46K-Mile Exotic? 1984 Maserati Biturbo

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I read recently that Maserati Biturbo prices are starting to creep up a bit, maybe it’s because everything else is already way overpriced. Or overvalued, or maybe that’s not even a correct term as a vehicle’s price is basically what a buyer is willing to pay for it. The seller has this 1984 Maserati Biturbo listed here on eBay in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it’s already at $6,800, and the reserve isn’t met. You can see a few door dings in the driver’s door, which is unfortunate. Hopefully a PDR (paintless dent repair) company can massage those out without having to repaint the door and then having it not match the surrounding fender and quarter panel.

Nobody is forced to buy a vehicle at any given price, so complaining about high prices is like complaining about the weather. There isn’t much that can be done about either, you just have to ride it out until better weather, or lower prices, shake out of the clouds. It wasn’t that long ago that a person could find a nice Biturbo for $4,000, wasn’t it? Well, nice is a relative term. The seller says that this car is light blue but I would have bet my life that it was a silver car.

These cars were in a weird spot in the market. They were thought to be Maserati’s way into the masses, but as with the Cimarron for Cadillac or the Chrysler TC by Maserati, they were maybe a bit too low-market. Packard had that problem a few decades ago and even BMW has it today, offering pseudo-bottom-market vehicles and thereby watering down the legend. A few years ago, this car may have been scoffed at in a cars and coffee-type event, but not today. This seller has a ton of experience selling vehicles on eBay, but I sure wish they would have closed the trunk for the photo above. It makes it look like there’s a problem with it, and I don’t believe there is. But, they also don’t show inside the trunk, just a photo of the inside of the trunk lid, which is unusual.

As expected, the interior is sumptuous with the iconic puffy leather seats that these cars are known for. Also as expected, there are a few rough areas and some areas look dirty, even though I’m guessing it’s just a bit of wear. I’m sure this seller has a detailing department that they run their eBay cars through. I don’t see anything super alarming here, like big gaping holes in the seats or cracks in the dash or anything like that. All of the switchgear and controls seem to be in place, and how about that unique shift knob for the five-speed ZF gearbox!

Savvy Biturbo collectors go for the later cars with fuel injection, which is where I’d be, even though I’m not savvy in regard to these cars or really anything. This engine is Maserati’s 2.5-liter SOHC twin-turbo-powered V6, which would have been factory-rated at 192 horsepower and 233 lb-ft of torque for the U.S. market in this era. The seller says that this Pacific Northwest car has no rust and it works great. Have any of you owned an “entry exotic” like this Biturbo?

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Comments

  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    My SIL has one, drives it about as often as her husband rode his pristine 1968 CB 350 when he was able. Both vehicles are well kept-heated/cooled garage, trickle battery chargers, tires off the cement, fuel stabilizer.
    Her Biturbo has spent practically the equal amount of time on the slide back as it has in travel, and rarely the same issue twice unless you generalize by placing the vast number of electrical issues as a singular problem.
    Perhaps it’s unfair to compare a somewhat simple bike to a more complex machine like her Biturbo but the percentage of problems with the Maserati compared to the rest of their “fleet” is lopsided IMHO.

    On another note, this seller doesn’t have any real fan club base when you read some of the former customer comments online..

    Like 5
  2. Alexi AlexiMember

    I have one… gotta say, when it’s running it’s like nothing else. The sound is great on throttle and the turbos make it a blast to drive. Mine is an intercooled “E” model which kicked up output to about 210hp. Motortrend bested the Ferrari 308 to 60mph in a biturbo E… so if you want to live the 80’s dream this is a “cheap” way to do it…until it breaks, which it will.

    Despite how obnoxious these cars can be, the community is good, and parts are relatively easy to get. And believe it or not, there are enthusiasts engineering their way around some of the greater problems with this car– case in point, during the pandemic a few enthusiast engineers created the “biturbox”– a modern fusebox to plug and play replace the original fuseboxes which had a nearly 100% failure rate.

