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2005 Maserati Coupe
By Paul Pachuta

Click for detail photo. One thing I noticed about Southern California when I moved here from Cleveland in 1979 is that no matter how well you do, someone always outshines you. Shortly after arriving here I rented a vintage, boat-tailed Rolls Royce convertible, (cir. 1940), for a weekend. While cruising Beverly Hills, (hey, I wasn’t going to let this investment in status go un-cashed), a guy pulled up next to me in a brand new convertible Rolls with the top down and on the phone! Remember, this was back in 1979 when car phones were unheard of. Imagine my disgrace.

So what does that have to do with the Maserati Coupe? Like the Porsche 911, the Maserati Coupe is not the most attractive sports car on the market, but it certainly is distinctive. If you see one in your rear view mirror you probably won’t immediately recognize it, but you’ll recognize it to be exotic. Especially because of how fast it comes up on you. It’s definitely a looker in the sense that Madonna is; not especially beautiful but exuding some kind of hormone that stirs a man’s imagination and desire.

Although some consider it to be an “entry-level” Ferrari the Maserati carries the bonus of exclusivity. I suspect that there are more Ferraris in Southern California than anywhere outside of Italy. You have only to get up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to find them touring the coastline from La Jolla to Malibu. Not so many in the mountains, I’ve noticed. It would be an overstatement to say that 360 Modenas are a dime a dozen, but they certainly are common, especially relative to the Maserati, and even more so, the Coupe.

One gets the feeling that many Ferrari buyers purchase their cars to be in “the club”, and in my view that is reasonable for such an epic purchase. After all, you can buy similar, or even better performance for much less money with a Z06. Well, guess what? Purchase a Maserati and welcome to the club, literally. The Ferrari Owners Club is open to Maserati owners and, upon joining, you will probably be one of about five cars that are not red out of a total of 100. Don’t you just love exclusivity?

So, what’s it like to drive a Maserati Coupe. To find out I toodled on down to Maserati of San Diego in La Jolla with my son, putting on my best “I can buy this car if I want to” face and strode in. My guise worked and I was soon in the driver’s seat comparing the experience with driving the Jaguar XK-R, the supposed contender in my new car purchase contest.

As soon as the sales agent fired it up I became smitten by the most delicious sounding exhaust rumble I have ever heard. Very masculine and hinting not too subtly at the power lying within easy reach. Still, not too menacing so as to lose the air of refinement expected from a handsome Italian of some birthright.

I was never able to get beyond third gear in my test drive around the hilly landscape and traffic of La Jolla. Regardless the first half of the gearbox provided an experience that doesn’t just rival, but flat out supersedes every other driving experience I have ever had, before or since. Reaction to throttle is immediate and explosive as only a naturally aspirated, large displacement engine can produce. The short-throw gear shift is accurate and satisfying, the clutch is of a perfect firmness and take-up, suspension taught, even with two adults and a nearly six foot teenager stuffed into the back seat, yet supple enough to retain a dignified composure. But, as we blasted around the narrow, hilly neighborhood streets the most memorable sensation was that of the exhaust; magnificent is the best adjective.

In summation, the Maserati Coupe is a car of authority. Composing itself in a dignified manner, yet athletic and highly capable in a clearly evident way. The Maser doesn’t shout out “look at me”. Its statement is more subtle, refined and powerful.

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Pictures of the Maserati Coupe
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Posted April 4, 2006
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