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All things 'Maserati'. News of forthcoming models, owner's cars, tips, 'Marque' reunions and the odd touch of humour! In fact anything of interest to the 'Maseratista'.

So if you have any news about Maseratis or have anything owners and enthusiasts should know, send details to

Grille trident on the Maserati Ghibli Cup
You can click on some pictures for a better view!!
8th September 2005 - From Miguel in Portugal

"Dear Enrico,

After a long (very long) time out, here am I sending you my greetings.

Almost two years since I wrote last time. Due to business I had to go to South Africa for some time (13 months!!).

Then I started a business, near Lisbon, a sales/showroom just for exotic Italian cars. So, my time is shorter now. But my experience with the Maseratis still goes "well".

I'm sure you remember that I own a 2.24v, wHich I love. Since I wrote last time a lot of things happened. One of them was really bad. I will not fully explain now, what happened, because it is a very long issue, but I beg you to give this advice to all Biturbo owners on your pages, that 2-litre engines up to 01/92, cannot, must not, use unleaded fuel.

Worst still if you use 100 octane fuel. Bad if use other level of octane. Maserati never explained or cared about this issue, and people like me who drive there cars, I still do 30,000 kms per year, end up suffering the consequences.

Even if you use additives the problem will happen!! When I used Shell V-Power 98 ron with Shell Millenium additive, the problem was there but it only showed after 40,000 kms or so. I know this because I did almost 220,000 kms with my 4.24v, and started to use unleaded fuel in the last 20,000 kms or so, then I sold the car.

Around 20,000 kms with the new owner, and the problems started.Cylinder heads out and broken exhaust valves. At first I thought, that the new owner did something very wrong. The car was not mine anymore how could I tell??

Now back to my 2.24v. At around 69,900 I started to use BP 100 Ultimate 100 ron, before I used Shell V-Power. The engine felt great with this new fuel.

Attention!! BP says that for older engines you just have to use an additive to use this fuel, I never missed one time. And, this time I began using valvemaster (Castrol/BP). I'm sure BP didn't make all the studies and experiences with all the makes, and I'm also sure that the Maserati Biturbo engines were not amongst those tested.

At around 79,900 kms, I started to feel that my great engine lacked power.The the worst happened, number four cylinder was dead. Engine out, heads out and 2 badly broken exhaust valves, and 10 more almost broken.

After having spent EURO 5,000 and with the help of Carrozzeria Campana and my Maserati mechanic, the engine was again as new and I had all my power back. My mechanic, said that, he thought the problem was caused by the new BP fuel, and I replied that that couldn't be the case, because I always felt power and a very good engine. I know what a good engine, the Maserati engine is!! I preferred to think that during its first years, in Italy, some bad work had been carried out, maybe bad distribution (timing belt) or something else... causing the failure of the valves some kilometres later.

I didn't now the full history of my car, since I bought it with 39,900 kms on the clock, in Italy, with the correct papers and documents verifying the autenticity of mileage and and the work done.

For this wrong reason I still kept using BP Ultimate (100 ron). After 10,000 kms (89,900 kms), four months later, problems again. At first I didn't think it could possibly be a serious problem, so we carried out the usual checks the plugs, distributor, rotor arm, cables etc... A compression test was done, and the 5th cylinder was, you guessed it, dead!!

Engine out, 3 broken exhaust valves, 9 more to go, and this time the cylinder heads were cracked. All the spaces between the valve seats had microscopic cracks...

I found, two almost new heads for unleaded fuel, at David Askew's shop, great guy, I'm just waiting for BP latest statement on my case. Yes, after a long fight over several some months, they accepted my complaint. I had gathered all the information needed and put my damaged engine at their disposal.

They didn't have a way to tell me that the fuel was not, what caused the problem. Also, they prefer to help me instead of seeing large photos of damaged heads and some writing explaining what happened, on one of Lisbon's great 'Aavenidas'. This is just a "short" explanation of this issue. If you or any of your site visitors would like further explanation I'll be glad to give them.

Remember, that this BP Ultimate fuel is not a bad fuel, just not suited to our engines, and BP never advised that!!

Also, it is important to remember that my car is always in pristine condition, having never missed any maintenance work.

