Rediscovering The Maserati Indy America In Berlin, Germany
Photography by Ted Gushue
Editor’s Note: I had the great fortune of meeting Dirk Rumpff over the weekend when visiting Berlin. He and I had crossed paths before, and he had alluded to his budding Maserati collection, but it wasn’t until he met me on a frigid German afternoon for an early supper at Garage Du Pont in Potsdam that I got a sense for his allegiance to Maserati. We spent the rest of the day touring around in his Indy and I snapped as many photos as the light would allow. Dirk had already written a great feature on his car for his Maserati Club International magazine “Viale Ciro Menotti”, which I am delighted to share with you below. (You’ll also see a few shots of his Mexico in progress)
“Nice Corvette!”, “Is this a Firebird?” or “Couldn‘t afford a Ghibli?” from the ones a little more informed, are some expressions an Indy owner has to endure with a smile every once in a while. Driving a car which is under the radar of the known for most is plenty of joy to make up for it. The Indy was long overlooked, maybe because of its lack of flamboyance compared to competitors of its era. For me, its understatement is one of its qualities.
My 1971 Indy America 4.7 and I started our relationship of pleasure and pain early in 2013. Initially found on Enrico’s brilliant website (http://www.maseratighibli.co.uk), I soon found myself on a trip to the south of France to meet its former owner who took good care of it for the past 20 years. Remembering the day I walked onto his property and seeing the beauty in Rosso Rubino Metallizzato parked in his driveway as if it was yesterday.
Having seen many Indys up to this day, but never driven one, it was accompanied by sweaty palms to finally turn the ignition key for the first time
and hear the V8 roar. Up to this day I still perform this ritual with respect, which I hope will never fade.
It didn’t take a lot of negotiation to come to the agreement that I would be its future caretaker, and a few weeks later it was on a trailer from sunny France to grey Berlin. It was unloaded – covered in snow and dirt in the middle of February – in a rather shady area of Berlin Kreuzberg and you could tell that it didn’t quite fit its new surroundings.
It took until early May before it was back on the road with a fresh MOT and minor adjustments, and the first mission was to take part in an oldtimer rally around Berlin. The trip ended in a lady bumping into the back at a stoplight of an intersection with her VW Golf. “There isn’t any damage, is there?” she asked, but there was enough to end the season early and keep me busy until November to fix it.
Going back to the history of AM116/47*1104, it was originally delivered to “Sport Auto Roma” in Oro Longchamps (gold) with black interior in 1971. Little to nothing is known about its history until the late 80s, when the previous owner purchased, repainted it red and added wire wheels, in Canada. An extensive restoration followed, finishing it in Rosso Rubino, a color that 25 other Indys left the factory with. Since its restoration the Indy only covered around 6000km in about 20 years. Luckily, it was driven regularly so it didn’t suffer from any lack of attention. The color wouldn’t have been my first choice but it was of minor relevance when I decided to take over its ownership.
Since the day it arrived in Berlin my goal was to bring it back to its original glory as close as possible. This includes the driving performance and pleasure, as well as the bones and skin it left the factory with. Fellow Maserati enthusiasts try to convince me that I should paint it back in Oro Longchamp and even though it might underline the era it came from and support the bodylines, I cannot see it back in gold.
The wire wheels were replaced with Campagnolo starburst wheels, thanks to the donation of a set from a good friend. This might contradict the goal of originality but in my opinion the 14″ Borranis look too small on the Indy. The exhaust was turned into stainless steel and most of the rubber parts were brought up to date.
A dashboard releasing smoke after switching on the lights while going into a tunnel was so far the scariest experience. Electrical problems with the wiring convinced me to extract all temporary modifications prior owners applied to the Indy as a safety precaution. Luckily, the interior is flawless with a patina that is essential to me in vintage cars.
The trip to the centennial celebrations in Modena in 2014 were the first proof of the Indy’s Grand Tourismo qualities. Passing through Munich, South Tirolia and via Verona and Bologna to Modena it was obvious where this car belonged. On the Italian streets it is much more appreciated and at home than in the German capital. Needless to say, it is a pure and effortless joy to drive. Comfortably cruising at 160 km/h or 3000 rpm in 5th gear on German autobahns is what justifies the extra hours to afford this pleasure. We were prepared for most interferences except for a flat tire and this is exactly what happened in Turin.
There are far worse places for this to happen than in the FIAT HQ garage and the staff of the Maserati meeting were very helpful, so it didn’t take long for us to be back on the road. Its assuring to know that there is still more power under the bonnet than in most modern cars, but a grace its younger siblings can’t keep up with. In the early seventies when most cars were travelling at a speed of around 100km/h on the Autobahn being passed by a Maserati must have felt like a Concorde launching next to you.
In May this year we drove the Indy without any breakdowns from Berlin via Modena to the historic Grand Prix in Monaco and it never felt better on the road because ultimately that is what it was built for – long journeys.