The RARE 1961 MASERATI 5000 GT Coupe was constructed to satisfy an order dreamt up by the Shah of Persia, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
He wanted a road-going GT auto Car supported by the Maserati 3500 GT and powered by the leading edge 400+ bhp V8 engine from the Maserati 450S sports activities racing car.
Just 34 of those motors would be built with the official name “Maserati 5000 GT”, however the cars are sometimes mentioned as the “Shah of Persia” due to their provenance. It was the Shah who personally hired Giulio Alfieri, Maserati’s chief engineer, to make a more road-oriented model of the 450S engine with a narrower bore and an improved stroke.
This modified 450S engine would then be equipped to a Maserati 3500 GT with a bespoke aluminum body developed through Carrozzeria Touring using their Superleggera technique later used on vehicles like the Aston Martin DB5.
The list of luminaries who would pay the then-exorbitant price of approximately $17,000 USD for the 5000 GT (roughly double the MSRP of the 3500 GT) were:
- Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos
- Actor Stewart Granger
- Industrialist and principal shareholder of Fiat Gianni Agnelli
- American entrepreneur and sportsman Briggs Cunningham
- The Italian businessman and creator of the Lambretta motor scooter Ferdinando Innocenti
- Count Giuseppe Comola
- Basil Read
The less than three dozen examples were constructed between 1959 and 1965, each is unique in its very own way having been generally tailor-made to go well with the tastes of the person ordering it.
THE 5000 GT SPECIFICATIONS
It’s hard to overstate how advanced this engine was for its time, it was a 90º 4,937cc V8 with all aluminum alloy construction (block and heads) double gear-driven overhead cams per bank, 4 Weber 45 DCOE carburettors, a mechanical Magneti-Marelli ignition, twin spark plugs per cylinder, a dry sump, a 4-speed ZF (later upgraded to a 5-speed) and 325 bhp at 5,500 rpm with ~360 ft lbs of torque at 5,500 rpm in full race trim.
These figures are remarkable today, but in 1956 they were mind-bending. Formula 1 motors of the generation were usually producing below 300 hp, so this engine improvement for the 3500 GT was the approximate modern equivalent of dropping a ~1,000 bhp engine into a luxurious sports touring car.
Early examples of RARE 1961 MASERATI 5000 GT has disc brakes up front with drum brakes within the rear, later cars obtained disc brakes on all 4 corners – possibly a really beneficial upgrade considering the power on offer.
A number of outstanding body designs were built for the 5000 GT, the primary was bodied by Touring however Carrozzeria Allemano would take over coachbuilding responsibilities for following 22 automobiles with a body designed by Michelotti.
THE 1961 MASERATI 5000 GT SHOWN HERE
The 5000 GT you see here was feared lost for several years, until it had been rediscovered languishing in its current condition within the Middle East . It had been bought by Rubayan Alrubayan, a Saudi car enthusiast, in the 1970s and left outdoors in the sahara desert for many years.
After Alrubayan’s passing his family moved the vehicle indoors to maintain it and have now decided to list it for sale.
As it happens, this is the only 5000 GT constructed by Ghia, it was once created for Ferdinando Innocenti the man behind the Lambretta motor scooter.
This heritage possibly means this car will attract a lot of interest from collectors, even more than an already rare 5000 GT would.
Interestingly the Arabic spray paint on the side of the door marked this vehicle as “abandoned” and due to be scrapped, so it was fortuitous that it was saved from not simply the desert sands but the wreckers as well.
RM Sotheby’s list the vehicle as being in remarkably complete condition, a present to the future restorer, with its engine and drivetrain appearing complete.
The body is steel and it will need considerable work, however a capable restoration crew should have no trouble getting the vehicle back to its former glory – hopefully keeping as much of the unique metal as is humanly possible.
Of course, the total outlay could possibly double the hammer charge of $533,000 (within the pre-sale estimate vary of $500,000 to $700,000) by the time this Maserati sees the road again.
With a possible restored cost in excess of $1 million based totally on previous 5000 GT sales, the new owner just might come out ahead.