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Maserati celebrates 5000 GT’s 60th birthday

Maserati 5000 GT -© Michael Furman

The legendary Maserati 5000 GT was the star of the 1959 Turin Motor Show .

Built at the specific request of the Shah of Persia, Reza Pahlavi, just 34 cars of this model were built at the Viale Ciro Menotti plant in Modena, with bodywork added by Italy’s top coachbuilders of the period.

The then Shah of Persia was a great enthusiast of high-performance sports cars and test-drove a 3500 GT towards the end of 1958.

Maserati 5000 GT -© Michael Furman

He was delighted with it. However, he requested an increase in performance, and Giulio Alfieri, Maserati technical director at the time, realised that the car would have to be completely redesigned to satisfy this prestige customer’s demands.

The resulting AM103 project, continued through during 1959, and was in effect a new car and not merely a customisation.

The heart of the design was the V8 engine of the 450S (the famous Maserati racing barchetta), with its bore increased to upgrade its displacement to almost five litres. The 5000 GT, a prestigious 2+2 coupé, was born.

The car, of which the first bodywork was built by Carrozzeria Touring, was launched at the 1959 Turin Motor Show, and received the nickname “Shah of Persia” in honour of its unique customer and only three of that special version were ever produced.

Maserati 5000 GT -© Michael Furman

The next year, in 1960, the 5000 GT was exhibited at the Geneva International Motor Show, with a few revisions to the engine.

The most interesting fact of the Maserati 5000 GT was that it was built with bodywork by almost all the leading Italian coachbuilders of the time, including Allemano, Pininfarina, Monterosa, Ghia, Bertone, Frua, and Michelotti for Vignale.

Other star customers included Prince Karim Aga Khan (car with bodywork by Carozzeria Frua), Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli (Carozzeria Pininfarina), industrialist Ferdinando Innocenti (Carrozzeria Ghia), film star Stewart Granger (Carrozzeria Allemano) and Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos (Carrozzeria Allemano).

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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