This Frua-styled two-by-two Kyalami hatchback coupe was originally designed for the 1976 Turin motor show.
It combined all the traditional virtues of cars bearing the famous trident symbol – luxury, exclusiveness, and unquestionable power. Named after South Africa's Formula 1 circuit, the Kyalami was actually rushed into production after Alessandro de Tomaso took control of Maserati, and would remain in manufacture until 1982.
The wonderfully tractable 4.2 liter V8 fitted to the Kyalami was fitted with four dual-throat down-draught Webers, they in turn being fed by a pair of electric fuel pumps and electric fans.
The engine developed an astounding 235 kW at 5500 rpm, with torque of 480.5 Nm at 4000 rpm. Sweet, energetic and much more willing to rev without fuss right through the rev range, the Kyalami could top 240 km/h.
The engine was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, in turn to a limited slip differential. The car was fitted with 190.5mm rimmed and 127mm diameter alloys shod with 205/70 VR 15 XWX Michelins.
Naturally the Kyalami boasted all-round independent suspension by coil springs and wishbones. Though it was 203.2 mm shorter than the four door Khamsin, the Kyalami weighed 200 kg less, but still benefited from the same sized ventilated discs front and rear.
The rack and pinion steering was power assisted, and unusually the adjustable steering column also raised and lowered the instrument panel, ensuring vital instrumentation would always be clearly visible.
The performance of the Kyalami was superlative, and as could be expected that also meant that it offered first rate handling. There were, quite literally, no drawbacks, no blind spots, no weaknesses. Inside the body hugging Connolly leather seats
kept both driver and passenger as firmly planted as the car itself.
There was also a vast array of standard equipment, including air-conditioning, cassette player, laminated windscreen, tinted glass, halogen headlights, hazard warning lights, power windows and remote control external windows. A sun roof was available as an option in Australia, though not as a factory option.
Unlike most 2+2’s on the market in Australia at the time, the Kyalami was genuinely capable of carrying four adults in comfort. Both front and rear seat room was good, and boot space more than adequate. But it struggled to conform to ever stricter emission control regulations, and many doubted there would be a future for Italian super-cars given the increasing cost of petrol.
But the Kyalami would always put a smile on the face of a driver, and for those who needed a four seat sports car, and believed getting there was half the fun, they didn’t come any better.