I always felt that the Maserati Ghibli Cup was the car that the Biturbo should have been all along. In true Maserati tradition, it displayed a muscular, aggressive (yet beautiful) body style which was at the same time restrained
Bad Company. True story in Athens, Greece
It was the summer of 1999, Greece was at its best
After several years of strong growth and with the upcoming Olympic games in sight, the economy was booming and the future seemed bright.
I was then 22, had finished my studies in the UK and my military service and had just started a promising career as a stockbroker.
The Greek stock exchange back then soared and everyone wanted a piece of the action, business was good and young people were making a lot of money very fast.
Back then I owned an MX5, a present from my father for my 18th birthday. I have great memories of this car, it was extremely wellbalanced, forgiving and above all rear wheel drive
A great school in which I made my first steps as a rearwheeldrive lover, a love that holds until today.
It was a great car, but I felt that after 4 years of enduring my teen testosterone and my driving “training” sessions the poor little car deserved to be released from its burden and I was ready to move to something “bigger”.
I wanted something Italian, rear wheel drive and preferably turbo, those were my criteria and the three things I still search in cars until today.
My last criterion was to buy something exclusive, I was about to spend a large sum of money in a very young age and I wanted to buy something that would retain and possibly gain value over time, a car that I could keep for many years, a car I could “marry”, as we say in Greece
I will never forget the day I first saw a Maserati Ghibli
I was in a gocart circuit watching a race and a friend arrived in a brand new Maserati Ghibli GT.
It was silver with black hide and grey alcantara interior and I could not take my eyes off it.
I was mesmerised by the aggressive yet fine lines, the Italian hide smell, the gold Maserati watch and of course the sound of the V6 biturbo engine.
This lady was a beauty and I was in love, and guess what, she was Italian, rear wheel drive and biturbo, matching all my criteria with an extra turbo on top. I was about to get “married” but there was a final twist I didn’t yet know
After spending a few weeks searching I had made my decision, I would order a metal grey Maserati GT with tabac hide interior. This colour combination was amazing and the car looked beautiful.
I wanted to avoid the dealers in Greece and buy the car directly from Italy so I went to a friend that had a connection with the dealers there to place the order.
I still remember the day, sitting at his office, he picks up the phone, speaks in Italian for a few moments and then hangs up.
“So?” I say, “everything ok?”, “Sure” he replies, “they can order the car exactly as you want it or…” he adds, “Or what?” I ask confused, “Well, they also have something else you might be interested instead, something very special”, he replies, “a Maserati Ghibli Cup”, “only 57 were ever made and this is number 19, it has only done 2,000 km and is waiting in Vicenza in case you are interested”, “but it is yellow and it costs significantly more than a new GT, so think about it” he adds.
Confused by all this, and not very keen on the idea of spending even more than the already high price of the Maserati Ghibli GT for a car where I wouldn’t even get to choose the colour, I went home to study what makes this Cup model so special.
Italian love affair
The Maserati Ghibli Cup was produced by Maserati in very limited numbers between 1996 and 1998 to celebrate the “Selenia Ghibli Open Cup” championship.
Only 57 were ever build with 25 of them being right hand drive. It used all the upgrades of the GT but in addition it was equipped with roller bearing turbos, modified engine mapping and a free flowing exhaust system which pushed power above 330bhp, delivering more than 165hp per litre and holding the record at the time above cars like the Bugatti EB110 and the Jaguar XJ220
Further changes from the GT included an upgraded suspension and larger Brembo brakes in red color.
Externally, the Cup was distinguished by its fivespoke split rim Speedline wheels and single outlet per side exhaust pipes, as opposed to twin tailpipe per side on all other models.
It also had a badge on the lower doors proclaiming it “Ghibli Open Cup” and a racing style aluminum fuel filler cap. Internally, the differences included carbonfiber inserts instead of wood, drilled racing pedals, a Momo Corse steering wheel and an aluminum gear knob to complete the racing car feel.
It also included a small metal plate with the number of each specific car (in this case 19) which you could screw in the front panel for display. It was only available in four colors: red, white, yellow and French blue.
I felt really lucky
This was a truly exclusive car, a car I could really “marry”, a car that would stand out, provide driving pleasure, luxury and a sound investment that can only gain value over time.
And when my 1999 56k modem finally downloaded the first pictures of a Giallo (yellow) Cup, with its beautiful Speedline wheels and the large red Brembo brakes, I just picked up the phone and booked the car immediately, this was a chance I couldn’t miss.
Sixteen years have passed since then and I have managed to keep the Maserati at just 48k km mileage. I have treated the car with care and in return it has been working perfectly all these years and had never asked for any serious repairs.
The car drives beautifully yet brutally, the twin roll bearing turbos have almost no lag and deliver huge amounts of power to the rear wheels, providing the driver with the option to powerdrift at any time and in all gears
There are no electronics and not even airbags, only raw Italian power and the driver, but when the Maserati hugs the corners you know you don’t need any electronics, as long as you keep your foot on the pedal, the car will make the turn with an ease that surprises even the most experienced drivers
It is a racing car and it surely drives like one.
The sound of the twin turbos and the V6 engine are there to complete the racing experience and the Italian leather still smells the same as it did the first day, travelling you back to times when cars still had character and driving was an immersive experience that satisfied all senses.
I have shared many great moments with the car, including visiting the Maserati factory in Modena and the Italian GP in Monza.
I have participated in small races and car exhibitions, and wherever I went the Cup was always a head turner and still is.
Nowadays, I only use it on special occasions as I want to keep the mileage low, but I still find the time every now and then to take it for a ride in the countryside and remember the old times.
Investment-wise it turned as I expected. The car already holds a significant value in the market, over five times the value of a regular GT, and it is highly sought by collectors as there are only very few left. It is destined to be a future classic and its price goes up every day. I can’t imagine how I would feel today if I had turned down the offer and bought a regular GT back then instead
Things have changed a lot over the last sixteen years and the world is a different place.
I am almost 40 years old now, the Greek economy is far from booming anymore, and cars like the Ghibli Cup will never be produced again.
But every time I open the door of the Maserati, I sit in the leather bucket seats and turn the key, I feel happy, because I know that back then in 1999 I “married” the right girl and she is still here, next to me, as beautiful and powerful as ever, ready to travel me back in time yet again.
Text: Kon P. / Source: Classic-Petrolheads.com
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