Barn Find With Mud: 1987 Maserati BiTurbo Spyder

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The seller characterizes this 1987 BiTurbo Spyder as a “true barn find.” I’m not sure how many barns there are in this Rochelle Park, New Jersey neighborhood (yes, I’m sure it was located somewhere else previously) where the car is located, but I do know it’s for sale here on eBay, where bidding is pretty darned low at $1,200 as I write. Thanks to Josh for this find!

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BiTurbos are one of those cars that you either love or hate the styling of. For those of you wondering why it’s so boxy, remember, the BMW 3-series was its competition, and was similarly boxy. This car looks relatively solid, especially considering it’s location and the fact that evidently it was on a dirt floor (given the mud on the lower portion of the car and dirt on the horizontal surfaces). The seller says they haven’t done anything to it–how people resist the temptation to at least drain/refill, turn over and try to start something using the proper procedures I don’t know.

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Despite the long term storage (who knows how long; the date on the title with the car is the original title), the paint looks pretty decent and I’ll bet would respond well to some proper polish and wax. The convertible top looks pretty good as well.

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Again, I’m pleasantly surprised on how nice the underside of the car looks. Perhaps it was undercoated well from new? Of course, from everything I’ve heard, the main issues with BiTurbos aren’t body shell related.

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The large pile of documentation on the center console there is pretty comprehensive, so perhaps you can rebuild the history of the car a little that way. It doesn’t look like there is anything in the way of service documentation, though–which may be part of the reason the car was taken off the road in the first place? I have to admit, the interior looks very inviting, though!

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Why is a BiTurbo called a BiTurbo? Here’s the twin-turbo V6 blow-through engine that is both very good (when it runs) and very bad (when it breaks). Thankfully, like the Triumph Stag, Jaguar XJS and other cars that have suffered from unreliable power plants, the enthusiasts have come up with plenty of solutions. I found this forum helpful, and there are active BiTurbo clubs in Italy and Germany if you feel like working with translation. Have any of you owned BiTurbos? Is their poor reliability reputation deserved? Please let us know!

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Comments

  1. 68custom

    I think that it looks pretty good as a vert but these cars were unreliable when new and I doubt that they are any better thirty years later! Put a SBC in it. Better yet back half it and do some wheelies.

  2. Jay M

    What a cool little car, I wish it was closer !!!
    I think I would keep the original engine, but see what modern technology such as a stand alone fuel injection and ignition system, and better turbo’s would add.
    If the engine is non repairable for some reason, there are so many great powertrain options these days -just keep the original driveline for a future owner.
    Oh, and lower it and do some suspension upgrades.

  3. Dave Wright

    See cars were so bad and so few people had a good experiance owning them…….they are cheep…….will never gain much value. Pure junk……pretty junk but junk.

  4. Larry Brantingham

    This one is a 2.5L fuel injected version, not the original blow-through carburetor type. By 1987 most of the early faults had been corrected. My son has a 1989 430, the last sold in the US, though they continued through 1994 in Europe. They’re fast – I don’t know about the ’87 version but in ’89 they accelerated as fast as a 944 turbo – not bad for a four-door sedan (the 430)!
    MIE carries parts, but I suppose it would still be pretty expensive to pay someone else to work on one.

    • Brian

      Exactly, this is the fuel injected model. So many of the problems that the early cars suffered were resolved for this car. They all carry the same negative reputation though. That’s great if you want a cheap, unique, fun, semi-reliable car. Not so good if you want an investment.

      • Mark-A

        Another case of a Bad reputation being a whole lot easier to obtain compared to a “Good” one!

    • 4-Doors-for-My-Tuba

      I also have a 1989 430. [2.8L] A VERY nice car. Very quick. When my wife and I go driving she always has a smile on her lips.

      No to quibble, but I thought 1990 was the last year for USA sales.

      I did a lot of painstaking research before I bought mine last year. I wouldn’t own a Maser Bi-Turbo that had a carburettor. But ’87 on, in a heartbeat. All the major problems with the early Bi-Turbos were worked out.

