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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, new member here. I really want to buy a manual coupe for weekend fun -- everything I've read about the coupe is fantastic. But first, I'd like feedback from you experienced owners. I'd hate to buy a problem car, especially since the nearest dealer is an hour away and I haven't found a good independent local shop yet. I'll definitely get a PPI before buying, of course.
  • I live in a condo now, so doing my own wrenching isn't an option.
  • Any particularly expensive maintenance items or failures to beware?
  • Anything special to look for in past maintenance or during the PPI?
Here's a local example that caught my eye, 2004 41k miles, $15,000: ZAMBC38A740014073 | 2004 Maserati Coupe GT for sale in Fort Pierce, FL

Thanks for any tips!
 

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That car looks like a good deal at first... but if you look at the pictures, you'll see that it is not a 6mt car, its a Cambiocorsa. That has been a problem with dealers posting that it's a manual, when it's not.
When you find a real 6mt car, ask or check for the following problems;
Has the heater core been replaced?
When was the clutch last changed, by whom?
When were the brakes done?
Have the motor mounts been changed?
The engine and transaxle are pretty bullet proof in these, but many small things can go wrong, and when they do it can get expensive. Make sure the person doing the PPI is familiar with these, as they have fairly complex systems for their age. I think there are 3 or 4 posts right now with folks looking for 4200 3 pedal cars, so good luck.
You may wish to check out this R&T test of a Spyder GT Wind, Sun and Stars — 2003 Maserati Spyder GT
Edit: Welcome to the group btw,
and know that most Maserati dealers can't work on the Ferrari era cars, they don't have tools, training, or parts. Just a thought..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dang, you're right about Cambiocorsa! I should have spotted that myself. I suspect the dealer doesn't have the maintenance records, and the CarFax info is pretty sparse. And thanks for link to R&T -- used to be one of my favorite magazines.
 

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That specific car looks fiddled with, I don't think those side grills on the front quarters was an option.

Also, the CC cars are great and they're not the boogey-man, they're a very simple setup with most of the issues to do with neglect.

In general, look out for the following.

Exterior
  • The OEM paint was water based. A sign of a cheap or poor repair is crows feet in the paint. This is caused by painting epoxy over wb paint. The issue will be more pronounced on darker colour cars as the paint gets hotter.
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  • Paint crazing is another issue with the OEM paint. WB paints are still covered in epoxy clear, so this increases the chance of crazing in the clear. If the car has no crazing and it is a dark colour with higher mileage in a hot area, it would be prudent to check for any hidden accident damage.
  • The OEM front windscreen has a secondary antenna in the centrline of the screen, if it is missing it has been replaced with an aftermarket screen (later model cars only).
  • The rear bumper line is extremely difficult to adjust where it meets the trim under the headlight. If this is out of alignment, there is a good chance that it has had the rear bumper repaired or replaced.
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  • There are a number of cosmetic screws along the top of the front bumper, and the rear bumper. If these are different than the below pictures, the bumpers have been replaced.
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  • The headlights are made from a cheap plastic that sunburns severely. You will not be able to restore these with an off the shelf kit. You'll either need to DIY these or send them to someone who has the proper equipment and the time.
  • Look for sand in the fog lights. No idea how this happens, but 100% of the cars I've seen have sand in the fog lights.
  • Look for scratches around the headlights. This would indicate that the headlights have been removed from the car as most people tend to do it through the front of the vehicle and not through the wheel wells.
  • There are two protective under car panels, one on the front bumper and one on the rear (Gransport). If either of these are missing the car has likely been in an accident. The mounting points for the front one has a tendency to get damaged if the car bottoms out.
Interior
  • Look for full leather interior cars (relevant for the Gransport). The headlining tends to droop and cannot be repaired with the technical cloth. Also it ages awfully and can't be easily restored or detailed.
  • The cars use real leather, this has a tendency to shrink especially when not maintained. If the leather has shrunk from poor maintenance, you should also look out for poor quality repairs. On the roof, at the rear window, if you can see any of the fitment cuts in the leather that means the leather has shrunk. This often causes the roof lining to droop, and as such many people glue it back up without repairing the leather and so you can see the fitment cuts along the back edge. The other spot is around the seatbelt trays in the rear seats. If the leather shrinks you'll spot cracks at the corners of the trays. The dash as well, however this should be very obvious.
  • Check the windows are working correctly, a new arm isn't cheap!
  • Check for cheap repairs to the sticky plastics, the most egregious would be stickers over the buttons. The seat backs are the worst to repair in terms of elbow grease, but easy in terms of access.
  • Pull the carpet up in both foot wells and look for any signs of corrosion on the brackets. This is a good indication that the heater core is leaking.
  • Turn off the AC and leave the fan running with the engine on. Leave the car. If the window fogs up this is a good indication that the heater core is currently leaking. You may also be able to smell coolant in the cabin. Don't test this while in the car, your breath will fog up the glass. You want to know if it fogs up without you.
  • The speakers are extremely cheap and deteriorate in the heat. Assume they need to be replaced if OEM.
  • Listen for pops and ticks in cars with the Auditorium option, this is an indication the OEM amplifier is still fitted and failing.
  • Check the easy access option on the seats still works (tilting the seat forward makes the seat automatically move, tilting it back makes it move back). If it jams, this will cause battery issues as the seat control unit will continue to try and find the correct position indefinitely and needs to be repaired.
  • Check all the dash lights come on. Not uncommon for bulbs to get pulled to ignore issues.
  • The headlight switch is often cracked.
  • The boot lining is often torn or damaged by careless mechanics.
Service History
  • I say this about every car, don't worry about the books, worry about receipts. A stamp in a book tells you nothing, but a good history of receipts will tell you what specific things have been purchased, replaced, repaired or identified and will help with future issues.
  • Look for mileage history, in Australia at least it is very common for the cars to be wound back, have instrument clusters replaced or otherwise be fiddled with.
  • Look for replacement of the cabin heater core. If it hasn't been done, it will need to be eventually - could be months or years away.
  • Transmission oil changes are very often skipped. I've never seen a record of it being done on any car in Australia.
  • OEM rotors are $$$, look for a record of them being replaced.
  • Look for a record of ball joints being done (especially if the car is >30 000 miles). They will fail eventually and need to be done.
Mechanical
  • When turning on the car for the first time, does the valve train rattle? If so there is a pressure regulator for the VVT that will need to be replaced. It should hold pressure for weeks and not rattle at startup.
  • When the car is idling hot, is there a low oil pressure warning? If so, the oil may be near EOL. As oils wear they thin out and that shows up as low pressure in the system. There are other causes of this such as just being a really hot day, but it is worth observing.
  • When the car is idling, are there two distinct radiator fan speeds? If there is only one loud speed then a resistor will need to be replaced.
  • Run your fingers along the lower edge of the valve covers - if they're seeping you can use that as a price point argument as they should be replaced.
  • Look for broken or missing engine bay trim and screws for the plastic covers.
  • Look for seeping or leaking on the radiator (best done with a pressure test) as they commonly fail.
  • OEM brake rotors are susceptible to corrosion and cracking of the cross-drilled holes.
  • Check what suspension the car has - if it has skyhook (these will be black shocks, if they're any other colour then they're not skyhook) check that the plugs are connected. If they're causing issues some people will plug in a resistor to defeat the ECU error codes.
  • Check for rattles in the cats.
  • Check the inside edge of the tyres on a hoist. They will wear and crack there first.
Cambiocorsa
Have a shop with the correct tools read:
  • Clutch wear and New Clutch Value. Unscrupulous people will edit this value to make the clutch wear appear low. If the NCV is ~22mm then everything is okay.
  • SV leakage rates
  • System Pressure Cycle Time (engine on and off). If this is <60s you have issues.
  • PIS. Unusual values can indicate clutch wear isn't as it appears, or that the magnet on the F1 sensor is bent.
  • The min/max engagement values for each gear, run a self-learn and then record them again. If these values move it indicates wear on the actuator.
  • When driving the car normally, the engine will flare the RPM up during up-shift gear changes. This is counter-intuitive but normal.
  • If you need to lift off the throttle during gear changes for smooth engagement, then the car likely needs a new throw-out bearing as they have a tendency to stick an 'drop' the clutch. It could also be iff the PIS was set poorly or the clutch bedded poorly, you may need to resurface the flywheel or replace the clutch (if the material is cooked). This could also indicate an aftermarket or resurfaced clutch was used, so refer to the service history.
  • Older cars had an underrated relay - check that it has been replaced in the service history.
Test Drive
  • When turning, does the car get a sudden twitch? Probably new ball joints needed.
  • Do the brakes feel like they're sticking when you try to take off? That is normal and is the hill hold feature. To test if it is actually sticky brakes, just let off the brakes and you'll feel them release about 1s later. If they don't then the calipers need a rebuild.
  • Shuddering on take off indicates the flywheel is cooked and needs to be resurfaced, more likely on the CC transmission.
  • You will feel the second cam come on when you give it the full beans. If you can't feel it, there is an issue.
  • Mixed usage is 27L/100km from the manual. This is realistic. Be prepared.
  • If there are any piggy back ECUs from FD, complete the test drive with them off first.
  • Hammer it in first gear at least once to check the TCS works.
  • Go all out on the brakes at least once to check the ABS works.
  • If the car has Cruise Control, test it. It can trigger faults in the ABS that may not have been obvious otherwise.
Desirable Options
  • Decent mufflers or exhaust system. The cars from factory are very quiet. If you care about it, then you're best off looking for one with what you want already. Cars with the Euro 3 headers will sound more aggressive than the Euro 4 (cats in headers). Larini headers are expensive AF so if you can find a car with them already, or a car with the Euro 3 headers then that is $$$$ you don't need to spend. Also, Larini mufflers can drone depending on the overall setup.
  • The FD DBW is very popular. No comment personally yet as I haven't tried it.
  • The FD piggy back ECU is popular. I'm intrinsically opposed to piggy back ECUs as they just lie about AFRs, but its not my car so you do you.
  • Not many cars came with Cruise Control.
  • Most Gransports did not come with a full leather interior, its worth looking for.
  • Xenon Headlights are worth looking for. You can tell if a car has it if it is missing the headlight adjustment switch under the headlight switch. Headlight washers were standard on Xenon systems.
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirrors were an option.
  • Space saver spare was an option.
  • Red and Yellow Calipers were an option.
  • Carbon pack interior was an option on Gransports, AFIK if it is in a 4200 it would've been picked off of a wreck (nothing wrong with that). The OEM carbon pack is a veneer and not real CF.
  • It is worth looking for an interior colour combination that you like as there are quite a few variations out there.
  • There is a little metal passenger footrest and an OEM fire extinguisher bracket. Those are hens teeth.
  • Design revisions and facelifts on the 2004-2007 made mechanical improvements mostly around the clutch engagement.
Myths and Legends
  • The cars will not make 350 wheel horsepower with an exhaust and a chip. No. Bad dyno.
  • The exhausts were specific to the EU and NA markets. No. They're Euro 3 or Euro 4 compliant. They were shipped to each market at different points, and cross pipes are standard on some cars an not others. The older the car the more likely it is Euro 3.
  • The Gransport engine is more powerful and has taller gearing. True, but I doubt you could measure the power difference on a road dyno but the taller 6th gear is noticeable.
Take Away
These are a fun, and relatively cheap car and very accessible for DIY as they're technically simple, and many parts are cost effective compared to normal cars if you shop around for parts. Some parts however are insane for no reason, like the brake rotors. Some things are easy to access, but others are insane like the rear window trim. Be prepared that even though they don't cost much outright that if you're not paying attention costs will balloon quickly, especially if you're not DIY on at least diagnosing issues.

