Named for the famous Mediterranean wind, Mistral was the second of Maserati’s new six-cylinder 1960s models. Previewed at the ’63 Turin show, it aped the Sebring in using an improved version of the Maserati 3500GTI chassis but with an even shorter wheelbase. This aided torsional stiffness, as did new folded members along the rocker panels, reinforcements over the rear wheelarches, and more sheetmetal around the tail.
The Maserati Mistral was offered in coupe and convertible models, the latter introduced at Geneva in 1964. Both were two-seaters, unlike the 2 + 2 Sebring. Styling, by Pietro Frua, was different too, more rounded and flowing, with a lower beltline and an airier greenhouse with more markedly curved glass.
The coupe featured a large lift-up hatch window somewhat reminiscent of the later Porsche 924/944 treatment. In retrospect, overall appearance forecast the Frua-designed AC 428 of 1968 (even some panels were apparently shared). Doors, hood, and rear deck (hatch on the coupe, trunklid on the convertible) were aluminum; the rest of the shell was steel. Maggiora of Turin supplied both bodies under contract.
While a few early models carried the familiar 3.5-liter Maserati twincam six, most Mistrals had the more potent 3.7- or 4.0-liter versions. Peak power outputs were the same as the Sebring’s and allowed Maserati to boast about beating the “1 hp per cu in.” figure so magical to Americans in those heady days.
The Maserati Mistral proved quite popular. Most of the total 948 units were built in 1964-68 (though the last example, a 4.0-liter spider, wasn’t completed until 1970). As ever, coupes way outsold the convertibles, which accounted for just 120 units.
Nevertheless, Maserati was moving on to bigger and better things, so the Mistral would be the last of the traditional front-engine straight-six Masers on which the company had built its great postwar success. Beginning in 1967, the future belonged to the new V-8 Mexico and Ghibli.