Finally, I'm at your disposal to help some owners with my experiences. For example, I think I can give good information to your Dutch visitor, Sal, that will help him to solve his fuse (I'm sure) problem, or any other problem!!

So, Enrico, feel free to give my e-mail or my mobile phone number to any desperate owner.

I know that you had some serious health problems, I hope everything is fine now.

Thanks a lot,


P.S. Here are some pictures of the first and last interventions. David Askew, now knows, why so many 2-litre engine owners in the UK, need new cylinder heads."

From Enrico in the UK

"Hi Miguel,

Thank you very much for your e-mail and the photoographs therein.

I'm sorry, I don’t agree with your diagnosis. I get the feeling that BP can’t be bothered to prove it one way or another and are going to pay you off a little for the sake of goodwill. But logic suggests that the Maserati engines are suitable for unleaded – most of them have catalysts and there is no difference internally and anyway, Maserati has been making unleaded engines since the early seventies. I also cannot see how using the higher grade unleaded can cause the problems you have had – they are problems more likely associated with low grade fuel.

The valve damage shown in your photos could have been caused by:

1) Running too little valve clearance.

2) A build up of carbon under the valves stopping them from shutting properly.

3) Running too much boost.

4) Running an excessively lean mixture due to a fuel injection fault.

The cracked head suggests:

1) That there was overheating or detonation in the cylinder, usually a result of incorrect mixture.

2) Or that there was too much boost.

Overall, this is quite severe damage to the valve and without knowing any more about it, I would suggest that too much boost as the most obvious cause.

I would be interested to hear more about it. Have BP paid you any compensation yet?

You can see the advice given by the Maserati Technical Department on the use of unleaded fuel in their engines by clicking HERE!



8th November 2005 - More from Miguel in Portugal

"Dear Enrico,

As a matter of fact engines 2000 cc, 24 valves, cannot, I repeat cannot run on unleaded fuel!! Only those built after 16th of January 1992 can.

As you say, most engines are suitable for unleaded, but not 2-litre 4-valve engines built before that date.

The first procedure was performed by a great Maserati mechanic with all the knowledge and tools. The second will be performed also by him.

The valves job was correctly carried out as per Maserati official papers. I was there to see!! All the necessary tools were used. I took some movies (mpegs) during the work where we can clearly see the performance and savoire-faire of my Mechanic.

When I used Shell V-power I didn't have any immediate problem. When I changed to BP the engine did around 10,000 Kms before the first intervention, and then another 10,000 Kms before the same problem occured.

Regarding the boost, I have never ever, done anything to change the normal pressure as per Maserati instructions. I never felt wrong boost or too much power. The pressure gauge pointer always stayed in the yellow zone, even when driving with a "heavy foot"...

As you understand, I know these cars very well, I drive them every day and alawys keep them in pristine condition, so anything untoward I would have noticed.

Regarding the poor or too rich mixture, the injectors are fine, I've never had or seen any kind of smoke, dark or blue!!

The throtle body is immaculate, the Weber fuel pressure is original and giving the right pressure. I've never, ever, had any misfiring problems, the spark plugs are changed every 10,000 kms. The mass cables are all connected and clean, the fusebox is like new, since I lost one day work to fix it for life!!

The damage to the cylinder heads, reveals high temperatures in the combustion chamber. In my case, twice, the same problem ended with cracked heads on this last intervention but not on the first one. You probably don't know, but BP ultimate 100 octane is a very rich fuel in order to obtain 100 ron. Its composition reveals some elements that are very imflammable and even explosive, also if I had some internal malfuction ("pinking") the knock sensor would have spotted it and I wouldn't have had power. My pistons are okay for a 89,900 kms engine. I don't have any burned top or damaged top border. The valve seats are not burned, just damaged because of the broken valves beat...

For your records, the valves for leaded or unleadel are not the same, I repeat are not the same!! Sodium filled for unleaded.

The heads are the same in shape but the seats are syntherized for unleaded. Regarding the carbon deposits, couldn't be the problem since the heads were clean and properly overhauled, on the first intervention, and now with the heads out, there is no no carbon on the seats.

I know this is a very, very bad situation and not easy to understand. My Dear Maserati is waiting for a resolution since May. BP Portugal some days say they'll pay, some days say they will see... I'm starting to go crazy, my dear friend David Askew is also going crazy...

