Maserati followed-up its first mid-engined supercar, the Bora, with the ostensibly not dissimilar Merak.
Launched at the 1972 Paris Motor Show, the Merak was a competitor for Ferrari's top-selling Dino 246 and used a stretched version of the Maserati-built four-cam V6 that had debuted in the Citroën SM.
The French firm owned Maserati at the time, so the Merak made use of the SM's transmission and power-operated, all-disc braking.
Derived from a V8 engine designed by the great Giulio Alfieri, Maserati's V6 was increased in capacity from the SM's 2,675cc to 2,965cc for the Merak and developed 190bhp, enough for a top speed of 152mph.
The unitary construction chassis, all-independent suspension and impeccable handling remained basically the same as the V8-engined Bora's, though to reduce costs the latter's tubular rear subframe was replaced by an extension of the all-steel monocoque.
In addition, the Merak offered the convenience of '+2' seating in the rear and superior all-round vision thanks to its distinctive rear 'flying buttresses'.
Competition from Ferrari's new Dino V8 prompted the introduction of a more powerful 'SS' version for 1975, followed later by a 2.0-litre version – the Merak 2000 GT – introduced to take advantage of Italy's taxation rates for vehicles displacing less than 2,000cc.
Widely recognized as one of the finest, if not the finest, of contemporary V6s, the Merak engine proved smooth, powerful and capable of delivering its urge over a surprisingly wide range for such a high performance unit.
Like any true thoroughbred, the Merak possessed handling commensurate with its class-leading acceleration.
"Performance and handling are the raison d'etre of a mid-engined sportscar, and the Merak's astounding cornering power is a match for its straight-line punch," observed Motor magazine.