The Maserati 3500 GT was one of the finest Italian cars of the late Fifties and the early Sixties, a model which led to the introduction of the Maserati 5000 GT, the first of which was built specially for the Shah of Persia.

The Shah was known as a connoisseur of good living with a need for speed.

According to rumours of the time, the Shaah liked the 3500GTand considered ordering one for stable of fast cars.

His only stipulation was that the vehicle be fited with a V8 5000cc engine as fitted in Maserati's 450 S racing car.

To keep power to the maximum the engine retained its quadruple overhead camshafts and twin-spark ignition capable of generating 370bhp o

In fact, the 5000GT was easily capable of reaching a top speed of 282 km/h (175mph), an astounding figure for the times.

The launch of the 5000GT went ahead with the minimum of fanfare in the shadow of the tragic end to Maserati's illustrious racing career.

The company‘s race track adventures came to a dramatic end in 1957 at the World Sports Car Race in Venezuela when its entire team of 450S racing cars were written off in a series of unconnected accidents.

This event, as well as being particularly demoralising for the company, also proved to be financially crippling.

These factors acted as a spur that caused Maserati to decide it prudent to withdraw from motor racing to concentrate on building road cars.

On the upside, as a direct result of the Venezuela disaster. Maserati was left with a number of 450S V8 quad-camshaft racing engines, of 4935cc (301 cu in) capacity.

Supposedly at the suggestion of the Shah of Iran, the engines were fitted into the 3500GT chassis, giving birth to the new Maserati 5000GT model.

The 1959 Italian Motor Show at Turin saw the launch of this stunningly powerful car.

Featuring such innovations as disc brakes on the front brakes, a four-speed gearbox, and the same suspension as the 3500GT, of the 32 cars produced, 21 had bodies built by Allemano with Touring taking credit for another four.

Other leading Italian coachbuilders commissioned to produceindividual 5000GTs either by Maserati or private buyers were Pininfarina, Bertone, Frua, Michelotti, Vignale, and Monterosa. The 5000GT was never going to be a major seller- in fact, a total of just thirty four 5000GT road cars were produced between 1959 and 1964.

Despite its lack of commercial success, the model did once again act as an excellent stepping stone as Maserati continued their drive to be a player in the luxury sports cruiser sector.

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