Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

There's an old maxim - practice makes perfect - that suggests it's worth doing something over and over until you finally get it right. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Maserati 430 is hopefully the result of following that dictum with the company' s Biturbo line. But, does it's price make it practically perfect?

So far it has been a week of individually customized and personalized cars here, and after a bender like that, it's a good idea to go cold turkey. Speaking of cold - and potentially turkeys - it should be duly noted that the heater in yesterday's topless EuroVan probably won't be up to the task. That didn't matter to the 51% of you awarding its audacity of hope with a Nice Price win- the first this week - and not just because it was all kinds of Charlie Sheen wearing Eldridge Cleaver Pants crazy.


Today's candidate is not a backyard custom, but does come from a company that at one time had a rep for home-built levels of build quality. The Maserati Biturbo is not just a car enjoyed by both sexes equally. It is, like the Edsel before it, also a car that defines a particular automotive meme - in its case craptitude. Whether it was the complete lack of rust-proofing or the allowing to escape the drawing boards an engine with its Weber carb ensconced and inaccessible in a pressurized plenum, there was just so much that was wrong with that mainstream Maser.

But if a Biturbo is wrong, then I don't wanna' be right.

You see, the funny thing is, the Biturbo remains to this day an incredibly handsome car, in George Clooney kind of way. Plus there's the siren's call of the trident mascot - shared with such venerated names as the Ghibli, Bora, and Mistral - that can make even the strongest-willed weak in the knees - or perhaps head. At the time, Maserati sold more Biturbos than any other model in their history, but the peculiarities of Italian reliability proved a heavy burden for their owners, as did the depreciation which, along with repairs that cost an arm and a leg, and sometimes a left nut, made the cars the epitome of a labor of love.


By the time the 430 rolled around, Maserati was on the ropes, and Alejandro de Tomaso's reign over the beleaguered company was slowly coming to an end. Still, in those final de Tomaso years before Fiat flitted in to rescue the company like a high-strung good fairy, a lot of what had made the Biturbo bad had been excised. An eventual adoption by Ferrari finally brought the company back to its former glory fender holes.

This 1989 4-door still rocks the sweet as my lady's love twin-turbo V6. Unlike earlier editions however, it has fuel injection in place of the rinky-dink sarcophagus-encased Weber, vastly improving reliability. The remainder of the car had been better sorted out by then, leading to its only suffering problems equatable to, oh say, Alfa Romeo ownership and not that of tending to Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.) like the original cars.


The engine here is, as mentioned, fed by a pair of IHI turbos, and they in turn blow into an equal number of air to air intercoolers. The engine was a new design shared with the 228, and at a still relatively diminutive 2,790-ccs, the 4-valver pumped out 225 horsepower in catalyzed form. A Getrag 5-speed manual was standard, and is featured on this car, while out back a Maserati Ranger LSD keeps things from getting out of hand. Zero to sixty times were claimed to be around 6-seconds for the 2,750-lb car, and the engine sounds like pure sex from idle all the way up to redline. Seriously, these things sound sick.

The stickity shift is apparently the reason this one is being offered for sale, the ad noting that the current owner's knee problems mean he'll have to go two pedal or suffer eventually having one leg look like an ostrich's. Adding insult to injury, he's also fat. I know, that was uncalled for, and probably factually incorrect as the leather and alcantara interior shows no sign of either lardasstic seat deformation or discarded KFC buckets in the footwells. In fact, aside from what looks like a kicker on the floor in the back, this Maser's insides look as good as its outsides. The grey and black upholstery may be a little too ‘80s, and it's interesting that no matter what the color of the rest of the interior, it seems that the steering wheel and column of every 430 is oxblood. That, and a darker than all the rest of the wood shift knob, are the only glaring issues inside, and the ad says everything in there works just fine.


Outside is a similar story and the car is described as being, and appears to be, rust-free. Part of the reason that people tend to like the Biturbo and its brethren is because of its unmistakable resemblance to BMW's beloved e30 3-series, a car targeted as the Biturbo's main competitor by de Tomaso. In fact, this four door edition - or quattroporte to use the vernacular - looks totally like a sexed up e30. It's sort of like the difference between Franke Potente and Monica Bellucci - sure they're both attractive and have a lot of the same standard features, but, Italian, hello? The top half of this 430 is white while down low, the stock Maserati wheels and original dark rockers and bumpers are original and look to be in fine shape, with only the note of a few minor dings to spoil the party. That's completely understandable as the car has but 19K on its clock, a pittance for any car, and a good sign for an ‘80s Italian.


It's up to you to determine if this 430's price is also a good sign, as at $10,500 it has a lot more to the left of the decimal than you would typically be expecting for a Biturbo offspring. There's another one, in fact almost an exact duplicate, up for grabs on eBay for only eight grand. That one however is an automatic, and knowing this crowd, it's pretty certain that the stick shift on this car is easily worth an extra $2,500.

The question, is whether the entire car is worth that $10,500 asking price? What do you think, is this four-thirty worth ten-five? Or, is this a Maser that should be priced for a miser?

You decide!


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