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Back in 1979, a father picked up his wife and a little baby boy from the hospital in their almost-new Alfasud 1200.
Sure to say, that passion for what at the time were considered exotic cars in Norway left a mark on that child.
Fast-forward 25 years and the boy had turned into a student with no money and a love for classic Italian cars. And that’s a horrible combination, if I may say so.
However, what I lacked in finances I made up for in spare time. And, in what turned out to be a very fortunate coincidence, I became friends with a lawyer who shared my enthusiasm for classics.
His ‘problem’, however, was not a lack of finances but a lack of time to use the cars in his collection. We had a match…
That’s how it came to be that a young, poor and opportunistic student became the caretaker of a 1971 Maserati Indy 4700 and a 1968 Maserati Mistral 4000.
During the following years I drove the two cars to shows and meetings, and fell more and more in love with the Mistral.
The looks, the howl of the straight-six over 3500rpm, the feeling of being an Italian version of James Bond… It all appealed to me.
The V8 Maserati cars are great, of course, but, having driven them all, the ‘six’ speaks to me on another level.
Fast-forward a few more years and the student is a student no more, but married with two kids.
The lawyer’s cars have been sold, and I have bought and sold a few lovely classics myself including a Maserati Merak SS and a Ferrari 348 Spider.
However, the Mistral never really got out of my head.
Norway being small, there aren’t many Mistrals around. I knew of two, neither of which was for sale.
Then I got a tip-off about a car, supposedly a Mistral, that had been standing for years in a garage.
Long story short: yes, it was a Mistral.
Within six months, in May 2013, we collected a solid and complete car in need of a full restoration.
The classic department at the factory told me that the car left via mare to San Francisco in October 1966, painted Celeste Chiaro (light blue) over Senape (mustard) leather.
When we picked the car up it was in burgundy red.
Still with the Italian James Bond fantasy in mind, my dream was to take my wife to the mountains of Italy at some point in this car, and the restoration focused on getting everything as good as possible.
We didn’t want to be stranded in the middle of the Furka Pass on the way!
I was optimistic enough to believe the car would be ready for the centenary celebration in 2014 in Modena. How wrong I was…
It has been an emotional rollercoaster.
Everything takes more time than expected; Maserati parts and services are expensive, and handmade cars are even more costly to restore. Almost nothing can be bought off the shelf.
There are knowledgeable good guys in the business and there are, well, service providers at the other end of that scale.
Luckily, my best friend is a car wizard and he has helped me, guided me, constructed missing parts out of nothing, assembled the car, and, all in all, he is the one who has restored it.
Even when suppliers have sent me downhill on the rollercoaster, he has pulled me back up again. Friends like that are priceless.
The car was finally finished in late September 2019, and a clear classic season lay ahead of us.
Then 2020 came along.
The rallies, the planned trips to Europe visiting friends, the local club events; nothing.
Nonetheless, we were able to put 3000km on the Mistral in the summer and even managed to do a Norwegian twist on driving over mountain passes – the peaks surrounding the Geiranger Fjord are perfect.
If you haven’t been to Norway and seen the fjords, you now know where to drive post-COVID-19.
The Mistral performed flawlessly and, even though it is now in hibernation for the winter, I have the memories and look forward to a new and better 2021.
Was it worth the seven years of self-torture? Absolutely.
Would I recommend anyone else takes on a project such as this or do another one myself? Absolutely not.
I enjoy the stories that became a seven-year-long restoration. I’m proud of the outcome and that I am forever linked to the history of Mistral #1032. However, I enjoy driving more than wrenching.
And driving is what I plan to do.
I am happy to report that the experience in a Mistral is exactly what a former student remembered and hoped it would be.
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- Owned by Alexander Stark
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