OTAS # 0014
1971 OTAS Grand Prix Coupe
Chassis no. 100GB 1447434
Engine no. 100GB 000 1895704
Probably no other marque has inspired so many boutique automobiles as Fiat. The variety of engines, suspension and chassis produced by Italy's largest automaker provided the grist for a host of specialty builders. Abarth is well known, Cisitalia and Moretti somewhat less so. Seldom mentioned in those circles are Lombardi or OTAS.
Carlo Francesco Lombardi was an aircraft manufacturer-turned-coachbuilder. His first automotive venture involved estate car bodies on Fiat chassis; later he built some four-door sedans and coupes, using chassis of the Fiat 600, 850 and 127. In the late 1960s, he introduced the Lombardi Grand Prix, a Fiat 850 with an attractive coupe body. . Bodied in steel, with only a few glass-fiber panels, the car was diminutive but well proportioned. The Fiat mechanicals were unchanged, including the 847 cc, 34 bhp engine. Production began in 1968, and continued through 1971.
U.S. introduction of the Lombardi Grand Prix is credited to John Rich, the Glendale, California Fiat and Abarth dealer. Cars for export out of Italy were badged as "OTAS," from a separate company formed by Lombardi and Franco Giannini for that purpose. Environmental regulations were starting to limit what could be sold in the United States, so an 817 cc engine was devised to fly under the 50 cubic inch threshold that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had set for compliance. Perhaps 100 of the OTAS 820 Grand Prix were sold here, by Rich and a few dealers he had licensed. Both the Lombardi and the OTAS 820, however, with theirs tiny engines, were lacking in performance. The remedy was a larger powerplant, in this case a 1,300 cc unit from the Fiat 124 with Abarth tweaks.
Listed as OTAS number 14, the owners believe this to be of a production run of 20 cars, while beneath the skin is its original Fiat VIN as quoted. The OTAS in this collection was purchased from Peter Fino of Itasca, IL at the end of 1997, having been sourced through Steve Yanoshik. Prior to this a copy of an old title and some invoices confirms that in the 1980s it was the property of Anne Kuszynski of San Diego where it was registered under the plate 'AN OTAS', perhaps as a way of staving off other inevitably inquisitive road users...
At that time the car had covered 77,000 miles and was red. With good resources at hand to refurbish cars, the brothers elected to repaint the car in the striking lime green it wears today, a very 1970s hue often favored by Miura owners, which suits this mini-Miura well. Over the course of the last 14 years they have re-worked the car's cooling with a hidden radiator at the front of the car to help at high speeds, but have otherwise experienced no troubles. The aircraft like cockpit remains the original in black fabric.
Satisfying the owner's desire for the performance, they describe the OTAS as extremely impressive and report it to have amazing handling, a sentiment endorsed by a Bonhams specialist on a recent test drive, the car being quite literally a 'pocket rocket!'