I have hope that during these next days I will have good news.

Dear Enrico, if you feel you can help in this matter, asking Andy (Bill McGrath) for example, for his opinion, I would appreciate it very much. Also around the World or even in our beloved Italy, Rossano's opinion etc...

Of course I'll let you know the following chapters...


Best Regards,


Only BP ultimate and valvemaster additive used."

From Jarle in Norway


I have looked at the pictures of Miguel's problem.

I have to agree with your conclusions:

* 1) Running too little valve clearance.

Could certainly result in that valve damage.

* 2) A build up of carbon under the valves stopping them from shutting properly.

The valves or the piston heads does not look that carbon fouled. For that to happen happen I think the valves and pistons would have been more sooty.

* 4) Running an excessively lean mixture due to a fuel injection fault.

To me it seems this is the likely culprit.

* 1) That there was overheating or detonation in the cylinder, usually a result of incorrect mixture.

Agree indeed.

This is my opinion based upon overhauling two 2.0 24v engines. And also a good general understanding of the Biturbo engines.

The valve damage is most likely caused by a tight clearance & a lean mixture, either in that cylinder or all.

The damage to the heads is most surely related to mixture as well. I base my assumption on the fact that the valve seats don't really look that damaged. The only difference as far as I know between the 4v heads ment for unleaded fuel, is the valve seats. The Quench area (Where the spark plugs and valves are) is made of the same material and is not different in any way. Hence there is no reason why parts that are not any different will be affected by the unleaded fuel. It simply doesn't add up I think.

I think Miguel should go to a rolling road with both of the cars, and do a mixture analisis.

Cracking of the heads, can also be a result of the engine running to hot. He needs to make sure his cooling fluid is clean, so it cools the heads properly.

If he's got air in the cooling system, the water might now remove the heat from the heads quick enough, and he can get local heat buildup that can crack the heads. I use something called "Water wetter" in my cooling fluid that helps the contact surface between the water and the metal. It actually does lower the average temp of the engine quite well.

Best Regards / Med Hilsen,


From Enrico in the UK

"Dear Maseratisti,

I have published Miguel's emails as a matter of interest. I have never used 100 octane fuel in my 1995 Ghibli. I always use standard 95 octane unleaded fuel. I was told by a Maserati garage that this is OK.

Whether or not the octane levels vary from country to country I do not know. I would imagine that 95 octane unleaded fuel in the UK is the same as 95 octane unleaded fuel in Portugal, Italy, France or in any country for that matter, but who knows???

It is my understanding that the 2.24v. was produced and sold SOLELY for use in the ITALIAN/HOME MARKET. Maserati weren't to know that these cars at a later date would be sold to enthusiasts who would take them abroad. When in 1999 unleaded fuel became compulsory in Italy, Maserati issued a bulletin that was sent out to all Maserati service centres, indicating that 2-litre 24-valve cylinder heads built before the 16th January 1992 were unsuitable for use with unleaded fuel, but by that time it was too late as many 2.24v cars had already been taken out of the country.

If you can shed any light on this interesting subject or have any bad experiences similar to Miguel's, please contact me. We need to get to the bottom of this matter!


11th November 2005 - Even more from Miguel in Portugal

"Hi Enrico,

I thought it would be nice to state that BP ultimate 100 ron, is NOT a bad fuel. That's not the point here.

It just isn't appropriate to my pre-92 built Maserati engine.

The main issue here is, that BP can't say that this fuel is okay for "EVERY" engine, as they said, when they introduced this new type (more clean... bla,bla,bla...) fuel. It is written on their official papers.

As we all know, "we" that drive Maserati, are a minority in this strange World. "We" that drive Maserati Biturbos are less than those attending a Chelsea/Manchester Utd. Sunday Game, or a Porto F.C./S.L. Benfica here in Portugal.

So, do you really believe that "British Petroleum", tested a pre-92 Maserati Biturbo 2.0 4v. engine using the Ultimate fuel 100 ron? Of course not!!!

My battle with them starts here. They can't say that this fuel suits all engines, even those less modern, because that is simply not true!! On the official BP papers, they even say that "...for older engines you just have to use a good lead substitute additive, for ex. Valvemaster...".

