Rare 1955 Moretti 1200S

1955 Moretti 1200S
1955 Moretti 1200S

• Only Two Ever Built
• The 1955 Turin Motor Show and Geneva Auto Show Car

1,200cc Twin Cam inline four-cylinder with dual Weber carburetors, 85 HP, four-speed manual Moretti gearbox, De Dion rear-end design, independent rear suspension, independent transverse spring front suspension; wheelbase: 92.5″

Of all of the nations that have built competition speed cars, Italy has always been at the top. Among the companies that made a substantial impact on the Italian market, the name of Moretti has a place both in regular transportation and in fast and sexy sports cars. Founded in 1925 by Giovanni Moretti, the Moretti Motorcar Company built many variations of transportation vehicles over the next seven decades. In that time, the company produced motorcycles of their own design and also motorbikes built under license from several other companies. Moretti then went on to build microcars that had a charming look about them. The war years saw Moretti move into electric powered commercial vehicles. A series of conventional cars followed, and the Moretti Company built several consumer models with its 600 and 750 models achieving success. Moretti’s cars also offered an incredible degree of versatility with their chassis serving as taxis, coupes, sedans, berlinettas and, most importantly, sports cars. Following World War II, Moretti continued to build its basic and reliable cars, but it also began to evolve into creating some exciting vehicles for the European show circuit. In the mid-1950s, Moretti shocked the world with the creation of just two examples of what is perhaps one of the most significant sports cars ever built; the 1200S. Built in 1954 and 1955, the Moretti 1200S derived its name from the displacement of its 1,200cc twin-cam four cylinder engine that created 85 horsepower. This race-tuned and special built engine offered an impressive output for its size. The combination of this powerful engine, and the finely sculptured lines of the 1200S, made for a sports car that would go on to define the very meaning of Italian beauty in the world of automotive design. The development of just two 1200S factory prototype cars meant that Moretti had something special to display at the major auto shows in Europe. With a vast array of purpose-built Moretti components and an incredible design from one of Italy’s best designers, the 1200S Spyder enticed the crowds and then proved itself to be a spirited competitor on the track. The appeal of Moretti’s 1200S was immediate and stunning, for never before had the world seen such beauty in a thoroughbred sports car.

Of the two Moretti 1200S Spyders built, one was a left-hand drive and the other, chassis 5011, was right. Design for the 1200S came from one of Italy’s greatest artisans in the world of automotive sculpture, Giovanni Michelotti. His design work on the 1200S was quite simply what a sports car should look like and is truly an enduring masterpiece. The marvel of Micheotti’s work is that not only is the 1200S striking with its finely tuned lines, but it is also an excellent handling car on the open road. The stylistic lines of the 1200S were so attractive that it went on to influence several other prominent sports car designs of the day. Perhaps it can be said that Micheotti was a visionary, for his design on the 1200S actually predated the Ace Bristol and the Ferrari 250 California by two years. Indeed, the lines of the 1200S literally define the word timeless as it is still attractive in the present day. Clearly there were many stunning designs that came out of Italy during the 1950s, but the Moretti 1200S is the car that lies at the very pinnacle of styling excellence.

Fortunately for us in the present day, Moretti 5011, the right-hand drive 1200S Spyder, survived and is offered here to the astute collector of fine Italian sports cars. Moretti 5011 could most certainly serve as the crowning masterpiece of both Moretti’s and Michelotti’s work. Starting at the front, its alloy body is set off by a huge oval air intake that immediately demonstrates a sense of power and respect with a gleaming polished aluminum surround inside the channel. Its rounded fenders glide gracefully down the sides where the cut down doors give the driver a pure sense of the open road. The Moretti’s impressive side pipe exhaust is actually flared into the body panels for a look that is elegant and absolutely stunning. It’s apparent that Michelotti was aiming for a look of sheer sophistication as the 1200S is void of the gaudy chrome bumpers and unnecessary trim pieces that are found on other cars of the era. The mirror perfect finish on this exceptional car is in gleaming black, a color that befits a car of such pedigree. This 1200S rides on a set of 15-inch Boranni wheels that have no trouble filling the wheel arches. The worm and sector steering is tight and gives the driver a great feel both around town and on the track. At the heart of the 1200S is the fearless Moretti twin cam competition engine that features dual side-draft Weber carburetors and runs on a 10.5:1 compression ratio. The engine itself is a marvel of engineering technology and a clean and uncluttered engine bay allows for a full view and easy access to all major components. All of the power is relayed through a close ratio gearbox with a De Dion style rear axle. The interior provides for an all-business environment with easy access to all gauges directly ahead of the driver’s cockpit and form-fitting bucket seats that are both firm and comfortable. Sitting behind the wheel of this magnificent piece of history is an experience that many can imagine, but only a very only few can experience.

