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The Maserati Biturbo Was A Bad Car That Saved A Brand

Illustration for article titled The Maserati Biturbo Was A Bad Car That Saved A Brand
Image: Mr.choppers (Wikimedia Commons)

Maserati is in rough shape right now, but I’d be lying if I told you it was the first time. Now, as Groupe PSA gobbles up Fiat Chrysler and Maserati along with it, it’s worth remembering the last time Peugeot bought Maserati’s owner back in and sent the brand into turmoil, and the car that saved it. The Biturbo.

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To teach us a little about how this attractive yet ultimately flawed machine came into production with the help of the legendary Alejandro De Tomaso is this video from Matteo Licata, a friend of Jalopnik and car designer hailing from Turin.

Matteo’s breakdown of the launch of the car in this video (and accompanying article) gives a good impression of how the car sold well at the beginning of its run and fell away as quality concerns resulting from the car’s rushed development concerned buyers. This wasn’t just about poorly-assembled interiors– catalytic converters installed for the American market were causing the cars to do what Italian sports cars love to do–catch fire.

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I personally love the Biturbo. Maybe it’s because I’m generationally predisposed to like the angular cars of the 1980s. Maybe it’s because I have terrible taste. I don’t know. All I know is that the Biturbo and its Ghibli and Shamal successors managed to carry Maserati through two tumultuous decades. I’m confident that whatever the brand’s engineers cook up will be at least as terrible as the Biturbo, and maybe that’ll be enough to keep the trident going. I hope certainly hope so.

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

My introduction to the Maserati Biturbo was of course the Top Gear episode where they crushed it with a garbage bin. I think Maserati will not be saved by the Levante or any other crossovers FCA manages to poop out. Maserati has a racing heritage comparable to Ferrari. I have never understood why they don’t capitalize on that amazing heritage. FCA should decide whether they want Alfa Romeo or Maserati in the US market. Pick one.