Launched in 1981 the Biturbo was a completely different product for Maserati, but proved successful and adaptable. A small capacity (1996cc) V6 was coupled to two turbochargers (hence the name) and mounted in the front driving the rear wheels. A rather conservative and boxy in-house designed two-door body completed the package. Performance was brisk with the 2-cam, 18 valve (two inlet and one exhaust per cylinder), carburettor fuelled engine producing 182bhp. Later the engine (still with 3-valves and carburettors) was taken out to 2.5-litres in capacity. Continuous development over the years has produced many variants, some of which are described below. A wide range of power outputs were obtained during the life of the engine by adding intercoolers, injection, catalysts etc.
2 Door models
The Biturbo S was the basic car with the addition of two intercoolers, one for each turbo. Producing 205bhp, it was recognisable by the two NACA intake ducts in the bonnet. Injection arrived in the form of a Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection system in 1986 on the Biturbo i with 188bhp, and when fitted to the sportier S model, the Si 223bhp. (Biturbo dashboard)
1983 saw a new version of the V6 emerge, now displacing 2.5-litres (actually 2491cc). Introduced in the Biturbo 2500, for export markets only, it produced 189bhp (196bhp in some variants). From 1984 this became available with a cataytic converter, in the Biturbo ES, and from 1987 with injection, the Biturbo Si 2500. Externally all these export models closely resembled the original Biturbo appearance and all had the original 2514mm wheelbase.
The 228 was introduced in 1986 and featured the longer 2600mm wheelbase of the 4-door cars as well as the new 2.8-litre engine (here with 255bhp). Attempting to take on BMW and Mercedes, the new car featured a richer equipment list (alloy wheels, power steering, central locking, electric windows, etc). From 1991 the wheelbase reverted to the shorter 2514mm and two versions were produced. The 222SR continued with a 3-valve single cam (per bank) engine (224bhp) whilst the 222.4V adopted a 279bhp four-valve, twin cam (per bank) engine.
The 222, introduced in 1988, featured two doors (the shorter wheelbase), two litres, two camshafts and 223bhp. In 1989 it received an extra camshaft per bank and an extra valve per cylinder (cyl head, complete engine), becoming the 2.24V with 245bhp. In 1992, its last year of production, it also received a facelift, adopting Shamal style lights alongside other detail improvements.
The Karif, introduced in 1988, was a two door coupe on the short (2400mm) wheelbase of Spyder. It used the three-valve, single cam (per bank) V6 with 248bhp (also available with a catayst and 224bhp). Only a very small number of these cars were built.
In 1990, the Shamal emerged. Using the short (2400mm) wheelbase and a significantly revised styling (though heavily influenced by the Karif), it had a new 325bhp twin-turbo V8 engine. More details here.
Also presented in 1990 (although deliveries began in mid-1991) was the Racing. Despite the name, it was only intended for street use. Externally similar to the original Biturbo (with the same 2514mm wheelbase) except for the Shamal style front end, it had a modified 4-valve, twin-cam, 2-litre engine with 283bhp. It also featured active suspension, developed by Koni.
Finally, in 1992, there arrived the Ghibli. The last of the variants, it was still recognisably a Biturbo. More details here.
4 Door models
1983 also saw the Biturbo gain two additional doors. Combined with a wheelbase stretch of 86mm, the new 425, used the new 2.5-litre engine with intercoolers and 200bhp. Specifically for the Italian market, from 1985 the four-door car was fitted with the 2-litre engine. The resulting 420, had 200bhp. With similar modifications as the 2-door car, the 420S, 420i and 420Si were gradually introduced.
With all the mods of the 222, the 422, also introduced in 1988, was still produced only for the Italian market. With minor changes (ABS plus bigger tyres), this became the 4.18v in 1990, alongside the new 4.24v. This latter car used the shorter 2514mm wheelbase as well as the four-valve, twin-cam 2-litre V6 with 245bhp of the 2-door 2.24v. Production stopped in 1993.
The 430, introduced in 1987, was the first to feature the new larger (still 3 valve) 2.8-litre engine, in this application producing 248bhp. This also introduced watercooled IHI turbos which greatly improved their longevity, feeding through twin intercoolers. It also had a slightly revised design and was again facelifted in 1991 when it gained (amongst other changes) Shamal style headlights. A catalytic converter also became an option, reducing the power to 224bhp. At the same time the 430 4v was introduced, using the four-valve twin-cam engine with 279bhp.