    Like 14
  3. CCFisher

    That shifter makes me want to take this car aside and tell it “it’s ok, size isn’t important.”

    Like 4
    • Alexi AlexiMember

      hahaha!!! it’s a ridiculous little shifter. A lawyer I used to work with had one of these in the 80’s and he LOVED the shifter because “It’s the only manual car that you can shift while holding a cigarette properly. The Italians had that part figured out.”

      Like 5
  4. Mike

    The interior reminds me of bread dough.

    Like 3
  5. SubGothius

    I’ve read these always show up with ~45-65k miles because that’s when the odometer tended to stop working.

    Most of the Biturbos’ bad rap came from these early versions with the blow-through carbureted turbo setup. Later ones with FI resolved the most serious issues, and they kept making continuous improvements and refinements year after year, so the later a car you can find, the better.

    That said, really any Biturbo or derivative (222, 228, 430, etc.) should only be considered by potential owners either willing, able, and eager to wrench on their own car as an ongoing hobby, or else qualified to be a “checkbook mechanic” (bottomless wallet, endless patience, and a competent local specialist shop).

    Like 3
  6. Rumpledoorskin

    I think it looks like a Chevy Celebrity from the front with a quick glance. I think John Phillips once called this car “another roadside attraction.”. But it looks good doing it.

    Like 1
  7. Dr.GeorgeMember

    These cars have always taken a bad rap by those that thought they were a Chevy 6 …. get in and drive, add oil. They are not! They are highly sophisticated well-made autos that were well ahead of their time with very capable V-6 with twin turbos and linked to, in this example, a very good manual 6 speed box. The interiors were the “standard” for design and plush Italian leather, and design. If sold today, would easily be in the $80-90,000 area new. The lack of training for the Maserati dealership network spelled disaster from the very beginning. Maserati has an excellent racing history as well as historical importance. Many of the older Maseratis are the future Ferraris of the investment world. If this were a spider its value would dramatically increase. An investment grade auto for the enthusiast! This example is a fair example as its negatives are the body work, lack of final paint detailing, high “collector” milage. Still should be worth $ 75-8500 in today’s market. If my age were not a factor, I would be a buyer, sort it, enjoy driving it and store it. Much better than money in the bank as investment!

    Like 3
  8. Dr.GeorgeMember

    These cars have always taken a bad rap by those that thought they were a Chevy 6 …. get in and drive, add oil. They are not! They are highly sophisticated well-made autos that were well ahead of their time with very capable V-6 with twin turbos and linked to, in this example, a very good manual 5 speed box. The interiors were the “standard” for design and plush Italian leather, and design. If sold today, would easily be in the $80-90,000 area new. The lack of training for the Maserati dealership network spelled disaster from the very beginning. Maserati has an excellent racing history as well as historical importance. Many of the older Maseratis are the future Ferraris of the investment world. If this were a spider its value would dramatically increase. An investment grade auto for the enthusiast! This example is a fair example as its negatives are the body work, lack of final paint detailing, high “collector” milage. Still should be worth $ 75-8500 in today’s market. If my age were not a factor, I would be a buyer, sort it, enjoy driving it and store it. Much better than money in the bank as investment!

    Like 1
  9. bob

    From what I read I am the only person who owned one and never had any problems. I had an 87 for many years the only repair it ever required was a new seal in the rear end, never realized I dodged a bullet all those years of ownership

    Like 5
    • Richard Morrison

      I really recall only one problem with the fuse box on my ‘89 Zagato Spyder. I owned it about 5 years.

      Like 0
      • SubGothius

        Fuel injection was introduced starting in ’86 (or ’87 for N. American models), eliminating the most serious problems related to the earlier blow-through carburetor setup.

        Like 0
  10. BIMMERBILL

    I have always wanted one. I have one of the aluminum carburetor covers hanging in my garage. that was as close as I ever came to owning one with everything I have read about them. Knowing what I do know about them I could never go more than 3k knowing what I had ahead of me. Buyer beware but I do wish you Good Luck on your purchase.

