O.S.C.A. 1600 GT Zagato #006

  • Chassis 006 is a well-documented example of O.S.C.A.’s final chapter as a builder of competition and proper small bore GT cars. Over a 5 year span from 1960 – 65, they managed to produce only 128 vehicles. While the engine was built by Fiat, the design and tuning were all OSCA, complete with the competition-based engineering aesthetic that created the legend. This particular example has been much appreciated for its abilities as its race and rally history in both period and vintage activities attest. A major part of its restoration was taking all those little tweaks that cars oft used in anger gather back to original specification per F.I.A. specifications. Note the October 1988 date on the first page of the certification document to the right. There are additional sets of FIA papers on this vehicle backing this machine’s active and oft campaigned life. It is indeed a tribute to its builders.

  • O.S.C.A., A brief history of marque and model

    Just before the outbreak of WWII, the Maserati brothers sold their company to industrialist Adolfo Orsi. Not long after the War was over, they decided their real interests lay in racing, and together they formed OSCA--short for the rather more cumbersome Officina Specializzata Costruzione Automobili Maserati.

    A variety of racing endeavors followed, including an ambitious V12 Formula One project, but OSCAs shone in the smaller displacement classes. Frequent competitors in important races throughout Europe and America, they were driven by such notable pilots as Stirling Moss, Luigi Villoresi, and Prince Behra.

    While producing a wide variety of two-seat racing cars--all clothed by local coachbuilders--OSCA was approached by Fiat to develop a larger version of OSCA’s existing twin-cam engine for use in the 1500S sports car. Shortly afterward, OSCA decided to offer a street car and the natural engine choice was a 1,600-cc version of the engine developed for Fiat.

    The job of designing the coachwork fell to Zagato. Two versions were built: a normal roof design, as well as one of the prettiest cars of the era, the so-called double bubble coupes. While certainly a dramatic styling element, the roof-top bubbles were also practical, adding inches of headroom and incorporating vents at the rear to keep cabin temperatures down during races. The “double bubble” roof is a Zagato tradition and the 1600 GT Zagato uses it to good effect.

    Of interest per registration right: first registration, June 4, 1964 shows the “Marque” as a Maserati indicating that though the name was OSCA the fact that Maserati organization was behind these cars shone through!!

  • Clear & complete history: We know where 006 was and quite a bit about its well-lived life 1961 – 2017. Left: excerpt from production records,. Left, ownership and right, 006’s activities.

  • Curator #5, Steve Patti, procured a technical Passport for 006 to insure correctness and went about completion of the mechanical, electrical and interior restoration to complete the first phase of this two-stage restoration.

  • RESTORATION OCCURRED IN STAGES. STAGE 1 RECAP: Chassis 006 was produced in Fall 1961 and sold to its Italian owner and was raced/rallied by prior owners in Europe — including renowned Ferrari collector, Fabrizio Violati. In 2008, Steve Patti, of Bourne, TX purchased the car and undertook a restoration and conversion back to its original road-going configuration. The drivetrain came first along with other mechanicals. The engine and gearbox are original to the car and include correct stampings. These components have been expertly rebuilt by a renowned Ferrari restoration shop. A wire loom was handmade in Italy and sent to the USA for installation. An oil cooler had been added. This was retained as it reflects this OSCA’s well-used, rallied and enjoyed history. All gauges were sent out for mechanical restoration while dash and interior were restored taking some minor liberties with the diamond pattern panels. The very handmade original chassis plate attests to the craft nature of this machine’s creation.

  • Restoration Stage 2 Begins: In March of 2012, Curator #3, Ludwig Willisch of Greenwich, CT, purchased the car. Included in the prior curator’s description was the following:

    “The car does not retain its original heater blower unit or its emergency brake caliper (these were removed early in its life for racing), but the caliper is shared with the Fiat 1600 and can be sourced. A new e-brake cable will be included with the car. The paint is in very good, but not Concours condition. There are a few oxidation bubbles at the bottom door seams and nose opening above the grille.”

    It looked well but mechanicals and interior were a good bit better than the body when one looked closely. In the summer of 2012, it arrived at Automotive Restorations Inc, Stratford, CT, with a list of things to look at and needing attention. It was soon clear; the finish hid some significant corrosion, and off came the brightwork, hardware and hinged panels and then the paint.

  • All those Races, Rallies and spirited use had taken a toll, as had the fact that hand crafted cars and corrosion protection are not the norm. The photos speak for themselves. Steve Hall of the Panel Shop crafted all beautifully over the next several months to put 006 back to its original glory.

