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Posts filed under ‘Maserati’

Movie Stars: The Maserati Biturbo 425i

December 11, 2012 by Matt

Maserati Biturbo 4-door 425i Silver Blue

So I watched Licence to Kill over the weekend. The 1989 film is the second of the two James Bond productions featuring Timothy Dalton as the iconic British superspy, and although it has a reputation as one of the less worthwhile Bond films, I enjoyed it. The movie’s tone is considerably darker than the relatively lighthearted Roger Moore outings, and although the script and Dalton’s personality mean there isn’t much “Bond” in the film in the sense of memorable interactions or one-liners, it functions rather well as a lean-and-mean “generic” spy thriller. And some of the explosions are absolutely epic.

Maserati Biturbo 4-door 425i Silver Blue

Unfortunately, one of the definite downsides of Licence to Kill is that there isn’t really a Bond car as such. No Aston DB5, no Lotus Esprit, nothing—Bond’s conveyance during the main action setpiece is an 18-wheel tanker truck, of all things. Really the only car in the film that has any semblance of appeal for the enthusiast is the one driven by the antagonist’s henchmen, the 1987-1990 Maserati Biturbo 425i.

Maserati Biturbo 4-door 425i Engine Motor

As with its already-esblished 2-door stablemate, beneath its rakish Italian skin, the Maserati is powered by a 2.5l SOHC V6 with a pair of turbochargers hanging off the cylinder heads. And as you might expect, the Italians didn’t engineer the car to a level of quality commensurate with its potential on paper. Put another way, in spite of its looks, the Biturbo was a turd of a car, catastrophically unreliable and with a power output of only 188 hp, far below what you would anticipate from the displacement figure and presence of the turbos.

Maserati Biturbo Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

It is beautiful, though—in a wedge-y, boxy, ’80s sort of way, an aesthetic I’m particularly drawn to. The lines are strong and consistent inside and out, a 5-speed manual transmission option was offered and power was sent to the rear wheels. The raw elements were there, but Maserati’s quality at the time was appalling, rivaling British Leyland at its worst. The ingredients of greatness were present, and when everything worked perfectly… Jeremy Clarkson once said about Alfa Romeo, “They build a car to be as great as a car can be—briefly.” The same might be said of the unsung hero of Licence to Kill, the 4-door Biturbo.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing cars which featured prominently on film or television. Read the other installments here:

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Maserati Ghibli: Italian Perfection

January 20, 2012 by Matt

Maserati Ghibli 1 I Red Burgundy Maroon Auburn

On occasion, it behooves me, as a designer, to draw my readers’ attention to a classic but often forgotten automotive shape.

One of the most beautiful profiles ever to grace the automotive landscape, the legendary stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro got it exactly right with the ’67-’73 Maserati Ghibli—and I do mean exactly. Not a line, not an angle, not a proportion is out of place or poorly-shaped in the image above. The harmony of visual masses does all the talking; there’s absolutely no need for more adornment than the car is given. It’s just…perfect.

Maserati Ghibli 1 I Blue

Pitched as the consummate GT car, the Ghibli arrived on the scene just as the Miura sparked the mid-engined supercar revolution. It thus belongs, like its contemporaries the Iso Grifo and Ferrari Daytona, in the golden age of the front-engined Italian GT, the last hurrah before the powerplant of any respectable range-topping exotic was relocated behind the seats. Motivated by an incredibly thirsty 4.7-4.9l DOHC V8, the four downdraft Weber carbs poured enough fuel down the engine’s gullet for it to crank out 350 hp in the ultimate Ghibli SS iteration.

Maserati Ghibli 1 I Red

It’s an Italian thoroughbred, to be sure, with all the temperamental-ness and heartbreak that implies. That said, the car was certainly more comfortable to drive than many of its rivals, chalk that up to a reasonably spacious cabin and the fact that it was made by an automaker with more experience than anyone at that point with the big Italian GT; they’d been doing it since the 3500GT took the world by storm in ’57. Maserati knew what their customers wanted, and pulled out the stops with the Ghibli—but just the right ones. The combination of excess and restraint is key to the car’s mystique; it goes exactly as far as it needs to go both power- and styling-wise, without putting a toe over the line. The Ghibli was a car that hit the bullseye in so many ways, and it’s a shame its tenure was overshadowed by more flamboyant, more forward-looking yet more exasperating Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

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