Karif was the name of an African wind, chosen to respect the Maserati tradition of using wind names for the designation of its GT cars (Mistral, Ghibli, Khamsin, etc). The proportions were rather unusual for such a high-performance coupé. In fact it was the result of a no-nonsense approach: the Karif’s lines were derived closely from those of the Biturbo Spyder with a rigid roof welded on. The aim was to create a rigid body that would enhance the handling qualities of the shorter wheelbase model.
The colour and trim treatment followed the style of the Biturbo S range, thus with two-tone paint, blacked out chrome trim and an elegant interior clad in wood and leather. Though the car was equipped with occasional rear seats, it was basically a 2-seater but with a sense of airiness due to the large windows and thin posts.
Mechanically, the car was equipped with the most powerful version of the twin turbo V6 available at the time, of 2.8-litre capacity. Rated at 285 hp it was claimed to be good enough for a top speed of over 255kph, despite later versions being de-tuned by way of a catalytic exhaust. The relatively light overall weight combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox with special short ratios to add to the sense of performance. The Karif gained a reputation for being a demanding driver’s car, of which just 222 found their way in the hands of true enthusiasts.