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  OSCA 1600 SP      

  Article Image gallery (16) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1963
Numbers built:1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 05, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionNow operating under the OSCA (Officine Specializzate Construzione Automobili) banner the three remaining Maserati brothers faced many of the same problems in the second half of the 1950s as they had done two decades earlier. Once again the limited demand for racing cars threatened their company's existence. In an attempt to turn their fortunes around before the brothers were forced to close shop or sell their business again, they launched the all-new 1600 GT; OSCA's first production road car.

The 'basic' version featured a 95 bhp version of the 1.6 litre twin cam engine, a live rear axle and a Fissore designed and built body. Considering the Maserati brothers' pre-occupation with racing, it was hardly surprising that a competition version was also offered. This sported a lightweight Zagato body, independent rear suspension and an engine tuned to 140 bhp. In all of its various guises, the OSCA 1600 GT proved to be a great success and it allowed the Maserati brothers to develop a new purpose-built racing car.

Dubbed the 1600 SP, for Sperimentale or Experimental, the new OSCA racer was powered by the same 140 bhp engine used by the competition specification 1600 GTS. Together with the four-speed gearbox, this was the only existing component used on the 1600 SP. The drivetrain was mounted in an all-new, multi-tubular space-frame chassis. Suspension was independent through double wishbones on all four corners. Sizeable disc brakes provided the 1600 SP with plenty of stopping power.

The sophisticated and light rolling chassis was clothed in-house with a slippery coupe body. This was a break with tradition as previous OSCA racing cars were usually clothed by specialist companies like Morelli. Building the entire car in-house was of course particularly interesting from an economic perspective. The design was dictated mostly by the shape of the chassis as the aluminium panels were tightly wrapped over the mechanical components. The result was nevertheless visually pleasing.

The new racer was intended to debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which explains the slippery shape with low-drag, Kamm tail. Unfortunately the economic reality once again caught up with the Maserati brothers. Just as the first 1600 SP was completed they were forced to sell their business to Count Augusta of motorcycle fame. He was not so much interested in the OSCA cars but more in the engineering capabilities of the Maserati brothers. So their attention was quickly diverted to other projects.

One of the first victims of the ownership change was the 1600 SP. Development stopped immediately and the car was never raced. Under Count Agusta's ownership, OSCA did soldier on but by 1966 the Maserati brothers left the company and soon after production ceased. OSCA would be the remaining brothers' final motoring venture. As a result, the OSCA 1600 SP remains as the very last racing car built by the Maseratis.

The sole 1600 SP was retained by Ernesto Maserati until the late 1960s when he presented it to his son Dr. Ing. Alfieri Maserati as a gift. He has cherished the car ever since and despite being used regularly, it has survived in highly original condition. The proud scion of the family brought the Maseratis' final racing car to the 2012 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este where it made a very rare appearance at a public event.

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  Article Image gallery (16) Specifications