In my quest for a practical daily driver/winter beater to eventually replace my rusty but trusty Mercedes-Benz E320, I tend to stay away from logical choices like a Camry or Accord or something else inappropriate to my standing as a masochistic old car aficionado. New cars mostly leave me cold. Any douchenozzle with a credit card can lease a new BMW 328i.
My commute is a mixed blessing. It’s short and can be exclusively on surface streets if I choose, with little traffic to battle. The downside is we have winter here in a big, ugly, and sometimes very long way. I generally eschew things like all-wheel-drive, but I do like antilock brakes and effective heaters. Bun warmers are double-plus good. Summer, though usually short, makes me want air conditioning.
So of course I find myself looking at something like this, a 1984 Maserati Quattroporte. While ticking only a few of my requirement boxes, it floods the page with things like a 4-cam V8, a herd’s worth of dead cows slathering the interior, and a style slabby and imposing enough to play a real-life game of Mafia Wars.
This example could go either way, straddling the fine line between good idea and suicidal tendencies. It certainly looks the part, but the rust bubbles on the hood are worrisome. There also appears to be a piece missing between the rear bumper and the bodywork. The rest of it looks good, with straight lines and no corrosion on the wheels. Even the badges appear to be in the correct places.
The engine compartment looks clean and tidy (enough), without the usual rat’s nest of wires and plumbing you usually see. Indeed, the nightmare under the hood looks factory. The seller says it needs the equivalent of a tune-up since it runs a little rough. This advice was given to him by a local Maserati mechanic. Who knew there were such creatures in Delaware, OH?
Inside, the aforementioned cows are just lovely, accented with just the right amount of wood trim. Apparently, everything mechanical and electrical works, except the air conditioning. That can’t be too difficult to repair. The stock steering wheel looks worn, adding to its basic unattractiveness, but I absolutely love the blue gauge faces.
I like this car a lot, probably more than I should. But I don’t quite love it. I think it’s the styling, which really looks better in black but is still not something you’d call beautiful. It’s also transmission-challenged.
The holy grail is, of course, a Quattroporte equipped with a manual transmission. Think about it for a moment. A 240 horsepower Italian V8 with a quartet of Weber carburetors singing through 5 gears chosen by you.
Mobile.de, based in Germany, shows 13 examples currently for sale throughout the Continent. The European market cars don’t look that much different – the lights and bumpers are mostly the same size and shape – so really the only compelling reason to import one is the more desirable transmission. And what appears to be a climate control system not sourced from a 1977 Dodge Monaco.
Of course, there’s always the do-it-yourself transmission conversion option. I’m sure on a hand-built, 30-year-old Italian car it’s pretty much a bolt-in affair.
I will admit to knowing almost nothing about these cars. Which, on some level, makes them a good idea. It would almost be a shame to drive it in the winter, but I could guarantee you’d be the only one.