I recently made a fantastic decision, and I sold my 2007 BMW M5 — a 500 horsepower luxury super-sedan — for a whopping $10,500. That’s a lot of money for a car that could turn the morning coffee run into a life-ruining experience at any moment — all thanks to its horrible reliability record and massive repair costs. With the money burning a hole in my pocket, I resolved to buy another fast sedan that wouldn’t be as terrifying to own — but instead, I bought an irresistibly cheap Maserati Quattroporte. Here we go again …
Before everyone starts tearing me apart, like usual, for my really stupid purchase decisions, I honestly think this one isn’t that terrible. I found this beautiful Bordeaux Pontevecchio Metallic Quattroporte at a dealer auction in Florida — and, laughably, the auction website listed average wholesale value at only $5,500. That may seem ridiculously low — but keep in mind the average Maserati Quattroporte being dumped at auctions have more issues than the car is worth. Despite the Pininfarina-styled body and de-tuned Ferrari F430 engine, nice, low-mileage examples of these can be purchased for under $20,000.
I paid $8,800 for mine, or $3,000 over the average wholesale value, sight unseen — and I spent another $1,000 shipping the car back from Florida to Kansas. So, according to the wholesale data, I overpaid by a lot — but 2007 is a weird year for the Quattroporte, and one major change completely transformed these cars, making the example I bought much more valuable.
When the fourth generation Quattroporte was unveiled in 2003, everybody wanted to buy one — at least until they drove it. The stupid ergonomics were expected with an Italian car, and I imagine most could look past them in favor of the beautiful body and glorious engine — but it was the transmission that made the car almost undrivable. Maserati decided the Ferrari-derived engine needed a Ferrari-derived transmission as well — but the single-clutch automated manual gearbox chosen for the job made the cars a nightmare to own. Not only were the shifts slow and harsh, but the clutches would wear out every 20,000 miles or so, and cost $4,000 to replace. Regular use in heavy traffic would wear out the clutches even quicker, so Maserati really needed to do something drastically different.
Thankfully, my 2007 has a normal, German-made 6-speed automatic, which was partially rolled out in 2007 before becoming standard on all Quattroporte models starting in 2008. This drastically improved the driving experience and reliability of these cars — and “true” automatic models are worth thousands more than the older style. So, in reality, I didn’t massively overpay for mine — and $8,800 was the cheapest driving Quattroporte that I could find with the better transmission. Unfortunately, the one thing I wasn’t worried about with my latest purchase is actually one of the biggest issues.
When I bought my car sight unseen from Central Florida, I knew it was going to have problems. I’ve never bought a car from Florida that wasn’t neglected, and the Carfax noted six previous owners — the most recent of which dumped it after less than a year. The pictures also showed the check engine light was on (among other things), and I was convinced it would be the camshaft variators — a common issue that transforms the 400-horsepower Ferrari V8 into a clattering, sputtering boat anchor. Since used engines are remarkably cheap, thanks to all the earlier Quattroportes with failed transmissions, I wasn’t worried about tackling this repair.
Thankfully, the engine is fine — and it seems to be well-kept despite the six owners and 80,000 miles. The car arrived with a dead battery, and some electrical problem seems to be draining the battery after a few days — typical of an Italian car. Strangely though, the biggest issue seems to be with the German transmission, as it’s throwing an error on message, and it shifts a little weird until it’s warmed up. Most favor this generation of Quattroporte to avoid transmission issues — and I seemed to have bought the only car that has problems with it.
Of course, there are plenty of other issues that will make for a pretty good laundry list of repairs for my mechanic, the Car Wizard, to tackle. Despite all the issues, though, which I’ll cover in a few days, I’m thrilled to own a Pininfarina-bodied Italian V8 car again — though I hope this one has a slightly happier ending than the last one I owned.