Intended to be a road-going Orient Express, the inspiration for this ultra-exclusive model – of which only 15 were ever built – goes back to 1958 and the Shah of Iran. Shah Reza Pahlavi, who came to power in 1953, was a keen collector of fast and luxurious cars, buying Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bizzarrinis and Maseratis and in 1958, he asked Maserati to build a high-performance car, with a 450S racing engine fitted into a 3500GT chassis. He commissioned Touring Superleggera to design the coachwork for a highly distinctive car in which he could display his royal status.
This new custom model, nicknamed the Scià di Persia (Italian for Shah of Iran), was one inspiration behind the current Sciàdipersia. Another key influence was the simple desire to not buck the current trend for aggressive design features. The Sciàdipersia is intended to be svelte, subtle and understated with classic (and therefore long-lasting) looks that also hark back to the best of the 1960’s and ‘70’s. It has a low, minimalist front, clean flanks and substantial tail.
Underneath the Sciàdipersia is based on the 179mph Maserati GranCabrio, powered by a 454bhp 4.7 litre V8 and mated to a six-speed gearbox – enabling it to reach 60mph in 5 seconds, in serene comfort. The alloy and carbon fibre bodywork has been built with Touring’s modern evolution of the world-famous Superleggera method development in the 1930s, clothing Maserati’s boxed and pressed-steel chassis with front and rear aluminium subframes.
The Sciàdipersia interior shares the same basic design of the luxurious GranCabrio, but plentiful bespoke features ensure each Sciàdipersia will be unique, harking back to the earliest days of motoring when acquiring a new motorcar involved choosing a chassis and a coach builder who would style and create a bespoke body to the customers taste. The best coach builder stylists were inspired artists who played a big part in driving the development of the car. Ultimately it was recognised that the worlds best styling houses were based in a country famed since the 11th century for its fashionable tailoring, high quality craftsmanship and stylish designs. The superb car presented here is just the latest example of the Italian eye for beauty, harmony and individuality.