“My Maserati does one-eighty-five. I lost my licence, now I don’t drive.” If you remember these well-known lyrics from Joe Walsh, one-time member of The Eagles, then you’ll be interested to know that he wrote them about a Maserati he owned at the time – this car, the Maserati 5000GT chassis 026.

Only 34 examples of the 5000GT were made and McGrath Maserati has restored two of them, both Allemano-bodied cars. This car arrived with us from the USA and its new owner was keen to have the car restored mechanically.

The 5.0litre V8 engine fitted to the 5000GT is really a prototype for the V8 engine that was subsequently fitted to a long line of road-going Maseratis and because of that, there are some differences. While the majority of the engine is aluminium, the cam covers and elaborate sump are cast in magnesium. More obvious is the twin-plug ignition using two distributors and the Lucas mechanical fuel injection. It all added up to 325bhp back in the day. The question was; could we make it work that well again?

The engine block had frost damaged that had been filled using plastic metal. Tell-tale signs of antifreeze stains in the middle of the casting dictated a total stripdown. And just as well, for a previous rebuild involving a new crankshaft had been disastrously executed, damaging liners, pistons and connecting rods. There was no option but to start again. We commissioned a new crank and rod set and then set about welding the block. With the bottom end underway, the heads were stripped and rebuilt with new valves and guides, all bespoke to the 5000GT engine. Topping off the heads in the original metallic green colour was the final touch. Meanwhile, the remainder of the running gear was stripped and rebuilt.

The engine ran again for the first time only a couple of weeks before the 2009 Maserati International at Goodwood and was still running-in when the owner took his first, tentative drive in the car on the Goodwood circuit. Since then however, the car has made trips to Sweden, Italy, Ireland and Spain, making this undoubtedly the most-used 5000GT in the world. And although the ‘one-eighty-five’ may have always been a little bit of artistic licence, we hope Joe Walsh would be proud.

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