  • Nearing completion, the body framework and shell restoration was the core of stage 2 and took the bulk of the effort. Right is our parts catalogue of hand-fabricated panels replaced to put this body back to solid and original condition. All done in much the same way as Zagato did in period…though we did employ the English wheel more than Italian hammer.

  • Early February 2014: The restored body sits in the paint shop. All the critical fit components have been fettled and fitted for easy assembly once the finish goes on. Erased are a multitude of less than shapely sins and signs of enthusiastic “vehicular enjoyments” not to mention the ravages of the tin worm. Artfully corrected if we do say. On goes the paint.

  • Jay the painter takes to flight as he works wonders to get all those Zagato styling nuances just as they should be with nary a hammer mark or imperfection to be found. Weeks later: 006 sits in final prime & ready for RED.

  • We had a bit of good luck on color. Samples of the original red could be found under moldings and in other previously undisturbed areas. There are reds and there are REDS. This was a good one with a huge level of Italian tradition fitting a Zagato body. Matching accomplished, samples reviewed and Glasurit did the rest. There’s an appeal to a finish just out of the gun but it is too “shiny,’ not deep and lustrous. That comes with wet sanding and polishing to perfection. Jay can be seen working the polishing wheel on the door, photo right.

  • ASSEMBLY – we have a Concours coming and the car is entered. The ARI crew is hard at work as soon as Jay’s finished polishing. Center: Ray fits the re-plated, original, back cut and bent to suit, quarter glass opening trims. “Manufactured” is perhaps an inaccuracy for coachbuilt cars. Right, Craig and Mike refit glass, chrome and trim aligning and fussing to see to the rest.

  • 1st Major Review: it is early morning, Sunday, June 4, 2014. OSCA 1600 GT Zagato #006, double bubbles wonderfully evident, on the lawn at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance awaits an audience. Ludwig, Irene & OSCA motored in nicely.

  • Debut & Result, Greenwich Concours d’Elegance 2014. 1st in class among a superb field of Italian GT machines .. and it was still not quite finished…

  • Just a few more parting shots of this rare example of Italian coach craft built as we neared the end of the handmade car era!!

  • We could almost call this Stage 3. OSCA 1600 GT Zagato #006 debuted at the Greenwich Concours …then we found more to do. “Sorting” is a term we like to use for this phase of a project. Once the fit and finish are finely tuned, small things demand added attentions. Testing & use can uncover other needed attention so we restorers get a 2nd or 3rd chance! Add to this Ludwig’s tendency to perfect…and the die is cast. What’s that “catch” in the steering? Box out, opened up and the problem is clear, maybe some curb a past rallyist caught at speed? Soon corrected. Let’s address that modified rear suspension and rework to original & include a handbrake. Is the oil pressure gauge going to work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no; so now it gets rebuilt and becomes reliable. Then the grille issue. A wire mesh was fitted for Concours convenience…all the while we searched and searched for the correct polished alloy expanded sheet material. AT LAST: A small piece…just big enough was finally found in Italy to let us put this right in stage 3. …..AND finally there were the windows. Hand-formed curved Plexi as it was on arrival was duplicated and can be seen fitted on some cars…but edge frames can be found on some others. “Let’s do it” said Ludwig...and we did along with a few other final fit and finish refinements. Objective realized: make this car correct, as original so both looks and works just as it should...Well…it is and it does. As we know well, a restorer’s job is never done...really!

  • A RACER’S REAR SUSPENSION: Pictured above left is what we removed. Arms with rod ends for adjustability, springing via modern alloy coil over dampers and other “enhancements” to the original spec. The assignment: research the original design, fabricate all the incorrect parts to original spec, test and…if it all works well, then remove, paint and reinstall to return OSCA 006 to its “as built” specification. Upper right arms as original, proper coil springs and dampers separate from springs as OSCA built it circa 1961.

  • THE LAST DETAILS: Above left, door glass frames getting crafted in specially made, correct dimension brass channel with the finished product below. Above right & below: that very special aluminum sheet used in period by OSCA for grille work gets cut and shaped, a delicate process indeed on this bit of “unobtaniuum”!

  • IN CONCLUSION – A project we have appreciated for a collector who patiently allowed, no insisted, we correct all the ravages of time, misguided enhancements and more. We enjoyed practicing our crafts on this terrific machine -- Thank you very much Ludwig!

  • The Quail was the most recent venue for Ludwig Willisch's O.S.C.A. 1600GT Zagato Chassis #006. We were all thrilled with its laudable Monterey Week showing.