1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Ghia
The 5000 GT first came into being when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, approached Maserati to build him a road car with the powerful five-litre V-8 that was developed for the mighty 450S sports racing car.
Maserati always keen to field expensive specialty orders from wealthy clients tasked engineer Giulio Alfieri with reinforcing a 3500 GT chassis and dropping in an unused 450S motor to fulfil the Shahs request.
This new model was named the 5000 GT and debut at the Turin Motor Show in November 1959. 2 additional 5000 GTs were soon built to the same mechanical configuration and a de-tuned V-8 for around town was fitted to the proceeding models. Thirty-one cars were produced in this form, for a total of thirty-four.
The 5000 GT was twice the price (US$17,000) of the 3500 and was bodied by no less than eight different coachbuilders to varying designs. The 5000 GT was a highly desirable vehicle that justifiably attracted the attention of the rich and famous.
Buyers included Karim Aga Khan, Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli, sportsman Briggs Cunningham, actor Stewart Granger and Ferdinando Innocenti, creator of the Lambretta scooter and the original owner of the unrestored example pictured here.
Ghia displayed chassis no. 018 (pictured here) on their stand at the 1961 Turin Auto Show, finished in its original colour combination of silver over black. 018 was the only example coach built by Ghia and specially built for Ferdinando Innocenti after Innocenti became aware of the design prowess of Sergio Sartorelli. Sartorelli was head of the style prototyping department at Ghia and created this stunning one-off design. Sartorelli was best known for designing the Karmann Ghia Type 34, Fiat 126 and Fiat 2300 coupe.
Innocenti later sold the car and it found its way to Saudi Arabia, where it was long thought to have been lost. Rubayan Alrubayan, a Saudi Arabian car enthusiast, acquired the Maserati in the 1970s and, unaware of its significance, parked the car, where it sat unmoved for decades.
After sitting outside for nearly 50 years, 018 is in remarkably complete condition. Although weathered, it has never been vandalized, disassembled, or stripped of parts. Remnants of its original silver paint and subsequent blue paint (from the mid-1960s) are visible. Even the unused spare tire is still in the boot.
Original pencil drawings from Ghia can be seen on the inside of the driver’s-side door panel where the leather has peeled.
After Alrubayan’s death several years ago, his heirs decided to bring the car inside to prevent further decay and are now offering it for sale by RM Sotheby’s.
Hopefully it will be restored to its former glory and grace a concourse event sometime in the near future.
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Images by Robin Adams ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's