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My Maserati Biturbo project

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    My Maserati Biturbo project

    I will begin by saying that this will not be updated regularly. It has taken me 6 years to get to the paint stage and will probably not be finished for another year. Slow and steady has been the plan and rushing anything is out of the question.

    This post will have a ton of words and not as many pictures. If you don't like to read, this is not the post for you. My goal here is to make good on my promise to write this build thread, disarm some common misconceptions about these cars and most importantly keep track of where we are going from here.

    There is no forum like r3v out there for Biturbo owners so I appreciate you guys letting me take up the space here. That being said...I digress.

    Since I was very young, my father and I have worked together on at least 50 project cars. Usually they were purchased for a flip, but we kept a few around when we liked them enough. These included a few 911s, some 944s, a handful of Italians, a 956 speedster kit, '46 Jaguar XK140 drophead coupe, and the list goes on and on. I started modding my first car at 15, which was my '86 Jetta. That's essentially my history that leads to where this all started.

    It started for me as I was graduating college. I already had a decent job lined up and bought my first home. I was a die-hard VW kid at the time who had grown tired of the scene and it's shift from quality builds to consistent "hoodride" bullshit. On the way home from H20, a competitor in my class who did not leave with a trophy actually flipped me off on the way home when I passed him. The friendships that came standard were sadly dwindling down to pettiness and the car show scene became more about "let's see how stupid we can be" vs. "how creative we can be."

    This was the car after I got home with it's latest mod: a for sale sign.

    At the same time, my father and I had been working on another project that had recently been finished. A Citroen CX GTi turbo we picked up from a local collector.
    [img] - [/img]
    After the car was finished, my father took it to an all Citroen show in upstate NY where a buyer quckly scooped it up. Shortly after he sold that, our long-term XK140 Jag project was sold as well. There we stood with an empty garage, an extreme discontent in the VW scene and nothing to do. A call came in from the same gentleman who sold us the Citroen as he wanted to liquidate his collection and had a few cars to offload. 23 cars to be exact. Now, he had a grey-market 5 series that was rusted beyone repair and I am still kicking myself for not picking it up but I had a desire to pick up an e30 so my search was leading me elsewhere. Until we went to pick up my Dad's choice from the collection, I had no intention of buying anything. As we walked through the warehouse towards his '79 928 manual car, something caught my eye.

    Needless to say, it was a 1987 Maserati Biturbo Si. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill carb'd nightmare but the first fuel-injected 222 chassis car that had a solid reputation in the motor department. Earlier that very day, I had read an article in Grassroots about how horrible these cars were and I got an idea.

    I can make this car exceptional.

    Here it is the day I brought it home.

    And a few hours later...

    Now with the car stripped down, we could start looking into what made everyone hate these cars. On the drive home we noticed that there were some accurate statements made by Grassroots in their description of the car.
    1. Horrible handling with disgusting body roll. Essentially the same front end design as the e30, with a slightly different rear suspension setup utilizing a MacPhearson strut system.
    2. Slow, super bad turbo lag.
    3. Noisy interior, between the wind and road noise the 20 minute drive was nothing short of unpleasant.

    We removed the suspension and sent it off to Ed at Ground Control with a plea to make this car candle like a true sports coupe. He olbiged and a few weeks later he sent this back to me:

    The end result is a set of Koni reds mated to thier legendary coilover suspension with fully functional adjustable camber plates up front and reinforced rear strut mounts. In addition, they modified the front strut tubes not only for the Konis, but increasing structural rigidity as the spindle section was a little sketchy. I owe the folks at GC a ton and will swear them just short of Jesus as long as I walk this earth.

    Meanwhile, we needed to sort out the engine issues. The motor was lethargic, especially for an Si car so we opted to take the motor out, and go through it step by step. The good news was the engine had recently been rebuilt and looked mint. The bad news is the water-cooled IHI turbochargers were shot.

    After the rebuild, the motor and turbos went back into the car post painting of the engine bay.

    As my father worked on the motor, I started on the body work. We had to replace the passenger door due to some heavy rot and the entire front end had to be rebuilt for the same reason. The Biturbo front fenders cannot be removed from the car, so obviously that made things difficult.

    At this point I was obsessed. I started reading up on Maserati's history. What made them so special? What went wrong at the building of this car?
    Turns out Maserati was on their way out and Fiat picked them up. Fiat decided that Maserati should be available to the masses and the Biturbo was the first mass-produced answer to that dream. The dream they had became a nightmare. In 1990, Maserati was sold again and things got much better when the 2.24V was built. The car recieved a solid facelift with much more attractive bumpers and 5 lug suspension. The solid rotor brakes were swapped for a 4 piston vented setup. The car picked up some extra horsepower as well. The only right thing to do was aim for the legendary 2.24V since it was so close to what I owned. However, the bumpers were not a direct swap and hard to come by. The answer to this: my father was going to build a set of replicas using the factory bumpers.

    Since we couldn't get our hands on the foglights either, we hit some junkyards and took measurements. The solution was found in a set of late-model e30 fogs.

