Fernando's 4200 - the story so far and beyond

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1,365
#1
Hey all, I was recalling previous forum experiences and thought it would be fun to create a "build" thread on my Model Year 2003 Maserati Coupe 4.2 GT in 6 speed manual guise (4200 as we all know it).

OK this thread is three years late so perhaps you can consider it a detailed three year ownership review up until the point that I catch up to current status. I have a lot of photos on the drive all of the work done to the car and I guess it may be more useful to someone here than stuck on the cloud. No intentions of selling my car but rather showing the experiences of buying a 10+ year old depreciated luxury coupe

The car I was lusting after was a R34 Skyline GTR - just as I could afford £20k for a weekend car these went totally mad on their prices so I reevaluated - E46 M3's seemed overly expensive at the time for what they were and I am just not sure about the Mercedes SL55 AMG (never been much of a Merc man). BMW M6 seemed perfect but too many horror stories of the SMG transmission and after spending £3k in a year looking after my run of the mill 330I I was fed up of BMW... Porsche 911 - lets say I am less of a Porsche man than I am Mercedes lol... I knew of the 3200 which I thought would be a little too finicky to me to handle and the GranTourismo which I also desired but they were over £30k at this point.... I remembered the 4200 as the "ugly" replacement for the 3200 however upon research it seemed like a great option, a well engineered car with better electrics, a solid engine and manual option which is more reliable than F1 hydralic - I then watched this video and was totally sold, an underrated, understated car which is prime for tasteful OEM+ style modification:


My intention was to buy one of these and tastefully modify it so that it becomes the car it should have been in terms of handling and unleashing extra power. No stupid bodykits or neons, it would essentially remain the same styling wise externally but I plan to increase the quality of the finish in the cabin so it is more in line with the 3200 and GS. However I understood that buying a garage queen with low milage for £20k plus would be a bad idea to modify, I looked for a car with 50-60k milage, had to be manual, not black or silver and there was only one for sale

I purchased the car in Feb 2016 it had 59k miles cost £15k from a dealer with a warranty. I picked up on a few issues on the test drive - leaking cam cover gaskets, shot discs, SPORTS button did nothing, exhaust was making strange noises and the windscreen kept steaming up... The dealer was uncompromising and offered £250 off plus some new fresh paint on the alloys which were pealing - he said it was a rare spec and I could take it or leave it... so I took it, first car I viewed, no knowledge of Sports Maserati at that time... it could have been a bad decision but I knew it had a warranty to bail me out if it was a basket case.

Issues fixed prior to my collection: Leaking main oil line replaced, new suspension bushes all round, new tyres, new pads (dealer refused to change the discs), new side repeater bulbs and here it is just prior to collection:

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I started off addressing the easy and obvious blemishes - the badges and dull headlight lenses

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The rear Maserati script on the pre-facelift "classic" 4200 is chromed metal, so it is possible to remove it and polish or even re-chrome

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Meanwhile I attended a few cars and coffee meets at a local car storage place and also Auto Italia and Super Car Sunday at Brooklands, this exposed me to the community


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I actually discovered SportsMaserati in the process of finding a new set of discs. I luckily got some of the last remaining stock from the previous group buy. I bought a set of rears from MAF and a few months later @redsonnylee agreed to swap me his spare front discs for my place in the next group buy as mine were pretty ruined on the inner face by this point

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By this point it is August 2016, one day after work I go for a pleasure drive around the Surrey Hills and when I accelerate I notice water pouring into the passenger footwell... wtf

I seek out some relevant info on the forum which suggests a blockage under the pollen filter and drain pipe in the drivers footwell, I unplugged this and it was pretty blocked. The drain holes and pollen filter were also pretty blocked assuming from previous owner(s) as the car was kept in the car port at that time. I sought out the help of my local specialist who picked up that the radiator fan resistor was fried so they replaced it, it was a good catch as the fan was stuck on low and the next day I was stuck in a traffic jam on the parade lap at Festival Italia Brands Hatch where in theory it could have cooked itself.

Next step, custom exhaust cat section...
 
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1,365
#4
August seemed to have been a bit of a mad month... i mentioned Festival Italia... my wife took a series of clips over the day that was put together to make a good little video:



Back to the exhaust, I had a suspicion my cats had failed as there was a lot of popping and banging coming from a stock exhaust system. At that time the Larini cats were over £2k (there has been a price reduction since) so I decided to have a cheaper custom system made up. Through Spartacus I got a CAD drwing of the flanges which I believe Maverick drew, used a local precision engineering company to laser cut them and had these pipes made up elsewhere - I think it looked OK but others told me it was not great at all in terms of the quality of the welds... the cats used were only 100 cell which threw up a Check Engine Light after about 6 hours (spoiler: these have been rebuilt with new cats and proper welds only last week)

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As you can see the secondary cats had already failed at some point and had been replaced with aftermarket ones, welds do not look great on these either!

