What was I thinking? It was a Saturday morning, it was a lousy day, it was raining and I got on to the web, and what do I find? A Maserati Bora.
I always looked at them on the internet and thought, well Iíll never own one of those. At the owned a Maserati Merak but always thought Iíd love a Bora but never thought Iíd find one. Blow me down, thereís one in Melbourne. I ring the guy up, did the deal over the phone immediately, went down three days later and brought it home.
Then all the disappointment started. At that stage I didnít have a panel-beater or an upholsterer and knew very little about the Bora itself. I talked to a few mates who had Italian classic cars and ended up interviewing a few panel-beaters. Some werenít really interested in looking at it. It needed a fair bit of work Ė floors and sills needed replacing, that sort of thing.
I met up with Rob at Race Motor Bodies (Sydney) Ė we had a look at it and we ended up going ahead. We got stuck in and, slowly, slowly, the car took shape. It took four and a half years. The team putting it together was Rob McDacy with Mark Dumas and me.
Rob didnít know a lot about Maserati at that stage and I did some of the groundwork. We found with this project that you have to associate yourself with people who have the cars and know where to get things and confide in. You couldnít really go and compare this with another car.
I got onto a Maserati forum and got to meet quite a few people over the web. And slowly got information. Without the help of other people who own the car, thereís not much chance of getting it restored. There is very little documentation.
ABOVE Sumptuous interior is very inviting.
RIGHT Bare bones and stripped out doesnít look at all pleasing.
Youíve got a company in the United States, called MIE Corporation, that will supply the parts and give you some assistance. The technical side, and the detail in the bodywork in particular, is very hard to get.
They only ever produced 542 all up and, out of those, only 27 were right-hand drive. There have been a few converted from left to right-hand drive and I think there about five in Australia. This was right-hand-drive from the factory and was number 157 in the production, at Maserati. It began in 1972 and then in 1974 they did the same body shape but changed a few things, such as putting vents in the bonnet. I think production went through until about 1982.
I think the oil crisis hit and then production completely ceased. It has to be hand-built with those numbers.
There is no availability of body panels, so if you want to restore them you have to make them yourself. Although I was able to locate a couple of front fenders that I replaced.
Itís a mid-engine DOHC 4.7lt V8, Maseratiís own GT motor, with a transverse-mount five-speed gearbox. It runs four two-barrel Weber carburettors and claims 300 horsepower. They also had a 4.9 litre, which was 320 horsepower. It weighs around 1500kg.
It drives really nicely. The engine had evolved over many years and saw a lot of use. Itís a well-built motor. Corse Motorsport did the engine and transmission rebuild.
Unlike the body, sourcing mechanical parts wasnít too bad. Some bits I had to source second-hand. Thatís where setting up a good network of people really helps. The beauty about this car is itís virtually the same as the Merak from the doors forward. Now the Merak was produced in bigger numbers Ė over 2000 Ė and some of the parts, including suspension, are interchangeable.
The Boraís DOHC 4.7-litre V8 engine is a complex affair.
The Bora about to go skywards once more.
Itís a maze of pipes and arms and frameswork under the bodywork.
An almost flat undertray houses most of the Boraís pipeworks.
To get to the engine you have to flip and lift the entire rear bodywork.
With the Boraís internals retweaked, firing it up is next on the agenda.
The back is completely different, but just that front section made it a lot easier to restore the car.
That huge glasshouse over the engine is in fact fitted with glass rather than perspex. There is a panel that fits over the motor, but Iíve just left it off because I just like looking at the engine. It is meant to double-up as a parcel shelf. It gets a bit hot, but I guess it gives you a bit of extra room if youíre going on a trip. Itís also got a good-sized front boot.
It has the hydraulics in it from Citroen Ė the French company owned Maserati at the time. The pop-up headlights, the seat adjustment and pedal box adjustment are all operated by hydraulics. The seat does not go back and forward Ė only up and down Ė while the pedal box can be moved. That system also operated the brakes. This doesnít have power steering.
The reason Citroen bought Maserati was it wanted the V6 out of the Merak for the SM. They only held on to it for a few years and the brand was passed on to De Tomaso.
Now that I have a few niggles out of it, Iím really enjoying driving it. Itís got a nice sound to it, gets along beautifully and handles quite well. Those big high-profile tyres mean you also get quite a comfortable ride. Though the motor is right behind you, the cabin isnít noisy.
Those full magnesium Campagnolo wheels, they had to be treated the right way. I believe if you donít treat the material properly, they can become porous. Thatís a good example of all the intricate things you need to find out when youíre doing these sorts of cars. They can be different to the norm.
You end up becoming a bit of an expert on the model, through websites, speaking to people. You have to pull in all that information, because no-one knows anything about them Ė certainly not the local service people who are more used to day-to-day cars.
Rob has allowed me to work in his workshop, which Iíve thoroughly enjoyed Ė participating in the build of the car. Iíd do certain tasks, thinking Iíve done a pretty good job here for a no hoper. Iíd take it to Rob and heíd shake his head and say thatís not good enough, you go back and do it again! He was probably more fastidious than I in the building of the car, but I did want this sort of quality of finish. I wasnít going to stand for a second-rate job and Iím really happy with where it ended up.
Rob had a real sense of ownership of the project Ė itís now his pride and joy, I think. He describes it as one of the most rewarding cars heís worked on and wants to know whatís happening with the car and what Iím doing with it. I had to pop in on the way here today, to show him the Ďbabyí.
The work he, Mark and I put into it was well worth it.
ENGINE 4.7lt DOHC V8
POWER & TORQUE 228kW @6000rpm 460Nm @4200rpm
TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual
SUSPENSION Front: Coil-springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar.
Rear: Coil-springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar
BRAKES Disc brakes front and rear.
MIE Corporation for Maserati parts via the international club:
Race Motorbodies (Rob)
Tel 0419 762 243