Lot 258: 1955 OSCA MT4 Barchetta
In 1937 due to economic depression, the Maserati brothers were forced to sell their company and the rights to the use of the Maserati name to the wealthy Orsi family, however they stayed on under the terms of a 10 year employment contract. When the 1947 expiration date approached, the Maseratis left the Modena factory without a word of discussion on either side. As soon as they could they set up space in a corner of the original Maserati works in Bologna, where the brothers had originated their business back in 1926. They set about designing a completely new car from a clean sheet of paper. The new company was named 'Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili - Fratelli Maserati SpA', and so the legend that became OSCA was born, launching the Maserati brothers into their greatest commercial success. Their one aim was to establish themselves with a winning car in the 1100 cc sports/racing category which was so very popular in Italy. Their design directive was clear- simplify and lighten.Basic engineering was their motto, done to the highest standards possible, it is said that no Bugatti, Ferrari, or post-1947 Maserati was ever made to higher standards! The car produced was the MT4, following the lines of their previous A6GCS Maserati, which over the next 8 years became the most successful under-1500 cc sports racing car in the world.Maserati records show that chassis no. 1169 started production on 8th January 1955 for Signori Capianca and Sigobato to compete in the 1955 Le Mans. It is with this end that the Le Mans style long tail body was constructed for the car. Unfortunately the car was not completed in time, however with its export to the United States, its illustrious career started with the road races at Santa Barbara, Torry Pines and Palm Springs, piloted by Harry Chapman of Chicago. The 'whale', as it became affectionately known, competed in many of these hard fought road racing events with numerous successes, scoring its first in class win in 1956 with Ernie McAfee at the wheel in Santa Barbara.The 1499 cc 4 cylinder engine with a compression ration of 8,8;1 generated approximately 110 bhp. The original engine in chassis no 1169 had increased compression of 9.5:1 and was said to be rated at about 130 bhp. Coupled to the elegant and sleek aluminium body that only weighed 1,210 lbs, it was more than capable of taking on the more powerful Ferraris and the nimble Porsches.In 1956 the car competed in the Pebble Beach road race, again with McAfee at the wheel. However, this time, with even more power, as the engine from the OSCA Land Speed Record car, chassis no. 1512, had been transplanted into the car, this engine had a very rare twin plug head with magneto ignition and is still fitted to the car to this day. In 1958 the car was sold to the Beverly Hills TV personality Bill Laden. He continued to campaign the car up and down the West Coast until the early 1960s. A very well documented and known car throughout the race circuits of California, full records of the races are to be found published in many books and magazines. In more recent times the car competed in the Mille Miglia retrospective throughout the 1980s and 1990s, finally appearing in 1991 at the California Mille. In 2000 it underwent a comprehensive restoration in Massachusetts by RTR engineering to restore it to the beautiful condition that it can be seen in today. Shortly after this restoration it collected a 2nd Price Trophy at the Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance. It remains one of the most well documented and much loved OSCA MT4s of the motor racing circuit in the USA while retaining its original body and the powerful Jim Simpson Land Speed Record engine.
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