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Drive Like The Wind
Manufacturers go to great trouble in naming cars, seeking titles that convey their brand image accurately. After many years of alphanumeric names, Maserati became known for the very innovative naming of its models after exotic winds, a practice since adopted by a number of lesser nameplates. Winds are fast, they bring change, and carry people to new and exciting places. Those who can harness the wind have been revered through history, and wind has long been a metaphor for power and speed. Maseratis, of course, have always been faster than the wind. Back in 1963 Maserati introduced the Mistral, a wonderful GT with a 3.5-liter straight-six engine developed from that fitted to the 3500GT. The car was styled by Pietro Frua, and it was he who suggested the name to Giulio Alfieri; the Mistral is a cool north-westerly wind blowing onto the Mediterranean coast of France, and associated with powerful storms.
This set a pattern of naming Maserati GT cars after winds; when a concept GT car was created based on the Mexico four-seater, it was called the Simun. This is a strong, hot wind which blows across the Sahara and Arabian deserts; it carries huge amounts of sand and very little moisture.
Then came one of the most famous and iconic road-going Maserati models of all time - the Ghibli. Another Saharan wind which is commonly known as the Sirocco, in Libya it is known as the �qibli', meaning �southern'. The wind is most common during spring and autumn, and can blow at almost 60mph; it is this wind which is responsible for the dry, dusty conditions on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.
First produced in 1971, the extremely powerful Maserati Bora saw the source of its name come from further north; the Bora is a northerly wind in the Adriatic region, most strongly felt in Greece, Turkey and Russia. Named after the Greek mythological figure of Boreas, the North Wind, it is a �katabatic' wind, meaning that it blows down an incline; the Bora, commonest in winter, is a cold wind. It is so strong that in Trieste, in Italy, and in several towns and villages in Slovenia, roof tiles have to be weighted down with stones.
A break from the sequence of wind-related names came with the nimble Merak, named for a star in the Big Dipper. It was followed by the rapid Khamsin, named for a strong, hot wind felt in North Africa and the Arabian peninsula during the spring; the southerly wind frequently brings sandstorms.
It wasn't until 1988 that Maserati next produced a GT car, and the tradition continued; the Karif took its name from a strong south-westerly wind which blows during the southwest monsoon. As if to make up for the long gap, the next model came later the same year - the Shamal. This is a north-westerly wind which blows in the Persian Gulf, affecting southern Iraq; in June and July it blows almost constantly, and as it is a hot, dry wind the dust can reduce visibility to almost zero.
In 1990 Maserati came up with a new GT concept car they dubbed the Chubasco; strictly speaking, this is a storm rather than a wind. Affecting the west coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, it is a severe thunderstorm, usually during the afternoon, coming down from the mountains.
The final instalment in wind-related names came in 1992, when the Ghibli name was revived; however, since the car had a rear seat, it differs from all of the previous models in the series. In the minds of automotive enthusiasts, exotic winds and Maserati will long be associated with one another.
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