One of Three by Frua: 1962 Maserati 5000 GT

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Each of the 34 examples of the Maserati 5000 GT is a storybook in its own right. The first of these exotic beasts was commissioned by the Shah of Persia (now Iran), who pined for a 450S (nine made, terminated when Maserati left racing). The road-going 3500 GT was too common to satisfy his highness but held promise if properly modified. The Shah paid Maserati to strengthen the chassis and suspension of a 3500 to accept a 4.9 liter V8 derived from the 450S. The body was built by Carrozzeria Touring, the car was painted dark blue, and the final result was shipped to the Shah. A second car was sent to South African millionaire Basil Read. Once the Shah purchased his car, other royals clamored for their own copies. Maserati increased the 5000’s engine displacement slightly, added fuel injection, and upgraded to a five-speed ZF transmission, sending several more cars to various coachbuilders (eight in all) at the behest of their celebrity buyers. These included Karim Aga Khan, Briggs Cunningham, and Gianni Agnelli. Here at Kidston is the first of three Frua-bodied Maserati 5000 GTs, a 1962 example. Initially painted gold, and swanned around to shows in Geneva, Paris, and Italy by the factory, it was finally repainted a deep metallic red in 1963, assigned a fresh chassis number, and sold as a new car.

Eventually, this example was given to King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his exile in Egypt – a gift from his son. King Saud was exiled from his exile (to Athens this time), and the car was impounded by the Egyptian government for decades. Sold a few times around the year 2000, the car was refurbished during a four-year period and shown in its original gold livery. Its most recent owner, preferring the ruby shade of its former life, had it repainted yet again, enjoyed it for ten years, and is now ready to part with it. We have Araknid78 to thank for this exotic tip.

While the 5000 GT was bred for performance, the reality is that few of these cars have been exercised rigorously. Ostensibly, the car’s 340 hp, four cams, Girling disc brakes all around, and 184 mph top speed should have been a siren song for lovers of exotic machinery. But owners complained of rough running and a lack of power, among other ills. Robertino Wild, an elite German mechanic and race driver, reported in this interview that the factory had trouble balancing the crankshafts and was inexperienced with its Lucas injection. Reworking those components can transform the car – for the lucky owner who can afford the work.

This example was supplied with a deerskin suede interior, now appearing in top-notch condition. The elegant dash is bedecked with polished trim and switches, punctuated by a slender wood-rimmed steering wheel bearing the famous trident. Each 5000 GT is different, and as mentioned above, each has a story. This one was abandoned in the Arabian desert. The Shah’s Maserati 5000 was one of the few cars he was able to keep safe from the revolution. Like their stories, values are all over the lot. This car, despite its illustrious past, failed to sell at Sotheby’s several years ago. A recent sale at Amelia Island set a multi-year low-water mark of around $417k. Any guesses at the asking price on this one?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    1962-5 speed transmission, 340HP 5.0 V-8, 184MPH. In essence a street legal race car with I’m sure priced accordingly and an amazing story to tell. To that end, you’re absolutely right, Michelle-every car has a history to tell, some interesting some mundane. You have a way of bringing interesting cars into their own light, making for some fascinating reading.
    Readers like Bill McCoskey with his forensic knowledge, Howard A. and geomechs on heavy trucks, gaspumpchas, Wayne, bobhess, Rex Cahrs and all the others here make for a schooling every day.
    You added history and make it all the better.
    Best guess asking price?
    $1.2 million.
    But I’ll bet they take a lot less now…

    Like 9
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Aw, thanks… You put me in some pretty august company – Howard and geomechs, bobhess et al – I’m not one-tenth as handy mechanically as those guys, so I have to find another way to be useful around here!

      Like 4
  2. John Holden

    I once had an Allemano-bodied 5000GT with the dreaded Lucas fuel injection. Nevadahalftrack’s right in that it was, in theory, a 300 hp 300kph race/road car, 120 kph in first gear, etc., etc., but mine never ran right, over-feeding fuel that ended up diluting the oil – and creating a time bomb! I ended up swapping it for an MB 280 saloon that ran beautifully. The Maserati (No. 103 046) was eventually shipped back to Europe (from Venezuela) and, after – I hope – exchanging the fuel injection system for carburetors, was later sold at Goodings for USD 800,000.

    Like 1
  3. Gerard Frederick

    ´Dreaded¨ Lucas fuel injection? You don´t say-

    Like 2
    • Stu

      Why do Brits drink warm beer?
      Lucas Refrigeration!

      Like 7
    • jwaltb

      I’ve never seen one of these ugly before.
      Boo to Frua.

      Like 0
  4. TheOldRanger

    Interestingly different, but “way outta my league”

    Like 2
  5. Scott Marquis

    This stunner would make an exceptional gift for my birthday.

    Like 0
  6. Howie

    Wow!! What a beauty!!

    Like 2
  7. Ray

    One word….UGLY!

    Like 1
    • jwaltb

      Totally agree.

      Like 0
  8. macvaugh

    I guess Joe Walsh must have been one of the owners: A couple of years ago, Walsh told Rolling Stone that he eventually bought a 1964 5000GT, having been slightly shamed by the song’s success. “Everyone was making me feel really guilty,” he said, when he’d confess to not owning the car. “The look of sadness on their face.” So he got himself a Maserati.

    “I don’t know if it does 185,” Walsh admitted. “I chickened out at 140.”

    Like 2
    • Tony B.

      I “believe” that Joe’s former car was recently impounded by the Australian Government. I just read an article about Maserati’s from all over the world being shipped down there for a meet, Joe’s former car being one of them. Officials impounded them to check for asbestos, and it sounded like the owner was having the car(s) shipped back, rather than go through the costly and invasive inspection.

      Like 0
  9. jwaltb

    What a rat’s nest of spark plug wires. This thing has been used, abused, left sitting, etc. I wouldn’t go near it if I could afford it, which I certainly can’t! The Allemano-bodied one is so much prettier.

    Like 1
    • EuromotoMember

      Don’t hold back, Jwalt, tell us all how you really feel about the car.

      Like 1
    • PeterfromOZ

      The rats nest is two spark plugs per cylinder, hence all the wires. Comes from the racing heritage of the engine.

      Like 1
      • jwaltb

        That’s fine. Look at pictures of other ones and the routing is much neater. That’s telling, imo.

        Like 0
  10. OlfCarGuy (And not too worried about not getting older)

    Any other chickens out there?

    Call me.


    Like 0
  11. ACB

    The name “Persia” was changed to “Iran” in 1935.

    Like 0
  12. OlfCarGuy (And not too worried about not getting older)

    I was hoping someone would reply, and say “Here, you see if you can get it to go any faster”. I’ve yet to drive anything that was fast enough to test my mettle.

    Like 0
  13. OldCarGuy

    OldCarGuy, not OlfCarGuy (And not too worried about not getting older). I am starting to set worried about finger control, though.

    Like 0

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