Would You Want the 'Wheeler Dealers' Electric Maserati?
We’re used to plenty of TV spoilers over the internet, but CraigsList is usually not the source. Right now you can buy a Maserati that will be featured in a future episode of Wheeler Dealers. Ok, it’s a dreaded Biturbo, but now that name is a bit misleading. It seems engineer extraordinaire Edd China has converted this into modern electric power.
According to the listing, and confirmed by the British show, the car is still in the process of being completed. But they have installed a Curtis Dual AC-34 Brushless 96V motor. This is rated at around 125 horsepower, and more importantly, a healthy 213 lb-ft of torque that’s instantly available. The ad for the coupe also claims that the lithium-ion battery pack gives a projected range of 120 miles. That’s particularly impressive considering it’s a dozen further than the Nissan Leaf. No word yet on re-charge time.
It seems like the Wheeler Dealer guys might have removed the Achilles heel from this project by replacing the notoriously unreliable twin-turbo V6. But the car still poses a real problem. The Biturbo gets a bad rap for its styling. Its sharp angles didn’t have the grace of the 3500 GT and lacked the finely creased appearance of the Bora. The federalized headlights and bumpers didn’t help much either, but overall, it had an understated elegance that was on par with the BMW 3-Series of the day (Full Disclosure: author’s taste is subjective; he’s had to be talked down from a deposit on a Renault Alliance GTA more than once).
Asking $35,000 for this Maserati is ambitious, but it’s likely a direct reflection of the sum of components. The motor alone costs about $9,000 right out of the box. Mike Brewer has defended his profit margins featured on the show because the idea is that much of the repairs and improvements done in the shop are the same ones a shadetree mechanic could do at home. Not many of us possess China’s engineering degree or creative genius it takes for a home project like this, and he likely had to pay for a little help on this one, too. The choice of the Biturbo actually shows some restraint on Brewer’s part. This coupe is part of their series from the California workshop. So if Brewer wanted to fly the flag of a European-American partnership, he could have chosen the even more infamous Chrysler TC by Maserati.
Right now it’s unclear if the Biturbo was intended to be an electric car from the start, or if it’s just a Plan B after the coupe had an inevitable meltdown. The British TV show is in the middle of its new season in the UK, and over there, Wheeler Dealers holds most details close until the episode premiere. Plus, we’ll have to wait a little longer until it Velocity starts airing it on our side of the Atlantic. Until then, it’s fun to think Brewer’s investment into this notorious Maserati was fueled by the same ambition as Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine. All he has to do is turn to China and say, “The way I see it, if you're gonna build an old car into an all-electric, why not do it with some style?” Words by Myles Kornblatt