From: R. Wilder
Re: Bro Crim OSCA Speciale – History updated
Date: April 19, 2008

Recent History (2007-2008). 

I spoke in October 2007 to Marty Naughton of Nyack, NY. Marty is a close friend of Pete Fatta from whom I purchased the OSCA Speciale in October.   Marty previously worked for 180 Sports ? Classics, located at 180 West Broadway in New York City. 180 Sports ? Classics was owned by Ross Provenzano who died in 2005. Ross’s son, Ross Jr., is not involved in the business and I don’t know if the business still exists.

1980-1982 to 2007:

In the early 1980’s, Ross Provenzano employed two guys, Steve Bucelato and Ali Luggo, whose job it was to uncover and assist in the restoration of old, exotic “barn finds” to purchase for restoration and/or resale. Ali Luggo was a former race car driver.  Apparently Steve Bucelato found this car around 1983 on a lead from Rocky Santiago in Oklahoma, purchased it and brought it to New York City to 180 Sports ? Classics.  According to R. David Brown, sports race car driver and former President of SCCA for 8 years, he believes the car ended up in the race shop of Bill Strange (see below).in Ft. Worth Texas about this time and believes that Bucelato may have purchased the car from Strange. 

According to Marty Naughton, Ali Lugo was going to perform the mechanical elements of the restoration; however as the project languished, the chassis and body work was transferred to Greg Bailey in Hamden MA. Apparently Greg Bailey did some cut chars and other specialty body work for Chinetti. Ali Lugo has since died. Over a period of 8-10 years, Greg Bailey did some body work on the car making new floor and inner panels and modifying the rear quarter panels to accept rear tail lights that subsequently have been removed as the rear tail light housings were definitely incorrect and made for tail lights that came with the car in 2007 and were also incorrect.  According to Gregg Bailey, he has had the car since around 1993 in his shop. Greg remembers the rear quarter panels as needing the most work. Apparently the car’s rear quarters were widened as the car was converted into a dragster in the 1960’s or 1970’s and had a Chevy engine and an American rear end and rear tires. According to Greg he did no work on the frame and the front from the rear of the doors forward remained the came. Gregg made a new aluminum skin for the hood with louvers and we are reskinning the hood as the original car did not have any hood louvers. 

Pre- 1983 U.S. History:

I sent an email to Victor Flood per a recommendation of Harold Pace. Victor is a long time car guy from the Dallas – Ft. Worth area and is an author or co-author of automotive racing books and a free lance writer for many years for many auto publications. . Victor went to see the car with Harold Pace around 1972-1974. The car was owned at that time by J. Paul DuToit who was a friend of Victor’s father. At that time, the car was a faded red rolling chassis. It had no floor boards, engine, wiring harness, gauges, etc. It had Borannis on the front and what Victor remembers as American wheels on the rear. Victor did not remember anything distinctive about the rear end or drive train.  Apparently, according to Harold (or maybe Victor), J. Paul DuToit bought the car in response to an ad in the Ft. worth Star Telegram advertising a auto trailer hitch for $75. . When DuToit went to see the trailer hitch, he asked the seller how much for the car that was attached to it. The seller said “if you give me $75 bucks you can have the car too”. DuToit took both. 
Victor believes the car was sold shortly after he saw the car but he did not know to whom. Harold Pace believes the car ended up directly (or indirectly) a few years later at Bill Strange’s shop in Ft. Worth. Bill Strange was an investment “deals guy” whop put other people’s money in various investments including oil and real estate. Apparently, some of the investors’ money found its way into Strange’s auto racing shop in Ft. Worth where he sponsored a Can Am racing team and bought and sold exotic cars (mainly Ferraris). In the early–mid 1980s, Strange filed bankruptcy and apparently spent some time in jail. It is at this time (1983 +/-) it is believed that Steve Bucelato bought the car from Strange and brought it back to New York. 

