The Sultan of Brunei and his family have long had a bad name ‘round these parts, mostly for hoarding all the good cars in warehouses on an island in the Pacific where they sit in darkness and dust, rotting away. But it turns out they’ve committed a sin even darker than that. They made this.
Found for sale at London classic car dealer DD Classics is this 1975 Maserati Khamsin, modified nearly beyond recognition by its original owners, the royal family of Brunei. The car that left the factory with sleek lines cut by Marcello Gandini during his time at Bertone. It had to be impressive if it was going to serve as a front-engined counterpart to the contemporary Maserati Bora and a follow-up to the sublime first-generation Ghibli.
Named for the mighty wind that rises up out of the Sahara and carries desert dust into Levantine skies (something I am more than familiar with from my time in Israel), the Khamsin was motivated by an Alfieri-designed. 4.9-litre V8 that was shoved deep behind the front bumper under that long hood, steering mechanicals pushed in front of it using some creative packaging help from Maserati’s then-owner Citroën.
Out back, most Khamsins (U.S. market cars aside) featured a unique rear end, taillights floating in a pane of glass that looked into the cargo area under the expansive glass hatch. It’s an alluring image, one that has captured the imagination of our very own Raphael Orlove time and again with good reason.
This car, however, does not feature that signature rear treatment. Instead, it’s got some generic round taillights that make it look a lot like a C3 Corvette to my eyes. That’s a real shame, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the list of crimes committed to this innocent vehicle when it was sequestered away by the ruthless members of Brunei’s ruling clan.
The Italian V8? Gone. A Holden unit is under the hood instead. The steering wheel? A De Tomaso unit, funnily enough. The wheels? Ones you’d likely find in the ads in the back of an issue of Automobile in your dentist’s waiting room. The colour? Polestar blue for some reason. And don’t get me started on the body kit. I don’t know what I can say about it that is appropriate for our blog’s family audience. But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. The Sultan’s taste might be have been good sometimes, but some of his more imaginative custom machines are rather… distinctive. I mean ugly as hell.
I’ll be honest; when I first came across it, it took a minute before I realised what this car actually is. Or was. And that’s the last thing I remember before I woke up on the floor with dried blood down the side of my face.
This right-hand-drive Maserati Khamsin is listed at DD Classics in London with 32,065 km on the odometer and a price of £89,950 ($161,526). It’s a pre-facelift car, but I don’t know if that matters all that much considering what’s been done to it. Maybe someone can find some use for it, though, and enjoy it more than the old Sultan likely ever did.