In 1937 the three surviving Maserati brothers sold out to the Orsi Group and after WW2 founded Officine Specializzate per la Costruzione Automobili Fratelli Maserati – OSCA for short – to build limited edition competition cars. One of the reasons for the Maserati brothers’ departure was that they did not want to be involved in making road cars – they were racers pure and simple.
OSCAs performed magnificently in international sports car racing throughout the 1950s. In the 1954 Sebring 12-Hours, a round of the World Sports Car Championship, privately entered 1.5-litre OSCAs finished 1st, 4th and 5th against works teams in a category with no limit on engine capacity, an achievement as outstanding as it was unexpected. OSCAs took class wins in the Mille Miglia on ten occasions and also won the Index of Performance at Le Mans.
Chassis number ‘1154’ still has the original Licenza di Circolazione number ‘749410’ dated 13th May 1955 recording all the car’s details, and the original Club d’Italia Foglio Complementare confirming Turin registration number ‘179866 TO’. It was first road tested on the 21st May and then sold on the 24th of that month to a Turin company dealing mainly with French clients. The first owner was a Monsieur Collange. One of only five built with horizontal grille bars the car was painted Azzura with red upholstery, and had a ZF gearbox.
The car was issued with a round white/blue Tassa de Circolazione dated December 1956 and was also registered with the Racing Club di Torino. Its first recorded competition event was the Course de Cote de Vuillafans-Echevanne on 2nd September 1956. Louis Chiron driving a single-screened metal tonneau OSCA finished 1st and Frenchman André Testut finished 2nd at the wheel of ‘1154’.
During the winter of 1956 the nose car’s nose was modified in ‘300S’ style, in which form it subsequently competed. In 1957 Chiron officially sold it to André Testut, of Lyon and together they formed the team entitled ‘Monte Carlo Autosport’.
Janos L Wimpffen’s authoritative work on endurance racing, ‘Time and Two Seats’ records ‘1154’ as a non-finisher in the 1957 Mille Miglia held on 11th/12th May driven by Lamberto Gerosi (race number ‘335’). On 30th May 1957 Testut competed in the 6 Heures du Forez du Planfoy, the OSCA being one of ten entries in the up to 1,500cc class. He entered the OSCA in a further 11 meetings in 1957, the season’s highlight being a 1st overall finish at Vuillafans-Echevannes, breaking Chiron’s record, which earned him a congratulatory telegram from the Maserati brothers (see copy on file). The OCSA’s last event of ’57 was the Grand Prix de Venezuela in Caracas. Entered by ‘Equipe Monte Carlo’ and co-driven by Testut and Umberto Maserti, the OSCA finished 11th overall and 3rd in the 1,500cc class.
On 6th June 1959, ‘1154’ was sold to Pierre Niogret and officially French registered. Driven by ‘Tergoin’ (Niogret’s pseudonym) the OSCA finished 10th overall and 1st in class at Macon Solutre on 14th June 1959. On 27th September ’59 Niogret entered the Course de Cote du Moat Verdun, finishing 8th overall and 1st in class. The OSCA’s previous owner, Testut, won the event driving a Maserati and broke the course record.
Niogret appears to have raced the OSCA only twice in 1960. In 1961 the car went to Georges Benoit’s garage where modifications were made to windscreen and body, and some mechanical work carried out. It was then sold to Robert Chagny. In 1963, Chagny, a previous OSCA owner, fitted a 1,300cc engine and sold the original 1,450cc unit to a caterer in Grenoble. He then competed in various events including the Course de Cote du Mont Dore and on the 19th May finished 4th in class in the Course de Chamrousse. On the 7th July he came 4th overall and 3rd in the 1,500cc class in the Course du Macon Solutre 9. In 1964 Robert Chagny sold ‘1154’ to a Monsieur Baboulin.
Ten years later, in 1974, the car was purchased, minus its 1,300cc engine, from someone in the Grenoble area by Antoine Raffaelli. In 1982, noted OSCA collector and historian Michel Norbert bought the car from Raffaelli. In this letter Norbert confirms he sold the car to Ananda Covindassamy, then of Paris. In emails Covindassamy explains how he acquired a 1,453cc engine from Maurizio Forleo, of Pistoia and a new gearbox from the USA.
Covindassamy also confirms the manufacture of a new body in his email of 29.01.07. The major work and restoration was carried out by Blakeney Motorsport, of Waltham Cross and the mechanicals by Paul Grist. All parts were crack tested, the flywheel lightened and a new clutch fitted. The engine was subsequently dynamometer tested by Crosthwaite and Gardiner (see photo and summary) after crankshaft re-grinding, re-metalling of the bearings and fitting new ‘rods and shells. Covindassamy obtained a Carte Grise de Collection in Paris in 1989.
In late 2000/early 2001, the OSCA passed from Covindassamy via dealer Christophe Fund, of Lille to the current owner. From autumn 2004 to March 2007, ‘1154’ was restored in every aspect by the Leiter Motor Company, of Shaftesbury, Dorset. There were many components missing, so much time was taken up in sourcing original parts (ignition switch, clutch bearing carrier, brake fluid reservoir, steering wheel, etc). The seats, spare wheel carrier, gearbox layshaft and pinions were among the new parts fabricated. The only non-original component fitted is a cooling fan, but the original cooling slats have been retained. Most importantly, the competition ‘300S’ nose was reinstated. New wiring, internal painting, upholstery and trim were included in the restoration. The car has been repainted in ‘Rouge Hermes’ with Burgundy seats/surround. It comes complete with a metal tonneau, centrally zipped leather tonneau, full-width Perspex screen and single mono screen. In July 2007 the owner obtained a new Carte Grise de Collection.
This 1955 OSCA MT4 Roadster sold for $477,945 during Bonhams’ Automobiles d’Exception à Retromobile sale held February 7th, 2009 in Paris.