      There were only about 200 first generation 430s sold in the USA. And a total of 995 1st generation built and sold world wide.

      Larry Brantighham, your son made a great choice.

  5. alan

    The only Zagato not worth owning. Keeping one on the road is much more expensive than any residual value one might hope for.

  6. AW240Z

    Speaking from personal experience, run, do not walk, run away from this car. It takes me a few hilarious hours to tell what happened to me when one entered my life. There is a Top Gear recommendation of what to do should you find a Biturbo.
    https://youtu.be/9mPZBvX-gdE

    • Alain Loiselle Member

      Lolll I understood very well after 1:04 of the video lolll ….. Good one …

    • Pete

      To AW240Z: Allessandro de Tomaso saved the company with the biturbo, flawed or not. If you have never driven a good one do not assume you know it all.

  7. Bill

    My next door neighbor bought one of these, new. Many mornings I heard it cranking away in the driveway without starting. Absolute junk. He unloaded it after about a year. All these are good for are yard cars. Fill them with dirt and plant geraniums in them.

  8. Adam Wright

    There is a reason they are all low miles, they never ran, even when new, buy one and make a pretty planter in the front yard.
    I bought one for $300, sold it on eBay for $900 and the guy was pissed, run far away.

  9. Doc

    I owned one.

    My penchant for slightly exotic and unreliable cars is legendary… And this one takes the cake. Nearly every time it left the driveway, something broke. Parts are expensive and hard to find. It’s one of the few cars that I ever hard to cut my losses and give up on.

    • 4-Doors-for-My-Tuba

      Parts are expensive. But not hard to find. Even eBay has hundreds of parts for sale, both new and used.

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  10. Doc

    No I didn’t!!

  11. Hotshoe

    Yeah my wife’s hairdresser knows a guy who says they are crap..I’ve been driving mine for over ten years with less trouble than you would expect from a 30 year old exotic. The folks I know all over the world with biturbo;s like mine hold them in high regard.

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    • Pete

      Yep the early cars suffered from some typical “lack of development ” faults and also rot if the dealer did not subjet it to anti rust treatment before delivery.

      However the biggest problem with these cars were idiot owners and clueless service at the dealers.

      These cars are exotics in every way and require maintenance according to book. Ignore it at your peril.

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  12. Bruce Best

    The statement in the article is correct in many ways, if it is good it can be very good, if it is bad or has been mistreated it is trash. The engine and the early turbos were a problem that bit and bit hard. The problem is that the oil that cooled the turbo was not circulated after the car shut off. That caused a carbonizing or cokeing of the oil making something like little diamonds in the oil to slowly kill the engine. The early carb’s did not help either.

    Later cars after you turned the engine off the oil would circulate until the temperature was low enough not to be damaged and the fuel injection solved most of the rest of the problems that they had. The electrics being that they were a mix of Italian and german we surprisingly good as was most of the rest of the car. The interiors and leather can go quickly if not cared for but that is the only other real weakness.

    Good ones can be great fun bad ones are total money pits unless you have a need for pain and are truly mechanically gifted. Then they can be saved and can become good ones. BUT BEWARE treat this car with a ham fisted effort and you might as well just burn your money for if you do not the car will burn it for you.

    As disclosure I owned a Sebring Series II. Most if my experience were from driving a few and the friday night informal beer party at the shop that I took my exotics to. We traded stories and at times worked on each other cars. I saw a few of these both good and bad.

  13. Fiete T

    Painless wiring harness, LS3, and do something about the seat coverings that give me visions of what bather’s skin would look like if I was at a nudist beach for senior citizens…

  14. Horse Radish

    Why buy this if you could have this ‘jewel’ Maserati Merak for 4 times the money (for a mere $10k) from an infamous west coast dealer ?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Maserati-Merak-/222025819867

  15. Mark-A

    Could always do this as another option?? http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/1953-ford-popular-pop-Anglia-hot-rod-hotrod-Maserati-twin-turbo-v6/331961350332 looks really “different” but definitely original use of the Maserati V6 Turbo engine!

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