At $8,950, Will This 1986 Maserati Biturbo Zagato Spyder Have You Singing A New Tune?

Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Maserati was built by the respected Italian design house Zagato. It was then modded to make it a “one of a kind” car. Let’s see if its price makes it a one-of-a-kind deal.


I’ve never understood the whole concept of “less is more.” I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense. More is more, right? When it came to last Friday’s 2015 Polaris Slingshot, less certainly was not more. That vehicle had three wheels, making it an uncomfortable middle child between motorcycles and cars. Having one wheel missing — or one extra, for you bikers — didn’t seem to resonate with the majority of you. The Slingshot’s $17,500 price was even less vibratory, and it fell in a huge 91 percent No Dice loss.

The Sirens, a group of sea nymphs hell-bent on luring sailors to their watery doom by way of their intoxicating singing, feature prominently as perils in both the Quest of the Golden Fleece of Greek mythology and the “Odyssey,” Homer’s epic poem.

It’s not surprising that stories about beauty and sonorous sound inviting passersby to their fate arise in the nations surrounding the Mediterranean. We see the same thing happening today with many Italian cars.

Here we have one of those siren-song cars, a 1986 Maserati Biturbo Zagato Spyder. Just roll that name around in your mouth. Feels good, doesn’t it? First off, there’s the venerated Maserati name. It may not hold the same sway as do the names Ferrari or Lamborghini, but it’s still fairly impressive. Then there’s the Biturbo name. This denotes the namesake V6 engine that carries a small IHI turbocharger on each of its banks. This was the first automotive production engine with such a layout.

Now consider Zagato. That’s the Italian design house that penned and built the Spyder for Maserati. The strictly two-seat Zagato rides on a 94-inch wheelbase, cut down a full five inches from that of its coupe cousin. That Spyder name indicates that the top goes up and down, making this a car that can be shared with pretty much everybody within eyesight.


It all sounds pretty appealing, right? And that’s just the name!


When it comes right down to it, however, this Spyder could potentially ruin you. The Biturbo was first introduced in 1981, notably on the 67th anniversary of Maserati’s founding. It was intended to take the foundering company in a new direction, eschewing the high-end sports cars that Maserati had been farting out in limited numbers for a higher production series of sport coupes and — eventually — sedans and convertibles to take on the likes of BMW’s E30.

This was all a plan by Alejandro de Tomaso, Maserati’s owner at the time, who sought to resurrect the Italian brand. The Biturbos were handsome and fairly capable, and the company sold as many as they could build for the first couple of years. Unfortunately, engineering and build quality were not up to snuff for a car that was intended to go toe to tire with BMW. Add to that a tiny dealer network for service and maintenance, and many potential buyers went looking elsewhere.


Don’t let any of that dissuade you, however. We’re still going to be looking at this Biturbo. That’s because it appears to be in pretty solid shape and is described as being “one of a kind” on a car show sign that’s staged in the trunk. It seems that buying the car also gets you a bunch of trophies from car shows past, so there is that.


It’s hard to say what makes this Biturbo a custom build other than perhaps the paint scheme. That features a red stripe and accent over a black base. It’s a pretty cool look, and the paint does appear to still be in excellent condition. The interior also comes across in fine fashion. The beige leather on almost every surface looks buttery enough to dip a lobster tail into, and that is accented by some tasteful wood trim and a lovely chocolate leather steering wheel.


In here you can actually see some of that custom work. Someone has tried to gussy up the place with what looks to be chrome beading around the wood trim. That will need to go ASAP. With luck, the glue holding it in place hasn’t discolored the finish underneath. You also get the ubiquitous Maserati analog clock in the dash. That should stay.


The ad says nothing about the mechanicals. What we can divine from the model year is that it is a 185 horsepower 2.5-liter all-alloy V6. That has double overhead cams and the pair of turbos. Unless there has been some after-the-fact monkeying around in the engine bay, the car would lack intercoolers.

It should also lack fuel injection, since that didn’t arrive across the Biturbo line until the 1987 model year. Instead, this car should have a Weber 36-DCNVH two-barrel carburetor. That lives, fantastically enough, inside a large aluminum plenum that is sealed and pressurized by the turbos. It was a weird design and still looks like something that’s about to leap out of the engine bay. Behind that engine sits a ZF three-speed automatic. The car rides on a set of Capitol Negotiator tires, which are pretty low-end.


The car carries 49,548 miles, which you will likely consider extremely low until you remember that Maserati Biturbos have a well-earned reputation for breaking down. You’re unlikely to find one that has gone any significant distance no matter how nice it is.


That’s not a problem for us, however, as we aren’t looking to get married, just kick the tires, so to speak. To that end, let us now consider this Maserati’s $8,950 price. That gets you a clean-title car with all those cool names and that extremely elegant (once we strip off that weird chrome stuff) interior. Does that seem like a roll of the dice someone ought to make?

What do you think, is $8,950 a fair price for this Spyder as it sits? Or, is that a siren song that you think is totally out of tune?


You decide!

Advertisement out of Tacoma, Washington, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.


Why is Jalopnik hiding the Nice Price or...? articles.  It’s practically the only think I come to this site for any more, and they’ve been removed from the front page.  Maybe if we ask nicely we can get the Gawker people to take over this place again.  At least they knew how to run a website.