Automobiles of London

31 October 2007

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Lot 270

1952 OSCA 2000S

  • Chassis no. 2004

£500,000 - £625,000


Estimate: €726,000 - €908,000

Estimate: $1,000,000 - $1,250,000



Engine No. 2501

Registration No. 282 UXT

From the Brazilian Collector Mr. Abraham Kogan



Specifications:

216bhp, 2,500cc straight-six engine with twin overhead camshafts, triple Weber 38DC02 carburettors, four-speed transaxle, independent front suspension via double wishbones, coil springs, and telescopic dampers, and rear suspension via de Dion axle, quarter elliptical leaf springs and semi-trailing arms with lever-arm dampers, and hydraulically operated four wheel drum brakes.



There were seven Maserati brothers but the four that would give their name to some of the greatest racing cars ever made were, Alfieri, Ernesto, Bindo and Ettore. The eldest, Carlo died in 1919, Alfieri died at just one year old and the next son to Rodolfo and Carolina Maserati was also given that name after his dead brother. Officine Alfieri Maserati built its first car, a 1,500 cc, supercharged straight-eight two-seater racing car in 1926. Driven by Alfieri in the 1926 Targa Florio the Maserati won the 1.5-litre class and was ninth overall.



Alfieri died in 1932 following an unsuccessful medical operation brought about by a racing accident. The remaining three brothers carried on for another five years, but like many perfectionists, their business acumen didn’t match their engineering artistry. With a tremendous motor racing reputation, the cash strapped brothers sold Maserati to Italian industrialist Adolfo Orsi. The famous Trident of Neptune that adorned every Maserati, was a symbol of Bologna, where the brothers, at Pontevecchio had started their business. Another brother, Mario, was an artist and is believed to have designed the emblem. Orsi, with the help of his son Omer, moved the Company to another Italian town that would become synonymous with some of the greatest cars the world would ever see; Modena.



The three Maserati brothers remained with the Company as engineers for ten years. When their contracts expired in December 1947, they returned to Bologna, but their car making days were far from over.



Officina Specializzato per la Costruzione di Automobili Fratelli Maserati SpA built its first car in 1948. With the Orsi family retaining the Maserati name the Fratelli Maserati, (Maserati brothers) dropped the ‘FM’ from the title of their new Company leaving the acronym OSCA, a new car was born though essentially, these cars were true Maseratis.



The first car was a 1.1-litre sports car with a tubular chassis, the MT4 (Maserati Type 4), it used a Fiat block with an OSCA single overhead cam. Later, 750, 1,450 and 1,500cc engines were available for the very effective MT4. The car’s debut race came at Pescara, driven by Franco Cornacchia. Soon after Gigi Villoresi took his ‘cigaro’ open wheeler to victory at the Grand Prix of Naples and Dorino Serafini won at the Circuit of Garda.



Ernesto went to work on the engine, designing an alloy block and a new cylinder head with twin overhead camshafts, this new engine was considered a work of art. Their next project was commissioned by Prince Bira, a 4.5-litre V-12 engine for his Maserati 4CLT. On the car’s race debut Bira won the 1951 Goodwood Richmond Trophy race. OSCA followed this by entering their own car, powered by this engine in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. This was unsuccessful and only two were built, so OSCA decided to concentrate on Formula 2 and sports car racing.



In late 1952 OSCA built a single-seater designed to the latest Grand Prix regulations for Formula 2 cars, powered by Ernesto’s new engine. Two cars were built, chassis 2001 went to Elie Bayol and the second car, chassis number 2002 to veteran Louis Chiron. These independents regularly achieved top-six finishes against the works teams. In 1953 Bayol won at Aix-les-Bains, Chiron finished second in the Syracuse Grand Prix and the sable d’Olonne Grand Prix and Bayol finished second at Albi.



