OSCA and ATS rarities to go under the hammer in Essen

| 6 Mar 2012

As Coys starts to assemble its lot-list for its annual Techno Classica Essen sale on 24 March, we spotted some real gems and obscurities in the catalogue including the gorgeous rare OSCA in the main picture – the very one the C&SC team was drooling over during our Poor Boys' Tour visit to Coys late last year – and a sensational ATS.

Here are C&SC's favourites, the descriptions are Coys'.

ATS (estimate: refer department)

During 1963, ATS developed, based on the frame of the 2500 GT, a sport version called the 2500 GTS. The technical design basically remained the same, keeping the revolutionary mid engine layout. However, most major changes were made to the engine; unlike the 2500 GT, the 2500 GTS was equipped with 4 Weber carburettors, and a much higher output was reached through the significantly larger carburettors, which increased horsepower to 260.

The body design stayed the same, built entirely out of aluminium by Allemano. The nett dry weight was reputed to be a startlingly low 750 kilograms, and the top speed was said to be an impressive 255 kph.

Back then journalists were banned from testing a GT or GTS when the first 2 prototypes were enlisted for the legendary 1000 km race on the Nürburgring in May 1963, but he cars never arrived at Nürburgring. The truck transporting the cars had a bad accident on the way which damaged both cars entirelyseverely.

Two additional GTS were also listed to race in the Targa Florio on April 26 that same year, in the hands of drivers such as Giancarlo Baghetti and Piero Frescobaldi. Baghetti drove the fastest lap of the race but unfortunately did not finish.

There are no official records of production numbers of units of the GTS, and no information on this topic has ever been published. Most sources however point to a total of a mere 5 GTS ever built. This includes the 2 models involved in the 1963 crash on the way to Nürburgring, which have never been restored or repaired. That only leaves 3 intact ATS 2500 GTS remaining.

The example on offer is vehicle identification number (VIN) 015/63 with engine number 007; it is described by the vendor as being in immaculate condition, ready to be raced. It has recently undergone a substantial amount of restoration work by the noted specialist Gianni Regiani, who was the master craftsman of ATS in those days, and is now among the only people left today who truly understands this unique automobile. The car also comes with FIA papers and FIA-HTP pass.

OSCA (estimate: €58-75,000)

In 1937, due to economic depression, the Maserati brothers were forced to sell their company and the rights to the use of the Maserati name to the wealthy Orsi family.

They stayed on, however, under the terms of a 10 year employment contract. When the 1947 expiration date approached, the Maseratis left the Modena factory without a word of discussion on either side.

As soon as they could they set up space in a corner of the original Maserati works in Bologna, where the brothers had originated their business back in 1926. They set about designing a completely new car from a clean sheet of paper.

The new company was named 'Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili - Fratelli Maserati SpA', and so the legend that became OSCA was born, launching the Maserati brothers into their greatest commercial success.

Following the 1500S, OSCA decided to offer a road car and the natural choice for the basis for the engine was a 1,600-cc version of the cylinder block developed by the Maserati brothers for Fiat. The resulting cars, with their thoroughbred racing engines and nimble chassis', were among the best-looking road/race cars of their time.

The 1600 GT was bodied by different coachbuilders including Fissore and Boneschi, wit h the most numerous being those by Zagato.

Only around 120 OSCA 1600GTs are thought to have been produced in total however the car on offer here is especially rare being one of only 3 cabriolets, all bodied by Fissore, and one of only 2 produced on a tubular chassis.

Chassis number 00119 is believed to have been shown at the 1963 Salone dell'Automobile in Turin and formed a part of the collection of legendary Miller collector and enthusiast David Vogel Uihlein in the USA for around 25 years.

In late 2007 a noted British collector acquired the OSCA and imported it into the UK.

The OSCA has been preserved in remarkably original condition with only 36522km showing on the odometer which, considering its unmolested condition, is likely to be correct. The burgundy paintwork is in good order and the correct wheels are still present including the hard-to-find OSCA centre caps.

On the interior the black seats are still supple and free from cracking and the dash is fitted with stylish Jaeger instrumentation and a period Motorola radio.

This compact and lightweight cabriolet would cause a commotion at any gathering of Italian classics. We can be almost certain that the new owner will never find him or herself parked next to another of these unique cabriolets.

An excellent opportunity to acquire an extremely rare and highly desirable example of this celebrated Italian marque.

Cardi (estimate: refer department)

The Cardi Curara is an extremely rare, and distinctive two seater roadster from Russia, with very distinctive styling incorporating a two tone contrasting red and silver colour scheme.

