In the decades before the company began to focus on street vehicles, it pushed the boundaries of racing machines and won a number of different titles around the world.Many fans of Maserati will recognize the importance of the date July 1, 1969, which is when the first Maserati inspired race car for consumers, Indy left Via Ciro Menotti 322 in Modena to be delivered to a customer in Switzerland. Shortly thereafter, the Swiss businessman became the owner of the first Indy with a golden exterior and brown leather interior. This vehicle has gone down in history as one of the most important Maseratis ever created as a celebration of early wins in Indianapolis.
Maserati first introduced the Maserati race car for consumers called Indy at the Turin Motor Show in 1968, and the official debut occurred a year later at the Geneva Motor Show. This era was extremely important for the company. In 1968, Maserati built about 700 cars, the most it had ever recorded since opening its Modena plant. That year, the company also achieved a 43-percent market share of the over-3,500-CC segment in Italy with a lineup that included the Ghibli, Mistral, Quattroporte, Sebring, and Mexico. However, customers were pushing for something new, a sports car that was also comfortable enough to serve as a daily driver.
Maserati then launched the Alfieri Maserati 116 (AM116) project. The company commissioned Carrozzeria Vignale to design a coupe that would seat four people comfortably while also providing a racecar-like driving experience. The resulting Indy proved extremely innovative in terms of design and set a new precedent for vehicles that lasted for decades. Maserati decided on the name “Indy” to recognize the impressive wins achieved by the 8CTF during the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940. The Indy had large windows to optimize visibility that combined with the other lines of the car in a sleek, distinctive manner. It also introduced several sports car details, including pop-up headlights and an air scoop. A truncated rear helped with aerodynamic efficiency while also contributing to the unique, distinctive look of the Indy.
The Indy first had a 4,136-CC engine produced in a V8 configuration with an 88-millimeter bore and 85-millimeter stroke. The engine also featured four Weber 42 DCNF carburetors and a single-plug transistor ignition setup. Customers enjoyed a five-speed manual transmission standard on the Indy, although an automatic gearbox could be placed on request. Impressively, this engine had a power output of 260 horsepower with a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour. By 1970, a second engine option was available that came in at 4,719 CC and featured a newly developed Bosch electronic ignition system. The upgraded engine produced 290 horsepower and achieved a top speed of 280 kilometers per hour.
With a strong focus on performance, Maserati continued to push the envelope in terms of power. In 1971, a third engine option was introduced, which became the standard for the Indy by 1973. This 4,930-CC engine generated a remarkable 300 horsepower, a number that would prove impressive even today. However, Maserati understands the importance of luxury as a complement to performance. Thus, the Indy came stocked with some incredible features, including leather upholstery, a mechanical anti-theft system, heated rear windows, and an adjustable steering wheel. While these features may seem common today, they set a new standard for luxury vehicles in the 1970s. Some other unique features included iodine headlights and power windows. Options included power steering, radios, and an automatic gearbox.
In total, the Modena Maserati plant produced 1,102 Indy Maserati race cars between 1969 and 1975, and the vehicle remains one of the most legendary in the company’s historic lineup. Prominent individuals around the world invested in one of these vehicles, including Abdorreza Pahlavi, brother to the Shah of Persia. Pahlavi specially ordered his vehicle in 1974 to include several options, including a sunroof that opened to the elements. This car was not completed and delivered to Pahlavi until February 1975, but it has been closely tracked throughout history and still survives in a private collection. Other examples of the Indy have become highly sought-after collector’s cars because of the unique look of these vehicles, as well as the important role they played in Maserati’s history.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the initial delivery of the Maserati race car for consumers Indy, and now is an important time to step back and recognize Maserati’s strong dedication to both performance and style. The Indy largely changed the way in which individuals thought about coupes and the amount of power that a street vehicle could have. It introduced a number of features that have become standard, or are otherwise available as options, in cars today. Furthermore, the influence of the Indy’s design was clearly felt for decades after the initial introduction of vehicle, with new models from various makes resembling the style even into the 1980s.