1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Ghia AM103 018 escapes the desert

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Unique Ghia-bodied Maserati 5000GT spent half a century in the Saudi Arabian sun


Barn Finds

The only Maserati 5000GT with Ghia coachwork has been consigned to auction after nearly 50 years of exterior storage in Saudi Arabia’s unforgiving sun. Although largely complete, only a glance is needed to see the scope of the work the car now requires.


1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Ghia
1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Ghia

Early in the Seventies it made its way to Saudi Arabia in the hands of Rubayan al-Rubayan, who seems to have parked it outside soon after and barely used it. After his death a few years ago, his heirs moved the car indoors to prevent further damage - there’s apparently an Arabic message in spray paint on one door saying the car is abandoned and due to be scrapped.

Andy Heywood of McGrath Maserati has heard rumours of the car’s whereabouts for two or three years, ‘It was genuinely thought to be lost for a long time, and I’d say it’s the biggest Maserati find since the A6G in the Baillon Collection. I’d love to get the job of restoring it.’

Chassis AM103 018 was designed by Ghia’s Sergio Sartorelli for Ferdinando Innocenti. It’s not known when Innocenti sold the car but it’s thought that it passed through other owners in Italy, changing colour from its original silver to a mid-blue, the remnants of which are evident.

The car has been given a $500k-$700k estimate for the RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey on 17th August, where a sleek ex-Briggs Cunningham 5000GT by Michelotti is pitched at $700k-$850k.


 

The unique Maserati has a probably genuine odometer reading of just 15,561km


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  1. Bimmer Trimmer

Chassis No.
Engine No.
AM103 018
AM103 018

Displayed by Ghia at the 1961 Turin Motor Show

One of only 34 5000 GTs built, and the only example bodied by Ghia
Originally built for Ferdinando Innocenti, creator of the Lambretta scooter
Whereabouts unknown until recently discovered after 50-plus years
Offered from single-family ownership for the last several decades
Stunning one-off example of Maserati’s ultimate road car

Intrigued by the Maserati 3500 GT but looking for something more exclusive, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, approached Maserati to build him a road car with the powerful five-liter V8 that was developed for the mighty 450S sports racing car. Maserati, keen to field expensive specialty orders from wealthy clients, set about the task, with engineer Giulio Alfieri reinforcing a 3500 GT chassis and dropping in one of the unused 450S motors.

The new model was named the 5000 GT and was publicly introduced at the Turin Motor Show in November 1959, and two additional cars were soon built to the same mechanical configuration. The V8 was soon re-engineered for better manners around town, and in this form, 31 more cars were built for a total of 34 examples.

At almost twice the price of the 3500 GT, and bodied by no less than eight different coachbuilders to varying designs, the 5000 GT was a top-shelf automobile on par with the Ferrari Superamericas being produced in Maranello. They justifiably attracted the attention of an elite ownership that included Gianni Agnelli, Briggs Cunningham, and the Aga Khan, among other influential buyers.

This 5000 GT, chassis no. AM103 018, was completed in July 1961 and was the ninth example built. Most 5000 GTs were built with understated bodies by Allemano, but 018 was the only example coachbuilt by Ghia. Sergio Sartorelli, head of the style prototyping department at Ghia, created its stunning one-off design incorporating cutting-edge styling elements of the time, many of which were later seen on other Ghia designs. Sartorelli was best known for designing the Karmann Ghia Type 34, Fiat 126, Fiat 2300 coupe, and Chrysler Ghia Crown Imperial limousine, along with his work as the director of design at OSI.

In addition to his work with Ghia and OSI, Sartorelli also designed a few prototype Lambretta scooters, meeting Ferdinando Innocenti in the process. An Italian businessman whose factories were destroyed in World War II, Innocenti envisioned a future of affordable transportation and created the Lambretta scooter in 1947, making him one of the wealthiest people in the country. Innocenti recognized Sartorelli’s talent and had him design his personal 5000 GT.

Ghia displayed 018 on their stand at the 1961 Turin Auto Show, finished in its original color combination of silver over black. A high-quality period color photo of the car at Turin shows its beautiful design and color combination. Before delivery to Innocenti, Maserati loaned the car to Sports Car Graphic editor Bernard Cahier for a high-speed road test featured in their January 1962 issue. Cahier wrote, “We found ourselves glued to our seats by the tremendous acceleration such as is found only in racing cars…I have driven many fast cars before, but never did I feel such power coming on so fast, so fast indeed that when I shifted from 3rd into top gear on the first little straight, I found that the car was already doing 135 mph!” The Maserati covered a standing kilometer in 26.6 seconds at 135 mph, the fastest sprint Cahier had ever recorded at that time.

Innocenti later sold the car, and after being owned by a few people in Italy, 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 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. Arabic spray paint on the side of the door marked it as abandoned and due to be scrapped, but thankfully it was saved just in time.

After sitting outside for nearly 50 years, AM103 018 is in remarkably complete condition and would be an ideal example to restore to its former show-car glory. 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 trunk! Original pencil drawings from Ghia can be seen on the inside of the driver’s-side door panel where the leather has peeled back, and the original glass remains in excellent condition. Although difficult to read, the odometer shows 15,561 kilometers, which very likely is its original mileage. As a one-off coachbuilt example of Maserati’s ultimate road car, it would be celebrated at virtually every concours event and is eagerly awaiting its return to the limelight.

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  1. Gitter Max    Bimmer Trimmer

Let’s assume for the moment that the car hammers for 2 Million. Following the article’s content, let us also assume a $500,000 Restoration. I think that’s a low number but let’s run with it. The owner is now in the car 2.5 Million Dollars plus getting it past Motor Vehicles in his State and Insurance. I bet the car will appreciate very well so there is no worry about the dollars. Even with a Correction coming in 2020. But would the Owner now drive this 2.5M + Beauty on the street with all the illiterate drivers out there?

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  1. Guy GURU Baker    Gitter Max

Possibly. Have you seen the multi-million dollar cars going wheel to wheel at Goodwood Revival or members meeting? I take this stance, once it’s restore, it can be restored again without losing anything. They are only original once, and once you lose that it really doesn’t matter if you restore it once or five times (so long as they are all top notch restorations.)

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