Search any day under "Maserati" and 18 - 20 pages of results appear. For some reason scalectrix models of maseratis are always popular, as are old advertising brochures, posters and the like. But try and sell a real car, a classic Maserati and what happens? Nada, nothing except thousands of hits on the counter, a whole load of questions from buffs (not about the car being sold necessarily but about the model and marque in general) and perhaps the odd silly bid...why should this be? This short, very personal guide asks the questions - why not a real super car, one that costs less than the price of a Lada, that appreciates rather than depreciates, looks and sounds a million dollars, costs about £200 to insure and drive and keeps on going when other classics become just for show.
Firstly, is the Maserati 222 a classic car? The 2-22 is what it just that - a 2 litre, twin-turbo, 4-seater sports car produced throughout the 80's and into the early 90's when Maserati lost their way a bit. This car is all about the engine - a fuel injected V6 produced, in this form, entirely for the Italian domestic market. Citroen acquired the brand and the flair for Italian looks and promptly began producing so many derivatives - all of which generically came under the title bi-turbo - that if one particular sort suffered, the whole lot became labelled. Such was the fate of the 222, unfairly in the view of the owners that now preserve the few examples that now remain. So there's the answer to this - just a few cars produced and fewer now left. This is a classic and not only by definition. Beauty might sometimes be only in the eyes of the beholder but in this case, the engine is pure Maserati and the body shape pure retro. Starsky and Hutch stuff.
What's it look like and how does it perform? Big bright, typically red and chrome (the engine and the body) and looks like nothing else now on the road. If you drive one of these, heads turn and cars slow to taker a closer look. Maserati should say and usually does say it all. Occasionally, a big BMW or Merc might seek to speed away. Your decision...the 222 will out-perform these cars even at close to 20-year old. The accelertion is simply awesome, particularly in the 70 - 120 range, with an immediate response to the slightest touch on the pedal. And the bemused expression on the faces of the flash mercs and B-mers that rashly seek to challenger the 222's superiority a joy to behold. An old car that out-performs a modern, tehnologically superior car has to be worth a second look..and that's what usually happens. The boy racers slow down and drop in behind.
Now if you're a responsible driver, you will of course avoid the tempatation to show off. Suffice for most of us to simply know what she's capable of doing, and not just as per the book. 0 - 60 mph in less than 6 seconds is a reality and not just rhetoric, 2nd gear get's you there. Into third and push on to 80ish without any labouring and you decide when to go to 4th. Performance in both gears is perfectly acceptable and the engine remains totally responsive well past the legal limits, at home or on the continent. The best on mine was a genuine top-speed of 154mph, effortlessly reached and sustained for 30 minutes in 5th gear.
None of this might seem that impressive necessarily....to a sports car driver. But the 222 is a 4-seater and driving in it is more than a quite decent half-way house between sports car and saloon. The 222 performs like a sports car but has all the comfort and quality of an expensive saloon. Lots of leather and suede, burr-wallnut and luxury fittings that by now have stood the test of time. Bucket seats in a saloon? They work just fine and even in the back, rear-seat passengers get the feel of just how fast this car goes.
What goes wrong? Remarkably little for a car this age. The engine is simply superbly reliable and as good as it looks. Electrics? Despite what has been sometimes said, even the worst examples are fine. The occasional spurious red warning light caused by a loose connection. Chassis strong, robust and equally reliable and shell minimal rust for a car this age. Lower door sills for example but nothing hard to fix.I'll add more to this "guide" later....but for those who, like me, are now trying to sell "bi-turbos" on e-bay and elsewhere, nil desperandum. Drive and savour these classics. Ridiculously under-priced at present, sometime soon someone will wake up to just how good these cars actually are. And when they do, those of us that own the cars can expect to see a more realistic value reflecting the general interest shown in the overall Maserati branding. For now, enjoy...