3 November 2017

More than an old car #42: Maserati Biturbo

Mention 'luxury cars' and the usual brands pop up eg Mercedes, Ferrari etc. Some more knowledgeable enthusiasts may then remember Maserati, or the car with a trident. Although its modern offerings are well-known, I believe not many would associate it with a classic vehicle such as this 1989 Maserati Biturbo 222 here.

Maserati was founded in 1912 by the Maserati brothers: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto. The trident logo is based on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna's Piazza Maggiore, the original home town of Maserati. It was selected as Neptune represented strength and vigor, which was a positioning strategy fitting for a sports car company. It started out manufacturing race cars up till 1957, where it focused its efforts on making road-going vehicles up till today. Maserati was first bought over by Citroen in 1968, then by De Tomaso in 1975 and finally by the Fiat group since 1989.

The Biturbo was first conceived in 1976 as a model for the "common man" compared to its previous high-range offerings. Many different variants were made over its lifetime with different names given. This Biturbo 222 naming represents a 2-door car, 2-litre twin-turbo engine and 2nd generation. As a 2-door 2+2 coupe, it had 4 seats that could fit adults sufficiently. It was powered by a 1996cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 225km/h and an acceleration of 6 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.15m long and weighed 1210kg. Unfortunately, the Biturbo was plagued by electrical problems and rust such that it was very expensive to fix. As a result, Time magazine called it "one of the 50 worst cars of all time".

Production ended in 1998 with only 76 made in right-hand drive for the 2-litre variants. Based on my knowledge, this is the only one on our roads, making this a surprising unicorn. For some reason, it is badged as an E222 even though this nomenclature was only for the 2790cc engine variant. If one was looking for a cheap luxury car, this was the answer although it does not seem to stand out from the box-shaped models of that time. Currently, it is at a car workshop in the north awaiting its next buyer. Do take the opportunity to appreciate this bygone luxury which is so unlike the ones we see today!