Monday, October 09, 2006

Car for sale

While driving back from church Sunday afternoon, we passed a Maserati with a for sale sign in it. What caught my attention was not the sleek sporty exterior of an exotic sportscar, but the plain unassuming body style. It looked old enough to be ... could it be ... affordable for someone like me? Why not?

So, after the evening service, I pulled over and took a few pictuers (in the dark) and wrote down the VIN number and the telephone number. An online VIN decoder revealed that this was a 1984 Maserati BITURBO. Ever heard of it? Me neither. 1984 was the first year for this car in the USA. That year the car contained a 185 hp 2.5 liter V6 carbureted engine with twin turbos. After driving a turbo charged four cylinder, I can only imagine how fast this one will move.
"The two small blowers spin up to working speed quickly and deliver useful boost even below 2000 rpm. By 2500 rpm (about 60 mph in top gear), the blown V-6 can press you into your seat at the same instant the throttle is pressed. The engine generates little noise or vibration, just a trace of coarseness at low rpm and at full throttle."

Car and Driver, April 1984
I'm really not looking for a different vehicle. The Saab is doing well. But even if I was looking for a car, this one would not be a good idea. After doing some internet research, I found that the early models needed many revisions due to problematic carburetors, engine fires, and poor handling. One mechanic explained that the timing belt needed to be changed every 24,000 miles! Yikes! And how much would that cost? Don't ask. Just read this and be thankful for the car you presently drive—no matter how poorly it works.
"There's little doubt that a series of niggling problems with the first-edition Biturbos helped dash the model's early popularity. Mis-set carburetor float levels caused the engines to stumble during left turns, pickup wires in the distributors cracked from the heat, water ran through cylinder sleeves, fluids leaked from faulty seals throughout the drivetrain, fuse boxes melted, and coolant temperature warning lights came on even when engines weren't over-heating. Clutches, timing-belt tensioners and water pumps had to be redesigned early on.

It was quite disheartening. Nonetheless, it's amazing a small company like Maserati with no experience in volume production fared as well as it did with the Biturbo. In fact, while the Biturbo's failings were always annoying, they were usually not serious. And nearly all the car's bugs were eventually worked out with upgraded parts. ... Most notable of all, our experts wholeheartedly agree that the basic Biturbo engine—the block, pistons, etc.—is virtually indestructible."

Road & Track, August 1990
That gives you more incentive to buy a newer version of this car, but that's not what's available around here. If you're still interested, the owner of this exotic two door can be reached at (216) 314-2127. The car has only 65,000 miles and is being offered for the low price of $3500. Not bad for a rust free, hand made Italian five speed that will probably empty your wallet every time you enter the repair shop.

P.S. If you buy it, take me for a spin, okay?

No comments: