Maserati 3200 GT Buying Guide

Impressively quick and seductively packaged, AutoClassics couldn’t help but notice the Maserati 3200 GT remains a reasonably priced classic that carries generous input from Ferrari. Tempted?

How much to pay

• Project: $9750 - $10,950 • Good: $11,000 - $14,950 • Concours: $15,000+

Overview

Practicality ★★
Running costs ★★
Spares ★★
DIY Friendly ★
Investment ★★★
Desirability ★★★

The Maserati 3200 GT is a luxurious Grand Tourer, manufactured just after Ferrari’s takeover of the marque in the late 1990s. Boasting a powerful 370bhp V8 and a return to softer, more curvaceous lines reminiscent of pre-1970s Maserati design, the 3200 GT proved successful in all departments.

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However, don’t let this model’s ‘almost within reach’ prices on the classic market fool you into thinking the Maserati 3200 GT is an easy beast to live with. Granted, it has a seductively inviting interior to lure you in, but driving a 3200 GT isn’t for the faint-hearted. You can thank the stimulating drive-by-wire throttle set-up and a blistering top speed of 174mph (if you’ve opted for manual) for that! Nor is it for someone who stubbornly withholds every penny unless absolutely necessary for the 3200 GT requires an owner who is willing to exchange some of their discretionary income on the sporting Italian pedigree growling within its many cylinders. The key to an enjoyable partnership with a Maserati 3200 GT is to buy well and invest your money in an example that has been previously cherished. Here’s our guide on what to look out for.

Your AutoClassics Maserati 3200GT inspection checklist

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Engine

Maserati equipped the 3200 GT with a rousing twin-turbo 3.2-litre V8 capable of delivering an impressive 174mph flat out and a spirited 0-60 in 4.9 sec in the manual and 5.5 sec in automatic specification. Rather typical of an Italian-crafted engine, owners of this model have reported that the 3200 GT appears to have a somewhat monstrous appetite for oil so be prepared to stock up. However, you may be willing to do so upon hearing that unlike most power plants of Italian origin, the engine of the 3200 GT is surprisingly resilient and dependable.

When starting a 3200 GT, check the ignition light goes out immediately after the engine fires into life. If not, the Lambda sensors may be suffering from a build up of general dirt and grime but this is relatively simple to address. Next listen out for any erratic idling, which could indicate a failing throttle body. Source a replacement from Maserati direct and the fix could cost £1800. Alternatively, you can instead obtain a modified and more durable throttle body from specialist Bill McGrath at the reasonable price of £550. Meanwhile, if there have been issues just getting to ignition, a worn starter motor may be at fault but this is fairly inexpensive to replace.

Ensure to check the condition of the cambelt, particularly if your chosen 3200 GT is sitting at 65,000–70,000 miles on the odometer. A cambelt on the edge will more than likely be noticeable for it will usually drown out the engine! Cambelt replacement can cost upwards of £1000 so factor this in if the mileage is in the relevant bracket and then every subsequent 30,000 miles afterwards if you’re a particularly fastidious owner.

Look out for loose or cracked radiator hoses and check the level and condition of the coolant for a general idea of the level of care that has been invested by the previous owner.

Check the exhaust back boxes underneath are in order as they have a liking for rust. Stainless steel is the way to go when a replacement system is due. We recommend sourcing from Bill McGrath, Larini or Tubi for reputable supplies.

Gearbox

When first introduced, the 3200 GT came only in manual specification, albeit with a satisfying six-speed transmission. It is a surprisingly robust gearbox that carries a reputation for both responsiveness as well as longevity.

The option of automatic transmission arrived in 1999 and models were either known as the 3200 GT Automatica or the 3200 GTA. The engine of a 3200 GT, with 4-speed automatic, possesses a very similar output to the manual – only carrying a 6mph deficit in overall top speed and delivering 2 mpg less – and is therefore the preferable option if you intend to drive the majority of your mileage on motorways.

One of the first things to check on all 3200 GT models, particularly if you frequently travel long-distance, is whether you can live with the resting foot plate being positioned higher than the clutch pedal, resulting in an inability to outstretch your ‘clutch leg’ while cruising. It may not seem like much of a niggle upon testing, but consider how you might feel about it over a hundred miles.

If testing a manual, especially if it has been primarily driven within urban areas, check for symptoms of clutch wear, including difficulty changing gear, poor acceleration and a spongy feel when the clutch pedal is pressed. Meanwhile, a hot smell and momentary losses in acceleration suggest a slipping clutch. If you experience the above, the clutch will need replaced so factor in costs of £550 plus labour to cure. You may find that the short clutch life span in the manual 3200 GT may push you towards an automatic instead!

Equally, the potential for expensive crankshaft thrust washer wear, costing in the region of £6000 to remedy, may also encourage you to go auto. However, if only manual will set your heart alight, a thorough test of the gearbox itself combined with a detailed inspection of the paperwork can prevent future misery. Ideally you want to see signs of thrust washer replacement or a bottom end re-build having taken place. If not, but you’re smitten with a particular 3200 GT, having the end float measured with a specialist could dispel any remaining concerns.

Automatic boxes on the 3200 GT are also known for their durability, although not impervious to the same issues albeit at a much slower pace. Watch out for leaking gearboxes on automatics, most likely resulting from a nut loosened on the tail shaft. Although a simple fix, chances are the exhaust will need to be dropped for access, resulting in higher labour costs than you would otherwise expect.