The chiselled styling of the Cardi Curara was highly advanced for its time with the front end dominated by the large central air intake and slit like headlights either side and situated below , two prominent circular driving lights sculpted into the bodywork. At the rear, the spare wheel was sunk into the boot lid in a modern twist on the style often found on 1930s sports cars. The rear wings were very much sculpted and reminiscent of the boat tail sports cars of the 1920s with the taillights almost invisible; recessed into a single slit running the width of the vehicle above the twin central exhausts with the prominent script of Curara above.

Power for the Curara came from a proven and reliable manufacturer. Under the sculpted bonnet beats a sophisticated and powerful BMW V12 engine supplying power to the rear wheels via an automatic gearbox. Performance is nothing short of substantial with the power of the BMW V12 adequate enough to allow a light press of the accelerator to get this roadster rapidly off the line.

The interior is lavishly finished in rich-red hide; not only on the seats but dash and central console , all of which are reported as being in excellent condition. Nice touches abound such as electric seats enabling the driver to find the perfect driving position, Cardi logos embossed on the seats, Nardi steering wheel trimmed in matching red and McIntosh stereo.

Supplied with EU registration papers and with trusted mechanicals and a unique roadster body, this Curara is a distinctively unique sports car that will surely to turn heads and certainly offers the enthusiast something very different and bold from the otherwise 'everyday' sports cars. A unique opportunity to buy a one off creation!

And of course, the obligatory Gullwing (estimate €400-500,000)

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was conceived as a sports-racer, not a road car, proving its mettle on the track and especially in the Targa Florio before the production model appeared, and in subsequent years standard 300SLs were to notch up an impressive number of rally successes.

It all began with a small number of racing SL prototypes built in 1952 which won that year's Le Mans 24 Hours and the marathon Carrera Panamericana among other contests. As Stuttgart's first post-war competition cars they combined suspension and running gear from the then new 300 series production models with a light, multi-tube space-frame chassis clad with special coupé bodywork. Full-height side opening doors would have compromised rigidity in the high-sided space frame chassis so half-height doors, hinged at the roof centre to lift upward, had to be developed for the car, the now famous 'gullwing' design.

The 300SL engine was a 3.0 litre in-line six with dry sump lubrication and Bosch mechanical fuel injection, the latter a world first for a production car. It was also one of the most potent engines of its day, providing top speeds of 130 to 165mph depending on gearing. The car's advanced chassis design ensured great strength and safety, whilst providing fine handling thanks to its light weight. An interesting Gullwing feature was the steering wheel hinged at the base of its hub to tilt almost upside down, thus easing entry for the less sylph-like driver!

SL styling hardly needs comment, except to note that it was much lower and sleeker than that of virtually any contemporary sports cars. Distinguishing features such as the big three-pointed star grille emblem, wheelarch 'eyebrows' and 'egg crate' cooling louvres adorned the body, whilst the purposeful interior was somewhat reminiscent of a Messerschmitt fighter plane!

The 300SL cost a fortune: a massive £5,600 for the Gullwing in 1954 against £1,400 for a Jaguar XK120 or £4,500 for a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, but excellence is never cheap, and the SLs were magnificent: solid, handsome and very fast. In fact, nothing could outpace them for years except for the occasional Ferrari, which was hardly a 'production' car in those days.

The 300SL won more competitions in its time than virtually any other car since. There are far too many victories to list here: suffice to say that no other manufacturer could field a car that could combine such speed, reliability and all-round ability as the 300SL, which allowed it to excel in events as varied as the Targa Florio, Mille Miglia and Le Mans.

Coys are proud to offer one of these iconic cars, in this case a Gullwing, which has the distinct advantage of having preserved the correct numbered drivetrain to match its chassis number. Like most 300SL Gullwings it was exported when new to Mercedes Benz of New York and according to the works data base of these cars, its first owner was a Mr. John C. Wise of Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

Many years later, the car found its way back to its birthplace, being found and purchased by a well respected German classic car dealer. He in turn sold it, after thorough examination and attention, to an eminent collector of classic Mercedes cars, who is now the vendor, and has been its sole owner for the last eight years in Germany, as is shown in the cars German historic papers. While in Germany the car received some mechanical and cosmetic restoration including, importantly, an engine rebuild, and also repainting in its original metallic silver (the correct DB 180 colour code).

At the same time a new red leather interior was fitted, and to finish the car off superbly, the highly desirable Rudge knock-off wheels. The car was kept in permanent readiness for use, and occasionally taken on smart outings, but has always been stored in a heated and dehumified building as a stablemate to other great Mercedes classics such as a 540 K Cabriolet A, and others.

The car comes to us with full German historic registration documents, and TÜV certificate till 2014; ready to be used and most welcome at any top classic car venue the world over these remarkable cars are also a superb investment.

See the full lot list (to date) here.