Today’s weekend morsel is an example from Maserati’s darker days of recent times. It’s a 1992 Biturbo, yours for about €20,000 (if bought in Denmark).
The first Biturbos date from 1981. Maserati hoped that the car would gain sales from that champion of small, sporty saloons, the BMW 3-series. To do this, Maserati equipped the two-door, four seat car with a 2.0 V6 engine, larded up with two turbos. Depending on which way you look at it, by 1993 Maserati had either ironed out all the problems or else got bored making the Biturbo.
Certainly by 1993 the car had come a long way from its origins as a neat, rather conservative little vehicle modelled on its Giugario-styled relative, the QP. This car is encrusted with a set of rather crude modifications -all done by the OEM – such as that incredibly complex front bumper and some nasty sill extensions. Is that windscreen still held in place by a rubber seal?
In keeping with the styles of the times, the brightwork is gone or minimised so the car is as unsparkly as a base model Mondeo or 405 – puzzling for a car that cost so much (just to maintain). One of the attractions of the earlier models of Biturbo
was the ornate and lavishly labour intensive stainless steel window frames with their visibly hand-burnished welds. Getting rid of these deprived the car of its identity. The headlamps on this vehicle are unusually complicated and fussy where once they were simple glass units. Why did Maserati do all this? To flog a dead horse as they had not the funds to develop a newer car.
Maserati was a cottage industry so the 1981 car had to soldier on as its BMW peer was into its third model cycle. We could have covered this car under the category of facelifts. That said, from the rear the car still has its purposeful stance and attractively stubby tail. It’s a pity about the oddly angled mirrors. Aren’t Italians supposed to be good at making things pretty?
The seller of this car is so keen to tell us how good it is, they’ve used a clever ploy of writing most of their ad in upper case letters. The ad shouts as follows: “Note: here there is talk of a truly regular and knife sharp Italian classic. The bodywork is unbelievably good, so good at you’d think it was a lie. If you want a full-blooded Italian for a small amount of money then this example is very much worth taking a closer look at. Please ring for more information…. For this price can you really leave it be?” Let me think about that.
Despite the horrible excrescences and doubtful colours inside and out, I find this car much more appealing that its descendent, the present Ghibli. The Ghibli is huge and stupidly complex. I like the idea of the small V6 (and why didn’t we also deal with this during our engine theme of a few months back?). That engine is a very fine thing (six quarts of oil required and it takes time to warm it up) and almost worth the price of purchase.
Setright gave the car his seal of approval, or maybe it was Roger Bell. The neat, chuckable chassis has bags of character. Sure, the car is simply evil in the wet (like a 1981 BMW 5-series) and will spin on its own axis as quickly as you can scream “worn tappets and a huge engine repair bill” but this car reminds me of the homespun charms of Maserati and good solid analogue technology.
And the nice news is that a mid-80s example of this car is far from expensive and has none of the thoughtless styling mods. If I lived in Germany (where this exact model cost half as much as in Denmark) or perhaps the UK I might consider a vehicle like that but here in Denmark the maintenance expense put this car well into the supercar category of cost, despite its simplicity. One to admire from a safe distance I think.