This past week, I took a single day off from work and home, and traveled (by invitation) to Berkeley, California.
There, I entered the studio garage of the Patrick Ottis Company.
If you Google “Patrick Ottis Company,” you will receive over a quarter-million hits. Information from Yelp, FerrariChat, the BBC, and Car and Driver; which said, in April of 2012:
If it is true that there are no more than a dozen people in the U.S. capable of constructing a superlative vintage Ferrari V-12 engine, then Patrick Ottis is, in most experts’ views, among the very best. In addition to overseeing his Berkeley, California, shop, Ottis can be found judging at the annual Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, serving on the International Advisory Council for the Preservation of the Ferrari Automobile, and globe-hopping in search of parts for his restoration projects for collectors as far off as London and Bahrain. 1
I met Patrick, and his son, Tazio on June 1st of this year, in a buffet line. We were attending the 9th Annual Party on the Patio, at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, in Midland, Texas. The event is reserved for “Pit Crew” enthusiasts of the Chaparral marque, and its innovative creator, Jim Hall.
I noted that they had been on my flight from Las Vegas the morning before, and found that they originated out of Oakland, and came from Berkeley. This makes us nearly neighbors, and we exchanged stories about what brought us to the “Party.” As the line split and the serving began, I asked if they had seating arrangements and they allowed as how they did. In the banquet hall, I went to find a seat in the middle or back of the room, and discovered them at the front, seated with the Halls, amongst the dignitaries in attendance.
The next morning we met again at the airport and spent some waiting time exchanging information about .. well, mainly about why they were in Midland. This all culminated a couple of weeks later with an invitation from Patrick to visit his shop in Berkeley, and meet a particular 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder.
Patrick was on the phone as I walked into the unmarked building, housing two work areas filled with Ferraris, and Ferrari engines. This is not an unusual posture for Patrick, as his day is filled with tracking down materials, discussing current and future work with customers, and sharing information with those who might not have time to fit into the schedule at the Patrick Ottis Company.
His son, racer and athlete, Tazio Ottis was on hand to show me around the shop.
They rebuild on order, about twelve V12 Ferrari engines per year, and I count as many multi-shelved work trollies containing all the bits and pieces, lined up, waiting their renewal. In addition they do repair or restoration of customer vehicles.
The primary reason for my trip however, sits back-right in the entry area of the shop.
1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder – #0510M
This particular Ferrari, #0510M was purchased by Texas millionaire and racing enthusiast, Allen Guiberson, in 1955. Its racing pedigree makes it unique.
Driven by Carroll Shelby and Phil Hill, it came second overall in the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring race. Both these gentlemen drivers scored several victories each in the car; Phil Hill for owner Guiberson in 1955, and Shelby in 1956; the car then owned by Dick and Jim Hall.
In October of 1955, Jim Hall drove the 750 Monza to his first competitive win as a driver.
The 750 Monza was sent to the Ferrari factory in Modena, Italy by the Halls in June of 1956 to be overhauled and updated to the then new, FIA Index C Regulations. The car was returned in May of 1957, with a passenger seat, a left-hand door, a full width windscreen, and a new Ferrari red paint job.
It spent the remainder of its competitive career being driven by Jim Hall at venues in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Its last recorded finish was a win at Mansfield, LA, in March of 1958.
In its 17 recorded races, it finished first, eight (8) times, for a win percentage of 47.05%
750 Monza #0510M also finished second, four (4) times in those 17 races. Finishing 1st or 2nd, 70.58% percent of the time it was campaigned, in the hands of Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill, and Jim Hall.
In the mid-90s, in preparation for exhibits at the Monterey Historical Automobile Races, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the Peterson Museum, #0510M was returned to its original white and blue paint configuration.
After acquisition by Patrick Ottis from Jim Hall at Sotheby’s Pebble Beach Auction in 2016, the 750 Monza was completely disassembled, and restored to its 1955 state.
The 750 Monza is a four-cylinder sports racer. Powered by a Lampredi 2 3.0L 4-cylinder design with dual overhead cams.3 4 The body was designed by Dino Ferrari,5 presaging the droop-nose look of the 250 GTO; but it was Scaglietti’s6 interpretation of the 750 Monza, with its faired-in headrest that draws your eye.7
The passenger seat, though not original, is retained in deference to comfort for those who are granted ‘a ride.’
Front end damage (the result of transport from Fort Worth to Galveston in July 1957) had flattened the curvature of the 750 Monza nose, and eliminated the grille mounted driving lights.
The original contours are restored, and the driving lights returned to the grille by Ottis.
The Lampredi 3.0L inline 4-cylinder is returned to competitive condition.
A DeDion rear suspension, with a transverse leaf spring assembly ..
.. supports the solid rear axle, and the ZF five-speed transaxle.
The frame is constructed from elliptical-cross section, steel tubing.
The day before my visit to Patrick Ottis Company, the Otti trailered #0510M to Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California, for a shakedown. Tazio shared the video with me, chronicling the first recorded track outing for the 750 Monza since 1958.
All in preparation for a mid-August competitive run at the Monterey Motorsport Reunion, and a next day presentation at the 69th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Thanks to Patrick, Tazio and all the guys at POC — Bob Chaney – 20 July 2019
- Car and Driver, April 19, 2012, Ancient Grease: Zen & Ferrari V12 Maintenance, by Peter Manso: https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a15120581/ancient-grease-zen-ferrari-v12-maintenance-feature/ ↩
- Aurelio Lampredi designed a number of racing engines for Ferrari. He designed a number of different Inline-4, Inline-6, and V12 engines through the 1950s, and it was these that would power the company’s string of world championships that decade. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_Lampredi_engine) ↩
- Lampredi designed an Inline-4 engine for Formula Two use. This was later adopted for Formula One and sports car racing cars through the 1950s. The original 2.0 L engine of 1951 would prove to be the longest-lived, continuing through 1957 in various cars. All Lampredi inline-4 engines used dry sump lubrication. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_Lampredi_engine) ↩
- For the 1954 (750) the bore of the Lampredi I4 was nudged up to 103 mm (4.1 in) for the 3.0 L (2999.62 cc) unit used in the 750 Monza. Engine was a development of a Type 555 I4. Dual Weber 58DCOA/3 carburettorss pushed out 260 PS (191 kW; 256 hp) (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_Lampredi_engine) ↩
- Ferrari: https://auto.ferrari.com/en_US/sports-cars-models/past-models/750-monza/ ↩
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrozzeria_Scaglietti ↩
- Wikipedia Information source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FerrariMonza#750Monza ↩