Where to go, What to do?

It is pretty frustrating, but not surprising, to read through magazines like 'Turbo and High Tech Performance', 'Sport Compact Car', and 'Max Speed', etc. and never find any mention of Maserati. What's even more frustrating is none of the advertisers in these magazines offer after market parts for Maserati. The reality is that the Biturbo and its variants (including the 228) are just too small and too low end a market to bother with. 'Auto Italia' offers some information, but still thin pickings for Maserati aftermarket stuff. Viale Ciro Menotti (VCM), published by MCI is the best one I've found for Maserati ideas. I have about 10 years worth of back issues, and it is full of good ideas, tips, and inspirational examples of membersí cars. Aftermarket accessories are still pretty thin though. 

There are three bulletin boards that cover Maserati. The best one is at eGroups. It covers all Maseratis, but there is plenty of Biturbo related discussion. Another good one is BiturboZentrum at Yahoo. It covers only Biturbo and derivatives. MIE has a  bulletin board on their web page, it covers all models of Maserati, and is not very active. 

So my conclusion is that ideas for enhancements on a Maserati have to come from a combination of places. You can adapt after market parts that are general in nature, or designed for other cars, to Maseratis. You can read through VCM and see what others have done already. You can talk to your local Maserati mechanic (we are lucky to have a good one in Vancouver, Milo European Car Specialists, plus the local Ferrari dealer is looking for Maserati service business, plus MIE down the road in Seattle. And you can surf on the web. There are performance books that you can draw ideas from as well. My favourite is 'Maximum Boost' by Corky Bell. It has a lot of good info on turbocharging. Another is 'Turbochargers' by Hugh MacInnis. It was published in 1984, so some of the information is a bit dated, but most of it is still quite useful.



The good news is that the car, even in its North American form with the catalytic converters puts out a decent 225 hp in its stock form. I can spin the tires easily changing into second gear, and in third if it is raining. I bought a Gtech accelerometer from Tesla, which mounts on the windshield with a suction cup like a radar detector, and measures a variety of performance metrics, including 0 - 60 mph. Prior to doing any work on the car, the best time I was able to coax out of it was 6.6 seconds. I found my times were highly variable.

With the Ghibli Wheels and Nitto tires, and after putting in the Getrag transmission I did a retest. The best time I was able to record was 5.96 seconds. A decent improvement, but again I found my times were quite variable, and bad starts were common. Iíd rev the engine up to about 4000 RPM and pop the clutch. Frequently it would get bogged down, then take off.

With the Quad cam engine in and the new suspension components I did a retest. The best time I was able to record was 5.72 seconds. Again I found my times were quite variable, and bad starts were common. Iíd rev the engine up to about 4000 RPM and pop the clutch. Frequently it would get bogged down, then take off, or this time lots of tire spin was another common problem. I think I need to go out a few more times, as I think I can do better than this without too much trouble.

I also bought a Valentine 1 radar detector. It falses like crazy in the city. I commonly get 3 false signals simultaneously driving down streets with lots of shops. So like my previous radar detector, which cost 1/4 as much as the Valentine, I keep it off in the busy parts of the city, and try to remember to turn it on when I get to the less busy roads.  That said, it has saved me from several tickets, so the investment has been well worth it.


Current Enhancements

The main performance enhancement is the quad cam engine. All the work  relating to the new engine is in there. Everything else is in here!

My original plan was to do some small things initially, then do the brakes and suspension, then finally work on the motor.  I did do some small things, then the brakes and suspension, but various delays led to nothing happening for a year, then doing all the suspension and some of the engine work simultaneously, with more engine work to follow. So this page is in 'mostly' chronological order.

My very first enhancement was that II had an MIE oil pan guard installed. I figured that the first time I scraped the engine going over a speed bump I would be buying one anyways, so why not close the gate before the horse got out? Next I put on an MIE strut tower brace. The latter took a bit of trimming to fit it in the 228 since it was designed for the Biturbo, but it wasn't difficult. In the picture below you can see the trimming that was required on the rear of the tower brace (it was originally round), as well as underneath it. Here's a picture of the new underhood insulator that I put in, since the old one was dropping bits of foam into the engine compartment and it looked like hell.

In the picture of the oil pan guard you can see the air conditioning condenser just above and in in front of the oil pan guard. Its fins have been badly mangled from hitting too many curbs. I replaced it with a new one, and also upgraded the A/C system to get rid of freon and use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. Perhaps I have the only 'green' 228 in the world?! 