Buying an expensive low mileage car tells you nothing. These cars are the definition of 'maintenance over mileage' as I've seen some cars with 30 000km with clutch, brakes and control arms all due, with a drooping roof and sticky interior. The best car I've driven was a 120 000km car where nothing had been skipped and it had spent its entire life at the same mechanic.

Cars with all the options feel so much nicer than a basic trim car. The cloth interiors age awfully, and the car is far below its contemporaries in available options, so getting a nice trim level will greatly improve the experience.

If you want to DIY it, then yeah easy, just get yourself a Launch X431 and go nuts. If you just want a nice car to drive, then be pedantic about the PPI and ignore the mileage.

I'll eventually be doing a detailed series on PPIs for these cars on youtube ShiftMotoring For the moment though, that is everything I can think of off hand. I've only played with one manual coupe, everything else I said is based off of Gransports.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow, your notes are like an entire buyer’s guide for this car. Thanks very much!
 

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Hi Sandy, if you like the car take it for a PPI and proceed from there. There is a long time member in FL, Lorenz, he had a Maserati, now has a Ferrari, if he still watches this forum he may be able to recommend someone who knows these cars. This is very important, they are rare and techs are not really familiar with them. It is a great car but it is car that is getting old and everything is bloody expensive, you would say it's made of gold (Ferrari or Porsche prices). This forum and the UK forum are invaluable in keeping these cars on the road (and our budgets more or less in check). Cambiocorsa sounds exotic and great but can cause you a lot of headaches (and $$$$). Speaking from what I have read so far, I have a manual 6 speeds and so far so good. For the money you won't get anything even close to a Maserati 4200, anywhere, but you need to understand this is an expensive car to maintain. You said this would be your Sunday drive so if the PPI is good then go for it. Make sure the cambiocorsa system and the clutch are OK. You live in FL, you don't need heat inside plus the heater core can be easily by-passed (replacing the heater is madness). I live in Canada and have bypassed it instead of spending several thousand dollars to replace it.
 

