The Karif
"... a strong southwest wind that occurs on the southern shore of the Gulf of Aden during the southwest monsoon."

The 1988 Maserati Karif

The Karif 'berlinetta' was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1988, where it received a mixed reception from both motoring journalists and public alike. Perhaps the name Karif, the name of yet another wind, had leaked out in advance of its launch and stirred the imagination, with thoughts of perhaps another Ghibli, Mistral or Bora. With this in mind the first viewing of the Karif must have appeared as an anticlimax; for this was certainly no design classic. The Karif was elegant but lacked the necessary move away from the 'ordinary' looking Biturbo range.

Factory figures give a 0-60mph time of 4.8 seconds!

This extract from a Karif sales brochure gives one an idea of its appeal "The Maserati Karif: an exceptional road 'animal', an exciting driving experience, an invitation to feel like a racing driver again or for the first time: the subtle pleasure of feeling the throb of so many horses and of knowing you can control them". It possessed all the luxury trimmings of the Biturbo and was based on the short wheelbase chassis, 2400mm compared to the Biturbo's 2514mm, of Zagato's pretty looking spyder, but with a fixed roof.

This Karif is fitted with a leather covered steering wheel

The dashboard is upholstered in padded leather to protect the occupants' head and knees in case of an accident.

The luxury leather and wood interior

The interior of the Karif was same blend of hand-stitched leather and polished wood interior as the standard Biturbo but with a polished wood-rimmed steering wheel.

The occasional rear seats

The shorter wheelbase meant that the Karif was primarily a two-seater but there was seating in the rear for two young children.

The ample boot space of the Karif

With the spare wheel stored under the boot and the battery in the engine bay (as with all Biturbos) there is plenty of luggage space, approx. 14 cu.ft., which makes this car the ideal tourer.

After a while, the design does grow on you!

Standard equipment included power steering, power-operated front seats, automatic air-conditioning system, electric windows and exterior rearview mirrors, central locking, remote power fuel cap and boot release, fully adjustable steering wheel, alloy wheels and a dash mounted luxury clock!!

The powerful fuel-injected 2.8-litre engine of the Karif

If the Karif was no design classic it was certainly no slouch for its twin-turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 produced some 285 bhp, without a catalytic convertor, giving it a top speed of over 155 mph. Sadly cars fitted with a catalytic convertor only developed 225 bhp (top speed 143 mph).

" The small rear window reminiscent of older designs."

The Karif with its roof and the resultant stronger structure gave the car the extra torsional stiffness required to cope with the new, more powerful 285 bhp engine. This lack of torsional stiffness is the main reason why the later more powerful 24-valve engines were never installed in the Spyders.

The 'Meccanica Attiva' front suspension of the Karif

The front suspension of the Karif was fitted with the new 'Mecannica Attiva' suspension system developed by Maserati. This mechanism used a system of interacting levers that ensured the front wheels not only remained completely square relative to the road surface, but that the lower supension and steering arms always remained parallel giving greater stability on cornering. Braking was upgraded with the use of floating calipers and ventilated discs.

The rear suspension of the Karif

The rear suspension consisted of semi-trailing arms mounted on a subframe with Bilstein hydraulic shock absorbers with coil springs. The handbrake operated two drum brakes in the centre of the rear discs.

A combination of high performance and rarity value, with only 221 cars produced, means the Karif is a sure bet to become highly collectable in the coming years and even if it doesn't appreciate in value it will always be a "a great car to own and drive!" (Keith Woollard).

Opening the bonnet of any Maserati is always
a pleasure, the Karif is no exception!!

One of the few Karifs in Australia

Keith's Karif at a car show in Australia

I would like to thank Keith Woollard in Australia for providing me with photos of his beautiful toy!

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