CLASSIC CAR REVIEWS - MASERATI 3200-GT

The 3200 GT was a return to form for Maserati in 1998, but has the beautiful Italian aged well? 


VITAL STATISTICS

MASERATI 3200 GT

ENGINE 3217/V8/DOHC

POWER 370bhp@6250rpm

TORQUE 362lb ft@4500rpm

TOP SPEED 174mph

0-60MPH 5.12sec

ECONOMY 16mpg

 

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

HEIGHT 130.6cm (51.4in)

WIDTH 182.1cm (71.7in)

LENGTH 451.1cm (177.6in)

WHEELBASE 265.9cm (105.7in)

KERB WEIGHT 1587kg (3499lb)


AT THE WHEEL

It would perhaps be a slight understatement to say - especially in the earliest manual models - the GT suffers with slight sensitivity issues. Anyone somewhat heavy footed on the accelerator is going to find themselves pinned back in their seats (after the turbo delay) as the Maserati unleashes its 370bhp, smashing past 60mph in just over 5 seconds. To get a smooth drive requires a delicate touch. Not only do you need to be gentle with your feet, you need quick hands on the wheel, as the Maserati ensure its traction control works overtime, keeping very much in touch with its sporty nature – especially in the wet. It takes some skill to get a leash on the GT, and even more to be able to let it loose. If you can handle it, the GT rewards with rollercoaster like thrills alongside a raw, sporty, adrenaline filled driving experience.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR

1 The exhaust back boxes on the 3200 GT have been known to rot, so make sure you check their condition and if they have ever been changed. Directly from Maserati a replacement can set you back over £1000, but independent businesses can provide and fit for about £800.

2 There is one particularly regular fault concerning the Maserati 3200 GT, the throttle body. Considering the sensitivity of the throttle inthe first place this issue can leave the vehicle almost impossible to drive safely. Due to poor design the throttle body narrows the margin between idle and full throttle with use, this is in fact an issue with the majority of Maserati 3200 GT’s out there. This can be solved by an engine reset, or in the worst case scenario a replacement throttle body which could cost you up to about £380.

3 Maserati V8 starter motors suffer from some problems, mainly due to their position within the V8 and the fact it isn’t best suited for use in a V8 vehicle. Water from minor leaks from the coolant distribution pipes underneath the inlet manifold can often cause the motor to fill with water, so make sure you take a good look in there. A new starter motor will put you back £149.

4 The 3200 GT is oil thirsty, so ensure that the previous owner has been regularly changing the oil, perhaps even more so than is recommended by the manufacturer. It is also important that they have been using synthetic oil, preferably Selenia Racing oil – which is perfect for turbo V8 Maserati’s.

5 Another regular part of maintenance on the 3200 GT is the cam belt, which should be changed somewhere around every 18,000 miles. Check to see when the belt was last replaced. Another problem can occur due to the necessity for the regular changing of the cam belt regarding the radiator. The Maserati radiator is actually quite robust, but the changing of the cam belt can aggravate the joint between the lower water pipe and the side tank, sometimes causing it to crack.

6 On the inside things should be looking pretty good as the interior is pretty hardy, although the lighter leather may be looking a little grubby. If things are looking shabby, then there is a good chance the vehicle hasn’t been looked after properly and the checks you make need to be even more extensive.

7 The tires and bodywork should be in good shape, but then considering the performance capabilities of the 3200 GT it can be predicted that even the hardiest of tires may have had a rough ride and the body may have had a few bumps and bruises, so keep an eye out. Pay particular attention to the rear tyres which are the most likely to be looking worn.

8 Probably the most important factor when checking out a 3200 GT is what the service history is like, you should be looking at a fairly extensive list, if not you have to question the honesty of the seller and the quality of the vehicle. Depending on the mileage you should probably be seeing new brake discs and pads, cam belt changes and multiple oil changes.


OUR VERDICT

It takes a lot to be an owner of a Maserati 3200 GT. You need money, you need patience and you need a pretty high standard of driving ability to get the best out of the Italian speedster. If you have these things then yes, the 3200 GT is a great investment which will almost definitely fulfil your driving needs, providing fun, adrenaline and speed for fairly expensive running costs. What if you don’t really have those things? Then maybe it’s best to look for a slightly less expensive, less troublesome, less difficult, nippy little speed machine.

WHY SHOULD I BUY ONE? The first Maserati made under the then new owners Ferrari in 1998, the Maserati 3200 GT was designed to score high in the looks department in homage to the 1957 3500 GT, and score high it did. The boomerang styled rear lights and departure from the previous square like styling of preceding Maserati’s ensured that, as far as aesthetics went, the 3200 GT was more than pleasing.  There is no denying that the manual gearbox of the earlier models was unrewarding, and the throttle rather sensitive, but with the right level of driving ability the GT can be tamed into becoming one of the most exciting driving experiences around.

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