Oil Pan Guard and Original A/C Condenser

Oil Pan Guard and New A/C Condenser


Strut Tower Brace Trimming

Strut Tower Brace  


Underhood Insulator


I also picked up a set of the 17" Ghibli Cup wheels from MIE. These had to be machined to fit on the 228. It turned out that the offset was not right on them either, and I had to get some pretty fat spacers made up to get them to fit right. The wheels  look good, but it was definitely a 'square peg in a round hole' to get them to fit on the 228. I wouldn't recommend them to others for a 228. One Photo below shows the rear tire as installed with the first spacer, then as I finally did it with a wider spacer.  

As for rubber, I've got Nitto 555's, 225/40 front and 255/40 rear. I bought them from Discount Tire Direct, overcoming their painful policy on credit cards with a Canadian billing address. I also got a new brake kit for the front from Tarox, it's their Sport Japan 330 mm (13") drilled and slotted rotors with 6 pot calipers. After these were installed I had them painted red with the Folia Tec Caliper Lacquer Set. I think I will get the back brakes done too, since they now look pretty skimpy compared to the front ones.

Original Wheels


Front Wheel

Rear Wheel

Front Wheel Detail


Rear Tire (Nitto 555) Tread



Rear Wheel With Final Spacer



I had adjustable coil over shocks with stiffer springs, a larger front sway bar, and a rear sway bar on order from Shock Engineering for nearly a year. I got tired of waiting and cancelled the order. I placed a new one with Carrera in the States, waited about 6 months, and cancelled that one too. I eventually had the MIE rear sway bar installed. It made a big difference to the handling and cornering of the car, reducing the body roll down to practically none.

Then we did some research on suspension upgrades allegedly done to a 228 that was raced in Toronto. That turned out to be a red herring, so we bought the rear shocks from MIE, and then had the coil springs cut down by a couple inches in the rear and one inch in the front. We also installed a much thicker front sway bar. Dropping the car down a couple inches and spacing the tires out a bit more really made a dramatic difference to the look of the car. 

Car With Lowered Suspension

Car With Lowered Suspension


I ordered a new exhaust system for the car as well and had it put in. It's from Stebro. There were some problems and delays in getting it from them, but it eventually turned up and works very well. The contrast in size between the old and new exhausts is readily apparent from the pictures below.

Rear Anti Sway Bar and Original Exhaust

New Exhaust

New Muffler



One of my first 'enhancements' was to pick up a can of tire puncture foam, as I had removed the spare tire and its rack from under the car to lighten the car up a bit. I found out afterwards that Maserati did this on the Ghibli cars from 1994 on, although they apparently sacrificed the spare tire space for a differential cooler.

I also moved the battery into a trunk-mounted battery box from Moroso to free up some space in the engine compartment and to adjust the front/rear weight balance with the tire gone. I put a kill switch in the engine compartment where the battery was.



Tire Foam  


Battery Box

Where Battery Was in the Engine Compartment

Rear Undercarriage After Removal of Spare Tire


I have had the boost cranked up a bit, the turbo gauge now goes to the end of the first red mark. This has increased performance noticeably, but the mechanic warned me that it 'will be a tradeoff between performance and longevity'. I had it cranked up even further at first, but was warned that if I hit it too hard the ignition shutoff would kick in. Well I did, and it did. The car was very unpleasant to drive, so I had it turned back a notch rather than adjusting the springs on the wastegates, for the time being.

The main enhancement has been the addition of the quad cam 24 valve engine to replace the existing North American standard dual cam 18 valve engine. This was installed in June 2002 and is described on its own page, quad cam

Future Enhancements

I have a number of ideas that I have gleaned from various sources. Here's what I am thinking of doing in the future, in more or less the order that I would like to do them in, at least for the first several.

I'd like to turn the boost up even further and change the wastegate springs. 

I am thinking about adding a wastegate controller. This will prevent the wastegates from being opened until the proper pressue is reached. Right now they crack open at a lower pressure so that they are fully open at the proper pressure. Several companies make these for the aftermarket.

The first thing that I'll need to do before serious modifications will be to add some new gauges to monitor temperature and pressure at various locations in the intake.

Bigger injectors, and a larger low restriction fuel filter, higher fuel pressure. At some point, more more power and more boost will mean more fuel is needed which will mean bigger injectors and/or higher fuel pressure are required to avoid running too lean.

Full seal compression rings and copper head gaskets.

Knife edge the crankshaft. Another popular performance enhancement. The Maserati shop manual claims that the crank has some kind of treatment that is incompatible with everything else, but is this really the case?

