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1969-1975 Maserati Indy by Vignale

In 1968, at the Salone dell'Automobile di Torino, there appeared on the Carrozzeria Vignale stand the prototype of a sleek new four-seater coupé based on Maserati's now established V8 front-engined rear-wheel-drive format.

Alfredo Vignale had already designed the fabulous 3500GT Spyder, the Sebring, and the Mexico for Maserati as the successors to the 3500GT by Touring, whose commercial success had been rescued Maserati from their period of administration.

By the end of 1968, Maserati listed five models in their range: the Sebring (by Vignale) and the Mistral (by Frua) had 3.5, 3.7, and 4-liter 6-cylinder injection engines, along with the Quattroporte (designed by Frua but made by Vignale), the Mexico (by Vignale) and the Ghibli (by Ghia), with 4.2 and 4.7-liter V8 carburetor engines.

With this background, this four-seater coupé thought to be the likely heir to the now-aging Mexico and Quattroporte, appeared in Turin.

In March 1969, at the Salone d'Automobile de Genève, Maserati launched the Maserati Indy, named to commemorate Maserati's great victories in the 500-mile race at Indianapolis in 1939 and 1940. Maserati are still the only Italian Marque and Dallara to have won this famous race! The Indy was favorably received by the press, public, and fans of Maserati's fabulous GTs.

From a stylistic point of view, it did not possess the beauty of the Ghibli. Still, it was a strikingly good-looker for a car that accommodated four adult passengers rather than the traditional two plus two formation of most GTs of that period.

Without a doubt, the Indy's side profile best demonstrated Vignale's clever design. A full-width windowed hatch flowed down to a cut-off tail incorporating the now standard horizontal rear light clusters above a full-width rear bumper. Under the bumper was a panel with a central grille, and openings on either side exited the exhaust pipes. The front elevation with its full width slim wrap-around front rubber-insert bumper and the use of retractable headlights, although attractive, lacked the long low line of the Ghibli, largely due to the Indy's wet sump engine.

The production car differed little from the prototype first seen at Turin in 1968, except for a few minor detail changes. Mechanically there were no changes from the other Maserati V8 engined cars. The engine was the now-standard Maserati V8, with a cubic capacity of 4136 cc, fed by four twin-choke down-draught 42 DCNF Weber carburetors, yielding 260 bhp at 5500 rpm giving the Indy a maximum speed of 155 mph (250 kph).

The transmission was by way of a ZF 5-speed gearbox (a 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic gearbox was available as an option). Front suspension was independent with double wishbones, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar, while at the rear, there was a live axle on leaf springs located by a single torque reaction arm restrained by another anti-roll bar. The dual-circuit braking system, with four ventilated disc brakes, was servo-assisted. Power-assisted steering and a limited-slip differential were also available on request.

The dashboard was true Gran Tourismo: a three-spoke adjustable (up and down) Nardi steering wheel, behind which was a compact binnacle housing a large speedometer and rev counter. Situated between these were an oil pressure gauge, an oil temperature gauge, a water temperature gauge, a fuel gauge, an analog clock, and an amp meter. A similar binnacle housed an analog clock on the passenger side, a big glove box under which.

Vignale's design concealed an ample interior where even the rear passengers were afforded plenty of room. The luggage area, accessed via the almost horizontal hatch, was excellent, with around 18 cubic feet. This area was flanked by two 50 liter petrol tanks, the battery, spare wheel, car jack, and an adequate tool kit under the boot floor.

At the 1970 Turin Motor Show, an upgraded model appeared alongside the existing 4.2-liter car. This new version was powered by a 4.7-liter V8 with Bosch electronic ignition, now developing 290 bhp with a top speed of 165 mph (265 kph). The new version could be distinguished by its deeper full-length chrome door sill and re-positioned front indicators. Internally the re-designed front seats now had retractable headrests.

The re-designed dashboard now had a three-spoke adjustable (up and down) Nardi steering wheel, behind which was a compact binnacle housing a speedometer, rev counter, and oil pressure gauge. Situated in the dash center was a line of five gauges angled towards the driver; an oil temperature gauge, a water temperature gauge, a fuel gauge, an analog clock, and an amp meter. In place of the glove box on the passenger side was a full-width grab handle. The center console accommodated the radio, heater controls, and a row of rocker switches that included those for the electric windows. Further down the console was the customary ashtray and a lockable glove box.

From 1971 the two new versions, destined for the North American market, were renamed the Indy America. During this year, a 4.9-liter engine was added to the range. This Indy now boasted the same power unit as the Ghibli SS but with a slightly lower power output of 320 bhp (against the Ghibli's 335 bhp), giving the Indy a top speed of 170 mph (280 kph).

In 1973 the Indy America 4.2 and 4.7 powered cars were replaced the model with the 4.9-liter engine. The later 4.9-liter version was distinguishable from the earlier 4.2 and 4.7-liter versions by a different bonnet grille situated on the right-hand side just ahead of the windshield wipers. Internally the arrangement of the instruments in the dashboard was slightly modified. As well as the obvious difference in performance, this version was fitted with a new gearbox, new 15 inch wheels replaced the earlier 14 inch, a new air conditioning system. From 1973, the traditional Maserati servo-assisted braking was replaced by Citroën's high-pressure pump system.

Total production of the Indy between 1969 and 1975 consisted of 1,104 cars (440 4.2-liter cars, 364 4.7-liter cars, and 300 4.9-liter cars). The Maserati Indy was one of the last in a long line of traditional front-engined rear-wheel-drive Maseratis powered by a classic, normally aspirated, four overhead camshaft, V8 engine, the last being the Khamsin.


Images: Maserati