OSCA 1600 GT Zagato and Fissore

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O.S.C.A. 1600 GT

1966 - 1975
55 bhp (41kW) @ 5200
4 spd. man RWD
Top Speed:
80 mph / 128 km/h
Number Built:
2 star
O.S.C.A. 1600 GT
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2

Bindo, Ettore and Ernesto

Osca's were built to laboratory standards by the Maserati brothers post World War 2, and by the 1960s the low output continued with the three surviving Maseratis, Bindo, Ettore and Ernesto. A fourth brother, Mario, had by then retired, although he had a good reputation for making the perfect pasta, as well as being a renowned painter and professor - but he was never one of "those" Maseratis and is often dropped from the roster when cars come into the conversation.

From the early 1950s the other three were very much in evidence around the L-shaped plant behind a wooden partition which added to the mystery of things. They were usually found in overalls overseeing the output of a select number of proper GT cars each month, basing them all on the ubiquitous 1.6-litre twin overhead cam engine which they developed for Fiat and then borrowed back.

Four Versions of the 1600 GT

In essence the brothers offered four basic versions of one concept, with side items to order for a price. Even then, all four 1600 GT models used the same chassis and motor with two kinds of shell and three stages of tune. Dimension-wise the line rested on a twin-tube frame of 88.6 in wheelbase, with 50/48 in track front and rear and overall length of 153.5 in.

Width was given at 59 inches and height 47.3 inches for both basic bodies but it is likely that there was a minor difference in the actual sizes since the two tamer versions were made by Fissore and the other pair by Zagato. It was probably easier to give the same exterior figures for all of them and let it go at that, despite the typical Zagato double-dome effect, leading to rear extractor vents to clear the cockpit. These were real.

Using Fiat Blocks

In any case, even if we might mentally add or subtract an inch here or there, the motor remained true to one capacity with all cars checking in with 1568cc from a bore of 80 mm and a stroke of 78 mm. This was essentially the ex-1500 in "square" Fiat engine, which that firm lifted to 1600 cc in 1963 - and OSCA went along with the boring bar.

This use of Fiat blocks was what kept OSCA in the motor trade. By starting with a semi-mass produced block they could save on the tooling expense - although the company did prefer to do all their own machining, as well as using special pistons, a different cam, higher compression and selective assembly. Still, the twin-cam engine they designed for Fiat brought more than a design fee into the house. As noted, the "basic production version," if such a thing could be mentioned in the same breath with the hallowed OSCA name, consisted of a Fissore coupe body and a 95 hp version of this engine using a single Weber dual carburettor. The horses came in at 6000 rpm.

The Zagato and Fissore

As for sales, OSCA claimed that the Zagatos appealed to the young, while the middle aged preferred the Fissore. Understandable when you consider many would not have considered an OSCA to be a real OSCA without the camel-back roof line. Throughout production demand ran about half and half for the two versions. There was a certain amount of rational thinking here too since they really produced only two bodies (plus slight mods on the all-out competition car) and three motors. Starting with the single-carb model which pushed the more plush Fissore coupe to 115 mph according to the factory, we progress to motor number two with another 10 ponies to make 105, still at 6000 rpm. This was used in the hotter Fissore coupe and the tamer Zagato.

OSCA 1600 GT Engine
Arguably the hottest (non-racing) sub 2-litre engine of the 1960s.

By using two dual Wefoers and other usual tuning tricks they got not only the added horsepower but a rated 120 mph. The Fissore duo were identical, right down to a weight of 1890 lbs each, while the "lesser" Zagato model was actually ten pounds heavier, apart from being more expensive. An Australian motoring journal made some pre-decimal price calculations based on the Italian Lira list pricing (at the time, Australia was still pre-decimal, however the figures are worthwhile to include as they demonstrate the price difference) tagged the tamer or 1600 PR Fissore at £A2110, with the Fissore PR2 running around £A2200 and the GT2 Zagato £A2365. A Spyder version of any of these added about £A73 to the bill while the Boneschi rectangular just under £A150 over the other coupes. Most expensive was the dream model Zagato GTS which came in at £A2835.

All that extra loot for the Zagatos was not simply status money. For one thing, the entire line shared one frame but they were not identical in suspension. While the two Fissore cars use independent front suspension and a live rear axle, the two Zagatos had all four wheels flapping independently, with coil springs at the corners. Regardless of model you got Dunlop-licence Amadori disc brakes all round, to go with the famous Amadori spidery five-stud light-weight wheels.

While the factory didn't rate the GT2 Zagato any quicker than the hotter Fissore with the same engine it would appear on streamlining grounds to have a chance at the top end with perhaps a theoretical disadvantage in acceleration due to a fraction more weight. In both cases the matter would be academic. The Zagato's big gain was in handling.

The Zagato GTS

Top dog was the GTS Zagato, featuring outward touches like faired headlights to distinguish it from the "Plain-Jane" GT2 and it had considerably more poke. OSCA was getting 140 hp at 7200 from this one, a third better than the other Zagato, and besides it was the lightest of the line by a good margin, weighing in at 1765 pounds. There really wasn't much to choose between the first trio, with decision resting on needs, comfort or style but if you wanted to go motor racing in the class, the GTS was the bomb. The factory top speed rating was just shy of 140 mph.

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The History of OSCA
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