It’s probably unwise to search eBay listings with the word “Project” in the heading, but it’s the middle of winter and I have nothing better to do. It’s probably a worse idea to make that query and then click on and seriously consider bidding on a 46-year-old Franco-Italian sports car that has been sitting inoperable for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. I definitely do not need to buy this rusty bucket of a Maserati Merak, but how cool would it be to have one of Giugiaro’s best designs, even as a beater?
With a compact 187-horsepower 3-liter V6 derived from Citroën’s SM, the Merak was meant to compete directly with Ferrari’s 308 GT4 and Lamborghini’s Urraco. Thanks to gorgeous Italdesign bodywork, the Merak looked better than either of them. I’m probably in the minority here, but I think the Merak looks better than the Bora upon which it was loosely based, to boot.
It’s probably not wise to buy one in this condition. Not only has it been sitting in a building in Canada since 1989 accruing no mileage and receiving no attention, but the quarter panels and floor pans are beginning to rot. The seller claims the engine turns over fine and the electricals work with a battery hooked up. There’s still so much to be done to get this car back to roadworthy. At the very least, I’d have to start by rebuilding the entire braking system, fueling system, and cooling system. Maybe, if you’re lucky, that’s all it would take to get functional again. Then you can worry about aesthetic stuff like rust and paint.
Avid Power Portable Air Compressor
Skip the gas station, pump your own tires
Handily, it’s got a dual cylinder motor, which it says will get you to 30PSI on a standard tire in as little as a minute, a flashlight, and a digital pressure gauge.
That said, the current high bid is just about $2,500, and these regularly sell in the high five figures, so if I could get the mechanical work done myself and farm out the rust repair, I might end up in a decent position at the end. No, no, I can’t take on this project. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no way I could keep the thing once the restoration was done, and there’s nothing worse than dumping a ton of cash into a project you can’t even enjoy.
One of you needs to save this car. It can’t be me. I have too many other things on my project car docket. As someone I once knew liked to say about long-term project cars, “I am not young and I will die with this car in my garage.”
Here’s what the seller has to say about the car:
Purchased in August 1989 – 39,045 miles on odometer at the time, parked that fall, still under 40,000 now. Stored inside in heated garage since. Car is complete, pictures show rust near wheel wells on the body, plus rust on the underside/floor boards. Interior complete, but shows 30 years of neglect. Originally thought it would be a parts car now, but actually think it can be saved, depending on how bad the rust is once you take it apart. Engine spins freely, but we have not tried to start it. Lights and other electrical items worked when we hooked up a battery.
Pffft, it’s practically done. Maybe if I drink enough wine tonight with dinner I’ll put in a bid. Maybe not. God, I hope not.