$3,895 Maserati: 1984 Maserati Biturbo E

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This raging bull is a 1984 Maserati Biturbo E and it’s on eBay with an eye-openingly-low Buy It Now price of just $3,895! That’s like three pairs of Italian shoes! This bellezza rosso is located in Wexford, Pennsylvania and there is less than one day left! This one is very tempting; very, very tempting. Almost any “100% rust-free” car that’s over three decades old is tempting to me.

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This Biturbo is in gorgeous condition! Less than $4,000!? How can that possibly be? Well, you know what they say, always buy the best-condition vehicle that you can find because an inexpensive exotic is usually the most expensive vehicle that you’ll ever own? (actually, I just made that up) This Maserati is absolutely fantastic, exterior-wise, but there are things wrong with it and you’ll need a sheet of legal-sized paper and a wad of $100 bills to pay for the repairs. It’ll need a clutch, a full tune-up to hopefully correct an idling issue, a new battery, and new tires. There is also a small coolant leak and a few oil leaks and the steering links and sway bars need to have their bushings replaced. So, plan on at least the sale price of the car again in repairs, just to be on the safe side.

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1984 was the first year that the US got the Biturbo and this one really looks great from the exterior photos. The Maserati Biturbo always seemed so exotic to me, at least they did when I was in my late-teens when they first came out back in 1981. Remember just a few short years ago when you could buy an E-Type for $25,000? Or, a 911 for $25,000? A 928 for $5,000? Or, even a lowly-912 for $15,000 or a 914 for $10,000?! Yeah, the Biturbo is somewhat similar to that sort of thing but probably on a smaller scale, price-wise. They’re so close to being right on the verge of breaking through in the collector market, in my opinion.

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As you can tell from the profile photo here, the Biturbo wasn’t exactly the poster child for the sexy Maserati that we have known and loved all of our lives from posters and exotic car magazines. These cars were sort of Maserati’s somewhat frumpy, 1980s answer to the Ferrari 308 for the price of an “affordable” BMW. How is that a bad thing? I have always thought that the design was crisp and clean, and I still do. The angular, two-door bodystyle is coming back into vogue so for anyone willing to buy-and-hold, this car is a steal. Mark my words, I can 100% guarantee that this will be a valuable car in a few years, there is just no question about that.

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Interior-wise, this car appears to be in nice condition, but there’s a laundry list of things to repair. The seats and door panels and dash look about as nice as any 1984 car could look after 50,000 miles. Even the driver’s seat looks great and it’s always the one that shows the most wear. So, what’s wrong here? Well, it has an aftermarket moon roof and it doesn’t work. There’s a big strike. Original is king and since some company (hopefully it wasn’t a backyard job!) cut a huge hole in the roof of this car, it’s not original anymore and it never will be. The original LaSalle clock is missing, which is a problem with these cars, oddly enough. This one appears to have a digital replacement which is probably more appropriate to 1984 than an analog clock is anyway. The good parts of the interior, other than the seats, door panels, and dash, are the original Nardi steering wheel which is in great condition, and the original Maserati radio. Although there are no trunk photos, there is a photo of the original tool kit.

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This is the great-looking but ill-idling, 185 hp Maserati 2.5L V6 with twin turbos, the first production version of a twin-turbo car, ever. This is the one with the oil leaks, the coolant leak, and the one that needs a tune-up, and most likely much more. But, she’s a beaut, no? As I’m writing this, I’m mentally trying to guesstimate what a possible service invoice would be to fix those oil leaks and change those dried-out bushings and dang, there’s that clutch which will be the most expensive part, most likely. But, an early car like this one, although maybe without the clapped-up moonroof (ugh) will surely become a reasonably high-priced collector car in a few short years. Have any of you owned a Maserati Biturbo or any of the later versions of this model? What do you think of the price for this one?

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Comments

  1. Mr. Bond

    Might even be priced high. I know these had problems from the factory that inspired a number of aftermarket fixes. A friend had one and did quite a bit of work to the air induction and cooling systems. It ended up being pretty reliable, but cost a lot to get there. Very comfortable car though.

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  2. Matt

    That’s about $3890 too much for a running example of one of these.. You won’t get through the first tank of gas without replacing the head gaskets. Seriously.. They’re turds.

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    • MikeG

      And this comes from experience?

