1962 OSCA 1600GTS Zagato
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In 1937 the Orsi family purchased the controlling stake in the struggling Maserati motor company. The design genius of Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo Maserati sadly didn’t extend to management of a successful motor company and in the post war years, the Orsi management pushed for the brothers to design profit generating GT cars (much to the distaste of the Maserati fratelli). As such, when their contract ended in 1947, the brothers gathered their tools and walked out of the company that bore their name and formed O.S.C.A. with their hearts and sights set on building lightweight, fast, racing cars.
Following on from the success of the legendary MT-4, the OSCA 1600 GT Zagato took the best of the MT-4’s racing pedigree and included it in an agile and stylish coupé. The 1600 GT was announced at the Turin Motor Show of 1960 and was later tested by Ludovico Scarfiotti (Auto Italiana Sport, February 1, 1961), receiving a rave review, but was delayed in entering competition to 1962 due to wrangling over homologation requirements for racing. The specially-designed tubular chassis was constructed at the OSCA factory and most examples featured independent suspension front and rear.
This car (chassis 0036) however, was prepared by the OSCA Factory specifically as an experimental prototype for Le Mans, featuring unique flat-topped coachwork by Zagato, a live rear axle (Ponte Rigido) as a more robust alternative specifically for endurance racing and is one of the very few examples of the GTS version. It was sold to the Sebring Index winner (1960, OSCA 750) John (Jack) Gordon, an American rocket engineer by profession and race car driver in his spare time, along with John Bentley for the princely sum of $6,833 for the 24-hour race fitted with a twin plug head, huge 45 DCO Weber carburettors, a massive 80-litre fuel tank and a slightly modified radiator air inlet grill to combat the frontal lift experienced at the high speeds generated at Le Mans.
Unfortunately Le Mans was not to be a huge success for the American drivers. An oil cooler had been requested but not fitted by the Italians, and after a few hours the experimental aluminium rod bearings failed.
After Le Mans the car returned to the factory in Modena for repairs before being shipped to the Marlboro Motor Speedway in the USA. The car was then raced by Tom Fleming, Ray Heppenstall and Harold Baumann for the famous North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T) in several endurance races, including the Sebring 12 Hours of 1963.
In 1965 this OSCA 1600 GTS Zagato was purchased from a garage in Long Island by the ex-WWII B-29 Superfortress Ace George Waltman to compete at Daytona. Waltman travelled to Italy to meet the Maserati brothers and gather parts and information to get the OSCA into top competitive condition. He was a true American motor racing legend, competing in the 1968 24hrs of Daytona alone with no co-driver, no crew, stopping only to take the mandatory breaks every 4 hours.. Waltman’s race prep for the OSCA was completed in November 1966 and a record of the work he carried out is documented in the fascinating history file accompanying the car. Recorded mileage at the time was 27963 Kms.
Driving 0036 at the 13th Annual Bahamas Speedweek, Waltman won first in class in the Nassau Trophy Races and later competed in Daytona, as detailed in an accompanying letter he wrote to Franz Benjamin, the car’s next owner.
Franz Benjamin was looking for a second OSCA for Tony Guinasso of Auto Scientific to drive as a two-car team and tracked the car down to George Waltman and purchased it. Tony then inherited the car from Franz Benjamin when the pair finished racing. A number of years later in 1995, OSCA collector and Pebble Beach judge Craig Davis bought the car from Guinasso and had minor renovation carried out as the invoices from Antique Auto Restoration show. In 2003 the car was imported to the UK by Martin Chisholm and has remained in a discreet private collection for the last 15 years.
This important car is presented with original lightweight competition features throughout, including the Le Mans decal lights, the 8000 rpm guage, the original stamped Zagato Perspex headlight covers and Bahamas Speed Week registration plate. It is a pleasure to drive and aside from its illustrious history with the OSCA and NART racing teams it ran at the pinnacle of international events, Le Mans, Sebring, Nassau, Daytona and Marlboro.
The lightweight construction and spirited twin cam, dual spark, 1600cc engine makes for a fantastic experience and is a thrilling alternative to the heavier cars it competed against in the 60s. The interior with its lightweight Zagato pattern seats maintains the minimalist racing feel. It is on the button and ready to be enjoyed. It comes with the extremely rare magnesium cast alloy Amadori wheels and a set of minilight every day wheels and tyres
O.S.C.A built just 128 of the 1600 GTs of which 98 were the more desirable Zagato bodied version but there is just one twin-plug, flat topped, live rear axle version making this car one of OSCA’s rarest and finest creations.
This OSCA 1600 is now eligible for a range of classic motoring events including the Goodwood Revival, Classic Le Mans, the GT & Sportscar Cup and many more historic and revival motorsports events.
Now available for immediate inspection and sale at The Classic Motor Hub. Contact Us if you’d like to arrange a viewing.