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The little OSCA in everyday traffic in Buenos Aires. Click here for larger image.

O.S.C.A. FS372
Cris Bertschi cops a ride with a Mille Miglia OSCA

April 11, 2002
Story and photos by Cris Bertschi

When you tell a friend that you have gone for a ride in a Ferrari or a Maserati they will instantly know what are you talking about. But what happens if instead you said you enjoyed a great "promenade" with an O.S.C.A.? How many people know the Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili? It is not so difficult to tell the history of this this particular FS372, but the challenge is to transmit the sound of its four cylinder 1.5-liter bialbero at full throttle.

Manuel Eliçabe poses with his FS 372 In Buenos Aires in Mille Miglia Retro livery. Click here for larger image.

It was a normal, boring afternoon when I received an e-mail from my friend Manuel Eliçabe saying that work on his O.S.C.A. was finished and asking if I wanted to go on a test drive before shipping it to Italy for the 2002 Mille Miglia Retro. I instantly replied, "Tell me day and time and I'll be there". A couple of days later Manuel called and said, "We test drive tomorrow at 15:00, Meet me at El Mazazo". El Mazazo (which means hammer hit) is the workshop where he and his father Pepe keep their collection, which includes: a Ferrari 365 GTC (s/n 12007), Ferrari 328 GTS (s/n 75186), Ferrari 355 (s/n 110394), Dino 308 GT4 2+2 (s/n 14552), Mercedes 300SL gullwing (s/n 6500228), De Tomaso Pantera GTS (s/n 09357), Porsche 911 cabrio, 1968 Baufer Chevrolet Sport Prototipo (racecar built in Argentina) and a Chevy Nova coupé. The day chosen was not just a hot day, but the hottest day in the whole summer with 35°C+.

One of the differences between the FS372 and the previous O.S.C.A.s is that the exhaust is on the right side, so the equation was: the hottest day in summer + exhaust underneath = I melted down. Fortunately, my passion is stronger than hell and I was determined to enjoy a great ride.

Despite the heat in Argentina, the interior is not uncomfortable. Click here for larger image.

The journey started with some kilometers within the city and then we got out on the highway. The engine was just assembled after the problems it had during the last year´s Mil Millas Sport de la República Argentina, which was not great for old cars. Since then, I cannot say the words "dusty road" in front of Manuel. Once out in the open, Manuel shifted the O.S.C.A at 4,000 / 4,500 RPM to seat the bialbero rings and valves, but as the car has a very close ratio gearbox its acceleration is just great. The sound of the engine is a mix of a deep roar and a clocky noise from the valves. The engine is not the most savage power unit from Italy, but it fits neatly in the little aluminum-bodied barchetta, which weighs just over half a ton.

A true sports racer, one of five built. Click here for larger image.

Nothing new by the Morelli brothers, but undoubtedly a beautiful design. Click here for larger image.

Although it looks, and is, very narrow this little sports car steers very safely on fast bends, but it is obvious that it is more comfortable on twisty roads. I could not feel how it drives in the mountains, as unfortunately we don't have any on the Pampas!

Anyone who wants to start investigating the history of a particular O.S.C.A. must start with Luigi Orsini & Franco Zagari´s book titled O.S.C.A. La Rivincita dei Maserati (published by Giorgio Nada Editore). Orsini states correctly that the first owner of s/n 1189 was the Italian driver Luigi Piotti who bought it in 1958. It is also stated that this was the car that Piotti and the local driver Roberto Bonomi drove the 26th January 1958 at the 1000km de Buenos Aires. But in fact it was not. In that event, Piotti probably drove his O.S.C.A. s/n 1179 a very similar car.

Fratelli Morelli body from Ferrara, who did much of the OSCA bodywork after 1956. Click here for larger image.

The Tipo 372 bialbero with two 42 DCO3 Webers. Click here for larger image.

The FS 372 s/n 1189 was raced during a period of two years by Piotti and Gino Munaron. Its best race result was February 24th, 1958 when Piotti won its class at Cuba.

The last competition for the car was at the beginning of 1960 for the 1000km de Buenos Aires. Alberto Mapelli Mozzi and Gino Munaron entered the car for the Scuderia Madunina but were not able to start as the car crashed during practice and could not be repaired in time. Instead Munaron shared a Ferrari 250 GT (s/n 1377) with Bruno Gavazzoli and Nino Todaro.

We are still researching the complete ownership history of this rare O.S.C.A. Our thanks to Manuel and the El Mazazo shop.

A little on the Tipo FS 372

Roberto Bonomi´s turn driving Piotti´s s/n 1179 at the 1000km de Buenos Aires 1958. S/n 1189, the subject of this article, did not run in this event as stated in Orsini.

Click here for larger image.

The OSCA engine designated 372, was a four-cylinder, originally designed and built for the 1957 F-2 season. The nomenclature, was the displacement of one cylinder, for a total of 1488cc. Cars built specifically to compete in the F-2 races were designated the F2/S, while the sport racing model was called simply the FS. Five of the FS cars were built; 1189, the subject of our story, was the first, followed by 1191, 1192, 1194 and 1196. All were bodied by Morelli.-ed.

Osca FS 372
Chassis: #1189
Engine: #1541

Race history
  • 26.01.1958: 1000km Buenos Aires Luigi Piotti / Roberto Bonomi #42 Retired (gearbox)
    (this race was erroneously attributed to 1189, but in fact Piotti and Bonomi drove s/n 1179)
  • 24.02.1958: Cuba. 1st in Class
  • 13.04.1958: Shell Trophy Monza Piotti. 5th Class
  • 26-7.04.1958: GP di Napoli #102 Piotti. Retired
  • 22.06.1958: Caserta. 6th in Class
  • 0607.1958: F2 Rheims. Piotti Retired
  • 03.05.1959: #267 Munaron Retired
  • 19.07.1959: #27 Munaron 3rd
  • 01.08.1959: Avus #30 Munaron Retired
  • 23.08.1959: Messina Munaron 4th, 2nd Class
  • 1960: 1000km Buenos Aires - DNS Alberto Mapelli / Gino Munaron (Scuderia Madunina) - The car crashed during practice and was not able to start. Instead Munaron drove Ferrari 250GT #1377.
  • 1999: the car was in Germany and was offered for sale by Marcel Roks.
  • Late 2000: Imported to Argentina by Manuel Eliçabe.
  • 05.2000: Mille Miglia. #231 Manuel Eliçabe - Valeria Beruto
  • 10.12.2000: at display at Autoclásica, San Isidro, Buenos Aires.
  • 05.2001: Mille Miglia. #375 Manuel Eliçabe - Alejandro Varalla DNF 1st. stage.
  • 11.2001: Mil Millas Sport. Manuel Eliçabe - Valeria Beruto DNF.
Model FS 372
Weight 510 kg
Engine type 372
Cylinders 4
Displacement 1490.86cc
Max. power 135 CV @6600 RPM
Distribution DOHC
Carburetors Two Weber 42 DCO3 with electric pump
Transmission four speed ZF + Reverse
Frame Tubular
Brakes Hydraulic drums
Wheeels Borrani
Year 1957
Price new L. 4.800.000 (en 1957)

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