Suspension & Brakes

Prior to physically viewing a 3200 GT, be wary of any mention of ‘Skyhook’ suspension. This was a feature on the later 4200 GT but some sellers mistake the Sport button for Skyhook.

Upon assessing the suspension, your main focus ought to be establishing the condition of the wishbones and ball joints. Several 3200 GT owners have reported problems with cracking wishbones, particularly on the lower front. A thorough check of the underside is a sound investment given a replacement arm costs roughly £800 and there are a total of eight on the car.

Establish when the lower front ball joints were last replaced and tally up with the mileage incurred since – under normal conditions these should last around 20,000 miles. Check that the adjustable tie-rod has been changed in tandem with the lower front ball joints as these have a similar shelf life.

In all models of the 3200 GT, the overall braking set-up is remarkably durable given that sufficient care is given in return. Braking problems are only generally experienced in the 3200 GT where the car has been unused or a previous owner has been too tight with the purse strings.

If the car pulls to the side upon braking rather than staying straight, a seized brake may be at fault. Meanwhile, if you hear grinding sounds upon application of the brakes or sense vibration coming through the brake pedal, it’s likely the brake pads will need replaced. If this has gone on for long enough, the brake discs may also be scored.

The main difference to note between addressing this on a 3200 GT and most other cars is simply cost. Original replacements supplied direct from Maserati cost in the region of £1000 per axle for discs and pads. Venture into purchasing quality aftermarket discs and pads and you could potentially curtail these costs by almost half, as long as you’re willing to spend time seeking out alternatives.

Bodywork

If rust wants to muscle in on a 3200 GT, it’s going to have a hard time getting started for the body is a galvanised steel monocoque. However, some areas are slightly weaker and therefore worth a quick check. These include the underside of the bonnet, around the rear wheel arches, underneath where the boomerang rear lights meet the boot and where the rear bumper joins the body. Look for signs of rust bubbling the paint rather than obvious oxide patches. Check for subtle signs of accident damage – one of the most common being the presence of shims around the front bumper.

Ensure to open up the boot, checking beneath the spare wheel for signs of corrosion. Inspect the condition of the boot seals as these are key to keeping the boot watertight.

Scrutinize those definitive LED boomerang lights with care, looking out for any non-lit sections as a bulb may have been removed to hide an issue. LED bulbs for the 3200 GT are already getting hard to procure and tend not to be cheap - a replacement unit currently costing around £1000.

Finally, check the condition of the wheels and tyres. If examining an Assetto Corsa, you should have the BBS 15-spoke dark grey alloy wheels and the broader Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres, unique to this edition.

Finally, check for uneven tyre wear as this may indicate issues in the alignment and will require the attention of a specialist with a Hunter machine.

Interior

Unless leather really doesn’t hold any appeal, the interior of a 3200 GT is a truly special place to be. Although touched by luxury throughout, the cabin is reasonably durable but be aware that lighter interiors, particularly when it comes to the seats, can get grubby with frequent use. Similarly, the leather that covers the steering wheel may bunch up after time and can cost around £550 to replace. It’s an expensive fix because the wheel contains the driver’s airbag.

The seats should slide back and forth with ease, courtesy of electronic assistance. However, failure of the seat motors is one of the most common complaints with regard to the interior, so be sure to adjust both front seats to reveal any issues.

Check the switchgear for the boot solenoid and petrol cap release as well as the air conditioning. If the air conditioning has failed, the internal sensors will display ‘E’ where the outdoor temperature is usually given during the car’s start-up self-checks. If this occurs, you may require a new condenser and dryer.

History

1998: Parisian launch of3200 GT in the company of designer Giugiaro & Maserati racing driver Sir Stirling Moss

1999: Introduction of 4-speed automatic, with models referred to as the 3200 GT Automatica or 3200 GTA

2001: Engine management system receives considerable development to reduce turbo lag and smooth out throttle

2001: Production wraps up for the manual 3200 GT, with automatic editions continuing on

2002: Manufacture of the 3200 GT ceases, allowing Maserati to focus on the succeeding 4200 GT

AutoClassics says...

The 3200 GT is both a handsome and capable Grand Tourer. Some are put-off by potential maintenance costs but given that the 3200 GT has much of its roots connected to Ferrari, it is no worse a prospect than any other supercar while retaining impassioned Italian credentials. The general rule to delay the potential looming sting in the tail is to remain disciplined and buy well at the outset.

As well as a thorough inspection of your chosen 3200 GT, be sure to pore over the vehicle’s paperwork. Check how many previous owners there have been, how regularly general maintenance has been undertaken and which specific repairs have been carried out so far.

The 3200 GT is a car that merits careful examination of both vehicle and documentation, get it right and you will be rewarded by an incredibly good-looking and fast GT that is sure to evoke a response everywhere it goes.

##Specifications

3.2 Litre V8 (6-Speed Manual)
  Power 370bhp
  Top speed 174mph
  0-60mph 4.9sec
  Economy 18mpg

3.2 Litre V8 (4-Speed Automatic)
  Power 370bhp
  Top speed 168mph
  0-60mph 5.5sec
  Economy 16mpg

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