    Like 1
  11. Gerard Frederick

    Maserati? RUN AWAY!

    Like 1
  12. dave Graham

    I sold these new in 1988 to 1990 in Scottsdale AZ. What a blast to drive. The engine sounds were thrilling. But we had to tell the customer to not drive with the a/c in the hottest days of summer as it would overheat the coolant system.

    Like 2
  13. whilst

    Service Advisor 1988. Porsche – Audi, Maserati dealer.
    First thing to go: (stolen) Clock! usually by mechanics!
    “Stealer” dealer in MD… I found out had 2 ‘books’ for warranty work, one to show Rep, other ?
    No wonder Maserati pulled out back then.
    > Test drives were a hoot! I did a 360 once in a blink of an eye when turbo kicked in,deserted road,no damage, almost spotted.
    >Buttery soft leather, but very thin. Wore out in no time.
    > Blow down cars were a nightmare.
    >Cam shimming,whoo.
    Fun when they were running properly.

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      I’ve read these don’t even use shims for the valve tappets; rather, you’d have to remove the tappets and grind down the valve stem tips until you got the lash clearance into spec — a very labor-intensive, iterative trial-and-error process. The engine compartment also wasn’t laid out with much attention to being maintenance-friendly, so a lot of jobs that should be simple are complicated by having to disconnect and/or disassemble a bunch of things just to get at the part you need to service.

      Like 0
      • Alexi AlexiMember

        they use shims… still very very labor intensive to get everything into spec. I actually had to have a machine shop shave some of my shims to get clearance since I couldn’t source some of the shims I needed to adjust mine properly.

        Like 0
  14. RMac

    Look j like a first gen chevy celebrity x car probably not a bad buy at that price if one anticipates they will be be spending $ on maintenance

    Like 0
  15. jwaltb

    Most Biturbos are on the BAFE site.

    Bring A Fire Extinguisher

    Like 1
  16. Howie

    I would call this a cool car, but not really a exotic.

    Like 2
  17. Robert

    I really liked the biturbo’s when they were new and went so far as to go to the dealership and test drive one in 1986. I still have the Maserati Biturbo brochure from that visit. I came close a couple of times since then but made a detour first into BMW M cars and now Mercedes AMG cars. My daily driver at the moment is a normally aspirated 6.3 CLS63. The German cars seem “comparatively” bullet proof versus the Italian cars (Fiats and Alfas) I used to drive.

    Like 0
  18. Robert Pittman

    A Maserati factory rep came to LA to figure out why the Biturbo was selling so poorly. As he and a dealer stood on the sidewalk watching heavy oncoming traffic, they spotted one. “It looks too unimportant for this country” he remarked.

    Like 2
  19. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: this one was bid up to $7,100 and didn’t sell.

    Like 1
  20. Randy Dull

    Most likely, it was me who did the PDI on this gem in 1984. I spent a year with MAI Baltimore, the national distributor then, working for George Garbutt and the crew. It seemed ridiculous to remove the P4 Pirellis and mount Michelins just to sooth the US market but that’s exactly what happened. The pre delivery inspection included replacing the carb float with a new scalloped float which (supposedly) eliminated fuel starvation on hard L/H U-turns. Radios and cruise units were installed in Baltimore (since many radios were stolen at the docks) as these were shipped in the trunks. We also replaced the electrical connectors at the radiator fan with new spade connectors because some of the originals had spread open and failed. More than one little Biturbo caught fire in the lot when someone let it idle on a cold morning and forgot to release the choke. Once the air pump diverter kicked in, the cat would glow brightly and minutes later POOF ;) We all had a blast driving a pack of these along with a few Quattroportes to the DC new car show in January ’85. 80-90 mph blasts down 95 was exhilarating. I learned a good bit from Gary Dill, service manager, while I was there. He and Tim J. were the big dogs of the shop. While I was there, Maserati lost a few engineers in a bad pileup on the foggy Autobahn which shook things up quite a bit in the company. My short time there is one of the best memories from my early years, thanks. Too bad the paychecks were slender.

    Like 6

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