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Couple of the Lambdas were stuck in the old exhaust so he gave me some bungs so I could drive away. The car clearly benefited from these pipes throttle response up massively and a clear increase in power - the popping and banging from the semi hollow cats was gone however I very much wanted some extra sound so I set my sights an a X pipe

Just for reference this is what the car sounded like with just the above cat pipes and the rest of it stock:



Next step I purchased a used Larini X pipe which came off a wrecked GS but it refused to fit - it was a few inches too short and the cats would not reach the manifold... I slightly naively shifted it on thinking there are maybe two types of exhaust and it would fit a Spyder but it refused to fit that also, - very odd no one has been able to explain why it didnt fit to me since - Larini X:

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The same garage who made the cats put together this x-pipe - it's not great and needs to be scrapped for a new one maybe later this year but it definitely unleashed some more sound

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VIdeo from Festival Italia 2017 for sound reference**

I mentioned that redsonnylee helped me with some front discs, I only got these and fitted just after the above in August, state of the old discs:

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It was time for the last show on the year at the end of October just before the gritters hit the road: Super Car Saturday at Castle Combe

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During the winter some issues are annoying me on the car - it was leaking power steering fluid from the union on the steering box and another union at the front on the engine; also the leaking cam covers. I figured I could do the cam cover gaskets myself but the PS leak I asked the specialist I was using at the time to sort on the major service in February 2017

Quick rewind to December 2016 a fellow forumer had sold his 4200 but just before he took off the mods he had and was selling them - one of the mods was a Formula Dynamics Engine Control Module (FD ECM). A few people seemed interested but didnt buy it as it required reprogramming by FD for a small additional fee and some extra hassle of sending it to Las Vegas... i got the ECM for £200 and a further £150 for it to go to the USA reprogram by FD and returned - bargain considering the list price. I got this installed also in February during the major.

The other thing I asked the local specialist to look at is the faulty sport button - they diagnose a failed switch on the panel - I got a new one under warranty plus a new Mass Airflow Meter (saves me £1K)... Sport button itself shows it is working on the SD2/3 but the mode still does not engage so it requires further investigation (to be continued later)

After the aforementioned service I realise the car is extremely damp inside and it has some intermittent electrical faults - for example when I turned on the heated rear window the interior lights would turn on!!! again wtf! I took the carpet up the passenger side transmission tunnel and kick plate away to inspect for water ingress and I notice some damp patches plus a gunked up wiring loom from coolant leaking onto it from the matrix located directly above the loom... I taste it and it has a sweet flavour... I actually text @CatmanV2 asking for his opinion and he says 100% failed heater matrix... add insult to injury the warranty ran out a week ago, you can only laugh right? I divert the heater matrix to avoid further damage, it still does leak but under much less pressure hence water ingress slows right down. Ponder changing it myself problem is I do not have enough room to temporarily store an entire cars interior - to be continued


Next step, cam cover gaskets DIY and heater matrix
 
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1,365
#5
Oh we like build threads
Good, there should be a fair amount of content for me to share

Interesting read, yet you're near me in the Surrey hills... With a similar 2003 4200... Spooky.
When I bought the car I lived in Godalming, now I am in Guildford

Main difference between our cars is the transmission

I have seen your car a few time when we have attended the same shows but we have not really spoken properly, guess Le Mans will change that :)
 
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1,365
#6
I am already screwing up the chronology of this thread

Going back slightly to November 2016 I found that the rear track rod end bushes were shot (another common fault). One solution is to press the old bearings out and replace them for like for like SFK bushes.

I opted for the Craig Waterman / Formula Dynamics uprated rose joints. Along with the new rears I purchased some new front track rod ends and put it in for Hunter Alignment at one of the local garages who did a good job but did not touch the camber
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5,845
#8
Doing the alignement is probably the best thing ever to do to a car, forget engine mods, £150 spent on getting the handling right is worth 100bhp...power is nothing without control...as a tyre company said...
 
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1,980
#9
It was time for the last show on the year at the end of October just before the gritters hit the road: Super Car Saturday at Castle Combe

.... and got featured in the Stroke Association video of the event. Here is FIFTY and some stout bloke peering into the engine bay of his QPV:

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That takes me back!
https://www.sportsmaserati.com/inde...ombe-28-october-2017.24432/page-2#post-594995
https://www.sportsmaserati.com/inde...ombe-29-october-2016.21658/page-6#post-524410
 

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1,365
#10
@MarkMas You mean looking into the engine bay of your QP lol

That was a good show and much warmer that the 2018 event, we were wearing thermals and ski jacket and still shivering!
 

Paulg390

New Member
Messages
11
#11
Excellent write up.. and love the sound of it with the mods you have done. I have bought some secondhand Quicksilver back boxes that I hope will give a sound as good as that...
 
