Posts Tagged cars of the 1980s

Other People’s Cars: Maserati Biturbo

Maserati BiturboIt was two days before Thanksgiving (and one day before Hanukkah). You could smell the anxiety in the air. The streets were stuffed with cars stuffed with stuffing. And someone decided it was a good time to take this heap for a spin.

This car is just as insubstantial as it looks. It’s old, Italian, and thus, unreliable. It’s a Maserati Biturbo.

No, really. It’s a Maserati. Can’t you see the trident emblem on the side?

That disparity between expectation and reality is one of the reasons why Biturbo routinely ends up on “World’s Worst Car” lists. Don’t take it from me, though. Here’s what Top Gear host and man-with-access-to-car-crushing-objects Jeremy Clarkson had to say about it:

I think people are too hard on the poor Biturbo, though.

Sure it’s hideously unreliable, but so is every other Italian car. It’s not very pretty (this example’s fake hood scoops don’t help matters) but that straight-edged styling was in fashion when the Biturbo was new.

The Biturbo isn’t a sleek sports car, but Maserati has made practical sedans before. It still makes the four-door Quattroporte and Ghibli.

The Biturbos fatal flaws were its poor execution and the fact that it wore a Maserati badge. Without that badge, it would just be a small turbocharged performance car.

That’s something that people seem to enjoy with a Saab or BMW badge, but it’s not quite good enough for the hallowed trident.

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Other People’s Cars: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans AmHas a car ever winked at you?

Jake Kara sent me this photo of a 1980s Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that looks like it’s either trying to get the viewer’s attention, or is having a seizure.

This car has what collectors call “patina,” which makes it look incredibly out of place parked in the center of Monroe, Connecticut, a town with a lot of history and a lot of money.

The third-generation Firebird, produced from 1981 to 1990, is one of those cars that seemingly obligates its driver to grow a mullet. They always seem to look like this car, and always seem to be heading to the local 7-11.

That wedged shape also made third-gen Firebirds popular fodder for “Fauxrrari” body kits, which transformed them into Ferrari Testarossa knock-offs.

This Firebird did have some good qualities, though. It was the basis for KITT in Knight Rider, and it was one of the few true American muscle cars of the 1980s.

The Firebird, and its Chevrolet Camaro twin, were among the few 1960s performance nameplates to survive the purge that took place in the early ‘70s, at the hands of rising insurance costs, EPA regulations, and OPEC.

This car’s “High Tech” aluminum wheels identify it as a 1985 (or later) model, which means it has a 305 cubic inch fuel-injected V8 under the hood. When new, that engine was good for 210 horsepower. That doesn’t seem like much, but keep in mind that a base 1984 Corvette only had 205 hp.

So this car’s owner deserves a little credit for going for the Trans Am and not a regular Firebird, although how they ended up with this example is a question for the ages.

In fact, there’s plenty of mystery surrounding this seemingly unremarkable car. Did that ding in the front bumper come from a dramatic police chase? Why did the driver back into that space in such a photogenic way? Why is the car winking at us?

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