Junkyard Find: 1984 Maserati Biturbo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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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3 of 36 comments
  • And003 And003 on Apr 12, 2012

    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.

  • BartTheCat BartTheCat on Jan 08, 2013

    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.

    • Olidlavoie Olidlavoie on May 11, 2013

      Hi, I just bought a Biturbo as a project, it's running perfectly ad has 53000miles, what is the problem and solution with the fuse box? I certainly do not want mine to catch on fire! you can email me @ olidlavoie @ live . ca

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.