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      • Matt

        I was an Italian sportscar mechanic once upon a time.. We only ever had two in the shop.. both for head gaskets. There were two more in town for sale for less than a grand that had the same problem. They were nice to sit in, but I always drove them very gingerly so I wouldn’t be on the hook to fix it before it went back to the customer.

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    • Tirefriar

      Matt, I think you are being a bit conservative on the price 😉

      I’d probably guess that $2k is about as high as you want to go on this one. I never owned one, but did consider buying a Maser since the prices were almost too reasonable. After reading the owners’ experiences I passed. Unless you will be doing the work yourself, and there’ll be plenty to do after almost every drive, this is not the droid you are looking for.

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    • Klharper

      I worked as a mechanic at the Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo dealer when these were new. They were without a doubt the worst pieces of crap out there. Carb fires, blown head gaskets and liners, electrical issues. Even minor tuneup were a pain. The later fuel injection ones were much better, but there are thousands of cars that I want before having one.
      After years away working as an engineer I decided to return to cars and open up a car repair shop. I specialize in Italian and British cars with the bulk of them being Italian. This is the only Italian car I will not allow in the garage.

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    • RyanD

      Says the person who’s never owned one….

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  3. MikeG

    NIce car! If the bronze oil screen has been removed, intake plenum isn’t leaking (achieving full boost) & oil is clear of coolant, could be a great deal….

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  4. Adam Wright

    Much like Delorean’s there is a reason that most examples that you see are low miles, it’s because they never ran, even when new. I bought one once for $300, I tripled my money and vowed to never again buy one.

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    • Adam Wright

      Seriously, my dad wanted one of these when they were less than 5 years old, he went and looked at 3 in the Atlanta area, EVERY ONE of them was sitting with a dead battery and at least one flat tire, because the owner had just given up….and this is when they were new cars, add decades of neglect, parts shortages, and few trained to work on them, and you are really buying a disaster. I like the look of them and a powerplant swap would be cool, but don’t ever expect these to be worth anything.

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  5. 68 custom

    beautiful lines but oh so unreliable. the later ones were slightly less unreliable. put an LS in it!

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    • MikeG

      They really aren’t unreliable at all. Like many 80’s cars they have their quirks that once dealt with leave a car that is very enjoyable to own. I’d say the later Biturbos are really no less reliable than many of the cars of that era, they definitely require a mechanic who knows the car, but you should ALWAYS go to a specialist. Plus, you have the advantage of owning a car that isn’t pulling up to every stop light in the city.

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      • Glen

        I don’t want to sound rude, but almost every other post has been saying these aren’t good cars. I’m listening to them. No offence intended.

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      • MikeG

        If you want to listen to people who have not owned one vs someone who has and knows many others who do, their can’t be anything done about that!

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  6. CapNemo

    If it was a gift, there’s a good chance I’d still reject it. Those cars are turds.

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  7. P

    Heard these are clunkers…

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  8. Chuck Cobb

    Since these seem to be so unreliable mechanically, yank the leaking engine and put in a LS with 5or 6 speed. Have reliability and lots of power. Bang for the buck would then be really nice.

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  9. Howard A Member

    I know absolutely nothing about this car, but I promised Cyclemikey I’d comment on every thread, no matter how half baked my comment may sound. 🙂 Put a “legendary” SBC in it, and be done.

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    • RayT Member

      Sheesh, Howard A! Even if you did that — and I can’t imagine it would be all that easy — you’d still have to deal with Mr Marelli’s electrical system. And the missing clock which, based on experience driving four different Biturbos back in the day, was their nicest (and most reliable) feature….

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  10. Mark

    One of the apparent prerequisites for a car to become a collectible classic is any OEM sins could be corrected in the aftermarket. Think of the 911 SC’s pop-off valve and ARP head studs, or the incredible range of parts available for British cars like MG’s or Jag’s. I just don’t see how that has happened (or would be justified) on a car like this.

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  11. M/K

    CRUSH THAT JUNK QUICK! buy the Japanese version “Mazdarotti”, even the lowly glc is a better performer an more reliable.

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  12. CelestialGryphon

    Sooooo…. Why not make it more quirky? Shove a 13B from the 80’s in there, one with an engine snail. It’ll be reliable! Mostly.

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  13. Jeffro

    Let’s get real quirky and drop a turbo diesel in it. Nothing says “Merica” like a 5 inch exhaust pipe blowing smoke.

