Today marks the eleventh day of the fabled countdown to Christmas.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my archive gave to thee:
A yellow Maserati,
Ten footer Mini,
Jade Mach 1 Mustang,
Fine Nomad bling,
Beige French shed,
Tuned Chevy LUV,
and a Park Lane down on the street.
It's the mid-1980s. Ronald Reagan is in his second term as president. The economy is good and it's time to reward yourself with a new convertible. Do you do what your old man recommends and buy American? You could pick up a turbo four-cylinder Dodge 600 or a Chrysler LeBaron, perhaps a Foxbody Mustang? You wouldn't settle for a Cavalier Z24 or Sunbird GT, would you? And dear old Dad didn't survive a tour in the Pacific Theater just so you could buy a Toyota Celica GT-S. How about your European options, then? BMW E30 325i? No, half the board of directors has those. Mercedes 560SL or Jaguar XJS? No, too much gas. Porsche 911 Cabriolet? Too expensive. Corvette? How gauche. No, you need to go Italian. Enter the Maserati Biturbo Spyder.
So what went wrong? Early models were plagued with mechanical and build quality problems with materials inside and out. Belt and seal failures were common and the cars required careful and thorough maintenance. Many of these problems were ironed out after a couple of years, but the damage had been done. The car's reputation was already tarnished and it was pulled from the market after 1990, when Maserati gave up trying to move remaining unsold dealer stock. Italy and the rest of Europe got some special editions with higher technology and performance that we didn't get here. The Biturbo lasted until 1994 in Europe in some form or another, with over 38,000 made in all. America only got about 5,000 of them. I've only seen a few in the past decade; a brown coupe with light body damage, a black coupe at a local Cars & Coffee, and this yellow Spyder.
This example is curious. When I found it on the street I naturally assumed that the yellow color was a repaint, but it could well be factory stock. I have seen photos of yellow Biturbo Spyders, and Biturbo Spyders with body color headlamp bezels. But I could find none with all of those things plus five-lug wheels. It could be a conversion, or an early '88 model. I'm not sure. The Momo M1 wheels aren't stock. They seem like a bit much for the car visually, but I'm sure it handles better than the original 14-inch phone dials (or 15s, on 5-lug cars). In any case, a Biturbo Spyder is a very rare car. If it's a regular Spyder i with the 2.0 liter engine, it's one of 297 made. If it's a Spyder i 2500 with the 2.5 liter engine, it's one of 122.
Photographed May 2015