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Maserati 3200GT

Maserati 3200GT Published: 28th Apr 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Maserati 3200GT
Maserati 3200GT
Maserati 3200GT
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Without question, this Maserati is the greatest bargain supercar on the block

Aston’s DB7 is now too dear for me, any alternatives?

Sure, take a look at this mysteriously overlooked rival, from Maserati. This Italian has all the looks and allure of the Aston together with an even more illustrious name and pedigree, yet you can buy one cheaper than a top notch MGB.

How come?

Beats us! Admittedly, Maserati’s previous attempts to break into the ‘affordable’ supercar market, with its half-baked BMW E30 3 Series looking Bi Turbo, was indifferent to say the least. But the 3200 GT Coupé was completely different. Those in the know regard it as a great car in its own right as well as being a cut price Ferrari – thanks to Ferrari!

Pardon?

You heard it right. The 3200 GT coupé was introduced a year after Ferrari bought into the brand 20 years ago to save this ailing specialist (and one-time Grand Prix great) and fund (to the tune of £35M) the 3200 GT project as Ferrari saw the famous Trident badge as a lower rung Prancing Horse and a better rival to Aston and Porsche. Such was the success of the 3200 GT that by 1999, a thousand had been produced and Maserati was becoming a reborn marque. The 3200 GT ran until 2002 before being replaced by the even better 4200 GT which was produced up to 2009.

Yeah, but is it as good though?

Than a fully fledged Ferrari? That’s for you to decide after driving one against a Modena 360 – as Classic Motoring did over a decade ago. Lucky us… and we can tell you that while the Ferrari is the better all rounder the miserly ‘Maser’ is no booby prize and is at least as good as the six-cylinder DB7 and certainly the roomier as well as faster pick, care of its 370bhp V8 twin turbo taken from the wonderful Quattroporte saloon (another unbelievable bargain). A Coupé hits 60 in well under six seconds towards a top speed of 170+ .

The 3200 GT’s handling is as good and grippy as any rival – if you like predominantly oversteer, that is. If the car has a main fault it is with its temperamental hair-trigger ‘drive-bywire’ electronic throttle that makes handling even more ‘interesting’!

As Aston upped its ante with the V12 DB7, then so did Maserati, by slotting in a 390bhp 4.2-litre V8 unit to create the 4200 GT. If you like a manual gearbox (a well chosen six-speeds, too) then it has to be the original 3200 GT, however, because the 4.2-litre V8 – a fully fledged 390bhp Ferrari engine no less – came only as a semi-auto, albeit with F1-style paddle-shift manual facility. Maserati believes that some two-thirds of all buyers opted for the ‘Cambiocorsa’ auto (as it was called) for an easier time and it’s a very pleasing and responsive transmission, winning over even the most ardent ‘man tran’ fan.

Just a different engine then?

No. While looking very similar, the 4200 GT lost those novel LED boomerang style rear lights only to be replaced by something more boring although a power bulge to accommodate that Ferrari lump makes up for it – it’s virtually a new car underneath with a fully modified chassis sporting bigger anti-roll bars, the Maserati Stability Programme (MSP) with Skyhook suspension – yes, really – plus a relocated transmission to the rear of the car, all for better distribution.

Best models?

Despite being an auto only choice, the 4200 (simply known as Coupé) is the wisest buy as a lot of the earlier 3200 GT’s glitches (and there were several) were fixed by Ferrari while the transmission became rear-mounted at the same time to aid handling. A soft top Spyder version, shorter by 22cm, was introduced in 2001 with a hard core 180mph GranSport following in 2004.

One to look out for is the track day designed Assetto Corsa (just 75 made for the UK) which even had its special Pirelli tyre compound to complement its specifically tuned chassis, although they are now obsolete.

What do you regard as cheap?

If you fancy this Maserati then buy now as prices have stopped falling and are starting to rise but even the very best only cost a princely £20,000+ and good service historied ones for around £15-£17,000.

You can still regularly see them for under ten grand but watch what you’re getting yourself into as some repairs will wipe out any up front savings – and then some!

The later 4200 GT can fetch over £40,000 but, again, you occasionally see them advertised on specialist websites for less than half this and on price parity with the 3200 GT! As you can see, you need to study the market and consult an expert, such as Maserati guru Andy Heywood at McGrath Maserati.

What about costs of running one?

A different kettle of fish to purchasing one although to be fair, running costs are no worse than any other modern supercar. Have a healthy credit card to hand though as those lovely ‘boomerang’ rear lights cost over £1200 each, and a front bumper the same amount.

But it’s the mechanicals that you need to watch more with suspension wishbones at £1260 each, front dampers £588 per side (rears are currently unobtainable) and front discs at almost £550 – that’s a fifth of what a new ABS pump retails for! So you see why it’s vital that you buy a good ’un rather than a cheap one because pennyto- a-pound these ‘bargains’ will have an armful of faults; when checking the V5C note how many owners the car’s had – and more to the point for how long they owned it…

Unreliable then?

Yes and no. The fundamentals are pretty durable, particularly the engines, and despite being Italian the biggest worry isn’t rust, failing trim nor even dodgy electrics (although those LED lamps can play up as can seat motors). But if that 3.2 V8 has one major flaw it’s crankshaft thrust washer wear – just like Triumph TRs – which can cost a thick end of £6000 to fix! It’s another reason to opt for an auto because of the easier time the transmission gives the engine. Other main worries include seizing brakes (mainly due to lack of use though) and suspension joint deterioration, which includes cracking wishbones where only dismantling them reveals the trouble. Oh and watch for rapid clutch wear – another reason to go auto – especially if the car has been a townie at heart.

That schizophrenic throttle action may need new throttle modules; £2100 new or £720 recon and bear in mind that the later 4200 GT is far more complex. Happily, independent specialists, such as Andy Heywood, can contain costs to affordable levels with an annual service at not much more than £600 plus there’s a handful of forums and owners’ clubs offering help and moral support.

Is it still a maser for misers like me?

Yes – but only if you buy wisely and preferably from a dealer or specialist providing a worthwhile warranty and budget properly for preventative maintenance; just as you should with any classic supercar. The 3200 GT saved Maserati and so is a modern classic to enjoy as well as see a return in your investment over the years. As Autocar remarked, this Italian is not as accomplished as a Porsche 911 but it’s a hell of a lot more exclusive. And that’s the crux of owning this Maserati above all else.



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