The Maserati Biturbo profile
The historic Maserati brand was in a precarious state in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was the arrival of the new Maserati Biturbo in 1981 that was responsible for calming the turbulent waters of this Italian marque.
The rescue of Maserati is closely linked to the name Alejandro de Tomaso. When parent company Citroën could no longer compensate for the losses of the Italian firm, especially while fighting its own financial battle, de Tomaso became CEO of Maserati. He quickly realised that a reversal of fortunes was not possible with the continuation of lavish models seen in the ‘60s and ‘70s. So a more compact vehicle with a smaller engine had to be included in the portfolio to appeal to more buyers.
maserati’s Innovative biturbo Wedge
In December 1981 the Maserati Biturbo was revealed to the world. This compact 2+2-seater coupé didn’t share much of a family resemblance with its larger siblings and, equipped with a 2.0litre V6 it provided a completely different proposition altogether. The 180bhp twin-turbocharged engine provided plenty of power and sounded incredible, however it proved thirsty and often experienced technical issues. Therefore, this carburettor engine was quickly replaced by a modern injection system. Its 2.0-litre capacity was owed to the Italian tax system, which charged buyers of larger-displacement engines double the tax rate. For the export markets, Maserati offered the Biturbo with a larger 2.5-litre engine capable of producing 200bhp.
In the following years Maserati evolved the Biturbo. In 1983 the performance oriented Biturbo S arrived, and in 1985 both models were subjected to a facelift. The most notable modification to date was introduced in 1986 when the Maserati Biturbo received electronic injection from Magneti Marelli. The Biturbo Si followed a year later to further enhance the model’s offering. Maserati not only steadily increased the Biturbo’s performance, but also its everyday capabilities and reliability.
Maserati biturbo renamed as 222 or 425
The changes implemented in 1988 affected both the engine and visual appearance of the car. One of the biggest alterations involved cutting the Biturbo name. Now named the 222, the nameplate was derived from its 2.0-litre displacement and 220bhp. This naming practice was common amongst German rivals and had been seen before on a Maserati. When the first four-door sedan of the Biturbo was presented in 1984, it was still called the Biturbo 425. Based on the coupé with an extended wheelbase, Maserati altered the name to simply 425 just one year later in 1985.
The Complete Maserati biturbo Range
With the success of the Maserati Biturbo, it made sense to offer a convertible variant in addition to the coupé and sedan. And so Carozzeria Zagato made the Spyder in 1984. Zagato shortened the wheelbase so that the Spyder became a two-seater. The roof and rear windows almost completely disappeared into the body when opened, allowing the wind and that glorious engine note to fill the cabin. Except for the soft top, the Spyder is identical in terms of performance and appearance to the Maserati Karif produced from 1988 to 1992. Strictly speaking, it belongs to the rather chaotic Biturbo family, even if it never officially bore the name.
The long history of Biturbo, which proved very profitable for Maserati, ended in 1994. The model brought the desired economic success and, despite the fundamental differences, did not betray the core of the brand. In fact, it added a new facet. Due to the Biturbo’s long production life and diverse model range, plenty of examples remain on the market today.
Entry-level prices can be tempting, but it is important to pay close attention to the car before purchase. Even as a new car, the Maserati Biturbo had earned a dubious reputation when it came to reliability, so time spent inspecting the car could save you money in the workshop. Get behind the wheel of a well-preserved example and you will be able to understand why this particular Maserati saved the company.
Text Paolo Ollig Photos Classic Trader
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