As with any car that has such an important place in history, the story of Moretti 5011 is well accounted for. It starts with its introduction to the world at the 1955 Turin Auto Show where it served as Moretti’s factory show car. It was also featured at the Geneva Motor show where it flattered the crowds on the factory display stand. It is also pictured on page 34 of the Moretti book by noted author Mario Buberi. When its exhibition days were completed, it was acquired by Lino Fayen, a French Ferrari and Moretti dealer who held the import license for both marques in Venezuela. As an importer of some of the best racecars in the world, Fayen also had the pleasure of being a Ferrari factory team driver. Fayen personally used Moretti 5011 at the 1955 Coupe de Paris rally and several other events before bringing it back to Venezuela. It was then sold as a new car in Venezuela to Bo Holmquist in 1956. Holmquist was an executive with the Ford Motor Company and when he was transferred to in Cuba he took his Moretti with him where he entered it in the Havana Grand Prix in 1959. While in the race, an engine knock made its presence known and Holmquist retired the car receiving a DNF before any major damage set in. After the race, he swapped out the engine for an Alfa and placed the Moretti’s engine in the garage behind his sister-in-law’s house for future repair. When Holmquist left Cuba in 1960, he had to do so in a hurry due to the political climate and he was forced to leave the original engine behind. Holmquist retained ownership of the Moretti until he sold it to Bill Clark of Tennessee in 1988. It then languished in a barn until being discovered by Manny Dragone in 1998. In 2000, the Moretti was sold to David Dadario and subsequently sent to Paul Koot of Carrozzeria Granturismo Milano in Italy for a full restoration. It was then that the question of the Moretti’s original 1200S engine began to surface.

At this point, the Moretti’s story takes a fascinating turn, as Holmquist was contacted to inquire as to the whereabouts of the original engine and he explained that it was left at his ex-sister-in-law’s home in Cuba after the revolution. From there, contact was made with expert historian for FIVA, Veniero Molari, who was dispatched to Cuba to see if he could find and secure the original 1200S engine. That search ended with a knock on the door of Holmquist’s sister-in-law who led them out to the garage where the 1200S engine was still under the workbench. After several decades all of the correct factory parts were still intact. The process of extracting the engine took a full six months before it was legally exported to Sicily. In 2000, the engine was shipped to Carrozzeria Granturismo Milano where it was reunited with the chassis and treated to a full and authentic restoration that returned it to its original factory condition. The 1200S then made its debut at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It has since taken part in several rallies and has been fine-tuned for ultimate performance and reliability. Still in perfect form, this Moretti is a car that can still compete with the best at any vintage event. The current owner took possession of the Moretti in 2011 and it has been stored in a climate-controlled environment ever since.

In the end, Moretti’s sales could not stay on par with its competitors and the company closed its doors in 1989. The once proud company that had seen Italy through both good and bad ceased operations and was relegated to the pages of history. There are many reminders of the greatness that Moretti commanded, but none stand as tall as the incredible 1200S. With its defined character and sports car heritage, this Moretti 1200S is a rare and fine example of the true nature of an Italian sports car.

All of the mechanicals on this rare and exotic Moretti are true to its pedigree, especially its incredible 1,200cc twin cam engine. The outstanding condition of this fine Italian sports car is surpassed only by its rarity. It is offered here with a well-known history, an outstanding restoration as well as its original engine, which is almost unheard of with vintage racing cars. It holds a special place, not just historically but also visually as it sits alongside the greatest designed sports and racing cars of its time.

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