Junkyard Find: 1984 Maserati Biturbo
Dan Neil says the Maserati Biturbo is one of the worst 50 cars of all time, but I still see Biturbos in the junkyard every year or so. This probably means that Biturbo owners cling to their dead, hopeless project cars for decades before reality— in the form of angry landlords and/or spouses and/or homeowners’ associations— summons the tow truck.
No discussion of a Maserati is permitted without reference to the “my Maserati goes 185” Joe walsh song, so let’s get that out of the way.
The Biturbo couldn’t go 185, or even close to it. The factory claimed a respectable-for-1984 134 MPH top speed, no doubt using the same math that led the LAPD to claim that Rodney King’s first-gen Hyundai Excel reached 115 on the Foothill Freeway.
But still, it had a beautiful leather and big Maserati badges that told mid-80s businessmen that you’d made it (i.e., you’d skimmed a middling quantity of cash in a “dead horses for dead cows” loan swap involving Lincoln Savings and Loan). I was a college student in the S&L-scam nexus of Orange County, California, during the Biturbo’s heyday, and I recall seeing plenty of these things cruising Newport Beach. Then… they were all gone. The economy slowed down, the FSLIC hammered the many hundreds of crooked S&Ls, and Biturbo owners could no longer afford to pay Tony to fix it again.
A big part of the problem with the Biturbo, apart from the terrible build quality, was the blow-through carburetor fuel-delivery system. Even super-penny-pinching Chrysler was using electronic fuel injection on their turbocharged cars by 1984.
I’m not sure if this is a clock or a lap timer, but I had to have it. We’ll resume the Name That Car Clock series very soon, I promise.
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I wonder if the body is salvageable. I'm thinking if I had the money and means, I could give this car a custom chassis to which more reliable parts and a more reliable twin-turbo V-6 could be installed. I could also give it a custom interior.
As usual, snide commentary and very little to no direct experience with the car itself. I have an '89 spyder, a very reliable car after the fuse box issue is dealt with. Engine is bullet proof, no leaks. Of course you need to be able to futz around with this and that mechanically, but other than that a reliable and very quick car.