    The hood of the 2.24V had 2 scoops integrated, so we modified the existing hood to house those as well.

    Now the Biturbo e (for export) came original with a low line grey and red two tone for some of the models. I liked the idea but thought the grey was understated. I really liked the charcoal color and decided that a two-tone paint was a must have.

    The concept became this: Take a car that is outdated, quirky and different and make it look, handle and exist as if it was a newly manufactured car. Don't take away from what is already there, just modernize it and focus on keeping the original spirit.

    I can't find any of my own original interior shots, but here is essentially what it looked like:

    The new interior will swap the leather and suede on the seats, change all woodgrain to carbon fiber and upgrade the factory e-brake, steering wheel and shifter to MOMO items.

    Apart form popular belief, the dogleg transmission is a great unit with a 3.73 LSD rear end that is relatively bulletproof. There are many examples of 150K mile plus cars that have never changed out any of the driveline save for a clutch. Essentially, it will remain unchanged with the exception of using the later diff cover off of a 425 which had better cooling.

    With the concept in mind, the suspension sorted and interior parts on order it was time to address the most important part of the project: Wheels, tires and brakes. My dear friend Ingo at Tunershop was building his Biturbo at the same time and we had discussed extensively how the Schmidt TH line was so similar to the factory biturbo wheel. He is running a 16x8 up front and a 16x9 in the back:

    He was only able to fit the 16x8 up front as if the wheels were any wider, they would hit the control arms. My father looked at the arms, and decided we would build our own so we can go much wider. The Biturbo touring car used a 16x10, so we sourced a set of arms from an Italian friend so we could have 16x10 as well...

    I didn't want to leave the factory wheels laying around...

    The brakes were relatively easy to source and we bolted up the 2.24V units the our car. I can't seem to find any pictures, but I'll dig them up and add them.

    So all of this has taken several years. In the meantime, I have had several different priorities that took away from the project. My father's 928 autox car, my Lotus Elan project, the e30, moving several times, restoring and selling homes, new jobs, unemployment, new job, etc.

    In the last few weeks, the project has taken a huge leap. My father finished his Strosek conversion on his 928 and decided it was time to get the Biturbo going agian. Paint time!

    On the docket for now...westand, more clear, paint trim, reassemble, dial in suspension, build exhaust (using M coupe exhaust), start on interior.

    I will keep up with this as much as I can. Thanks for reading, I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. For those of you have been asking about this, I am sorry to keep you waiting. Most importantly, thanks for letting me share this on an e30 forum. It's a testament to how open r3v is and I appreciate that.



      I cant wait to see this thing! Its nice to have pops and son project(s) like that!



        Originally posted by N2MYE30 View Post
        I cant wait to see this thing! Its nice to have pops and son project(s) like that!
        You have no idea how thankful I am for it. I can only hope my kids follow me as I did him.


          Very cool enjoyed the writeup. Not often you see one these days and when you do they are being given away on craigslist.

          Send Maserati some shots maybe you will get some press from them.


            My friend recently opened up a small shop and one of his customers has one convertible with 44k orig miles. Yes 44k. fucking beautiful.
            Originally posted by Good & Tight
            It takes real man to mount a big woman, all you haters are just scared boys.


              Wow, awesome project! Can't wait to see the finished product!

              What kind of power potential does that motor have?
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                I don't know what's better, how you found the car, the car itself, what you've done so far, what you are doing or the fact you and your dad are doing it together.

                Abselutely stunning.

                Sounds like you are all hooked up with parts but if there are any euro parts on your wish list glad to let my crew in Europe know, perhaps they can track it down.

                I love the text, but keep the pics coming.

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                1998 E36 m3/4/5 1988 325i 1989 325iT


                  Originally posted by ZM Blue Devil View Post
                  Sounds like you are all hooked up with parts but if there are any euro parts on your wish list glad to let my crew in Europe know, perhaps they can track it down.
                  HEADLIGHTS! Sorry, did I sound desperate? I'll send you a PM.

                  Thanks for all the kind words guys.

                  As far as power is concerned, we'll be lucky to see 225 at the wheels. The ultimate plan is to swap in a Cambriocorsa motor with it's 6 speed. That requires finding a cambriocorsa or a coupe gt in salvage condition. I don't plan on doing that anytime soon however.

                  I have a ton more pictures saved onto a disc, as soon as I dig it up I will post more. Thanks for all of the interest.


                    Originally posted by M-technik-3 View Post
                    Send Maserati some shots maybe you will get some press from them.
                    I think they would rather forget about this car...

                    Grassroots has dibs, followed by Hemmings Sports & Exotic.


                      Oh hells ya, I love these things! Can't wait to get home and read through this, the photos are blocked at work :(


                        Please for goodness sake don't get all John Ludwig with your maserati! Beautiful car man, would love to see it in person.


                          Very cool project.

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                            aahhh nice man , and here i thought i was the only e30 running mserati biturbo wheels lol.


                              Nice. One of my best mates has a 425 he's done a ground up rebuild on. It's now got 5lugs, bigger brakes, 2.8 with 4v heads etc. I'll post up a couple of pics info if you want?
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