The history of Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili - Fratelli Maserati S.p.A.
Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili - Fratelli Maserati S.p.A. or short O.S.C.A. was an Italian manufacturer of racing and sports cars established 1947 in San Lazzaro di Savena, Bologna, by the Maserati brothers, and closed down in 1967.
In 1937, the remaining Maserati brothers had sold their shares in the company to the Orsi family, who, in 1940, relocated the company headquarters to their hometown of Modena, where you can still find it today.
O.S.C.A. was founded in 1947 by Ernesto Maserati and his two brothers Ettore and Bindo who had all left Maserati after their ten year contract with Adolfo Orsi terminated. Ernesto was engineering manager and the two others, Ettore and Bindo, were operations managers at O.S.C.A.
The O.S.C.A. factory was at San Lazzaro di Savena outside Bologna, where Maseratis were originally made between 1926 to 1940. Their basic business goal was to develop an automobile to compete in the 1100 cc racing class.
O.S.C.A.’s first automobile was the MT4 and it had a “Maserati Tipo 4 cilindri” engine. It was a 1092 cc engine (72 PS, 53 kW, 71 hp at 6000 rpm) had a FIAT-derived block, alloy head, and the bodywork was built as a two-seater barchetta. The MT4 first raced in 1948 at the Pescara Circuit and the Grand Prix of Naples, where it was driven to a win by Luigi Villoresi. The engine was modified to 1342 cc form (with 90 PS, 66 kW, 89 hp at 5500 rpm) in 1949.
In 1950, a new DOHC engine was used on the MT4-2AD which raised power to a maximum of 100 PS (74 kW, 99 hp) at 6300 rpm and in 1953 the engine was enlarged to 1453 cc (110 PS, 81 kW, 108 hp at 6,200 rpm). The all new tipo 372 DS twin spark engine with 1491 cc (120 PS (88 kW, 118 hp) at 6300 rpm) was later used in the 1955 O.S.C.A. MT4 TN, standing for Tipo Nuovo.
With this new engine, the car received the new name FS 372, of which five were built. One of these belongs to Sir Stirling Moss, who still races it in historic races across the globe. Versions of this engine went on to be used in coupé and convertible models of regular Fiats from 1959 to 1966.
O.S.C.A. at 24 Hours of Le Mans
These automobiles were mainly barchettas, but a few were built with more luxurious berlinetta bodies by Pietro Frua, Michelotti, Zagato and Vignale. A Vignale was run in the 1500 cc class at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 1954 12 Hours of Sebring was won by drivers Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in an O.S.C.A. MT4 as part of the Briggs Cunningham Team.
The Simpson Special
Arguably the most famous of all is the 1954 Osca MT4 Simpson Special 1500cc Streamliner, seen above at the gates of the OSCA factory. The car broke no less than 18 world records in 1955 at Bonneville including an average of 261 Km/h over 10Km with the driver Tony Bettenhausen.
From 1951 to 1962, automobiles or engines made by O.S.C.A. also were entered in some Formula One and Formula Two events although they mainly built small sports cars of which some were designed by Pietro Frua. In the World Sportscar Championship OSCA vehicles ranked 10th (1953), 4th (1954), 6th (1957), 5th (1958) and 4th (1961).
The 750 cc 70 hp (52 kW) type S187 was introduced in 1956. Weighing 430 kg (948 lb), this car had a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). The name “187” refers to the displacement in cubic centimetres of each cylinder of the engine. In 1959 Jim Eichenlaub won the American H-Mod Title with this O.S.C.A. S187. Operating on a shoestring budget, Eichenlaub often slept in his tow car because there was no money for a motel. However he won his first race at Pensacola in April 1959.
The Formula Junior (FJ) used a Fiat engine of 1089 cc, and saw wins by Colin Davis and Berardo Taraschi in 1959.
In 1963 the brothers sold the company to Count Domenico Agusta, owner of MV Agusta, They did design work for Agusta until 1966. One of their final designs was a desmodromic four-cylinder engine, below you can see it.
The end of the road
O.S.C.A. ended operations in 1967.
Is O.S.C.A. the vision they had for Maserati S.p.A.? Probably… And if it was everything would have looked completely different now, but history went like this and there’s no point to want to change it now.
All the Maserati brothers are gone, but I’m grateful for what they gave us. They had a tough journey, but they were victorious in my book and stories like they had fuel me to do my best.