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the Biturbo Market

Discussion in 'Maserati' started by 67bmer, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. 67bmer

    67bmer Formula Junior
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    I am starting one to keep everyone up to date on the biturbo skyrocketing (any day now) market values.

    1989 Spyder being auctioned by Mecum from the Petrozzini collection. Needs a thorough cleaning, and possibly a new top. Unfortunately it also has a dent in the driver's front fender. Thought I also saw some windshield delamination on driver's side. Probably from cars being moved around. Doesn't look like an accident.

    https://www.mecum.com/lots/CH1019-389048/1989-maserati-biturbo-spyder/
     
  2. boxerman

    boxerman F1 World Champ
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    Is there a biturbo market?
     
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  3. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Yes. This one likes quite abused though. I wouldn't depend upon that mileage. It'll need a new interior and lord knows what mechanically ... You can pour a fortune into these cars if you're paying someone (and who would that be anyway) to do the work.
     
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  4. TheMayor

    TheMayor Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    #5 TheMayor, Oct 18, 2019
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    I had a shop that fixed these things in the 80's and 90's. The problem is that most of them were run into the ground or abused by owners or lousy mechanics. If you find a good one, its rare. Most need more work than they are worth. You buy it for $2 grand and it has blown turbos or a bad water pump or is missing the catalytic convertor, or the interior is trashed or runs rough from bad tuning and you have spent a ton unless you do it yourself.

    The fuseboxes burn a lot because people leave the AC on the all time. I think someone has upgraded them now but it would have a lot of weird electrical problems that usually was due to the fuesbox.

    And, California emissions are really hard to pass because of the carburator and its location under the turbo dome. Valve adjustment is not the fiat / Ferrari shim method but with caps on the valve stems. Hard to get right.

    Blown turbos also very common because people didn't let them sit a bit on start up or cool down. And if you don't change the oil often enough the bearings like to go.

    One major engineering flaw was the serpentine belt tensioner and bearing. This drove the cams but also the water pump. If either the water pump froze or the tensioner bearing failed, it snapped the timing belt and that was the death of your car.

    The best ones were the 5 speeds. Its a pretty crisp ZF box with a short throw. The auto's are pretty bad as they shift before the turbo really kicks in. The later fuel injection was more reliable but its Weber and not Bosch so its hard to get parts or diagnosis.

    The convertible tops are expensive to replace.

    And they are rust buckets so you have to be careful what you buy.


    Its not a bad car if its sorted out. But its hard to find a good one. My favorite is the Spider 5 speed and Fuel Injection, which are very rare. Most convertibles were slushboxes.
     
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  5. boxerman

    boxerman F1 World Champ
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    An ex had a 5 speed injected car in the 90s. It always felt like you were sitting on the car not in it, and everything was awkwardy placed. Like the steerign and seat never sat right with eachother. It also dint feel as fast as the numbers suggested. But it looked nice and was luxurious with all that leatehr suede and wood.
    It was a cool concept, a luxury fast small car, before such things were avialable elsewhere.

    I guess there must be some that people lovingly kept.
     
  6. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    That's a really odd reaction? For the coupes at least everything is within easy reach of the driver, the controls are simple, logical and comfortable to operate. I wish today's cars were this simply and logical to operate. What wasn't great on the originals were the brakes and the suspension which were direct copies of a 320i. I saw the actual cannibalized BMW at the factory. But that mean't that the brakes at least could be upgraded and later on parts were easy. Ate calipers. The suspension was much more difficult. The shocks weren't hard to upgrade but the control arms and sway bars were not something you could firm up WO fabrication. So when you bumped the power on the early intercooled cars the stock chassis was downright dangerous. I'm 6'1"" and I always fit just fine. The seats with zero side bolstering until 1989 were terrible for the track but stupendous for long trips. It's sporty luxury compact not a luxury sports car.

    The cowl shake in the spiders was terrible. But they're very pretty cars. Two well know Fchat members picked spiders in the last two years, one was really nice. The other was basically sound but need a bunch of electrical and other fixes. I know both of those guys really like their cars.

    It's always the same old story, buy the best car you can find. That's REALLY true for these cars.

    Parts for the later versions have gone through the roof as Maserati continues to try and kill off these cars.
    The early American versions are still the easiest and cheapest for parts and pricing.

    You can have a lot of comfortable fun and excitement with these cars if you're an avid DIY type and fully sort the car before trying to use it. Any other approach is like lighting cigars with $100 bills.
     
  7. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3
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    I was one of the guys that recently picked up a 1989 spyder. My car is the twin to the one that is being auctioned. Same color combination, same year, 5-speed, etc.

    I had been looking for some time and had decided that a 1989 was the one I wanted. In 1987 fuel injection was introduced but it was not until the 5 lug nut spyders of 1989 that the rest of the improvements were released. This included an upgraded differential, restyled bodywork, nicer interior, electronic AC controls, plus more. I believe that 1989 was the last year of the 5-speed gearbox in the USA .... all the later spyders seem to be automatic.

    If the car at auction actually sells for $2,000 - $3,000 then it is a real bargain ..... assuming you are a DIY type of person and willing to dedicate the time. Totally agree with Bob S that if you need to rely on a Biturbo mechanic (good luck finding one!) you will be taping into your 401K very soon. My car needed to be sorted but once that was done it has been reliable and something very unique and fun, for not much money.

