Available in Italy: OSCA 1600 GT Zagato
I’ve often read of the interesting origins of Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili – Fratelli Maserati SpA (sensibly shortened to O.S.C.A). This is, you’ll remember, the company that the Maserati brothers founded in 1947, 10 years after selling their namesake sportscar company to Adolfo Orsi. Ernesto, Ettore, and Bindo Maserati were gifted sportscar engineers. If they could have managed their business operations better I wouldn’t doubt that we’d still be talking of the rivalry between Ferrari, Porsche, and OSCA today.
I’d long been aware of the Bologna-based OSCA. I’d seen a few photos and read some race reports. It wasn’t until I finally saw an OSCA 1600 in the flesh at this summer’s Kohler International Challenge at Road America, that I could truly appreciate the simple beauty of this wonderful car. Photographs of sportscars, particularly Italian sportscars, seldom do justice to the cars themselves. Perfect proportions and lines can be appreciated, but the scale is always lost until you get up close to them. That was certainly the case for me and the OSCA 1600. The lines and proportions in photographs lend it an essence reminiscent of the Jaguar E-Type or an Aston-Martin. The comparison to any Grand Tourer, though, is completely lost when you stand next to it. The scale is compact; not small. It’s no bigger than it needs to be to wrap a slippery aluminum body around 4 wheels, a hot-rodded 1500 Fiat engine, and two passengers. It is beautiful economy of construction and aesthetic. It’s remarkable.
Recently, one of the even rarer Zagato-bodied OSCA 1600’s has come available in Italy. Auto Classic is offering one of the 32 1600 GT Zagato’s to come out of the OSCA workshop. Even more precious, this particular example is one of the initial prototypes. This one looks to have been race prepped; that aluminum footbox doesn’t match the interior of other road versions that I’ve seen. Without the chassis number, which sadly isn’t listed among the listed details, I can’t be certain if this race preparation was done during the recent restoration or at the factory. Each of the 32 examples was custom built to the purchaser’s specifications, so there’s quite a bit of variety between each example.
The paint looks almost over-restored in these photographs. This looks especially glossy and over clear-coated for a 1962 car, particularly if it was indeed prepared for the track. I’m very particular about red cars. I’ve never owned a red car, and never plan to unless she’s Italian. It’s not exactly an issue of traditional racing colors either. I just think that red is a difficult color that only suits a few cars – Jaguars, Corvettes, and Porsches look absolutely dreadful in red. But maybe that’s just me. It certainly doesn’t stop people from buying them in droves. Another example though, that sold at the 2007 Geneva auction is absolutely sublime in light blue. Stunning. She looks great on the track too.