“Rust bucket” is usually a term that is used to describe your first car in High School—the kind of car that is more rust orange than any other car. RM Sotheby’s is offering a car that would fit into that category. The first thing you notice is how the car seems to be held together by wishful thinking more than by any structural integrity of itself. Then you notice the price tag: $533,000. After the requisite double take to make sure you read that right, you’ll start looking for a reason why this car is so expensive. It won’t take long before you get your answer: this car is a 1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Ghia.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, approached Maserati with a request to put together something a bit more exclusive than the Maserati 3500 GT. The Shah wanted a road car that featured a 5-liter V8, the same engine developed for the 450S sports racing car. Engineer Giulio Alfieri was pleased to oblige, and dropped an unused 450S motor into a reinforced 3500 GT chassis. The resulting design became the 5000 GT, and was introduced to the world at the Turin Motor Show in November 1959. Two more cars of the same specs were made before the V8 was re-engineered, and another 31 cars were made.
The example that RM Sotheby’s is offering is ninth example built. This particular model is the only one that was coach built by Ghia. The car was finished in silver over black. The car was sold to Ferdinando Innocenti. It later made its way around Italy before going to Saudi Arabia. Long thought lost, the car was actually in the possession of Rubayan Alrubayan, who left it parked for decades. Spray paint on the side of the car marks it as abandoned, and even denotes that it will be scrapped. When Alrubayan passed, his heirs brought the car inside to prevent even more decay.
If you’re looking for a project car that could be restored to glory, this might be it. Just know that you’ve got your work cut out for you, but you’ll also end up with a historic treasure.