Located! 1984 Maserati Biturbo

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I laughed out loud when I read the wording of the ad for this car: “Cleaning out a barn for a family friend I have located a 1984 Maserati Biturbo car.” Based on the pictures, I can see how it was “lost”! Thanks to reader M.C. for this great find! It’s located in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin and is listed here on craigslist for $1,111 or reasonable offer. The Biturbo has a well-deserved reputation for unreliability, with some having blow-through carburetors and somewhat typical Italian electrical issues that have led it to being listed as one of the 50 worst cars of all time. On the other hand, on paper this really looks like a great opportunity to pick up a high-performance classic inexpensively. I’ve never driven a Biturbo, although I know two folks that have had them – and it’s telling that neither EVER had them running. Still, with a twin turbo V6 that has great specifications, I’ve often thought about picking one up. Maybe this is the one for you to try to defeat the unreliability gods? If any Barn Finds readers have Biturbo experience, let us know in the comments section.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    I probably drove a half-dozen Biturbos back in the day, all very low-mileage and Maserati-maintained press-fleet creampuffs.

    One, I recall, blew a turbo pressure line not a mile from the shop where I picked it up. Manny, Moe & Jack bailed me out with a proper hose clamp that actually stayed in place. Others had unique little glitches of their own, none of which made the cars undriveable. Just unenjoyable….

    Just as an aside to Jamie, I didn’t particularly find them to be “high-performance” cars. Quick, yes, but hardly exciting.

    All in all, I would probably prefer to spend 1100 scoots on a Wartburg instead.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Ray — What great recollections…and unfortunately that sounds like what I’ve heard before about them! Remember, though, given that my typical cars include my 1967 Spitfire, the 1963 Herald, and that I race an Austin Marina, I suspect the Biturbo would be “quick” to me :-)

  2. Timothy J

    The mid ’80s were very good to me as far as money goes and I bought a new car every year. In ’86 I bought a Biturbo convertible, my first Italian car. Five months later (and many trips back to the dealer) I was trading it in for an XJ6. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire!

    No. No thank you.

    Still, there’s something special about an Italian Grand Tourer and I have again succumbed to their siren call. Just not for everyday use.

  3. Tirefriar

    This is one of the very few cars that gets negative reviews from owners and non-owners alike. With an average price of $5k in a very good condition, I’ve been tempted more than once to pick it up for my daily driver duties. The thoughts of getting stranded on the freeway in rush hour kept me from making the move. These also have a reputation to self ignite… This particular example offered for sale is overpriced by about $600… Could be a candidate for a SBC or….

  4. Slim Chance

    Junk when new is still junk 31 years later. I remember them becoming worthless when nearly new. Maserati left the USA , tail tucked, not to return (until recently).

  5. jimbosidecar

    I never owned one myself, but I did race one back in the mid 1980s. Never had any reliability issues but I suspect these were gone over very thoroughly by factory people. At Watkins Glen it was geared perfectly for that course. Coming out of the boot in 2nd gear with the turbo spooled up, I swore there was not another car on the track that could touch it from there to the final corner before the pit straight. But on the straights and through the rest of the track it was rather underpowered for it’s class. It was also a real handful in high speed turns, wanting to swap ends through the esses and turn 5.

    • Jeff Staff

      Great to hear from somebody who raced one! I’ve always liked the looks and the interior – and the price, obviously – but the reliability issues just seem to prevalent to ignore for the everyday hobbyist.

  6. Kevin Harper

    I worked as a mechanic at the local Ferrari/Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealer when these were new. I have many stories on these cars, but one of the most telling was when a customer who had previously purchased cars at the dealership came in to look at the Biturdo, and that is not misspelled. The owner told the customer and I will quote as accurately as possible. “Hey I still like you, so if you want a new Italian GT you should really buy an Alfa GTV-6 and not the Maserati”.
    I am sorry these are really really crap, if you must have a biturbo buy a later model fuel injected one, but they are really one of the worst cars out there, and are one of the few that are totally banned from entering my garage.
    KLH
    BIF Motors

  7. bcavileer

    drove one, 18 months, daily… never a hiccup till fuel pump died on the third floor of a parking garage in Phila. changed the pump on my back the next day. Drove it home, sold it a week later. Was kinda quick, kinda boring.She was very unbalanced. nose heavy. Bought an old MGC (6 cylinder), talk about nose heavy and then moved on to Bimmers. But I maintained the heck out of everything owned.
    Probably just dodged the demons. lol
    Before that episode was a Renault R 12 TL. Wish I could find one of those again. Odd , but really comfortable. So many cars, so little time.

  8. Horse Radish

    It has the same stigma as those US- XJSs (Jaguar) .
    I fell for their looks a few years ago and bought 4 of them, always thinking to get them running….and never did.

    It will not happen, and neither with this car.

    BTW: listing expired, so, unless you have more photos we will never know the whole story

  9. jimmy

    what a joke “Italian electrical problems” yeah that wasn’t the problem with these cars. Real electrical problems are found in British cars

  10. John

    Back in the 80s, I had a very attractive neighbor who used to ride to work with me because, more likely than not, her Biturbo would not run. She was very attractive and addicted to short skirts. I always loved that Biturbo. Then she bought a Honda and got married. I missed her Biturbo when it was gone. My wife didn’t.

  11. Xander

    I think the poor reviews of these biturbos are deserved but we now live in an era of cheap standalone fuel controllers and plentiful modern turbos. I wonder how much of the issues with these cars could be rectified with a bit of modernization.

    • John

      Any car can be improved with good old fashioned infusions of cash. No doubt modern technology could help, but the poor Biturbo was damned by poor workmanship, poor design, poor metallurgy, and, most of all, by a parent company whose only connection to its namesake was a legal entanglement.

      If you had modern technology and managed to cure the car’s mechanical word, it would reward you by rusting away as you watched. There was nothing that I saw of these cars that was worth preserving. It was an abomination that should be allowed to slink away into the abyss so that its mere existence could no longer sully its name.

      BTW, The Biturbo wasn’t alone in its age. The mighty Quattroporte of the same era had exactly the same illnesses.

  12. Florent

    I know these are a nightmare to maintain, but I’ve had a soft spot for them since my childhood.

    In Europe, and especially Italy, they’re slowly reaching somewhat of a cult status, although to be used they have to be fiabilised, which would cost about 10K€ – starting from a car in good, original condition.
    The cost to make a car in this condition usable would be way too much

    • John

      Oh, I agree fully, Florent. The shape was perfect. I looked at them again and again. But I kept thinking the ones with rusted panels that were only a few years (months?) old and I knew that it was a car to look at only. It still has almost perfect lines. Sad, really.

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