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1,365
#12
Excellent write up.. and love the sound of it with the mods you have done. I have bought some secondhand Quicksilver back boxes that I hope will give a sound as good as that...
Thanks fair bit more ahead including more exhaust mods. The sound is quite addictive most find it difficult to know when to stop

Did you get the silenced quicksilvers or the straight through's?
 

Paulg390

New Member
Messages
11
#14
Thanks fair bit more ahead including more exhaust mods. The sound is quite addictive most find it difficult to know when to stop

Did you get the silenced quicksilvers or the straight through's?
Thanks fair bit more ahead including more exhaust mods. The sound is quite addictive most find it difficult to know when to stop

Did you get the silenced quicksilvers or the straight through's?
Straight throughs... slightly worried as they guy who was selling them said he was taking them off as they made his Spyder too noisy.... :)
 
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1,365
#15
That X pipe looks a shocking piece of work though was Steive Wonder the welder?
I am not going to call out the company that did it but he struggled with the tube bending and had to make two attempts until it fit - I would have rather he turned me away after screwing up the first attempt and got myself the Autoshield / Benny X pipe which I have seen photos of and looks quality. It cost £250 and is going to be worth whatever the scrap merchant will give me once I am done with it... this will not go on another Maserati

The cat section was pretty poor too but I got it all rewelded properly with 200 cell 40g loaded cats only last week to get through the MOT as the 100 cell cats he welded in got cooked. I will do a post on it with before and after photos later on in this thread.

Here is another angle on that x pipe... During my ownership I have had a couple of experiences like this but they are all life lessons really, certainly won't make the same mistakes again!

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1,365
#16
Straight throughs... slightly worried as they guy who was selling them said he was taking them off as they made his Spyder too noisy.... :)
Depends on how far you go really... a good combination would be sports cats + straight through boxes with the standard silenced centre section X pipe this will help avoid a lot of drone. The temptation for you would be to do x/h + straight through boxes which could unleash a lot of drone - then if you do the cats it will be ear shattering

I installed GS boxes with a working valve kit last year which will be detailed in a later update
 
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1,365
#18
Doing the alignement is probably the best thing ever to do to a car, forget engine mods, £150 spent on getting the handling right is worth 100bhp...power is nothing without control...as a tyre company said...
Agreed I try to keep up the alignment on my company car as much as I can but with the miles I do the garage reccomends that I come in every 6 months lol!

The rear track rod end bush are a known weakness on these cars, I have read that they can go every 10k miles. The Rose Joints from Craig will never fail which is the reason why I went for them, It does make cats eyes on the road a bit harder on the rear of the car when on the motorway but its not that bad. This will not be the last time I reference Craig Waterman's blog as I have used his how-to's a few times now. If that bush is left too long it can make the car quite lethal according to the experience detailed on his blog:

http://craig-waterman.com/?cat=40
 
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1,365
#19
Cam cover gasket DIY

To be honest I followed Craig Waterman's DIY and it is pretty much spot on: http://craig-waterman.com/?p=571

The only thing I have to add is on the Right bank (UK drivers side) Craig does not mention that you need to move the coolant reservoir out of the way - I guess using common sense you would know to shift it out of the way but I did get stuck on it for quite a while.

I got the gasket kit from Super Performance for around £80. If you go for the main dealer/specialist route this is about 6hrs labour

For my first attempt it took 12 hours

I would say to take lots of breaks when doing this job, probably every 2hrs because the engine is quite low and it can fatigue your back a bit - use extension bars on your ratchets to help avoid leaning into the engine bay too much.

Of course I did not follow my own advice and ploughed through the first 6hrs until I thought I dropped a washer in the engine when I was removing one of the cam covers (basically being totally irrational because I was fatigued from not taking breaks). What actually dropped on the floor was a bolt that was holding the secondary air pipework around the front of the engine. I only figured it out after using several telescopic magnets around the front of the engine and a borescope in the engine to be sure I did not f'up. Eventually when putting it all back together all washers were accounted for so there you have it another lesson learnt!

Notice the heater matrix divert over the top of the engine.

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Removing this valve is by far the most fiddly part of the job, left bank shown below is OK because there is plenty of space for your hands to work underneath the bracket - however the right bank on the other side is an absolute pain, even with the coolant reservoir out of the way (which makes it actually possible to do) it is still quite tricky, prepare to swear a lot.

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Job done!

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1,365
#20
Another thing I replaced on the car during the early stages but did not photograph is the brake fluid reservoir cap. The one that came on the car was split apart from going brittle so the brake fluid was exposed. After changing to the new forum discs and yellow stuff pads the braking performance was not that much better. Had the brakes bled on the service (not confident doing it myself) and suddenly the car would stop properly. I am not sure the stigma of these cars being under braked is totally accurate as long as the braking system is properly maintained