The Maserati Indy was part of a change of direction for this classic automaker. Maserati was positively booming by 1969, and ready to finish overhauling its entire lineup. Straight-six models were being phased out, while their V-8 replacements -- the two-seat Maserati Ghibli and four-seat Maserati Mexico coupe and Quattroporte sedan -- were looking after their respective markets. All that remained was a new 2 + 2. It appeared in ’69 as the Maserati Indy.
Conceived in 1968, the Maserati Indy was first displayed as a Vignale prototype at that year’s Turin show, though it was so obviously a production design that no one was surprised when it appeared in Maserati showrooms. It was billed as having unit construction, which meant that the Vignale-built body was now welded to the chassis instead of bolted on.
Carefully sized between Maserati’s Quattroporte and Ghibli, the Indy rode a 102.4-inch wheelbase but strode wider tracks than either of its stablemates, signalling that Maserati, like most other carmakers, was moving toward wider, roomier bodies. Suspension, steering, and brakes were the usual fare, but the Indy used somewhat simpler chassis construction than other Masers. As announced, it carried the Mexico’s smaller 4.1-liter 260-horsepower engine, mating to standard ZF 5-speed gearbox or optional 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic.
Despite a certain visual similarity with the Maserati Ghibli, the Maserati Indy had nothing in common with it and only a few shared elements, namely hidden headlamps, a high-tailed fastback roofline, and flowing lower-body contours. Aside from standing five inches taller, it differed in having token “ + 2” seating (assuming small and/or limber back seaters), more prominent B-posts, longer rear quarter windows, and a lift-up rear hatch for cargo-hold access.
It also neither looked as fast nor was as fast as the exceptional Ghibli. But it was a very worthy Maserati. And, of course, a more modern 2 + 2 than the Sebring and Mexico it effectively replaced.
Changes during the Maserati Indy’s relatively brief, five-year life consisted mainly of upgraded V-8s that were borrowed from the Ghibli: the 290-bhp 4.7, offered beginning in 1970, and the 335-bhp 4.9 from 1973. Some might call this confusing the issue, but Maserati likely viewed it as offering its customers the widest possible choice.
A total of 1136 Indys were produced between 1969 and ’74. At one point, the factory was turning out four Maserati Ghiblis and five Maserati Indys a week. Among the latter was a specially tailored U.S. version, predictably called Indy America.
Alas, time and circumstance precluded a direct Indy successor, at least from Maserati. Alejandro de Tomaso was in control by 1976, and he ushered in a reengineered version of his Mercedes SL-lookalike Longchamps as Maserati’s “new” Kyalami.