AndyWardlePhoto_0053Andy Wardle Photography

I’ve had this 1971 Maserati Indy restored after discovering a leaking windscreen and the resulting 30 years of damage. It’s an unusual and not well known car and there are only a few let in the UK, you can see more at http://www.maseraticlub.co.uk/

The Maserati Indy is a proper four seater GT sports car with a 4.7 litre V8 engine and a lineage back to Moss and the Le Mans Maseratis of the late 50's and early 60’s. Indeed, when you sit at the wheel, you can’t help but feel in direct contact with the Italian engineer who put it together. The Indy was launched in 1969 and is a four seat version of the more famous Ghibli. The Ghibli was one of the first masterpieces of Giugiaro at Ghia, but the Indy was passed onto Vignali and is, I believe, the last car he designed before being killed in a road accident. It shares many lines of the Ghibli but has a trademark Vignali sharp snout, rather than the better recognised Maserati twin snarl radiator. For that reason, the Indy is less recognisable and many assume it is a Ferrari, or are confused until they see the badge on the front. The Indy, named in celebration of Maserati’s 1939 and 40 wins at the Indianapolis 500 and heavily aimed at the US market, can also lay claim to being the last real Maserati. The famous Italian brand had just been sold to Citroen, who were looking for an engine for the exotic SM, but they decided to launch the Indy as it was. Subsequent cars like the Khamsin, designed by Giugiaro again, were full of French innovation and hydraulic complexity, a world removed from the simple and traditional mechanics of the Indy.  The car is a physical experience in every way. It is much more beautiful than you can perceive in a photograph. I suspect this is one reason it has been largely ignored. The Ghibli photographs beautifully, but is less elegant and slightly crude of detail in the flesh. The massive bonnet and crisp lines running from front to back of the Indy are exquisite. Vent details and pop up headlights are what you’d expect. My son doesn’t like the chopped off back but I think it’s gorgeous. We have noticed that the rear light cluster pops up on all sorts of other Maseratis and other Italian cars of the period including De Tomaso and Lambourghini.  The car sits on four huge tyres with quite small 14inch rims, a mark of a bygone age before the low profiles of todays performance cars. Inside the black leather is stylish, better than the first launched interior which was changed quite quickly. The car was the height of luxury (and the most expensive car you could buy) in it’s day but is a reminder of the progress we have made in 36 years, especially in suspension and brakes. But it’s not loud in normal cruising mode and has a reasonably smooth ride. To drive the Indy is a load of fun. My car is an automatic but, although purists sniff, it is still a fast car with a lot of grunt. Hold it in low up to 5,000 rpm (the red line is a suprisingly low 5,500) and you are moving fast and making a fantastic noise too. The Indy is very well built and quite heavy, so doesn't have fantastic acceleration. Being a real touring GT, it’s real power lies up top and 60 to 100mph is a doddle and highly pleasurable. The manual Indy was capable of 145, the automatic 135, I’ve never pushed mine to to the top but 120 is no problem on the legal occasions I’ve had to let her go. The handling is lovely, the back comes out easily with all that power going to the rear wheels but there's loads of warning and it's very easy to control. I was nervous as hell when I bought the Indy, imagining that bills would be huge and parts rare, but the opposite has been true. Of course you can’t get what you need at Halfords but the web means that spares, especially from the US, where most Indy’s are, are obtainable and not as expensive as I feared. I got lucky and found a local mechanic expert in US cars, so at home with big old V8’s and difficult to get hold of parts. So far, despite a blown gasket caused by poor timing set up when I bought it and a new exhaust, it’s been very managable. And, touch wood, I’ve not broken down yet, a simple dodgy fuse on the fan causing overheating on one outing only. It’s a huge pleasure driving this beautiful car around, people seem to enjoy seeing it and I’ve never encountered boy racer aggression. Driving down the A3 on a Sunday morning waving respectfully at other gorgeous cars showing off with me is a great high.