No regular OSCA MT4 had made anything like this at auction recently-and probably not even at the peak of the sports car madness in 1989


Chassis 1153 is undoubtedly one of the most original surviving OSCAs in the world today. Only the patina of age would distinguish it from a new car.
The chassis and engine are as they left the factory with the correct adjustable shock absorbers and the riveted alloy fuel tank. The engine shows strong oil pressure and the mileage of approximately 10,000 kms is believed to be correct.
Its Vignale berlinetta coachwork on the successful MT4-2AD chassis is unique. In all, OSCA supplied only four original berlinettas ex-works, three to Vignale (chassis 1120, 1136 and 1153) and one to Frua (chassis 1113). All of these apart from chassis 1153, however, were fitted with less powerful engines of smaller capacity.
Fine details on this exquisite car include rare OSCA and Vignale badging, king-size Jaeger instrumentation, the original horn button in the steering wheel, and Marchal lights.
It is believed that the 1955 OSCA MT4-2AD Coupe on offer here has its original coat of black, and the dark red leather interior and carpeting is original, too. It has factory fitted luggage (with the original keys), a Plexiglas rear screen, custom-made rear lights, an alloy filler cap in the boot, and the original tool bag and kit stamped with the chassis number.
With so many OSCAs used in competition in period and subsequently damaged or modified, this car is even more desirable for the collector in search of originality.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 OSCA Mt4 2AD
Years Produced:1948-57
Number Produced:102
Original List Price:$6,500
SCM Valuation:$250,000-$350,000
Tune Up Cost:start at $10,000 and keep spending
Distributor Caps:how much does the seller want?
Chassis Number Location:usually on the right front suspension support
Engine Number Location:on the block below carbs
Club Info:Maserati Club, 2 Sunny Bank, Widmer End, Buckinghamshire HP15 6PA
Alternatives:1955-57 Maserati 150S, 1954-55 Porsche 550
Investment Grade:A

This OSCA MT4-2AD Coupe sold for $507,500 at Christie’s Retromobile auction held on February 12, 2005.
Although the OSCA MT4 was primarily intended as a competition car, and most were bodied as barchettas by small outfits such as Moretti, the car pictured here never saw the race track. Instead it was given an elegant coupe body by Turin-based coachbuilder Vignale, then at the height of its powers with the talented young Giovanni Michelotti as its chief stylist. By his standards the coachwork for this MT4 was remarkably restrained, and perhaps because of this its lines have aged well.
Michelotti essayed a variety of sometimes weird and often wonderful creations including the futuristic Demon Rouge, built on the Fiat 8V chassis, last year’s Best in Show winner at the prestigious Het Loo concours in Holland. After 50 years, these designs are finally now beginning to find favor with collectors.
After its Turin Show debut, the Vignale coupe was apparently sold into private French ownership, and from there joined the little-known Swiss collection of Walter Grell. There it spent the best part of three decades until 2000, when shortly after Grell’s death his heirs sold a package of cars to a London dealer.
Most of the cars were then offered at auction in May 2000, but a few were sold off privately beforehand, including the OSCA. Other than a good clean-up and a thorough service, the car was found to need very little.
Its new owner was a friend of mine, a Dutch enthusiast who has been collecting Italian sports cars, especially Ferraris, since before I was born. When he decided to part with the OSCA last summer shortly after completing the Milano-Sanremo Rally without fuss, he called me and asked what I thought the 1955 MT4-2AD Coupe was worth.
It’s always difficult to predict exactly what a car will bring at auction, even for someone whose day job is serving as director of Bonhams Europe, including its Motor Car Department. Although those of us in the business like to think we have a pretty good feel for which cars will excite buyers and which won’t, you never really know until the car goes under the hammer.
I told my friend that without any racing history, and considering this car was not an obvious candidate for the Mille Miglia or Tour Auto, it would have limited uses and would likely fetch less than a “standard” open MT4. He replied that he had a minimum figure of ?425,000 in mind (that’s about $550,000 and growing by the day), having already turned down an offer of ?350,000 two years earlier (about $455k today).
Although the market is forever evolving, the best valuation guide we can have is a car’s previous sales and those of its peers. At the very least, these prices can give you an idea of how buyers perceive it. I had a good idea of what price this car had achieved previously, and based on those numbers, I considered his hoped-for price a tall order.
No regular OSCA MT4 had made anything like $550k at auction recently-and probably not even at the peak of the sports car madness in 1989 either. The most recent auction sale was S/N 1167, sold (very well) by Gooding & Company last August at Pebble Beach for $429,000.
While it would have been easy to accept the car for our Goodwood sale last September, I decided to decline. We try our best to avoid high profile no-sales, which not only take the shine off a successful auction but can also, in my view, call into question the auction house’s market expertise. I wished my friend well, not thinking much more about it until I opened Christie’s catalog months later and saw the OSCA as one of the featured lots. It’s always at this moment that you ask yourself, “Should we have taken it?”
As the sale approached, clients from around the world began calling up for a chat and asking if I’d seen it, so there was clearly positive buzz about the OSCA. Christie’s had presented it well, and although nobody had much of anything exceptional to sell this year at Retromobile, everyone who’s anyone in collector car circles still seemed to be in Paris.
Our story ends with the owner agreeing to accept less than he originally wanted and the car selling for the bottom estimate of ?350,000 (about $455,000 once the auction company’s commission has been deducted). The buyer was a Swiss broker bidding on behalf of an American collector who, like everyone else, had fallen for the car’s cute charm and originality. Coincidentally, while I was in the States on a business trip a few days later, a well-known collector told me he was bidding by telephone when the hammer went down and was upset to have missed the car.
I spoke to the vendor after the sale and asked why he had sold the MT4-2AD Coupe. He replied that he found it hard to decide whether to restore the car to 1955 Turin Show condition, or to leave it untouched, and felt that the active sporting use to which he puts his other cars would not be appropriate for this little OSCA. I understand the buyer considered the price “a deal where the seller and the buyer should both be satisfied.”
Would the buyer get his money back if he sold the car tomorrow? Perhaps, but probably not. Could he have found another unmolested MT4 coupe if he hadn’t got this one? No. Do I wish I would have taken the consignment? To give the classic auctioneer’s answer: Of course-
depending on the reserve.

Comments are closed.