My old neighbour, Guy Garrubo, owned the Porsche Dealership in Nyack, NY. He commiserated with me about the loss of my Ferrari, and tried to tell me that I should leave the old cars alone, and stay with the cool technologies of the new vehicles. I knew he was just a car salesman, but one day he drove by my house in a red Maserati Merak SS. It was a really cute car. He invited me out for a drink and suggested I drive the Maz. I should never have agreed to drive it, because by the end of the evening I had bought it. Guy was an incredible salesman.
The Merak reminded me of the Maserati Bora, a 4.7 L V8 that I really liked and was very popular. The younger sister, the Merak had a 3.0 L V6 with 3 twin choke Webbers, that put out 217 HP and weighed 3,150 lbs. I really liked the way it looked, especially the look from the front. But even more, I liked the fact that you never saw any Maz’s on the highway, unlike the 308 Ferraris, which were starting to appear everywhere thanks to Magnum PI.
One weekend I drove up to Boston to see some friends. One way up I hit a patch of gravel and spun out onto a grassy field. When I say spun out, I mean 2-3 turns. When we stopped, I was dizzy. I got out, checked the car and it looked fine, so I started it and got back on the road; a little slower this time.
When I returned after the weekend I mentioned the incident to Guy, and he insisted on taking the car in to inspect to see if I had done damage somewhere. A couple of days later Guy brings back the car and he gives me a bill for over $2,000.
“I had to replace all the tires. By the way, we found a handful of grass inside the two right tires. How you get grass inside the tires when they were on the wheels?”
“$2,000?! For what? There was nothing wrong.” I said.
“When we took the wheels off we noticed one of them had a cut in it. Probably did it in your spin out. It would be a weak point in the tire. So I had to replace all the tires.”
“Maybe one tire, why all 4? I only had a couple of thousand miles on the car.”
“This is a very high level performance sports car, and all your tires have to be of equal tread, or you could have a serious accident.” Guy said.
Did I mention that Guy was a great salesman? I thought so. One night we were having a drink and he started telling me about this guy in Nyack that was carving Nardi style wooden steering wheels to order (this was before air-bags), and gearshift knobs with secret compartments, that you could store quarters for tolls or something. It sounded cool and I started designing a steering wheel and knob. Fortunately we never completed the order, because I always had second thoughts about the Merak. There was a design flaw, in my opinion, with the Merak. It was the flying buttresses that went from the roof to the rear of the hood. I thought they were ugly. It looked like they were leftover from something else, added on as an afterthought.
One day I drove by the Ferrari dealer in Spring Valley after coming from Guy’s shop. I stopped to ask what they would give me for the Merak in exchange for a new 308 GTSi.