A friend of mine, Nivan, is always swapping his sports car to experience another one and he is looking for a Maserati Spyder. I’ve lost track of the various cars he’s had over the years, but every year or two it is always something different. And, he drives them, which I respect as evidenced in my February 12 blog post about shaming the garage queen and hailing the driver. So, Nivan asked me for my take on the Maserati Spyder. I felt the feedback I shared with him was worth posting. Hope you enjoy and find it useful…
Nivan, the Maserati Spyder is a great all around car with gobs of power and torque if you are looking for a car that is out of the ordinary. Club Sportiva has had two of them over the past five years, so I’ve had a lot of first hand experience. The first one was titanium over black 2002 with Cambiocorsa and we had it for a year. The current one is a 2003 red over tan with a 6-speed manual and Tubi exhaust. It is a dependable exotic. We put about 20,000 miles on the first car before upgrading to the 2003, which we have put 40,000 generally trouble-free miles on.
A couple things, the Cambiocorsa gearbox is not my favorite, so be sure to do a thorough test drive to be sure you enjoy it. It shifts slowly, but works fine. The Maserati manual transmission is gritty and notchy, so both transmissions have a flaw. As long as you don’t mind the slow shifting, you will be fine with the Cambiocorsa. Whereas the Ferrari and Lamborghini F1 systems are super fast (and a bit jerky as a result), the Maserati is setup more as a grand touring car and as such, the transmission suits the car’s personality very well. By the way, do NOT try backing up a hill with the Cambiocorsa system or you will chew up the clutch very fast. The F1 systems hate inclines, while in reverse, remember that.
The thing I would recommend strongly is adding Tubi exhaust. The stock system is quiet, subdued, plain and disappointing, even under acceleration, which again, suits the grand touring nature of the car but leaves something to be desired of a passionate Italian grand dame. With Tubi, the V8 is much more sporty and lively with a real muscle car grunt and an extra 10 horsepower. The upgraded exhaust is the car’s finest feature. It is worth $4,000 or so, without hesitation and I wouldn’t look for an alternate exhaust brand (unless someone shows me a worthy one).
They all have a few convertible top glitches when occasionally the top gets stuck up or down. There is a manual over ride button tucked in the car (pre-read the owner’s manual) that generally resets itself once the cycle is complete so you don’t have to take it to the dealer. A 5″ by 7″ top panel snapped off our 2003 and it cost $500 to replace and install the panel, which is a wake-up call that these are expensive cars.
There is a lot of cowl and steering column shake. On our first Spyder, I thought the vibration may have been a sign of a wreck but our second Spyder does it too and I know the car is pristine. A $35,000 Honda S2000 convertible is rock solid, but a $97,000+ Maserati shakes like crazy. Annoying, but par for the course. The radio/NAV functionality blows. It simply has a poor user interface. Generally this isn’t a big deal for a weekend car, but for a daily driver, it may get bothersome.
Overall, the Maserati Spyder is a solid car and I’d recommend it if you are prepared for an Italian. While I personally prefer lighter sports cars, the Maserati Spyder is a great car with good looks at a value. Coincidentally, just last week, a Club Sportiva Member forwarded me a few photos of their trip to Monterey and looking at the photos, I was reminded that the Spyder really is a great looking Italian car that doesn’t need styled like a flashy Ferrari.
The exotic car market is awash with deals right now. Lots of cars are available and not a ton of buyers. I’d suggest calling a couple sellers if there are other Spyders out there you like. Work the pricing a little bit.
I first go to www.cars.com and search the car through the entire nation and then also within 250 miles. I sort by year and then look for similar mileage cars and look at asking prices, knocking off a few grand in my head to adjust for asking price vs. selling price. The nationwide search gives you a broad view while the local search within 250 miles may or may not tell the same story about pricing and availability.
I’d also be sure to get a third party to inspect it for both frame damage and mechanical condition. Since it is likely out of warranty, this is very important. A $250 – 500 inspection fee is money very well spent. Even if car fax is clean, you still need the full inspection. A compression test (not necessarily going so far as a leak down test) would be a good idea based on how the rest of the inspection goes. You are looking for red flags that indicate other problems.
Let me know if you have any questions. I think you will love the car if the cowl shake and Cambiocorsa transmission are okay with you…and seriously, consider the Tubi! Good luck.
Post note: My friend, Nivan, bought a 2003 Maserati Spyder with 20,500 miles in Los Angeles and drove it to Arizona. It is silver over grey hides, as you can see in the photos that he sent me. He chose a car with the Cambiocorsa paddle shift system. This Italian replaces his Porsche Boxster S, which he notes that his wife greatly prefers over the Boxster S. At this point, he’s had the Maserati Spyder just long enough to know that he is enjoying it lot and is pleased with his purchase. Good selection Nivan! Let me know if you decide to try the Tubi exhaust.
We’ll also be checking back with Nivan to see how long he keeps this car before he is ready for his next toy.