1956 Fiat-Bartoletti Tipo 306 Race Car Transporter

1956 Fiat-Bartoletti Tipo 306 Race Car Transporter with cars
Simon Clay, courtesy of Bonhams

This is the Maserati factory team’s transporter of its World Championship-winning Fangio 250F season of 1957 — and which would also have taken Fangio’s Piccolo 250F (Chassis 2533) to the last race of his glittering career at Reims in 1958.

It was subsequently acquired by Lance Reventlow for his Team America Scarab assault upon the European Grand Prix series in 1960–61.

The transporter’s next American owners then made the most massive impact of the post-war period upon the European road-racing establishment — as Carroll Shelby’s Cobra operation used this team transporter during its Ferrari-toppling FIA Grand Touring Car World Championship-winning assault of 1964–65.

This transporter’s motor racing pedigree at world-class International level was then perpetuated as the leading British Ford GT program team of Alan Mann Racing, based in Byfleet, England, hauled its cars and associated men and materiel around the World Championship battle zones of Europe.

In 1969–70, it was acquired by Steve McQueen’s Solar Productions team to feature prominently (under ever-changing team liveries) in the ultimate motor race enthusiast cult movie: “Le Mans.”

The vehicle — unrestored and in severely dilapidated (although, as it subsequently proved, still runnable) condition — later became the neglected victim of a complex family situation which saw it effectively abandoned in the open, though fortunately in near-perfectly dry desert-air preservation conditions at Mesa, AZ, for many years.

Eventually, Cobra and Scarab owner Don Orosco became curious about the fate of the once-famous old transporter. Orosco recalls how: “I asked Carroll Shelby what had happened to it and he just laughed and said, ‘Everybody and his brother has tried to get that sumbitch, and they’ve all got absolutely nowhere. Don’t waste your time tryin’.’”

To the intensely competitive Mr. Orosco, that was like a red rag to a bull, and eventually he was shown the truck, in an otherwise empty U-Haul used-equipment disposal yard, its doors hanging open.

But the engine was runnable, and the old, long-stored engine oil itself looked as fresh as if it had just been added.

Orosco’s pessimistic estimate of just how extensive — and expensive — restoration would be was well wide of the mark. The process proved infinitely more costly and demanding, with extensive new framing and body paneling needed.

It was finished just in time for the 2008 Monterey Historics, and with Orosco’s two Scarab single-seaters and sports-racing car all loaded on board, this Italian-born American motor racing icon was then driven into Laguna Seca’s Monterey Historics paddock to a tumultuous reception from the throng of patriotic enthusiasts.

Paul Hardiman

SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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