The 60-Year-Old Maserati 5000 GT Was The Ultimate Bespoke Grand Tourer In Its Day (And It Still Is)
The Maserati 5000 GT was the ultimate expression of performance and style in its day and its beautifully sculpted lines must have caused quite a stir when it was first unveiled to the public at the 1959 Turin Motor Show.
Back in the 1950s Maserati already had a powerful grand tourer in its line-up in the shape of the 3500 GT, the 2+2 coupe was fitted with a 3.5-liter straight-six motor capable of up to 232hp in fuel-injected trim. After a test drive, Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Persia at the time decided that this undeniably quick sports car didn’t quite meet his exacting needs for performance and exclusivity.
To the rescue came Maserati technical director Giulio Alfieri. He embarked on a complete overhaul of the 3500 GT and a year later the 5000 GT was released. Its 4.9-liter V8 (borrowed from the marque’s racing Barchetta) developed between 325 and 340hp and with prices starting at twice that of the 3500 GT. The performance and exclusivity prerequisites set by the Shah were finally met.
The very first 5000 GT featured bodywork by Carrozzeria Touring but, over its six years of production, almost every major coachbuilder got in on the act. Despite just 34 examples being built the list included Allemano, Pininfarina, Monterosa, Ghia, Bertone, Frua and even Michelotti for Vignale. All had created their own bespoke bodies for a range of equally famous clients which ranged from Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli (Carozzeria Pininfarina) to Prince Karim Aga Khan (bodywork by Carozzeria Frua).
That very first car was nicknamed the “Shah of Persia” after its rather special customer, and just three 5000 GTs were produced to that specification.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Maserati 5000 GT represented the pinnacle of technology and hand-crafted exclusivity in its day. Six decades on it is an important part of Maserati’s fascinating early history and it remains an utterly desirable vehicle, still only accessible to the select few.