Lot 47

1953 OSCA MT4 2-AD Spider

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SOLD $461,500


$700,000 - $900,000



Car Highlights

Delivered New to the Legendary American Sportsman Briggs Cunningham

Numerous Significant Race Wins Including 1st in Class at Sebring in 1953

Among the Finest Small-Displacement Italian Sports Racing Cars of the 1950s

Unseen During Nearly Four Decades of Storage in Private Ownership

Ideal Restoration Candidate and Competitive Entry in Countless Motor Sports Events

Technical Specs

1,570 CC DOHC Alfa Romeo Inline 4-Cylinder Engine

Estimated 120 BHP

4-Speed Manual Gearbox

4-Wheel Finned-Aluminum Drum Brakes

Front Independent Coil-Spring Suspension

Rear Live Axle with Quarter-Elliptical Leaf Springs

Have a similar car that you would like to put up for an auction?

Briggs S. Cunningham, Greens Farms, Connecticut (acquired new in 1953)

Henry W. Wessells III, Ardmore, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in 1953)

R. Shere, New York (acquired from the above in 1956)

Frolics Inc., Hollywood, California (acquired by 1957)

Robert DeVore, San Diego, California (acquired by early 1970s)

Michael Adams, Medford, Oregon (acquired by 1980)

Current Owner (acquired from the above circa 1986)

6 Hours of MacDill, 1953, Cunningham, No. 72 (8th Overall, 1st in Class)

12 Hours of Sebring, 1953, Cunningham/Lloyd, No. 59 (5th Overall, 1st in Class)

Bridgehampton Road Races, Mecox Trophy Race, 1953, Walters, No. 46 (1st Place)

SCCA National Thompson, 1953, 8th Race, Cunningham, No. 33 (1st Place)

Watkins Glen, Queen Catharine Cup, 1953, Wessells, No. 60 (2nd Place)

Andrews Air Force Base, President’s Cup, 1954, Wessells, No. 121 (11th Place)

Watkins Glen, Queen Catharine Cup, 1954, Wessells, No. 39 (DNS)

12 Hours of Sebring, 1955, Wessells/DuPont, No. 84 (DNQ)

Officine Specializzate Costruzione Automobili, or OSCA, was established in Bologna, Italy, by Bindo, Ernesto, and Ettore Maserati in 1947, when they left the company that bore their name. Over the next two decades, the Maserati brothers built, in extremely limited numbers, an astonishing variety of sports racing, grand touring, and formula cars, all characterized by technically advanced engineering and jewel-like attention to detail.

Of the many models built by OSCA, the most recognizable is undoubtedly the MT4, which stands for “Maserati Tipo 4-Cilindri.” Originally designed with a single overhead-cam 1,100 cc engine, the MT4 won in its debut at the 1948 Naples Grand Prix and was then continuously developed and improved throughout the early 1950s. From 1953 to 1955, an updated twin-cam model, known as the 2-AD, was produced in various displacements, ranging from 1,100 to 1,500 cc. In ultimate twin-plug 1,500 cc form, the MT4 produced approximately 120 bhp and, when equipped with lightweight all-aluminum Spider bodywork, weighed just 1,300 lbs. These OSCA MT4s were thoroughbred racing cars, rivalled only by Porsche’s 550 Spyder in the under 1,500 cc classes. The MT4s were especially popular in the US, where they were sold – for as much as $10,000 each – to an elite clientele that included connoisseurs such as racing luminaries Bill Spear, Jim Kimberly, and in this case, Briggs S. Cunningham.

According to the definitive book OSCA: La Rivincita dei Maserati, by Luigi Orsini and Franco Zagari, this MT4 2-AD Spider, chassis 1124, was delivered new to OSCA’s official North American distributor Edgar Fronteras. Chassis 1124 was originally supplied with a 1,350 cc engine, no. 1308, and was sold to Cunningham in time for the 1953 season. Success came quickly that February with Cunningham at the wheel for an 8th Overall and 1st in Class finish at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Having proven its capabilities, Cunningham and Bill Lloyd shared driving duties in 1124 at the 12 Hours of Sebring the following month, posting a 1st in Class finish in the under 1,500 cc class and a very respectable 5th Overall, adding to this MT4’s accolades as well as their own.

Now constructing winning race cars under his own name, Cunningham sold 1124 later in 1953 to his friend and fellow racer Henry W. Wessells III, who entered the OSCA in various SCCA races over the next two years including at Watkins Glen and Andrews Air Force Base, as well as a qualifying attempt at Sebring in 1955. At some point early on, 1124 was fitted with the first of two Alfa Romeo engines, as later owners (under the name Frolics Inc. in Southern California) registered the car as an OSCA-Alfa in their local CSCC chapter in February 1957. In the same time frame, the nose of 1124’s coachwork was modified with beautifully formed sheet metal without provision for headlights, and the car remains configured as such to this day, with a low-set, oblong-grille opening.

According to research by OSCA expert John de Boer, 1124 had additional Southern California-based owners, before settling with Michael Adams of Medford, Oregon, in the late 1970s, but the car had largely retired from competition. In about 1986, Mr. Adams consigned the OSCA to be sold at auction, where it was spotted by its current owner, a lifelong automotive devotee with an eye for refined design. Smitten by its sleek bodywork, he brought the car home, intrigued by the thought of returning it to race-ready status. Rather, the race-winning MT4 was put away on his property in dry storage under blankets, still fitted with an Alfa Romeo engine and gearbox, and without carburetors for nearly 40 years, never being shown publicly or even discussed with outsiders until very recently.

Today, this pedigreed OSCA MT4 2-AD Spider is poised to return to the public eye. Its successful history with Briggs Cunningham places it among the most important surviving OSCAs, and its next owner will have the honor of revealing it to the vintage racing community. Whatever its next chapter may hold, the tiny group of OSCA owners worldwide can count one more fortunate member in their exclusive club.

*Please note that this vehicle is sold on a Bill of Sale. Please also note that this vehicle has been in long-term static storage and may not be currently operational. It will require mechanical attention prior to road use.


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