The first Shah of Persia

Shah wanted more Maserati magic

Riley Riley

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

Model Type 5000 GT
Production period 1959/1964
Engine Eight cylinders, V – 90°
Displacement 4937,8 cc (from 1960: 4941,1 cc)
Bore and stroke 98,5 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 ratio 8,5:1
Valves train Dual overhead camshafts per bank
Valves Two per cylinder
Ignition Double with two Marelli or Lucas distributors
Engine lubrication Forced with pressure pump
Clutch Dry twin discs
Gearbox Four speeds + R (from 1963: five speeds + R)
Frame Tubular
Front suspensions Coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers
Rear suspensions Semi-elliptical leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers
Brakes Power-assisted front discs and rear drums
Wheelbase 2600 mm
Track Front 1390 mm ; Rear 1360 mm
Body Two doors Coupè, 2+2 seats
Dry Weight 1500 Kg
Max. Speed 260-270 Km/h

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