Model history: Under the OSCA (l'Officine Specialzate Costruzione Automobili Fratelli Maserati) banner, the Maserati brothers produced the highly successful MT4 sports racer. First introduced in 1948, it gradually evolved over the following years although the basic characteristics remained the same. Among its many victories was an outright win in the Sebring 12 Hours by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd against much larger engined competition. One of the biggest evolution came in 1957 when the use of a heavily revised version of the four-cylinder engine even warranted a new type name; the FS 372.
The reason for the development of a new engine was the introduction of the Formula 2 class that season, which had the convenient displacement limit of 1500 cc. While that corresponded with the largest OSCA available at the time, the brothers nevertheless figured that more power was needed to make sure the cars were competitive in 1957. The 372 in the type name was in reference to the unitary displacement of the engine, which was roughly 372 cc. The Formula 2 cars were labeled F2/S and the similarly engined sports racer received the FS tag.
The internal dimensions of the existing 1.5 litre four cylinder engine were carried over onto the new Type 372. Much of the attention instead focused on the cylinder head. The most fundamental change was the swap of the intake and exhaust ports. With the exhausts coming out of the right hand side of the engine, the Type 372 is easily recognisable. The revisions resulted in a performance increase of 10 bhp over the 1.5 litre MT4 engine in the sports car trim.
Mated to a ZF-supplied, four-speed gearbox, the Type 372 engine was mounted in the familiar tubular steel chassis. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front and a live axle at the rear. In good Italian tradition, drum brakes were still used instead of the superior but harder to source disc brakes used by the British rivals. Like most other OSCA racing cars, the FS 372 was clothed with an aluminium 'Spider' body crafted by Morelli of Ferrara.
The Formula 2 car was similar in most respects to the FS 372, except of course for the single seater body. The two variants debuted early in 1957 but failed to live up to the legacy of the earlier OSCA models. The beautiful twin-cam engine could not compensate for the relatively outdated chassis. The Maserati brothers persevered and even developed a version of the engine with a desmodromic valve-train, which allowed for slightly higher revs. At least one of the sports cars was fitted with the 137 bhp 'Type 372 DS' engine.
It is believed that OSCA built only a handful cars fitted with the Type 372 engine; four Formula 2 cars and five sports racers is the best educated guess. Like most of the later OSCAs the FS 372 is little known today and for obvious reasons is completely overshadowed by the incredibly successful MT4 incarnations that came before. One man that recognised the intrinsic qualities of the FS 372 was Sir Stirling Moss, who bought and regularly races one.
Chassis: 1191 FS
Chassis 1191 FS is probably the second of a total of five FS 372 sports racers built. The car was delivered new to a Swedish privateer, who raced it quite successfully. He finished 2nd at Chimay in 1958 ahead of three Maseratis and later scored a third in class at the Nürburgring. This FS 372 is among six known survivors fitted with the Type 372 engine and one of only two with its original Morelli body.
It eventually ended up in a French collection before it was bought by Sir Stirling Moss in recent years. He had the car completely restored and prepared for racing by Hall & Hall. It is believed to be the only OSCA of its type equipped with the desmodromic engine. Sir Stirling is pictured in action here at the support race for the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans and during the 2009 Goodwood Revival, where his 80th birthday was celebrated.