Crapwagon Outtake: 1984 Maserati Biturbo

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

This 1984 Maserati Biturbo is the gas station sushi of the automotive world: It sounds like a bargain, but it’s quite possibly the worst idea ever.

I’ll admit, my automotive tastes are varied and odd. While I drive a sensible, reliable minivan, I lust after oddball wagons and pedestrian cars made from unobtainable parts. I often check West Coast Craigslists for old Peugeots — Portland is lousy with them for some reason — that I could fly out and drive home three thousand miles.

Then I stumble upon some truly odd stuff. What could be more “Crapwagon” than an exotic Italian sports sedan sold at an East Philly used car lot that shouts on Autotrader that “EVERYONE IS APPROVED! WALK IN, DRIVE OUT!”

The car still has a Bensi Box anti theft device for the Clarion head unit, fer chrissakes.

In theory, the Biturbo should be a great sports sedan, ranking with the contemporary E30 M3 in performance and collectability. The 185 horsepower out of an exotic twin-turbocharged V-6 sounds pretty stout for the time. Then you look below the steering wheel and notice the choke lever. Yeah, this “exotic” was still sucking the boost through a Weber carburetor in 1984.

The interior is remarkably plush for a down-market car. The wood and leather would not look out of place in a Jaguar or Bentley, though the butterscotch color is not particularly elegant. With fewer than 25 thousand miles on the odometer, the car is basically new. Though knowing period Italian reliability, most of the last thirty years were likely spent broken in the garage, or sitting at a dealer waiting on parts.

I’m a masochist — see above about Peugeot, or my desire to drive a Caterham despite my linebacker frame — but even I have limits, and this one is well beyond.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Russycle Russycle on Nov 13, 2015

    Always thought these were cool, and the that butterscotch interior looks yummy. But carbs and twin turbos? I'll be seeing this in my nightmares tonight.

  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Nov 14, 2015

    I actually street raced one of these in Northeast Philly back around '84 in my new '84 Chrysler Laser Turbo. Who knows, it may have been the exact same Maserati. Though I had previously beaten a Mustang with that car, the Biturbo pulled away from me. Of course, I had expected that before we raced, he had about 45 horsepower on me. I just wanted to see the Maserati go! I gave him a thumbs up at the next stop light for the fun of the race, but he apparently thought I was giving him the finger.

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