At some point, Bucelato (or Ali Luggo) also purchased some spare parts as the car was basically a rolling chassis (at best) in 1983. These parts included an early 1959 OSCA Fiat engine and transmission which were rebuilt (remachined with new sleeves and pistons, new rods and remachined crank) but never reassembled. Also purchased were some side draft Weber DCOE 40’s and other engine parts for the OSCA Fiat 1500 cc over head twin cam. In the engine rebuild someone drilled and inserted 4 brass fittings and brass oil lines along the center of the head between the twin cam covers  in order to more closely replicate the original OSCA 1100 cc engine. 

1954-1956- The Bro Crim OSCA Special US History Years:

When Bro Crim returned from Italy to Ft. Worth, Texas in late 1954  he managed his father’s movie theater business and later became the owner of the Cowtown Drive-In. According to Liggett Crim Jr., Bro’s son, 57 years old and now living in Texas, he has a very limited recollection of the car and where it was raced. According to Liggett, his father had several race cars and raced in regional Texas events and specifically at Eagle Mountain. He remembers the car being white with blue stripes and that his father, Bro, had a mid 50s mercury station wagon, also white with blue stripes, which he used to tow the car to various regional races. As his mother and father were divorced when Crim returned to the U.S., he did not spend full time with his father. Nell Crim remembers that Bro was very frustrated with the car as it never finished a race, she believes. “Something was always going wrong or blowing up” she recently remarked. After a few races, Bro was disgusted with the car and sold it but she is not sure to whom or exactly when but she is guessing it was within 1- 1.5 years after returning from Italy. 

The best recollections of the car and its racing history when Crim moved to Ft. Worth were from R. David Jones, who at age 15-17, worked at Bill Parm’s racing shop ion Ft. Worth. For those of you who are not familiar with David Jones, he became infatuated with race cars in high school an infatuation he maintained for the past 50 years as a driver and president of SCCA for 8 years. David Jones remembers the car at Parm’s race shop where it was looked after and prepared for racing. He also remembers Crim and Parm being good friends. According to David Jones, in a race in 1956-57, the engine seized, either it blew a rod or broke a crank, after which the engine and Siata 4 speed transmission were removed. The removal was done by 3 individuals, Larry Johnson, Harold Hartman, and a 3rd  man (name not remembered).David said these 3 guys also raced and worked on Healey 100s and David recollects that they may have put in a Healey engine and transmission but he can’t be certain. While the engine was repairable, as an OSCA engine, parts were scarce and the 3rd unnamed mechanic was going to do the repairs. Shortly thereafter the unnamed individual moved to out of the area. David remembers for many moths thereafter (possibly for more than  a year) this individual would call every 3 months to ask a question of Parm or one of Parm’s senior mechanics. David’s belief from those calls is that the engine was not getting rebuilt and this guy was having problems. At this point nobody knows the name of this 3rd individual and attempts to track down either Hartman or Johnson through the military records bureaus ,( both  were at the Waco Air National Guard Unit or in the Air Force stationed at Waco at the time)   have been unsuccessful.  Other race car guys from Texas have been unable to help and Burdett Martin, former race car driver from Ft. Worth who subsequently moved to Chicago many years ago has not been able to help locate the engine or transmission. The Maserati Brothers sons, who keep extensive and updated records of all the OSCA engines and OSCA cars made by their fathers, show engine #1111 as missing with location unknown. 

The only other U.S. racing history of the Bro Crim OSCA Special was from an email received recently from Pete Veck who runs an on line Italian car “magazine”, VeloceToday.  Pete emailed me that Jim Sitz (not sure who he is) has a record of Crim driving 1700 miles to a racing event in Dodge City, KS on August 19, 1956; however he (and we)  can find no entry forms or results of this race as it relates to the Crim OSCA Special. 

Comirato- Gilco OSCA Special- The Early Years:

The original chassis was constructed by Gilco (Gilberto Colombo) who constructed virtually all the chassis for Enzo Ferrari from 1947-1957. The chassis number 5504549 is stamped on two places on the main tubular chassis rails. From photos, we believe that the chassis is a Gilco 203 chassis; however, I received a recent email from a Gilco aficionado in Italy , who believes it is a Gilco chassis 200 series but not necessarily a 203. He needs actual measurement of all tubes and overall length to confirm. It appears, from research done buy John DeBoer, that the original chassis was built for Alberto Comirato, a well known and successful race car driver (along with his wife who was also a famous race car driver) both immediately before and after the war. Comirato also was a well respected mechanic and was at the leading edge of the race car “technology” of the time. As Comirato owned several race cars, there is no certainty that  pictures of cars we have found showing Comirato in races were actually this Crim OSCA special. 

