Model history: Among the many small Italian sports cars produced during the 1950s, Giovanni Moretti's creations stand out; unlike most other 'etceterinis', as they are popularly referred to, Morettis were not based on or built around Fiat-sourced components. In 1954 Moretti launched the 750 Grand Sport, which would become the company's biggest claim to fame.
The diminutive machine was powered by the ultimate development of the Moretti's four cylinder engine. Displacing just under 750 cc, the cast-iron unit sported twin overhead camshafts. In many ways, it was a miniature version of contemporary Maserati engines. So much so that it may very well have been designed for Moretti by a Maserati engineer in the evening hours.
Unlike most Italian engines of the day, the 750 'four' featured single spark ignition. It did boast twin Weber carburettors. These helped push the power to 65 bhp at 7,000 rpm. While this specification was previously only reserved for Moretti's competition cars, the 750 Grand Sport was marketed as a road car. The free-revving engine was mated to a four-speed gearbox.
The bespoke drivetrain was mounted in a multi-tubular chassis constructed from square tubes. Consisting of twin longitudinally mounted quarter-elliptic leaf springs, the front suspension design was far from conventional. The rear-end also featured quarter-elliptic springs in combination with a live axle. The stopping power was provided by finned drum brakes.
Sometimes erroneously attributed to Ghia, the compact coupe body fitted on the 750 Grand Sport was also constructed in-house by Moretti. The lovely lines were most likely penned by Giovanni Michelotti. Despite the relatively small exterior dimensions, the design had near perfect proportions. Thanks to its small size, the tiny Moretti tipped the scales at just 450 kg.
The star of a 1954 Road & Track cover article, the 750 Grand Sport received much praise and was often referred to as a 'Baby Ferrari'. The small Moretti proved particularly popular on the American West Coast where it was distributed by Ernie McAfee. Despite being slated as a road car, it was raced with considerable success in the popular 750 cc HM-Modified class.
Production of the Moretti 750 Grand Sport lasted little over two years and in that time no more than two dozen examples were built. Today there are at least eight known to exist, most of which are cherished members of prominent collections. One of these was famously owned by automotive executive and journalist Karl Ludvigsen.
Sold new to the United States, this 750 Grand Sport was owned and raced in period by Elizabeth Heskel, who would later marry Alejandro de Tomaso. Among the car's other pilots was legendary playboy Porifirio Rubirosa. The car remained in North American, until it was recently acquired by a Greek collector with a special taste for 'etceterinis'. The Moretti has been lovingly restored to full running order and was entered in the 2012 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este where there was a special class for these small cars or 'Little Jewels'.