Remembering the Legendary Maserati Biturbo

Lisa Steuer McArdle
· 4 min read
When you step into the world of high-performance Italian
luxury cars
, the Maserati has to be included on your list. 
Whether you're former soccer star David Beckham trying out the 2022 Maserati Levante SUV, enjoying a road trip in a Ghibli or Quattroporte sedan, or burning up the streets in an MC20 sports car, Maserati automobiles are known for their smooth-line luxury, power and handling.
But there is always one member of the family that is a bit different. The Maserati Biturbo was the quirky cousin who struggled to fit in during its early years. 
What is the Maserati Biturbo, and what is behind the renewed interest in this Italian classic?
In 2021, American classic car enthusiasts are eager to get their hands on a Biturbo.

How the Maserati Biturbo came to be

Maserati had begun to lag behind the competition in the 1970s. To bring the Maserati brand back into prominence, Alejandro de Tomaso, who had worked to turn around both Moto Guzzi and Benelli motorcycles and had been overseeing Innocenti, was tagged by the Italian government.
de Tomaso’s strategy, according to
, was to produce "something powerful enough to deserve the Maserati name, yet reasonably priced enough that they could achieve volume production." 
After de Tomaso took the reins, the first car produced was a sharply styled coupe, which combined the then-contemporary Quattroporte styling with the squat, bulldog proportions of a BMW 3-series-size package. The car was set apart by what went under the hood.
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Fun to drive; expensive to keep

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True to its name, the Biturbo was equipped with a pair of oil-cooled IHI RHB-51 turbos, one on each bank of the all-aluminum 2.5L SOHC V6. The combination of two smaller turbos on a single power plant was a first among production cars, according to
The rationale revolved around the faster spin-up, designed to eliminate the turbo lag that plagued boosted cars of the era. Paired with a three-valve system, the Biturbo's engine was capable of producing 180 horsepower and 208 lb ft of torque, followed by a Biturbo S version (1983) capable of 205 horsepower—very strong numbers in the early 1980s.
A Spyder version featuring a 2.8L engine capable of 225 horsepower and a four-door sedan called the 425 (four-door, 2.5L engine) joined the lineup mid-season of 1986. 
Maserati was finally considered reliable in 1987. Fuel injection became standard, the IHI turbos were air-to-water intercooled and liquid-cooled, the fusebox issues had been resolved, the wheels featured a five-lug pattern, and the interiors saw significant upgrades with this generation of Biturbos.

The Maserati Bitrubo barely made a splash in the U.S.

A $25,000 Maserati in 1984 was considered a bargain, especially since the Biturbo offered serious sports car performance for roughly the price of a Mercedes 190E 2.3. The automaker's strategy worked initially, with strong U.S. sales. 
However, sales began to lag as buyers realized that the Biturbo was a fun car to own, but very expensive to maintain. By 1990, only 240 units were moved out of U.S. showrooms.

Why is there renewed interest in the Maserati Biturbo?

In 2021, American classic car enthusiasts are eager to get their hands on a Biturbo because today, it is rare to find one. After the dismal sales numbers of 1990, Maserati discontinued sales of the Biturbo on the U.S. market.
In addition to being something rare that you can show off to your friends, the performance capacity of the classic Maserati Biturbo makes it a fun car to drive. It’s also an attractive purchase because you can buy one for between $4,750 and $8,500.
Classic cars and contemporary cars alike require insurance in order to protect your investment.
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