Final Parking Space: 1989 Maserati Biturbo Spyder

Murilee Martin

Most of the 20th-century Italian cars you’ll find in North American car graveyards today will be Fiat 124 Sport Spiders and X1/9s, with the occasional Alfa Romeo 164 thrown in for variety. For the first Italian machine in the Final Parking Space series, however, we’ve got a much rarer find: a genuine Maserati Biturbo Spyder, found in a boneyard located between Denver and Cheyenne.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder badge lettering
Murilee Martin

1989 was an interesting year for the Maserati brand, because that was when the longtime friendship between Maserati owner Alejandro de Tomaso and Chrysler president Lee Iacocca resulted in a collaboration between the two companies that produced a car called, awkwardly, Chrysler’s TC by Maserati.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder rear three quarter
Murilee Martin

The TC by Maserati was based on a variation of Chrysler’s company-reviving K platform and assembled in Milan. I’ve documented five discarded TCs during the past decade, and those articles have never failed to spur heated debate over the TC’s genuine Maserati-ness.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder info plate
Murilee Martin

In fact, I’ve managed to find even more examples of the Biturbo than the TC during my adventures in junkyard history, and even the most devoted trident-heads must accept those cars as true Maseratis.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder rear three quarter
Murilee Martin

The Biturbo was Maserati’s first attempt to build a mass-production car, and it went on sale in the United States as a 1984 model. It was available here through 1990, at various times as a four-door sedan (known as the 425 or 430), a two-door coupe, and as a convertible (known as the Spyder). This car is the first Spyder I’ve found in a car graveyard.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder engine
Murilee Martin

The heart of the Biturbo, and the origin of its name, is a screaming overhead-cam V-6 with twin turbochargers.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder engine detail
Murilee Martin

Unfortunately, the 1984-1986 Biturbos sold on our side of the Atlantic used a blow-through fuel-delivery system featuring a Weber carburetor inside a pressurized box, with no intercoolers. Forced induction systems with carburetors never did prove very reliable for daily street use, and the carbureted/non-intercooled Biturbo proved to be a legend of costly mechanical misery in the real world.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder engine valve cover
Murilee Martin

This car came from the factory with both Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection and an intercooler, rated at 225 horsepower and 246 pound-feet in U.S.-market configuration. This more modern fuel-delivery rig didn’t solve all of the Biturbo’s reliability problems, but it didn’t hurt.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder interior shifter
Murilee Martin

A three-speed automatic was available in the American Biturbo, but this car has the five-speed manual that its engine deserved.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder interior
Murilee Martin

When everything worked correctly, the 1989 Biturbo was fast and decadent, with nearly as much power as a new 1989 BMW M6 for about ten grand cheaper. The Spyder for that year had an MSRP of $44,995, or about $116,500 in 2024 dollars. Sure, a Peugeot 505 Turbo had an MSRP of $26,335 ($68,186 after inflation) and just 45 fewer horses, but was it Italian? Well, was it?

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder Zagato
Murilee Martin

Soon after the time the first Biturbos hit American roads, I was a broke college student delivering pizzas with my Competition Orange 1968 Mercury Cyclone in Newport Beach, California. At that time and place, bent bankers and their henchmen were busily looting Orange County S&Ls, and the free-flowing cash resulted in Biturbos appearing everywhere for a couple of years. Then, like a switch had been flipped, they disappeared.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder dealer sticker
Murilee Martin

This car appears to have been sold all the way across the country from Lincoln Savings & Loan, so it doesn’t benefit from that Late 1980s Robber Baron bad-boy mystique.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder antennae coil
Murilee Martin

If you had one of these cars, you had to display one of these distinctive mobile phone antennas on your ride. A lot of them were fake, though.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder interior dash
Murilee Martin

This car appears to have been parked for at least a couple of decades, so I believe the 28,280 miles showing on the odometer represent the real final figure.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder rust
Murilee Martin

There’s some rust-through and the harsh High Plains Colorado climate has ruined most of the leather and wood inside. These cars are worth pretty decent money in good condition, but I suspect that it would take $50,000 to turn one like this into a $25,000 car.

1989-Maserati-Biturbo-Spyder top
Murilee Martin

Still, it has plenty of good parts available for local Biturbo enthusiasts. I bought the decklid badge for my garage wall, of course.


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    The Biturbo was a rolling wreck looking for a place to die as soon as it was built.

    I recall working on one. It was a mess and you could not get parts easily. It was expensive but really not a high quality car outside the seats. Nice leather.

    The Chrysler TC was a major mistake from the start. If you got an Auto you did not get a Maserati engine. The Lebaron styling doomed it. If anything let the Italians design it. That way at least it may have had some decent styling to set it apart.

    This whole deal at Chrysler was a total fail from the start. GM at least got the styling right but they fell down on the FWD in the Allante.

    These cars were a lesson you can go exotic with local parts and styling from regular cars.

    Having grown up with a 1985 Maserati Biturbo Coupe as our family car, we were definitely the cats meow wherever we went in Toronto Canada. Mustang and Camaro drivers would take a look at us and try to race us at every stoplight. When my dad felt like it, he would leave them in the dust with a full car of passengers!!!! The only pet peeve was when the car would break down and sit waiting for parts to arrive for repairs. Many years of packing our suitcases returning from Italy with Maserati car parts to bring home. From Ignition modules, to sunroof motors, to you name it!!!! Whatever would break down we would eagerly await it being up and running again!!!!! No matter all the headaches we went through, we still loved the car. We had purchased it a year old from a family friend with a wicked MIE Body Kit and 3 piece BBS Wheels. As the years went by and a few years after my dad passed away we ended up selling the car after constantly dishing money into it. It indeed was a LIRA/EURO/DOLLAR pit!!!!! I just found the car now for sale on facebook marketplace and thought if only the seller knew what was spent on the car before him!!!!! My dad should have just bought a Ferrari but it only had 2 seats and we were a family of 5!!!! O the memories of that Maserati!!!!!

    I bought one as my son’s first car. Never gave any trouble, took a heck of a beating from him, and meant that it would beat anything his friends had so he did not need to race them!

    I see that someone has already removed the most valuable part of this car – the dash clock. Man they were gorgeous!

    Such handsome styling- an E30 BMW done right- and a great concept. Too bad they couldn’t build them well.

    Mike Ehrmantraut’s last words from Breaking Bad come to mind looking at that Biturbo. “Shut the f#%k up and let me die in peace”

    The car in the article would be fun to turn into race car, not one you were worried about street legal, originality nor it surviving the weekend.

    If one likes the look of this car… it’s not that different than a 4-eyed fox body convertible (Mustang/Capri). Maybe it was sized different? Do a nice custom interior and take advantage of the aftermarket support to improve drivetrain and suspension you likely have a more affordable & reliable alternative.

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