On the other hand, Maserati is also responsible for this situation, because it is very difficult for me to understand, why did they build engines unprepared for the very near future back in 1991. Worst still, why did they build 2.8-litre 4v engines suitable for use with unleaded and not the 2-litre 4v engines?

Do you know that the cylinder heads are exacly the same?

I know why they did it. Because the Italian Government at that time was not about to prohibit leaded fuel, not for years to come, but they didn't take into account that other markets were about to do so. For example Portugal.

We all know that Maserati was in a difficult financial situation, at that time, and before and before that... And of course they had lots of engines to use. They simply could't just, forgot them... They were worth a lot of Lire!!

But my question to Maserati is: Are we all laboratory rats? Are we, who love Maserati, the ones who have to suffer the consequences.

Why, by all Gods!!, a clean empty cylinder head, prepared for unleaded, should cost over EURO 3,000??!! And as you know we need TWO, and valves and s***t!!!... What ever.

I'm really mad with this situation!!!

I'm mad because I don't know why I still love my car. I'm mad because I still find it an amazing car. I'm mad because I can't stop saying Maserati is the BEST!!

And, I'm mad because I'm about to "invest" more money on it... For you out there, I also love Ferrari and drive them often, I've that chance, God is my friend!!, but that small red Maserati was always there when I needed it. And I just forgive it everything.

Back to BP, they say this fuel is the best, more advanced, in the World. Should I suffer the bad consequences, because I use it for the last 20,000 kms, EXCLUSIVELY???

I've proved that to them because I have all the papers, invoices, monthly movements bank papers, credit cards transactions etc... 90% of my 'filling ups' were done at four BP stations, around Lisbon.

As you can see Enrico this is a huge issue to discuss and it could take us to the leaded versus unleaded fuel question.

Is it really true that unleaded fuel is better to the environment? Do you know that more than 90% of running time kat. cars are not more "green" than those without kat. Do you know that kats. need an hour or two to reach, full throtle, the right temperature to start burning nocive exhaust gases?

But that's another question...




From Anonimo in Italy

"I'm no mechanic, but I have modified and tuned engines (especially Alfa Romeos) since I was 18.

1. Fuel with a higher octane level is NOT more explosive than fuel with less octane. The knock sensor will check if there is any engine knocking.

Bad fuel (less than 95 octane) means the engine has the possibilty to pink/knock. Knocking is a pre-ignition of the fuel mixture so Super 98 or 100 is good because the risk of pre-ignition is lower (especially on boosted engines).

2. These valves got too hot.

One reason for the valves getting too hot is insufficient fuel in the mixture.

More boost with the same quantity of fuel (as in a standard engine) means the car runs weak.

Also dirty fuel filters (also the small tube with the sieve over it inside the tank) would cause the engine to run weak.

Poor running means that the temperature inside the cylinder will reach levels at which self-ignition is possible even with a high quality fuel.

The car never have black (rich), white (water) or blue (oil) smoke when it run poor.

The car has NO smoke when the engine run poor.

The valves look like they have melted, and high cylinder temperatures (caused by poor running) causes this.

The cracks in the heads are cracks caused by stresses in the material.

Stresses in the material are caused by high temperature oscillation over a short period or too high a temperature.

Perhaps there is not enough water in the cooling system, you know that the system needs to be bled.

The first point at which the engine suffers, when there is insufficient water in the cooling system, are the heads, this could cause the valves to melt.

Also a "blocked" exhaust system can cause these kinds of problem.

A bad exhaust will reduce the gas flow.

Poor gas flow means the engine will hold the temperature inside the cylinder.

The temperature inside the cylinder will get higher and higher.



13th November 2005 - Still more from Miguel in Portugal

"Dear Enrico,

I think that this issue is getting a global matter, thanks to you.

I appreciate all the answers, Jarle's, Anonimo's...

Those answers all are some how correct, but...

I must say that regarding Anonimo's thoughts, he is absolutely right when he refers that the higher the octane level the less pre-detonation "phenomena".

In normal driving, you cannot feel a pre-detonation malfunction, even because the twin turbos disguise a lot of things, only the knock sensor can, but it didn't do so, no pre-detonation. My knock sensor is working as it should. We carried out all the possible tests.