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Great pointers there.

If the car comes from anywhere near the rust belt check everywhere underneath.

Im in the Uk and have practically had to rebuild my Gransport, new front subframe, re-powder coated rear subframe, new brake pipes, etc etc etc.

In my opinion you need to be very hands on to make these cars viable.

Let us know how you go.
 

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Just a few things to build off what others have said before me, based off things I've heard or experienced:

  • The door locks have a tendency to fail, part is not expensive and can be easily found. Easy to identify as the failed lock will not work with the remote unlock.
  • In a CC car, the car should make a buzzing noise for 3-5 seconds, this is the F1 pump priming. If it does not, then it is likely failing, if it does for too long it could be a stuck relay.
  • Rust bubbling under the tail lights is not unusual, it is a design flaw where water tends to collect in that area. Look carefully and feel around in that area. It even happens to good examples and is not necessarily an indicator of an accident.
    rust.jpg
The biggest problem these cars face are neglect from previous owners, while this is a common issue on any car in general. Maseratis are more susceptible to this as they depreciate and fall into the hands of negligent people. The main issues are the ball joints and heater core as they’re very expensive while everything else can be sorted out reasonably.

Cruise control was standard on American cars and can be easily retrofitted on other cars. Heated and memory seats are also options I’ve seen.
 

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To add a few more points:
  • Rear ball joint covers: Check both lower and upper covers on both sides. If cracked/split, they covers will need to be replaced immediately. If they've been cracked for a while, the ball joints, or more likely the entire arms, will need to be replaced.
  • Fuel smell in trunk or cabin: Probably cracked fuel pumps. I'm replacing BOTH pumps on a friend's GranSport right now because of this.
  • Door locks: As mentioned above, lock the car using the key fob. If a door unlocks automatically, it's probably a failed lock/latch mechanism. Inexpensive and a minor job to fix. I've done these on several cars already this year!
  • F1 Pump Timing: With the ignition on but engine not running, there should be at least 2 minutes between pump primes. With the engine running, there should be at least 30 seconds between pump primes. Any quicker, and you'll need to investigate further(probably a bad clutch solenoid) using tools capable of connecting to the transmission computer. An OBD reader will not communicate with the transmission computer.
 

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To add a few more points:
  • Rear ball joint covers: Check both lower and upper covers on both sides. If cracked/split, they covers will need to be replaced immediately. If they've been cracked for a while, the ball joints, or more likely the entire arms, will need to be replaced.
  • F1 Pump Timing: With the ignition on but engine not running, there should be at least 2 minutes between pump primes. With the engine running, there should be at least 30 seconds between pump primes. Any quicker, and you'll need to investigate further(probably a bad clutch solenoid) using tools capable of connecting to the transmission computer. An OBD reader will not communicate with the transmission computer.
The ball joints will fail regardless of the condition of the rubbers, but yes if they're cracked then their life expectancy is much lower.

As for checking the pump cycles, this is straight from the Maserati service training.

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Good post, looks like I need a new clutch solenoid as down to 30 secs with engine running, where’s best / cheapest place to get one and can I bleed it DIY? (without proper diagnostics)
 

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Strange, I have it on mine but just assumed it was a Ferrari/Maserati thing as I’ve seen similar setups on the 360 and F430.

Also another thing to note is that I think the 4200/GS in general only have genuine leather on the seat faces and steering wheel while everything else is vinyl. I can’t confirm but you hear many 3200GT owners claim that their cars had leather everywhere but the refresh cheapened the interior somewhat.

Finally the regular 4200s all came with some CD/Nav infotainment system thats a bit awkward to replace. The GranSport just has a single din which makes things a lot easier. :)
 

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The door inserts are leather, but I think you are correct on the rest. Not sure about the rear seats even though I had mine out to do a color change. I just didn't care as the interior looks very nice. Are Ferraris all leather?
 

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I am repairing the roof on mine at the moment, and that is definitely genuine leather. The rear seats are also leather, as is the dash. I will pay a bit more attention as I assemble it and I'll check off what parts exactly are leather and what aren't. My car is a Gransport though.
 
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