The Quad Cam Engine



In the beginning, before I had touched my car and it was still as I bought it, I talked to my mechanic about the best approach to increase the power in my 228, but still keep it driveable. Our conclusion was to try and locate a European spec Maserati quad cam 24 valve 2.8 litre engine for the car. That innocent and naive idea led me down this path!

The thinking was that this is a better baseline to start the enhancements from, since right out of the gate it has more power than the standard dual cam 18 valve North American 2.8 litre Maserati engine. (270 hp vs 225 hp I believe, although the European engine is quoted with no cat) Any enhancements we did to it would be starting on the more powerful engine, and we could do less work to it, and less radical enhancements, in order to get the same power levels as we would achieve with the dual cam engine.

The two engines are of a similar physical size, the heads being the primary external difference, so that the new engine would fit in the car with minimal difficulties. Being a Maserati engine and of the same displacement, it is a less radical swap, and slightly more 'authentic' than putting in an engine from another series or even a completely different manufacturer.


Tracking it Down

I started by calling the guy who bought a quad cam engine that MIE had salvaged out of a Maserati wreck in Hong Kong a few years previously. He wasn’t interested in selling it to me, but kindly directed me to a dealer Jean-Pierre Antonis in Turnhout, Belgium who he knew had one for sale. It was a 1992 engine with 180,000 kms on it. It also came with a Getrag 6 speed transmission.

The engine was packaged on a pallet by Antonis and arrived here (via Schenker, a shipping company) without any damage. Dad and I picked it up with dad's  truck at the customs brokers, after paying nearly $1000 in duties and taxes. That was on top of the cost of about $800 to ship it here from Belgium via airfreight. Plus the cost of the engine of course. The engine arrived here in mid June 2001.


Screwed in a Long Distance Transaction

Antonis represented the engine as ‘complete and in good working order, the only exception being that it needed a new water pump’. Once the engine arrived and I was able to inspect it, it became clear that Antonis had badly misrepresented the status of the engine.  There were many, many parts missing, three of the cylinders were filled with rust as if it had been sitting out in the rain, the 6 speed Getrag was only a 5 speed Getrag, and critically, the turbos and exhaust manifolds were missing.

Here is a full list of things that I expected to be part of the engine/transmission assembly, but that were not included: Exhaust manifolds and turbos, the timing belt and timing belt tensioner, the crankshaft pulley was wrong, the thermostat housing on the engine was not the correct one, the turbo boost hoses and pipes from the intercoolers to the throttle body were missing, the transmission mounts, transmission cross member and the complete gear shifter with linkages was missing, the clutch slave cylinder was missing, the clutch fork, clutch disc, pressure plate and release bearing were all missing, the oil pressure sending unit was missing, air filter and its housing were missing.

Of these missing items, Antonis sent the boost hoses and pipes, shifter linkage, and the cross member. Antonis also agreed that the turbos and exhaust manifolds were part of the deal and rounded them up for me, 9 months later. Not surprisingly though, they turned out to be the wrong turbo units and wrong manifolds. They appear to be from a 2.0 litre engine. The turbos are visibly smaller than the original engine’s turbos, and the manifolds do not fit.  The correct rubos for the 24 valve engine are in fact larger than the turbos on the 18 valve engine.

So I wind up getting an engine and transmission that I was told was complete and functional other than the water pump.  In fact it was incomplete and damaged, and cost me several thousand dollars to put right. It seems clear to me that this engine was a ‘parts donor’ unit that had been pretty cleanly picked over, left out in the rain behind the shop, then sold to me as a complete unit. Additionally, the transmission was misrepresented as a 6 speed, and the incorrect turbos were sent.

I feel that I was outrageously and egregiously ripped off by Antonis of Turnhout Belgium, and I strongly advise anyone against doing business with him. I have heard of another US Maserati owner being similarly mistreated by a Maserati shop in Manchester England. I would be very careful of doing any transaction involving used parts from smaller shops in Europe. It seems they figure (correctly) that we have pretty limited leverage from over here, and that they can screw us.

Anyways, enough bitterness, on to the fun stuff.