Looking to the photos you can see that I don't have burned pistons or burned valve seats, also, my plugs always had that brownish/greyish "good" colour.

Regarding the temperature, my engine never, ever, reached more than 90 degrees even with the air conditioning on and in traffic stop and go, and we have very hot Summers here in Portugal.

I went to the South of France making almost 4,700 kms, in 5 days, and the "behaviour" of my engine was fantastic.

I underline the fact that I'm not hiding anything on this issue, my coolant is always on the right level with the right colour, the cooling fans start working at the right time.

Also, I would like to "re-underline", that I know what a "bad working" engine is!! I know what a poor mixture is!! and I know that my engine was working fine till I changed to BP Fuel!! Things are clear as water.

Twice the same problem at almost the same kilometres (around 10,000), remember that I bought the car in Italy with almost 39,900 kms, I ran around 30,000kms with Shell V-power 98 with Shell Millenium additive, always fantastic.

I changed to BP 100 ron did 10,000kms and, the problem showed up.

Rebuilt the engine, new valves, new rubber hoses, new thermostat, new water pump, new two fuel filters and we also inspected the turbochargers, they were fine. That indicates good exhaust gases flowing.

According to Carrozzeria Campana, cracks are not necessarly a problem, they have encoutered some heads with that problem, even in engines running fine. But to my understanding, how can we say how deep are they?

Regarding the valve job, on the first intervention, it was done perfectly. It was a full day work and my mechanic, Mr Pereira, very well known in Maserati, did a good job only closing the heads when they were all working fine and with the right values, right degrees and right clearance.

Remember that, prior to Mr Pereira first intervention (79,900kms), some exhaust valves finished badly burned and broken, just like this second time, and I was using BP's fuel for around 10,000kms.

I state again, that I have nothing against BP, and I'm not saying that the fuel is BAD. I'm just saying that something happened to my engine when using that 100 ron fuel, twice the same problem at around the same kilometres!!!

At least it is worth thinking about.

Also, Enrico, I must inform you that Portugal was the other market where the two litre cars were sold from new, because we have the same taxes procedure. For your understanding, Portugal was in 88 and 89 one of the top markets for Maserati, in 89 more that 100 cars were sold!! Mainly 222 and 420 SI. And the first 2.24v started to arrive.

As I said before, this is a very delicate matter, not easy to understand, but something happened and I must know what it was.

As far as I know BP Ultimate 100 ron, is available in a few European Markets, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany, so probably it is not easy to understand this problem if you don't have this fuel in your market.

Remember that prior to the use of BP fuel I only used Shell V-power, and I've never had problems. My driving was/is always the same.

A final note, the problem shows up, from one day to the other. For example, I don't start to feel any kind of poor engine running, or any misfires, that could help me to get to the problem. One day is fine the other day the problem happens.

Finally, don't you all agree that Maserati should provide two new complete heads? Or at least, at symbolic price.

I mean, I can prove that my car just uses original parts, it is driven by a careful person a real "connoisseur" and a Masearti expert. It is serviced every 10,000kms, by an authorized dealer.

There are no tales here, everything is up front. The car was never badly serviced. What is difficult for me to understand is that I spent EURO 5,000 and four months later I've a lot more to spend. And the problems are the same!!! So is the fuel.

It is not a question of money, I'm just a determined person who wants to get the right conclusion. We all must know what really happened!!!



From G in Germany


I agree with you all.

1. Fuel mixture is too lean on one or all cylinders.

2. Oil in fuel mixture lowers the Octane and RON to nothing!

3. One Injector can cause lean or rich mixture!

4. Also an old lambda sonde can cause this, because they are going slow when older then near 100,000km.

The Problem was: Low compression on one cylinder or more.

After fixing this, it was there again, after a while.

I found out: There is a very fatal intererence betwen the lambda sonde and the fuel injection system.

It goes like this:

If your car stands for a while (like most Maseratis in their life), then deposits build up in the fuel injectors.

This causes the fuel injectors to not inject the same amount of fuel in all cylinders.