Having said that, piecing together the history is as follows:

1. Comirato constructed his own car in 1949 using the Gilco chassis  (chassis # 5504549) , a Fiat 1100S engine and a cycled fender car body typical of the years immediately following the war. There are race records referring to this car as a Comirato-Fiat -Gilco and the pictures show the exhaust pipe on the passenger’s (right ) side of the car.

2. In 1950, Comirato purchased from the Maserati Brothers, OSCA MT4 engine #1111, an 1100 cc twin cam engine replacing the Fiat 1100S engine. There are pictures of this car racing showing the exhaust manifold on the drivers (left) side which is the correct side for exhausting an OSCA engine. The car at that time was referred to as a Comirato-OSCA- Gilco car in various race programs and race result sheets. 

3. Research by John DeBoer, based on information from the Milan Automobile Registry  from a photo of the Milan license plate and the chassis number confirmed  that Comirato was in fact the owner of the car with the Gilco chassis number stamped on my car. 

4. In 1954, a wealthy Texan, Bro Crim, whose family owned land in Kilgore 
Texas with one of the largest oil finds in east Texas history (1930) , went to Italy with his 5 year old son, Liggett and wife, to learn to drive on European race courses and purchased a race car when he arrived in Italy. While the articles of the time written by Hans Tanner lead the reader to believe that Crim had the car custom built to his specifications, it appears that was not the case. Sometime around 1953-54, the car changed hands, possibly more than once, and was ultimately rebodied using the original Gilco Chassis with a more modern design (i.e. no cycle fenders), looking much like a smaller version of the period Ferrari race cars. The aluminum body was made by the Palazzi Brothers (who reportedly made bodies for Ferrari) and the car was reassembled by Crepaldi and sold to Crim.  It is unclear whether Crim knew he was purchasing a rebodied race car of Alberto Comirato. 

1. While in Texas, Crim made contact with Hans Tanner who, among other things, acted as Crim’s purchasing agent for the car. According to Nell Becker, formerly Nell Crim, Bro’s first wife who is still alive and remarkably active with a great sense of humor. 

2. While Crim owned a 1950 Jaguar (not sure what model), Crim learned to race in Italy in this newly acquired car. When he arrived in Italy (with the Mercury station wagon also painted white with blue stripes, the OSCA was not fully prepared and he had to wait. This was frustrating to Crim as he had hoped to participate in the Italian circuit races in 1955. According to Nell, when Bro finally got the car, it the first day at the track, on a rain soaked surface he spun the car and did some damage. According to Nell, the car was repaired but never raced in Italy. This is somewhat contrary to the information in an Article by Tanner and a picture of the car on a track in Italy in one of the Italian Racing History books. . 

Crim did enjoy the camaraderie of other European and US race car drivers at the time and was in it more for the experience than anything else. His son remembers living in a house and his father invited over the race car drivers of the day. He believes he met Maston Gregory and a famous German driver whose name he could not remember.  Nell also remembers Phil Hill and trips to the grand prix in Portugal (?) and to Le Mans. After  the 1955 racing season,  in Italy, Crim returned to Ft. Worth with the Bro Crim OSCA Special  (and the white and blue Mercury tow car) and the sections of this memo above pick up the story from there. Steve Bucelato believes he has a picture of the car in Texas with Carroll Shelby standing or sitting next to the car and next to Bro Crim. 

Bucelato also believes the car was blue with white stripes; however there is no evidence of those colors used on the car. He also believes that Shelby campaigned the car. Bucelato has a friend who is close to Shelby and is going to try to see if Shelby remembers the car or driving the car. Shelby and Crim were about the same age and both came from East Texas, albeit from very different economic backgrounds. It is believed they were friends but we are not sure how much contact they had with each other. Nell Crim remembers going to events with Carroll Shelby and his wife so the relationship was more than just acquaintances.

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