5 Speed Survivor: 1987 Maserati Biturbo Spyder

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

This 1987 Maserati Biturbo convertible is in impressive condition and wears high mileage for a vehicle that typically can appear delapidated with the odometer barely broken in. Although reliability has always been an issue, this turbocharged 5-speed example here on eBay has clearly been cherished and looks outstanding with 55,000 miles on the clock. 

The interior shows signs of wear, with gently creased leather on the driver’s seat. The passenger seat appears a bit tighter, so perhaps this was primarily a one-occupant vehicle. These Biturbos never skimped on the interior accommodations but they can also look quite tired without the proper upkeep due to the extensive use of leather and wood trim. All looks solid here and the manual transmission is perhaps the best thing about the cockpit.

The engine bay is outstanding and as the seller points out, a clear indication of attentive ownership. The Maserati has records for multiple timing belt changes, a recent clutch job, alternator, water pump and steering rack, among other work. The car’s location in northwestern Connecticut is hardly a surprise, as this part of the state is an enclave for wealthy NYCers and eccentric types who would have an eye for unusual European vehicles.

The clean bodywork continues out back and sports the correct badges. Beyond the manual transmission, my favorite aspect of this example are the killer Bosch Pilot fog lights complete with their original covers – those and the flat-face alloy wheels are all so indicative of the era in which this car was made. These Biturbos are rarely as nice as this one, and with values still fairly low, this could represent a lot of car for the money – depending on the reserve.

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  1. chris

    55k and multiple timing belt changes? Pass.

  2. pajones1972

    Chris, my thoughts exactly. Why “multiple timing belt changes”? Seems to be a problem that will only get worse as time goes by.

    • Gnrdude

      Because the Belts are MADE out of RUBBER and they Need to be Serviced Every 5 yrs Due to the FACT that the Engine is an Interference Engine. I’d Rather have the BELT Changed on a Proper Schedule than the Thing SNAP and Destroy the Engine.

      • LAB3

        Any car that requires that much maintenance doesn’t meet what I would call a standard of quality! Throwing a big wad of cash on the counter might buy exclusivity but it sure doesn’t pay for common sense.

  3. Randy

    This engine is a grenade waiting to explode. Pass.

  4. Dean

    My Porsche requires timing belt changes and I have never questioned THEIR quality. As for rubber, we know how it deteriorates over time regardless of how often used..belts, hoses and tires

  5. Coventrycat

    In great shape, but as exciting and attractive as a Chrysler TC – which is neither.

  6. Mike

    I always thought Interference Engines were a bad design to begin with.

  7. Dave Wright

    The only vehicles I have ever owned with rubber belts that were not a problem were the Chrysler K cars with the American made engine……they were non interference engines and the parts were cheep. The amazing thing about this car is that it survived for 55K miles. Most never saw 10K.

  8. Bruce Best

    IT is not the belts that are the problems with this car. The first ones did not have a oil temperature sensor that kept the oil pump running until the oil cooled and it caused the engine oil to coke and that soon destroyed the engine and turbos at the same time. Also the first ones had bad gaskets and carb problems. This is one of the later one so it should be Good.

    These are amazing when running right but are EXTREMELY TOUCHY to get right. The belts compared to my 928 are easy to switch and most of the rest of the car is good. The leather is not up to Mercedes quality or even Porsche for that matter. The styling has not aged as well as the comparably sized BMW 325 but from some angles is still a looker. The interior is the best visual part of these.

    The Bi-Turbos have a terrible reputation due to the problems of the first cars. The later ones were similar to the BMW’s in problems and shockingly the turbos were not a problem except for the Cokeing I discussed earlier. They can be great fun and are most certainly different just make certain if you get one care for it properly. THEY DO NOT TAKE ABUSE well and if abused can seriously bite your wallet.

  9. Robert

    Seems a bit strange to be deriding a vehicle for having had multiple belt changes….surely a good thing? A low mileage car like this should have a high belt change to mileage ratio. Belt change history is always the first thing I look for in a service record, and if I can’t find it I walk, or do it as soon as I get my new acquisition home.

  10. angliagt

    If anyone here ACTUALLY buys this,
    I have a reprint of the factory service manual –
    you’ll need one!

    • Tirefriar

      Well thumbed, probably

  11. Rolf Poncho 455

    Most Italian cars is not knowen to be good quality motors
    Ferrari Lamborghini Maserati fast for a wile en d then the
    maintenance start to eat in your pocket like a hungry wolf
    then there is American & German cars what a pleasure
    to have !!!

  12. Matt

    Interference engines aren’t a bad design if maintenance is kept up. More compression in a smaller package allows for higher horsepower in a smaller car. It’s math.

  13. Dan h

    Tempting…. but I know better.

  14. Adam Wright

    Very surprised to see this many miles, normally it in the teens, like a Delorean.
    These cars ran horrible when new, can’t imagine the gymnastics to keep one running today, I’ve owned one, paid $350 for it, sold it for $700.

  15. John

    Yeah , those interference engines are horrible. That’s why I would never buy a Honda.

  16. Bo Wagner

    I remember a Top Gear episode where they bought ‘beaters’ to thrash; one of which was a BiTurbo (which did pretty well by TG standards…)

  17. 66E

    I have owned an ’87 Biturbo coupe since 1989. Was my daily driver for many years. As long as you keep up with the scheduled maintenance and are reasonably competent wrenching, this could be a very reliable car. I believe the book suggested changing the belt every year or 7500 miles but not positive on the mileage. Now that I only put about a 1,000 miles a year on the car, I change the belt about every 5 years. Drove it last weekend and a bunch of kids driving tuned Japanese cars couldn’t stop telling me how much they liked it when I was filling up. None of them had ever seen a Biturbo before. Problem is that there are a lot of bad ones around which have been neglected due to the low buy-in cost. Used to be the same with E-Type Jaguars.


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