand drive example (one of only 44 produced).
- Desirable 4.9 litre engine (one of 21 RHD produced).
- Fabulous original colour scheme.
- Very original car.
- Great value for money classic Maserati.
The Maserati story is a fascinating one. It is the story of a family with daring, courageous and forward-thinking ideas. The story starts with Rodolfo Maserati, a railway engineer who was employed by the Italian monarchy and the father of seven sons who all had a passion for engine design and racing cars. The Maserati brothers all became involved in the automotive industry in some way or another, however, it was on the 1st of December 1914 that Alfieri, Ettore and Ernesto Maserati officially opened Alfieri Maserati Workshop in Bologna, Italy.
Maserati chose the trident logo to adorn its cars. Its design was based on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. The colours chosen for the logo were also the colours of Bologna, red and blue.
The business was focused on repairing, servicing and preparing cars, however, the World War cut business short and it wasn’t until 1926 that Maserati built its first car, the Tipo 26.
It was all about motorsport back then and in 1937 the Orsi family acquired ownership of Maserati which was in desperate need of financial backing to be able to survive. During the Orsi years Maserati grew from a boutique but very successful race car builder to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hand-built sports and GT cars.
Maserati built its first road car in 1946 even though times were tough in post War northern Italy. The car was the Maserati A6 – where ‘A’ was for Alfieri and ‘6’ for the number of cylinders. The initial reception of the car was positive and a ‘production’ Maserati A6/1500 was then shown at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show.
This was a significant milestone in the Maserati legend and subsequent models included the A6G/2000, 3500 series cars, 5000GT, Mistral. Quattroporte, Mexico, Sebring and Ghibli. Maserati also continued to build very successful race cars that dominated tracks around the world including the 250F, 300S, 150S, 450S and the Birdcage.
Orsi sold to Citroen in 1969. Maserati built some fabulous cars during Citroen’s ownership (including the Indy, Bora, Merak and Khamsin), however, times were tough and the company struggled financially. Citroen placed Maserati into liquidation in May 1975 and it was ultimately saved by the Italian government and Alejandro de Tomaso took control shortly thereafter. Under de Tomaso’s watch the first new Maserati was the Kyalami, so named after the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa where a Maserati powered Cooper T81 had won the 1967 South African Grand Prix. The Kyalami was based on the De Tomaso Longchamp. Pietro Frua was commissioned to re-style the car and give it that traditional Maserati look and feel. The Kyalami was seen as a true successor to the Mexico. It was built from 1976 through until 1983 and during this time only 201 cars were built. Of these 44 were RHD. 30 of the RHD cars were destined for the UK market, 7 for the Australian market, 4 for the South African market and 3 for Hong Kong. Of the 44 RHD cars, 21 were fitted with the 4.9 engine. 10 were fitted with a manual gearbox and 11 with an automatic gearbox.
- Maserati Kyalami 4.9
- 17,715 km