In 1958 the Shah of Iran was impressed with a test drive in a Maserati 3500GT Coupé and upon learning of some 450S race cars, made obsolete by the change in sports car regulations to a maximum engine 3 litre / 183 cui engine capacity, loitering in the Maserati factory asked for one of the new Coupé’s to be fitted with an obsolete 4.5 litre race car engine.
Maserati were happy to oblige this royal request which got the limited production of the 5000GT Tipo 103 under way. After the Shah’s car was completed in 1959 with Carrozeria Touring bodywork a second car was built with similar bodywork and a motor sourced out of a race car and taken to the 1959 Turin Show where it was sold to South African millionaire Basil Read, owner of the Kyalami race track.
Before being sold journalist Hans Tanner was taken for a test drive with Maserati’s test driver Gurrino Bertocchi in the second car and reported that after easily taking a sweeping bend on an autostrada at 158mph the car hit 172mph, not bad for a road car in 2014, absolutely sensational for a road car in 1959 !
The 5000GT available only with 4 or 5 speed manual gearbox sold for twice as much as a regular 3500GT.
Today’s featured car chassis #103.036, was built in 1962 with one of the 22, most common for the type, Allemano bodies styled by Giovanni Michelotti.
#103.036 was originally painted green and supplied to Stuttgart based Maserati dealers Merz & Pabst in 1962, not 1959 as indicated by the display board at Goodwood Festival of Speed where these photo’s were taken.
Merz and Pabst sold the car to an interesting chap born James Lablache Stewart who took his mothers maiden name when he took up acting to become Stewart Granger.
After making films including A Southern Maid (1933) and The Man in Grey (1943) in the UK Stewart moved to the States to make films including The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) and North to Alaska (1960) before returning to Europe to make numerous of continental productions that included films a trilogy of westerns based on stories by the German author Karl May.
During this time in Europe spanning the 1960’s Granger, who famously declared himself not to be an an actor’s actor, once said he earned and lost US$ 1.5 million.
Thanks for joining me on this “The Man In Green” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Amilcar racer. Don’t forget to come back now !