Bigger intercoolers. This is an interesting one. Corky Bell is a strong advocate of getting the intake air temperature as low as possible in a turbocharged engine. At some point in the 'power crank up' it'll probably have to be done. I've thought of modifying the front air dam on the car to allow larger intercoolers to hang down lower. Right now they do not extend below the bumper.

Bigger turbos. This is another interesting one, but will be very costly so probably will not happen. You can get bigger turbo kits for popular import cars like the 300ZX and Mitsubishi twin turbos, as well as for the NSX. The Maserati 2.8 litre 18 valve engine turbos are IHI RHB51 units with integral wastegates. The 24 valve engine uses the slightly larger RHB52 turbo. I have not been able to find any specs on these, and I gather that they have been supersceded by IHI's RHB6 series. IHI has a decent homepage that provides limited specs on their current models, but it is not clear if there is a direct 'next size up' replacement for the RHB52. Without compressor maps, it's hard to tell what the right unit is.  Failing that, Garrett and many other companies do put out proper specs on their turbos, so I am sure that one can be found. (If you want to learn more about turbocharging, buy Corky Bell's book. This Dodge Stealth page is also an excellent resource, with lots of links to other relevant pages.) I have done some of the calculations for the Maserati 2.8 litre engine at the bottom of this page. I'd appreciate any feedback on them. Here is a link I found to a drawing of the IHI RHB5 type turbo. 

Extrudehone the intake and exhaust manifold. Seems to be popular among the import tuner crowd. Another one that has some appeal and is probably worth further investigation.

Lightening the flywheel. This should make for a freer rev'ing motor, but my flywheel is already pretty light so it's not really a priority.

Performance Clutch. Depending on the amount of power that I can get out of the engine, the clutch might have to be upgraded. I thought I read an article about a Maserati upgrading to a Centerforce clutch, so maybe there is a glimmer of hope from the aftermarket here. Good news is that the 228 has a larger clutch plate than even the 430, so hopefully I can avoid this altogether. Especially since I already dropped $2000 on a new clutch . . .

Increase displacement to 3.0 litres. Increase the bore or the stroke or both? I thought I read about a 3.0 litre Maserati. I assume it is the same block with the displacement increased. If power goes up linearly with displacement, this alone should give another 15 hp.

Switching to an aftermarket programmable fuel injection system is another option.  I am not considering this yet, but there is only one guy that I know of who has done it on a Maserati, and luckily it was a 228! Wes Ingram in Seattle.  

Turbo Sidetrack

Since the turbos are such an important part of the 228's performance, and such an obvious candidate for tuning to improve the performance, I thought I would provide some of the limited amount of information that I have been able to collect on the turbos. 

Turbo Manufacturer: IHI (FKA Warner-Ishi) 

Turbo Model: Original 2.8 liter Maserati 228 engine uses the RHB 51, the quadcam engine uses RHB52. Note that the RHB series has been obsoleted by IHI and supersceded by the RHF series. For some info on the RHF series you can look here. What you really want to see is a proper compressor map, but IHI does not provide them. The RHB 51 (and presumably the 52 also) were available in many different versions (called 'trims' I believe), so if you are thinking of changing the turbo in your car, make sure you get the right version! For example, the 1992 parts manual lists 14 different turbocharger part numbers depending on what particular engine you have. IHI also made the turbos for the Ford Escort GT, Mercury Lynx RS Turbo, Ford EXP Turbo Coupe, Ford Probe GT, and Chevrolet Turbo Sprint, although I have no idea if they were RHB series or not. The MacInnes book has some drawings of an IHI RHB5 at the back of it. Each turbo has a built-in wastegate to control boost. There is no blow-off valve in the system.

Turbo Boost Gauge: I have seen a couple of places where the markings on the turbo gauge are explained in terms of PSI. The best one I have seen was published in VCM #70, page 72. It provides this simple equation: Boost Pressure = 10 * ( t - 4) / 10, where t is the 'tick mark'. So the 4th mark is zero boost pressure, which makes sense since that is just atmospheric pressure. The beginning of the orange range at t=7 which is the normal maximum boost is 10 PSI, and the beginning of the red range at t=8 provides a boost of just over 13 PSI.

This Dodge Stealth page is also an excellent resource on turbocharging, the best on the internet as far as I have found, with lots of links to other relevant pages.

There are three books that I highly recommend for more information about turbocharging. Maximum Boost by Corky Bell is the best one and the most up to date. Turbochargers by Hugh McInnes was published in 1984 but is still a very useful reference. Motorcycle Turbocharging, Supercharging, and Nitrous Oxide by Joe Haile also contains much information of interest, including an excellent chapter on air/fuel ratio meters.