This month’s mystery car offers a huge contrast to the snazzy little sports coupé from last month. Here we have a 3.5-ton behemoth, ’60s style, produced in smallish three-figure numbers to transport ‘important people’ around. Send your solution, by email or snail mail, to Mystery Cars No. 236, NZ Classic Car, PO Box 46 020, Herne Bay, Auckland by mid September. Our mystery last month was the very striking-looking OTAS Grand Prix 820, from the early ’70s. There’s a rather complicated story to tell of how the OTAS evolved. It probably started in 1968, when the 843cc Lombardi Grand Prix coupé was built using a Fiat 850 platform and mechanical componentry (rear engine, RWD). The main part of the body was steel, but the doors and engine cover were fibreglass. A second series of cars followed, with the body now mostly steel, and various engine options were offered to enhance performance. Two other companies noted for Fiat-based performance activity now joined the party, with Giannini doing its own version of the car called the Giannini Grand Prix, with 843/903/998cc options of the Fiat 850 engine with Weber carburettors. Abarth also joined in, with its version of the same car called the Abarth 1300 Scorpione, with a 1280cc Fiat 124 engine in the back, the hottest version (Scorpione SS) tuned to 100bhp or 74.5kw. The radiator on the Scorpione was front mounted and four-wheel disc brakes and wishbone and coil front suspension improved the roadability of the car. Still with us? Three versions of the same basic car so far, but there was a fourth — this being our featured mystery, the OTAS 820 Grand Prix in 1971 and early 1972, several (possibly 100-plus) of which were imported into the US, but with the engine downsized to 817cc, a smidgen under the 50ci benchmark to avoid an import tax, although it was tuned to give 39kw (52hp). OTAS ( Officina Transformazione Automobili Sportive) was actually part of the Giannini automotive operation, headed by Domenico Giannini, who worked with Francis Lombardi to rework the Lombardi Grand Prix into the OTAS 820 Grand Prix for the US market. US magazine Car and Driver put one through its road-testing procedure, commenting that its low build made it feel much faster than it actually was! But it published an estimated top speed of 145kph (90mph) and an acceleration figure of a standing quarter-mile in 22 seconds, and 0–60mph in 18.7 seconds. The kerb weight was 708kg (1560lb), with front-to-rear weight distribution of 40:60, length 3607mm (142 inches), and wheelbase 2045mm (80.5 inches). We had no successful answers for the BMW 1600 development prototype, though one entry at least picked up on the Alfa Giulietta front end grafted onto the car to disguise its true parentage.
Clues Across: 7. An early 1930s model in AC’S company history (6) 8. Vauxhall’s four-cylinder family car built in two main series from 1948 to 1957 (6) 10. Lancia’s classic sporting saloon and GT coupé, built from 1950–’58 and successful both as a road car and in competition (7) 11. Model name for Subaru’s 1971–’94 mid-range saloon, built in FWD or 4WD transmission layout (5) 12. Dodge small FWD compact car built from 1977 to 1990 and based on the European Simca Horizon (4) 13. Lancia’s 1984 onwards saloon which shared its chassis engineering platform with Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Saab (5) US Ford terminology pre WWII for a two-door sedan body style (5) Bertone-styled performance saloon built by Iso from 1969–’74, V8 powered, initially by Chevrolet, but later by Ford (4) 22. US specialist supplier of original or aftermarket gear-lever equipment for US performance cars (5) 23. Prominent UK racing car, record car, and sports-car designer pre WWII, remembered also as designer of a successful Anglicized Hudsonbased sporting straight eight (7) 24. Marque name for Ford (UK) commercial vehicles through the 1950s to around 1965 (6) 25. German car and two-wheeler maker active from c.1902 through to 1926 (6)