The Knowledge: The Maserati 3200 GT is cheap as chips –feeling brave?
Alex has been a road tester and motoring writer for more than 10 years, and has written on new, used and classic cars for What Car?, Autocar, The Daily Telegraph and PistonHeads, among many others.
Everyone knows that there are a few modern classics you really need to suck on a brave pill before even contemplating buying. This week, we bring you exactly one of those: the Maserati 3200 GT.
Yes, you could go out and buy any number of 1990s GT cars for the same price as this big lump of lovely, if deeply flawed, Maser. But few, if any, would offer the same charisma. Take those rear lights, for example. When the 3200 GT appeared on the scene in 1998, LED lights were the stuff of concept cars on motor show stands. Yet here was a car you could actually buy that had incredible, super-slim boomerang-style lights made possibly by LED technology.
Excuse us while we have a moment...
Inside, you’ll find a gorgeous cockpit swathed in top-quality Italian leather and replete with eyeball air vents and the classic Maserati clock. But the 3200 GT doesn’t just look good; under the bonnet sits a 3.2-litre – as the name suggests – V8, endowed with not one, but two turbos. And that’s enough to fire it to 60mph in just 5.1 seconds.
What’s it like to drive? Well, the less said about that the better. Suffice it to say that it’s no sports car – but treat the 3200 GT as a classy cruiser, and it’ll reward you with a comfortable ride, cosseting seats and that sensational pace.
Image: Alexandre Prevost. The 3200 GT is the consummate GT, which is shorthand for: it's not brilliant to drive
You can pick between a six-speed manual and a four-speed auto; oddly, in this instance, the auto is probably the one to have, as the manual’s razor-sharp clutch, woolly shift action and sluggish throttle response make it difficult to drive smoothly. And let’s face it: in a big GT like this, an auto just feels right, doesn’t it?
Why you should buy one now
Look. We’ll come clean. We’re only in it for the lights, OK? Mind you, there’s another good reason to buy a 3200 GT right now, which is that it’s cheaper than you might think.
Prices start at just £11,000, with tidy low-milers starting at £14,000 and the very best cars now fetching £20,000 or so. And when you think the 3200 GT is a surefire future classic that just happens to come with supercar pace, that’s really not much.
3200 GT ownership guarantees you a prime parking spot right in front of your posh hotel
A note of caution, though: the 3200 GT is not a cheap car to run, and when it goes wrong – which it probably will, quite frequently – it usually costs a lot to fix. That means plenty of owners, having bought their cars for a bargain price, might not be quite as fastidious as they should be when it comes to repairing and maintaining their cars. Buy the best you can, therefore, and make sure you look for lots of evidence of careful ownership and obsessive maintenance.
What to look out for
‘Check Engine’ lights are common and can point to any number of issues, some of which are sphincter-tighteningly expensive to solve – so check the light comes on and then goes out when you start the car.
Rust can take hold around the rear arches, those lovely rear lights, and on the lip at the leading edge of the bonnet.
Image: Hellix00000 (Wikimedia Commons). Boomerang rear lights set out the 3200 GT from the less appealing 4200 GT
Wishbones can crack – and are expensive to replace – so it’s worth getting the car up on a ramp if you can to look for signs of fracturing.
Knocking from the front suspension could point to a tired ball joint, and these are costly parts to replace as they can only be bought together with the wishbone.
There’s plenty more besides to look out for on one of these complex cars – so if you do decide you want one, it makes sense to get pally with a specialist or do plenty of reading online.
A Maserati 3200 GT won’t be for everyone – but what it does offer is a driving and ownership experience like no other, and for the time being at least, you won’t have to pay too much for the privilege.
Watch Wheeler Dealers fix up a 3200 GT
You know the drill, if you're about to take the plunge on a new (to you) car, your first port of call is an old episode of Wheeler Dealers that'll leave you in doubt what you're taking on. Thankfully, you can watch just such and episode for the 3200 GT on Amazon, now.