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  14. LD

    I remember looking at one of these in Glen Ridge NJ in 1991 and saying something like “Mark my words, I can 100% guarantee that this will be a valuable car in a few years, there is just no question about that.” Maybe I wasn’t so emphatic about “Mark my words….just no question about that”.
    Luckily I kept my wallet in my pocket LD71😃

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  15. jimf42

    I remember test driving one back when they were new and a friend was considering buying one…he bought a Porsche 944 instead…much better choice. I would still buy a used 944 at twice this price…the potential is there for repairs which dwarf the purchase price.

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  16. Peter Porsche

    There is a video out there, of a car commentator in England, inspecting one of these in a Spyder version, finishing his review, and having a 5-ton lead weight dropped on it from above, to help finalize his review. He had a STRONG opinion on these, never to be forgotten. That was a serious review!

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  17. whippeteer

    I remember looking at an 84 in 88. $4K and 25K miles. There was another one locally at the same price at the time with 40K on it.

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  18. Peter Porsche

    “Biturbo” is, of course, Italian for “expensive junk.” At least, it is now, after Maserati tried to pass off this bitter heartbreak-on-wheels as a proper grand touring sedan. The Biturbo was the product of a desperate, under-funded company circling the drain of bankruptcy, and it shows. Everything that could leak, burn, snap or rupture did so with the regularity of the Anvil Chorus. The collected service advisories would look like the Gutenberg Bible. The only greater ignominy was the early 1990s Maserati TC, a version of the Chrysler Le Baron (a flaccid, front-drive, four-cylinder loser-mobile) with the proud Mazzer Trident on the nose. Finally, sir, have you no shame?

    Time Magazine Review

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  19. angliagt

    Page 1 of the Maserati Biturbo buyer’s guide has one word on it –

    DON’T!

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  20. Dave Wright

    Having owned several Maseraties……and owning one now, these are pure junk. I remember ordering parts for my Mistral about the time these were built. The factory parts manager in Italy absolutely hated them……he liked my Quatroporte and off course the Mistral, the quatro with the orignal 4.9 4 cam engine but anything with as much Citroen influence was immediately relegated to junk status.

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  21. Doug Towsley

    ” I got a Maserati does 185! I lost my license, Now I dont drive”

    So I came super close to buying one of these and spent months researching and talking to all my car contacts.
    Here is my humble opinion (IMHO). The early ones had serious issues and ruined their reputation. Process engineering had them relatively decent by the end but too late. they had a toxic reputation and still do as evidenced on here.
    The issues they have/had are easily addressed and there are fixes and common sense will have a good car when done. But few people want to rebuild something like this just to make it work correctly. I think the drivetrain and chassis offers up some fun opportunities. The one I almost bought had a stunning leather interior and many trim and other styling parts.
    However these are heavy little turds and I dont like the exterior styling. Boxy NOT in a good way. I bought a kit car shell a couple years back and the owner offered me a donor car CHEAP. It was one of these. SORELY TEMPTING.. As a kit car donor it had a lot going for it. I could use many parts off it such as the interior and trim (The door sill plates are artwork) and removing the body and installing a sexy kit car body would fix the weight issue. It also would dramitically increase serviceability and access to everything. WIN/WIN. If I had not already had a ready to go donor I would have jumped all over it.
    The head gasket is a very common problem as well as cooling. The one I looked at was from Idaho and fell victim to that. Bigger radiator, ducting and better thermostatically controlled fans and a intercooler upgrade would have solved most of that problem. The rest is pretty simple. But $1500 is about the most I would pay for one. And In the end,, If i would have drove back up there to Idaho I could have had the one for $500 or best offer,…. (Read much less,, I bet $300 and a 12 pack would have sealed the deal) The one I looked at was in comparable condition and I have found 3 more all in the under $2k OBO range. So,, cool cars but not a big seller, and very limited market for them. Shame as in the end,, They had a lot of potential.

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    • waynard

      Used to be $300 and a 6-pack. These are going up in value!

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  22. Peter Porsche

    Jeremy Clarkson and his red BiTurbo; Top Gear program on what to do with your BiTurbo….. before it crushes your wallet.
    Thanks Matt; found the video with your help!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mPZBvX-gdE

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  23. Bruce Best

    The head gaskets can be solved but the biggest problem of the early ones was coking of the oil. The engine and the turbo shared the same oil and when you turned off an early one the oil just sat there and carbonized into little scouring pad of diamond like material that would destroy your engine.

