Not their finest hour: Maserati Biturbo

Celebrating the greatest cock-ups in automotive history. This week we look at Maserati Biturbo
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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February 07, 2017
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Maserati's recent push to expand its range into the volume market has been highly successful, thanks to Levante and the brilliant Ghibli, which offers a more exotic alternative to the likes of BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class for about the same price.

However, the Italian carmaker's earlier attempt at doing the same wasn't nearly as successful. In fact, it ended up damaging the Trident's brand image considerably.

When Citroën shed the Maserati baggage in the mid-Seventies to save itself from financial trouble, the Italian government put Alessandro de Tomaso in charge of turning the marque around. And his solution was volume production and making the badge appealing to a new class of less wealthy customers.

On paper, it looked like a great idea, but the problem was the resultant car looked and felt like a clear downgrade from previous Maseratis, which were known for their achingly gorgeous styling and exhilarating performance. Named with as much ingenuity as the Quattroporte, which has four doors, the Biturbo had, well, two turbos stuck to its 2.5-litre V6, which only made 185bhp.

If insipid looks and underwhelming performance were not disappointing enough, the Biturbo soon gained notoriety for being terribly unreliable, with problems ranging from camshaft belt failures to differential failures bleeding customers' wallets.

Sales plunged and despite a late push with better build quality, fuel injection and change of name, the Biturbo range's fortunes couldn't be revived, and seeing that these cars were causing potentially lethal damage to its reputation, the Trident went back to what it did best -- making real exotics.