In sports car racing OSCAs were much more competitive in the lower capacity classes. Luigi Fagioli won his class in the Mille Miglia in 1950, finishing seventh overall. At Le Mans in 1952, Dottore Mario Damonte was leading the up to 1,500cc class partnered by ‘Martial’ in an OSCA coupe. With mechanical problems he pushed the car from Arnage back to the pits in an effort to get it back on track, but the car was retired. The following year Damonte was back, with ‘Helde’ (Pierre Louis Dreyfus) co-driving and the pair won their class.



OSCA’s finest hour in motor racing was the 1954 Sebring 12 Hours, Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd taking overall victory in Briggs Cunningham’s 1.5-litre MT4.



The 2000S sports car was identical, mechanically, to the Formula 2 car. Three cars were built but Chiron had his F2 car converted in 1954 with coachwork by Frua. Chassis 2003 was built for Bill David in March of that year with Morelli coachwork. 2004 went to Luigi Piotti with a Frua body and Robert Sgorbati bought chassis 2005, a Morelli bodied car.



Sgorbati scored a win at Messina in 1954, while Chiron finished second in the 1955 Tunisian Grand Prix. Chassis 2004, driven by Roy Cherryhomes in America finished second in the fabulously named Corsa di Dodge City and finished 1st in class and second overall at the Corsa di Mansfield.



The Maserati Brothers produced OSCA cars for fifteen years. Advanced in age they sold the Company in 1963 to Augusta, the motorcycle and helicopter manufacturer and although they tried to revive the marque, it was without success.



The car presented here, chassis number 2004 is one of the three OSCA 2000S cars built. It was sold new to Luigi Piotti in March 1954, Piotti retired in the car’s first race, the Giro di Sicilia. He finished 20th in that year’s Mille Miglia, coming home 6th in class and was 9th overall in the GP di Napoli. The final races of that year for Piotti were the Ore di Bari and the Circuito di Caserta.



In 1955, the car went to John Mecom Jr in the United States and then to Lloyd Wolf of San Angelo, before going to the Allard racer, Roy Cherryhomes, and then to Jim Hall, the legendary U.S. Grand Prix and sports car driver of Chaparral fame. In the period, the original engine succumbed to the stresses of racing, as so many others did. It was replaced for a time by the ubiquitous small block Chevrolet, but later – perhaps in the sixties or early 1970s – a proper, original 2.5-litre OSCA engine was installed in the car, and remains there today.



The car is simply fabulous. The red coachwork, with an exquisitely tapered waistline, was restored in 2004 and 2005 and has been more or less unused since. The increasing popularity – and value – of the MT4s have had a beneficial effect on the other OSCAs. With its pretty Frua coachwork, it is difficult to imagine a better-looking OSCA, and with just three produced, it is almost certainly the most rare.



The condition of the car today is wonderful, with near perfect paint and chrome, and an expertly tailored interior. It is clear that no expense was spared during the restoration, and the results speak for themselves. In a recent examination, the car proved to start easily and run well – quite tractable, even when still cold. Moving off, the clutch action was smooth and the shifter was crisp and positive. Handling and steering were exceptional, suggesting that this would make an excellent car for rally and driving events, as well as its obvious potential for vintage racing. As one of just three cars built, and with its Mille Miglia history, it is difficult to imagine an event that would not just welcome the car, but pursue it.



Motor Sport magazine tested this car for an article in March 2006 they said, ‘…The OSCA is skilfully realised. The steering is glorious with no kickback over zitty topography.



Delicate and never twitchy, this isn’t a car that you need to brace yourself in: cornering is relatively neutral, whether with throttle or backing out of it. This despite a relatively small wheelbase and around 216 bhp…and with no scuttle shake or crashing over undulating surfaces. There’s a real sense of thought here. Everything is considered and very, very beautiful’.



Which is to be expected, this being a Maserati in all but name…It might not be the most famous of small-scale Italian racing cars, but the 2000S is among the most captivating, and infinitely more enjoyable to drive than most of the 2.0-litre (or 2.5 Litre) Ferraris of the day – at a fraction of the price.

Addendum

Please note that during the course of the extensive concours quality restoration, it was determined that many of the original body panels required replacement in order to achieve the desired level of fit and finish.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more