Always dreamt of a youngtimer Ferrari but didn’t get to it before prices sky-rocketed? You’re not the only one, which is why this week I bring you an idea that gets you very close to the real thing without ruining you, even giving you the option of bringing your children along – provided they are small with very thin legs. I am, quite obviously, talking about the Maserati 3200/Coupé.
The Maserati 3200 GT was launched in 1998 and became famous for its ultra-cool, boomerang-shaped rear lights. It was produced until 2002 with an 8-cylinder, twin-turbo Maserati engine developing 370 hp. It was replaced in the same year by the Maserati Coupé, looking basically the same but for the rear lights – you see, the Coupé would mark Maserati’s return to the US market after an 11-year absence, and apparently, someone had come to the conclusion that the US didn’t like boomerang lights. Judge by yourself…
The biggest change between the 3200 and the Coupé was under the bonnet, where the previous engine was replaced by a naturally aspirated, 4.2 litre Ferrari unit, developing 390 hp and 450 nm of torque. You may ask how this happened, but Ferrari had taken over the helm at Maserati within the Fiat group already in the late 90’s, so it was therefore not a question if, but rather when Ferrari engines would move into Maseratis.
Next to the regular Coupé version there was a Spyder and a Gransport, a sportier version of the Coupé available both as a manual and with the semi-automatic Cambiocorsa gearbox. Whatever you do, do not buy a Cambiocorsa car. Ever. That box was bad even by the standards 20 years ago and it certainly isn’t any better today.
The 3200 and subsequently the Coupé were both well received by the market notably for their styling, handling and luxurious inerior, with the Coupé also being voted best GT in the US in 2002, the same year it was introduced. Handling-wise the car is more of a GT than a true sports car, although the Gransport muddles that line a bit. The naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 doesn’t muddle any lines at all though, it’s a brilliant engine with a brilliant sound, slightly muted with the standard exhaust but with plenty of sport exhausts and aftermarket options to choose from! It’s also generally considered more reliable then the previous Maserati unit from the 3200 GT.
A Maserati is not an Audi, but that’s precisely its charm. Buttons are not always where you expect to find them, every seam will not be perfect and seats may not have heating. Either you like it or you don’t, and if you don’t, then this is not for you anyway. But if you have some Italianità in you, how on earth could you resist an interior such as the one below?
Early 3200 GT’s with high mileage today start at around EUR 15.000 whilst a good Gransport can be had for around EUR 25.000. Don’t go for the cheapest, and do spend money on a good inspection before you buy – this will never be a cheap car to run, but there are degrees in hell… If you’re speculating on rising values, an early 3200 with the boomerang lights and low mileage is the one to get. If you’re in it for the drive, go for a good Coupé Gransport. You will then be driving a good-looking, Ferrari-powered and well-behaved Maserati for a quarter of what a not-so-nice-looking-or-handling Testarossa will cost you today! But whatever you do, don’t forget it’s a 6-gear manual you want!