It is increasingly clear to me that I will never own my dream car. Never drive it. I’ll only ever come close to it, see it, touch it, and that is all.
I don’t know when the Maserati Khamsin entered my brain, like a fungal spore. Whenever it came, wherever it came from, it found fertile soil up there. It’s a Bertone wedge that wedged itself into me, into a part of me included my own sense of myself. A little bit of the me that looks out from behind these eyes is Khamsin. It’s a pair of glasses I wear, worn long enough to sometime forget I’m wearing them.
The Khamsin is a silly car. It’s sort of a sister to the Citroën SM. That car took a Maserati engine and applied it to a Citroën platform. The Khamsin took Citroën hydraulics and applied them to a Maserati platform, engine included. While the SM was front-wheel drive with a Maserati V6, the Khamsin was rear-wheel drive and retained Maserati’s old quad-cam, five-liter V8.
The Khamsin even kept conventional suspension (complete with twin shocks at the back), but it used Citroën hydraulics for the self-centering steering, brakes, headlights, adjustable seats, and even the clutch. It’s feather light, except for when you first start the car, when it is heavy as a brick, as Classic Driver recounts:
But beware: there’s a health warning to accompany all this weirdness, because while the controls are eerily light once everything has warmed up, from a cold start nothing works at all. Not the brakes, not the steering, nothing. I remember the final words of a knowledgeable friend as I headed off on my first test-drive: “Oh, by the way, if the large, red STOP light comes on when you’re driving, it means you’ve lost hydraulic pressure and probably have just about enough left to make one emergency stop before you lose all the controls.”
I’ve written about the Khamsin a few times before, and have even gotten angry emails telling me to put it out of my head. One warned me that if a Khamsin didn’t make me go broke keeping a mechanic on call 24/7, it would kill me leaking exhaust fumes into the cabin through its lovely all-glass tailgate.
Of course, I can’t get the Khamsin out of my mind. It is as much a dream as it is an infatuation, an obsession. But what does it mean to be always looking at a star you will never reach? Maserati only made 421 Khamsins, and prices have long been entirely out of my reach. Even this one, which I have seen in the flesh at Gullwing Motor Cars out in Queens, is asking $107,500 and it doesn’t even run.
I’ve come to accept that there’s no sell a kidney, sell an app, sell my soul, inherit a castle from a long-lost uncle situation coming my way that I’ll open my garage door and see a Khamsin shining back at me. Hell, I don’t even have a garage. I wonder then, what point there is in having this dream car? Or better, seeing as I don’t have much control over it anymore, what’s the point of a Khamsin having taken over my brain? What’s the Khamsin getting out of the deal?