Page 1 of 2 Next >> With the launch of the 3500 GT in 1957, Maserati almost overnight switched from constructing competition and bespoke road cars, to a volume manufacturer. While this ended a long and rich tradition, the drastic step was necessary to ensure the company's survival. Maserati's engineers did use their wealth of experience to ensure the 3500 GT lived up to the reputation of the cars that came before.
Some customers of old, however, desired something a little more exclusive than the relatively high volume 3500 GT. Loudest among them was the Shah of Perzia, Reza Pahlavi. In Giulio Alfieri, he found more than a willing ear. Maserati's chief engineer had already dreamed about combining the 3500 GT chassis with the race-bred V8. This had powered the 450S, which had won the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours and at the time was the last great Maserati sports racer.
The Shah's interest also convinced Maserati owners, the Orsi family, who gave the program the green light. As the car already existed in Alfieri's head, the project hit the ground running. As proposed, he used the 3500 GT chassis, reinforced at vital points to deal with the additional power. Among the changes were bigger brakes sourced in England; discs at the front and drums at the rear. Later in the model's life, disc brakes were also fitted at the rear.
Alfieri spent more time tweaking the V8 to make it more suitable for road use. The most significant modification was an increase in displacement to five litres, courtesy of a larger bore. Many of the competition elements like the gear-driven camshafts were retained. Equipped with four sizeable Weber carburettors, the V8 initially produced an impressive 350 bhp, while for reliability reasons, this was subsequently further detuned to 325 bhp at 5500 rpm. Page 1 of 2 Next >>