Betcha haven’t laid eyes on one of these Maserati beauties before?

The Maserati 5000 GT, a bespoke 2+2 coupé, which made its debut at the Turin Motor Show — is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Better known as the The Shah of Persia, the big coupe was built on the request of Reza Pahlavi — you guessed it, the Shah of Persia.

Just 34 of the cars were built at the Viale Ciro Menotti plant in Modena, with bodywork added by Italy’s top coach builders of the period.

The Shah was a big fan of high-performance sports cars and test-drove a 3500 GT towards the end of 1958.

He was reportedly “delighted” with the car, but wanted more performance of course and Maserati was happy to oblige.

But Maserati technical director at the time, Giulio Alfieri, realised the car would have to be completely redesigned to satisfy the request.

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

Heart of the design was the V8 engine from the 450S (the famous Maserati racing barchetta), bored to displace almost 5.0 litres.

And so, the 5000 GT was born.

Only three of that special version were ever produced., with bodywork by Carrozzeria Touring.

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

Its great success led to the production of a number of cars for prestige customers.

They 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).


Technical Details

ModelType 5000 GT
Production period1959/1964
EngineEight cylinders, V – 90°
Displacement4937,8 cc (from 1960: 4941,1 cc)
Bore and stroke98,5 mm x 81 mm (from 1960: 94 mm x 89 mm)
Power 242kW at 5500 rev/min. (from 1960: 250kW at 5800 rev/min)
Compression ratio8,5:1
Valves trainDual overhead camshafts per bank
ValvesTwo per cylinder
IgnitionDouble with two Marelli or Lucas distributors
Engine lubricationForced with pressure pump
ClutchDry twin discs
GearboxFour speeds + R (from 1963: five speeds + R)
Front suspensionsCoil springs and telescopic shock absorbers
Rear suspensionsSemi-elliptical leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers
BrakesPower-assisted front discs and rear drums
Wheelbase2600 mm
TrackFront 1390 mm ; Rear 1360 mm
BodyTwo doors Coupè, 2+2 seats
Dry Weight1500 Kg
Max. Speed260-270 Km/h

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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