    This is the 1989 sales brochure: http://thecarnut.com/Manuals/Brochures/19989_spyder_sales_brochure.pdf

    Ivan

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  8. Merak1974

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    Looks very nice, Ivan. What needed to be sorted out on the car?
     
  9. thecarnut

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    The engine would sometimes not start, some of the electrical stuff did not work and it had not been used for several years and was due for a major service.

    I replaced the fuse box (new one was included); which looking back probably did not need to be replaced. Installed the AC and power window relay kit to minimize amperage through the fuse box (this is a must!), replaced the timing belt and tensioner bearing, replaced all ancillary belts, replaced all fluids, replaced all shocks with adjustable coilovers (those were also included), set sensor gaps to proper specs (this was the cause of the engine not starting) and much more.

    I also purchased a rusty 1989 430 which I use for parts swap. The 430 runs (although it sounds like a maraca) which helps a lot when debugging electronic parts such as the two ECUs, two coils, etc.

    Also installed a real time diagnostic tool which plugs into the ignition ECU. This gives you real time ignition information such as RPMs and cam sensor timing. Also provides error codes which cuts down on the guessing game.

    Once debugged the car has been very reliable.

    Ivan

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  10. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    With all those extras you got a good deal Ivan. It's nice that it also wasn't one of those owner after owner after owner not maintaining the car and doing bad work on it when they tried. That's most Biturbos out there. Whose coilover kit was this?

     
  11. thecarnut

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    The coilovers came from Japan. It was a group purchased through BiturboZentrum, organized by an Australian owner. They are nicely made but rather expensive (about $3,000 for the set, not including springs). They came to me disassembled and without any instructions. First was to figure out which springs to use .... the folks in Japan were helpful.

    As you can see in the photos there are adjustments for the front camber, adjustable firmness and adjustable ride height. I am still playing with them as I'm not 100% happy with how the car tracks. Part of it may be caused the spyder's short wheelbase.

    Ivan

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  12. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Is there any rubber in that setup????

    When I got my GOC it had a completely different suspension that yours when stock and mostly different than the last Ghibli IIs including the cup cars.

    After I had the rear suspension modified for how toe adjustment was done I had the same race suspension shop set the car up for adjustment. The shocks were not adjustable except for ride height and they utilized a two spring setup with a main and helper that had been assembled incorrectly. What a mess that was. But I could not adjust the shock dampening which was too stiff and he wanted $5K just to re-valve them. I balked at that. But ... I did have him corner balance the car with a full tank of gas and me sitting in it. He also completely adjusted the caster/camber and toe. That made a huge difference as the car was actually quite undriveable before that at 10/10s.

    I suggest you find one of those small racing shops that knows what they're doing and have them work the car over. It was about $1,500 for that and well worth it.
    All of that can be done via a portable alignment setup that racers typically take to the track so you don't necessarily need a big time service garage place to have this done right. More important is the knowledge of the guy doing it. Ask the club racing guys in your area. Typically the Porsche guys will know who's good.
     
  13. AbarthDave1

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    Mecum 89 Spyder sold for $5500. I believe that does not include the 10-12% buyers fee.

    Dave
     
  14. Merak1974

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    Seems low for what appears to be a nice car. Would have expected at least twice as much if sold in Europe.
    Looks like an arbitrage opportunity.
     
  15. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Don't forget that the condition of the engine is an unknown. If the head gaskets have gone OMG! Hopefully a knowledgeable DIY got it. If not we may see it on eBay in the future.
     
  16. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    You're right on that, Bob...
     
  17. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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  18. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    How long has that one been there? If one went for $12K here I'd think that's about the limit. I'm not in the market but I'd never pay that for one. They are a very hard sale at that price and need to be exceptional. Tbiggs got one like that a couple of years ago. He's very happy with it.
     
  19. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    That ad is recent. That said, I have no idea of whether or not the asking price is realistic.
     
  20. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 World Champ
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    I've only heard one Biturbo engine and it sounded great. Cruising slowly along a country road. But I think if somebody gave you one of these cars it would be too expensive to own and drive.
     
  21. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Not true unless they gave you a junker. Vintage Lamborghinis? Now those will bankrupt you.
     
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  22. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 World Champ
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    For anybody who doesn't know, Bob has done a comparison between a Biturbo and a vintage Lambo, along with a vintage Maserati and a Jaguar as well. So when he speaks of a car bankrupting you, he speaks with authority. :D
     
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  23. staatsof

    staatsof Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Yeah no kidding. I'm literally throwing my 2005 Jaguar away now because it's just too GD hard to replace a $20 coolant hose that runs under the supercharger. Just decided that an hour ago. That car has pissed me off for the last time! Gorgeous to look at and drives really well but ... the way they stuffed too GD much stuff in the engine compartment means that this has become an engine out of the car job.

    Not in this house!
     
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  24. Froggie

    Froggie Karting

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    Same car, had same issue, and a 2k bill from my mechanic. Don't need to get the engine out but a lot of stuff to remove to access that damned hose...
    Superb ride, though (as far as you don't need to change the air shocks!)
     

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