The Quad Cam Engine

I managed to take a few pictures of the engine before it was completely disassembled at the mechanic's shop.  You can see the plenum is black versus the red one that we get on the 18 valve engines here in North America. 


Intake and Cam Cover

4 Valve Head

Original (Foreground) and New Engines

Rust in Cylinders


Since receiving the engine, I have put in new piston rings, rod bearings, main bearings, a complete head gasket set and bottom set, water pump, cylinder liners, and exhaust and intake valve guides. Since the engine was high miles, and I was planning a large increase in power, I wanted to give it a proper rebuild. Of course I have had to replace all the missing parts too. I also had the flywheel resurfaced. The heads have been ported and polished.  

Since I never did receive the exhaust manifolds and the turbos, I purchased new ones from MIE. Note that they are different than the ones on the 18 valve engine. The exhaust manifolds from the 18 valve do not fit on the 24 valve engine, and they are not the same diameter anyways. The 24 valve turbos are larger than the 18 valve turbos, although with the mysterious Maserati and IHI part numbers, I was never able to figure out what the differences were.

I took the original engine out in the summer of 2001, in foolish anticipation of putting the new engine in. Needless to say that did not happen and I had to put the old engine back in. While it was out though, I did respray the engine compartment. I did it in grey to match the body colour, instead of the original black. This shows off the engine nicely. While not strictly stock, I doubt that Keith Martin or any of his eagle-eyed editors would notice (or care)!


Before Spray

After Spray


Unexpected Gotchas & 18 Valve Engine Versus 24 Valve Engine

There were several things that have come up unexpectedly during the course of this project. One that I missed was with the new engine and transmission, that a different length driveshaft would be required. Another was that the speedometer pick up was off the ZF 5 speed transmission in the original configuration, but the Getrag does not support the speedo pickup. Instead it needs to be picked up off the differential. Luckily the same diff can be used, just more parts and $$$ are required to be able to make the necessary modifications.

I initially thought that I would require a new wiring harness in order to utilize the two computers that came with the new engine, but a quick look at the connectors, combined with heavy wishing, led me to believe that I will be able to get away with using the existing 228 wiring harness. As it turned out, all that heavy wishing paid off, as I was able to use the original wiring with no problems.

I have seen the question come up several times about upgrading a dual cam engine to a four cam engine by dropping the cam heads onto an engine.  Based on my experience with this project, I would say that it is possible, but you would need to also upgrade a number of internal components (such as the pistons, connecting rods, flywheel, timing belt, etc.) in order to get an equivalent engine, as there are a number of components that appear to be strengthened/lightened. Plus the exhaust manifolds and turbos are different, as well as the computers to control the engine, and the intake plenum.  

This is not to say that putting a 24 valve head on the 18 valve engine won't work at all. It will work, but you will not get the full benefit of the 24 valve engine without upgrading a lot of other parts too.

At the same time that I put in the new engine, I had the intake modified/simplified to remove the original air filter and all of the tubes to take cool air from the front of the engine compartment across the hot engine to the air filter in the rear, then back to the front again to the turbos. in place of the original air filter, I put a K&N filter close to the intake of each of the turbos.  I was  inspired by the pictures I've seen of numerous Biturbos that have modified the intake system so that each turbo has its own air filter drawing cool air from directly behind the lights.  I figure this will get cooler air to the turbos, and result in less restriction on the intake as well. One worry is about rain water getting inadvertently sucked into the turbos and engine more easily with the exposed filter element. Since I don't drive the car in the rain, this shouldn't be a problem unless I get caught in the rain while I am out.

New Engine In!

Left Side View

Right Side View



24 Valve Engine Conversion Conclusion

Am I happy with the power I am getting in the car? Absolutely, it is a real kick in the pants. Would I do this project again if I knew what it was going to cost and how long it was going to take? Absolutely not! It would have been far more economical to simply squeeze more power out of the original engine. For the $$$ I sunk into it I am sure I could get to the same level of power.

Recently there has been a thread on the Yahoo Discussion Group suggesting that the heads on these engines were really designed for a 2.0 litre configuration, and that the 2.8 litre engines simply cannot breath enough above 5500 RPM without major head machining. So maybe I should have started with a 2.0 instead of a 2.8??!!