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  OSCA MT4 Vignale Coupe      

  Article Image gallery (24) 1120 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1952
Designed by:Giovanni Michelotti for Vignale
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 07, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionEven though their cars were highly successful on the track, the three surviving Maserati brothers struggled financially, especially in the second half of the 1930s. Reluctantly, they were forced to sell their factory to Adolfo Orsi in 1937. One of the conditions of the sale's agreement was that the brothers would continue to work for the company for a period of ten years. Orsi's financial support allowed them to develop the two-time Indy winning 8CTF and the highly advanced 4CL. Nevertheless they decided to leave the company when the ten year term was over. The brothers craved for independence and full control and found that by establishing a new company; l'Officine Specialzate Costruzione Automobili Fratelli Maserati, or OSCA for short.

With only limited financial means available, the three brothers had to take altogether more modest approach compared to the high-tech Maseratis they had previously produced. They created the MT4 (Maserati Tipo 4) sports racer, aimed at the highly popular sub-1100 cc class. The chassis consistent of two tubular steel side members and was suspended by double wishbones at the front and a live rear axle. Power came from a four cylinder engine, which was very similar to the 6-cylinder engine the brothers had been working on before leaving Maserati. The aluminium, single overhead camshaft powerplant was fitted in the chassis mated to a four speed gearbox. The OSCA MT4 was delivered as a rolling chassis for custom coachbuilders to body and the first cars sported a cycle fender style body and were known as 'Siluro'.

The new 'Maserati' debuted in the 1948 Pescara Grand Prix in the hands of the well funded, but not so talented Franco Carnacchia. At the second outing the nimble OSCA was piloted by Luigi Villoresi, who promptly drove it to victory in the Napels GP against much larger engined competition. This result did the meticulously prepared MT4 justice and established OSCA as a serious manufacturer. It was the start of a very long and highly successful career for the MT4, which was continuously developed. The first modification was a slight displacement increasement to 1340 cc. After nine examples were constructed, the Maserati brothers introduced a new twin cam head late in 1949. All subsequent MT4s received this head and the 2AD (twin camshaft) type name.

Initially offered in 1090 and 1340 cc form, the MT4 continued to dominate the smaller displacement classes in events all over Europe and later also in the United States. The cycle fender body had been replaced by an all-enveloping, usually built Morelli. In 1953 a 1450 cc engine was introduced and finally a 1490 cc twin-spark engine in 1954. Producing upward of 130 bhp, these MT4 2AD 1500s were true giant slayers. OSCA's finest hour came in 1954 when Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd, drove a 1500 MT4 to an overall victory in the Sebring 12 Hours against Ferraris, Lancias and Cunninghams with engines two, three and over four times the MT4's displacement. When production finally ceased in 1957 around 80 examples of the MT4 were constructed.

On paper the OSCA MT4 might not look very impressive, the superb design and exceptional build quality made it the car to beat in the sub-1500 cc class for almost a decade. With class wins in every major race, it is without a doubt the most successful racing car ever constructed by the Maserati brothers. For many years the OSCAs seemed completely forgotten, but in recent years a renewed appreciation for the marque has seen prices rise rapidly. Today the MT4 is the most valuable of the so-called 'Etceterinis' built in Italy in the late 1940s and 1950s. No two examples are the same thanks to the variety of engine configurations and the even larger number of bodystyles fitted.

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  Article Image gallery (24) 1120 Specifications