    They got the head gasket problem largely solved but the electrical problems were other matter. There are a couple of the later ones in my area and I know the owners there are also a couple of early ones that the owners have make the mechanical up grades to. Including the thermostatically controlled oil pump that keep the oil circulating after you turn the engine off (CRITICAL NEED).

    If you do have an interest I would check with MIE Maserati Information Exchange for suggestions. They are the most highly knowledgeable people concerning these cars and have make many of the reliable if treated and maintained properly.

    I am not a fan of the boxy look as others have noted but this car is one of the betters ones in that style. The interiors are AMAZING if taken care of but can deteriorate quickly if you do not. These are cars where you need to keep up the maintains constantly. If you do you have a different and stylish ride. If not you have a hole to shove money into. They are no longer different and strange, they can be reliable but they require the right owner.

    The worst thing I can say about them is that they tend to be fragile and need tender treatment. There are much worse cars out there. I know I have owned a couple of them.

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    • Doug Towsley

      Bruce Best you basically nailed it on the head. Again my research and all my contacts told me basically the same thing,. The cooling issue is easily addressed as I noted above. (Think aftermarket radiator, and bigger & better capacity ducted fans) The intercooler if not fitted is also critical.
      As to the oiling issues that is also easily addressed. Thinner high performance synthetics are much more tolerant of heat soak and temp ranges, They dont coke like conventional Dino oils either. (look at the stability–up to 600 deg F). A Oil preheater can help, And I am a big fan of the Accusump oil accumulators. With my background in Aerospace this was a no brainer. You set it up with an Nitrogen charged accumulator and when Oil pressure drops below a certain point it maintains oil pressure based on capacity and size of accumulator. This is critical in high performance applications when Oil starvation can occur but also can be switched/controlled to pre-oil and engine prior to startup . Remember that flow is better than pressure so maintaining flow is critical.
      But again,, this is a great little platform for a Kit car,,, but Bog Stock,, they are maintenance intensive.

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  24. HeadMaster1

    FYI- This car is NOT an “E” model, the “E” model was intercooled and good for 205hp. These are great cars IF you know how to work on them and fix them. They are very much like the Delorean in that all the known problems have fixes in place if you have the time and money…….I have never owned one, but almost bought a few. Instead I ended up buying 2 Quattroportes, the REAL Mazer sedan….Great car, but exact same dialogue, bring money and tools…..

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  25. MikeG

    The number of sharp tongued ‘know-nothings’ chiming in on the Biturbo series is a far more REAL reason that these cars have gotten the bad wrap they’ve been given. The 1984 did have a cylinder issue, fine, these are also prone to fusebox issues, but the overall package (especially the 88 and later cars) can be a pretty reliable car. They are damn quick, unique and fun to tinker on because they DO require it, so you have to enjoy being an involved owner. This is not any different than if you chose to own an old Jaguar, MG, Ferrari, Lotus or what have you. It’s just annoying seeing these cars getting reviewed by people who “knew a guy” that bought a $500 Biturbo and it turned out to be trouble…well isn’t that surprising! Fact is, you get what you put in to it. If you buy a Biturbo or later series car and expect Honda like reliablilty, than you’re either naive or a fool.

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  26. Bryan Cohn

    As for the running problem, everyone has overlooked that the early carb version, this car, used a “blow through” set up. The red box over the carb is pressurized by the turbos so the carb has to work in a huge range of air pressures. In a normal turbo or supercharged car the carb or FI is a “suck through”, meaning air is sucked through the butterfly/venturi and the carb/FI works at normal air pressure.

    The shop I worked at looked at becoming a dealer but after driving one and seeing the design of things we ran for the hills.

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  27. 164LS

    My SF-area Italian mechanic says this is the only Italian car he REFUSES to work on. Consider it “static art” or transplant a different engine into it. Getting home, with your wallet intact, is better than a sexy exhaust note.

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  28. Mike Burnett

    Rode in one once, but was surprised at the poor build quality, especially the wobbly switches, overly hard suspension and thin seats.

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  29. Britcarguy

    Oh look honey, it’s the new Honda Civic. Wait, it says Maserati. A co-worker had one from new and it was constantly in the shop. Traded it for a Honda Civic.

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  30. Jubjub

    I’m pretty sure this is the same one that lingered on Cincinnati Craigslist for a long time for like $1500 a year or so ago. I considered giving it a look.

    I have to throw in my two cents worth. I’ve always liked the looks. Like a less spindly BMW E30 that grew some shoulders.

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