The Quattroporte (fourth series) arrived in 1996 with either the 2.0 (287bhp) or 2.8-litre (284bhp) twin-turbo, twin-intercooler V6 engine, coupled with a Getrag six-speed gearbox (optional four-speed auto on 2.8 and 3.2 models). The chassis was further developed and the body heavily redesigned, including an additional 50mm in the wheelbase (up to 2650mm). In 1996 a 3.2-litre V8 (335bhp) derived from the Shamal unit was added to the range. With the takeover of Maserati by Ferrari, the Quattroporte was revisited, mainly in the interior which was significantly improved. The result was known as the Quattroporte Evoluzione. Production stopped in 2001. Some images can be seen here.
The Biturbo Spyder, introduced in 1984, was a convertible built by Zagato using a shortened wheelbase (2400mm) chassis. Originally fitted with the saloon's 180bhp 2-litre engine, the modifications were similar to its hard-topped relatives.
In 1987 injection was adopted in the Biturbo Spyder i (223bhp) and for the US market the 2.5-litre engine was fitted to the Biturbo Spyder i 2500 (192bhp). 1990 saw the addition of the 2.8-litre engine on the Biturbo Spyder 2.8i (224bhp), a cataysed unit also available with an automatic transmission. Final variations came in 1991 when the 2-litre engine adopted the four-valve, twin-cam heads, becoming the Spyder 2.0 4v (241bhp). Along with the 2.8 cars all the Spyders received minor external and internal tweaks. Production of the Spyder ceased in 1994.
Engine original : 1996cc (82x63cc) three-valve twin-turbo V6 with 180bhp @ 6,000rpm (some 185bhp or 210bhp or 220bhp)
: later quad-cam with four-valves and 245bhp @ 6,200rpm (306bhp @ 6,250rpm in Ghibli)
Various : 2491cc (91.6x63mm) three-valve twin-turbo V6 with 200bhp @ 5,500rpm (some 188bhp)
Various : 2790cc (94x67mm) three-valve twin-turbo V6 with 284bhp @ 6,000rpm (some 225bhp or 250bhp)
Shamal : 3217cc (80x80mm) V8 with 325bhp @ 6,000rpm
Quattroporte V8 : 3217cc (80x80mm) V8 with 335bhp @ 6,400rpm
Suspension front : McPherson strut with coil springs plus anti-roll bar
rear : Semi-trailing arms with coil springs
wheelbase : 2400mm (Spider and 2-door), 2514mm (2-door), 2600mm (2-door and 4-door)
Brakes discs all round, solid on early models, ventilated at the front later Transmission 5 speed manual ZF unit, automatic optional
6 speed manual Getrag unit in the Shamal & Quattroporte V8 (also optional 4 speed automatic in the latter)
Steering Rack and pinion, power assistance on later cars Kerb weight original 2-litre : 1,086kg
430 : 1,387kg
Quattroporte V8 : 1,647kg
Shamal : 1,417kg
Ghibli : 1,395kg
For a drawing showing the basic mechanical layout of the original 1982 Biturbo click here.
Some production figures are given below (this is not a complete list of all Biturbo production) :
original Biturbo 2.0 1981-87 9,206 Biturbo 2.5 1983-88 6,057 425 1983-89 2,052 425i 1987-89 320 Spyder 2.0 1984-86 276 Spyder 2.5 1984-88 1,049 420 1985-86 2,810 420S 1986-87 254 228 1986-92 469 Biturbo i 1986-88 683 Biturbo Si 992 430 1987-94 995 430 4v 1991-94 291 222 1988-90 1,156 222 SE 1990-93 777 422 1988-92 978 4.18v 1990-92 77 Karif 1988-92 221 2.24v 1989-93 1,147 plus 254 with cat 4.24v 1990-92 384 plus 490 with cat Spyder 2.0 1989-92 309 Spyder 2.8 1989-94 603 plus 220 with cat Shamal 1990-96 369 Racing 1991-92 230 Ghibli 2.0 1992-97 1,133
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