Lets say for example: Cylinder one has a deposit in the injector, which causes 20% less fuel in every cycle. This lean mixture burns in cylinder one and the exhaust gases go to the lambda sonde. The lambda sonde detects this lean mixture after some milliseconds (ms) and makes the mixture richer.

Meanwhile the engine is revving on 3000 rpm! Time passes by.

The richure mixture is NOT sent to cylinder one, it is going to cylinder No. six, and two and five and all the others, but not to cylinder one!

If this 20% richer mixture signal passes the injectors, which are ok, then this cylinder are 40 % too rich. Fuel cunsumption increases. The lambda sonde dedects a too rich mixture and makes it leaner again. Then cylinder one is fed again with a signal which is to 40% too lean, and the injector on cylinder one makes it even leaner.

The fuel injection system starts to vary depending on rpm and base map within the full mixture range. This causes some cylinders to be fed too rich, and some other too lean.

To prevent this you have to check the spray pattern and delivery rate of all the injectors frequently or at around 80,000 km. (as BMW recommends). If one injector is more than 5% less or faulty it can cause all kinds of problems. Suspend the injectors over small glasses and run them for five seconds. Then by measuring the fuel in the glasses, you can check if they all deliver at the same rate!


19th November 2005 - An update from Miguel in Portugal

"Dear Enrico,

Well, finally an E-mail that it is close to what I think, it happened!!

As G. says, the more octane level the less "pinking" but MORE TEMPERATURE also inside the combustion chambers.

Regarding the injectors, yes they all are working equally, injecting the right amount of fuel. They were cleaned on the first intervention, and I keep them cleaned, doing a overhaul every 50,000 kms or so. It isn't such a "bad" work to do.

Probably G. didn't understand that my car doesn't have a Kat. nor a Lambda sensor.

So that kind of problems, he refers to, could happen but not with my engine. Regarding the 220,000kms with the 4.24v, I think it is a record, yes, I think that no one probably did it, but please consider that I never missed a schedule service, and my Maseratis do get driven every day. This 4.24v did almost 130,000 kms in just two years!! So, you can understand why I consider this engines "bullet proof", if they are cared!!!

As far as I can remember, I cleaned the injectors 4 times during this Kilometers, but only because I thought I would prevent an unaspected malfuction in future.

What I can say is that regarding the turbos IHI, they are from another World. If you take some time to push and some time to stop the engine, they do + 300,000 kms!!. Never, ever, missed an oil change every 10,000 kms, and always Agip Sint. Regarding the Koni shocks, they are very, very good. I had them looked at 130,000 kms! And just new seal rings were fitted.

So you see, my stories are so many that I will probably write a book. Back to the 2.24v, yes the oil seal rings on valvle guides were new, they are one of the parts on a new head rebuild gasket kit, and of course Mr. Pereira changed them. I also read the "Aussie" BP Site, and Portuguese and English and Italian and French and... They all say the same.

BP Ultimate Is good for ALL engines...

I don't know if you, Enrico, know that there is NO lead substitute!! Mangnesium, Phosphurus and other related material just can't cope with the work of protecting the valves and seats in time. If you don't use your car you never know. But if you drive it and use the power you have on your right foot, you will have problems!! Please take a look at "Broquet fuel Catalyst home page" I think you'll get the point.

Don't forget that our cars, are powerful cars, with two turbochargers that generate huge pressure inside the engine. I think that Maserati was the only make to build such engines, prepared and not prepared to work on unleaded. And I also think that not even Maserati, thought that unprepared engines simply were, indeed... Unprepared!!! Not even for 10,000 kms, four months driving time!!



P.S. Waiting for further details on this matter..."

From Rossano in Italy

"Ciao Enrico,

Come ti ho detto per telefono la causa del danneggiamento non è la benzina,queste valvole sembrano danneggiate o da prodotti corrosivi utilizzati per togliere le incrostazioni oppure più facilmente da usaura data da una cattiva regolazione,probabilmente battevano contro i pistoni per un errata fasatura.


From Myles in the UK

"Hi Enrico,

An interesting e-mail! According to the information we have not all 2.24v can be used with unleaded fuel. If you send me your fax number I will send you a copy of it.

I have also found an Eprom and restrictor list for Ghibli and Quattroporte, might be useful for the guy the other day.

Regards Myles - Emblem Sports Cars".


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