History

OSI (Officine Stampaggi Industriali) was founded in 1960 as a subsidiary of Ghia to build short series of cars such as the Innocenti Spyder and the coupé version of the Fiat 2300 . Special bodies were constructed on the most diverse chassis and running gear. The prototype Ford OSI 20m TS made its appearence in 1966. The car was shown at Geneva and the following year went into production. Ford shipped the appropriate parts from Cologne to Turin and received completed cars back. The car was slightly longer and wider than the standard Ford Taunus. When the 20m TS went into production, some 800 people worked for OSI and at some moment they were producing 15 cars/day. The OSI design team was headed by chief designer Sergio Sartorelli, the type 34 VW Karmann Ghia designer. In the 1967 Turin Motor Show the cabrio version of the OSI was presented. Only one unit was produced and it is currently being rebuilt in Wiesbaden, Germany.

To fully understand the history of the Ford OSI 20m TS we must start many years before Officine Stampaggi Industriali was created.

Keep visiting, it will be improved in the next days.

GHIAA middle eighties picture of Ghia works in Via Agostino da Montefeltro.

Carrozzeria Ghia SpA was established in 1915 by Giacinto Ghia and Gariglio as Carrozzeria Ghia & Gariglio, located at 4 Corso Valentino in Turin. Ghia initially made lightweight aluminum-bodied cars, achieving fame with the Alfa Romeo 6C 1500, winning Mille Miglia (1929). Between the world wars, Ghia designed special bodies for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Lancia, one of the most famous was the Fiat 508 Ballilla sports coupe (1933). The factory was rebuilt at Via Tomassi Grossi, after being demolished in an air raid during World War II (1943). After the Second World War Giacinto Ghia was a broken man because the Allied bombers had hit the Ghia works and nothing had remained. He returned to Torino to supervise the reconstruction of the factory but suddenly died on 21 February 1944. He was only 56 years old. Ghia's widow wanted to continue the name Ghia and offered what was left of the company to two of Giacinto's best friends, Giorgio Alberti and Mario Felice Boano. The latter took control as he was offered the position of director and soon re-established Carrozzeria Ghia. Four years later the company moved to new premises at Corso Unione Sovietica. To handle the newly-forged links with Chrysler, Boano brought in Luigi Segre, a remarkable designer/businessman (commercial director of SIATA), aged only 30. With Segre on his side, Boano saw many foreign firms ordering Ghia designs, such as Ford (the Lincoln Futura concept car), Volkswagen (the Karmann Ghia), and Volvo (the Volvo P1800).

Chrysler and its designer Virgil Exner became a close partner for 15 years, resulting in eighteen Chrysler Ghia Specials (1951-53), the K-310, the Chrysler Norseman, the Crown Imperial limousines (Jackie Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, and other luminaries owned one), and others. There are even a few Ghia-bodied Ferraris. Ghia also participated in the short-lived Dual-Ghia venture, with it's production being only just over 100 cars. But the reason for the cessation of Dual Ghia production wasn't due to a shortage of people who could afford Dual Ghias but to a rash of warranty work. The cars just hadn't been built for road use. The workmen didn't understand that these cars were going to be operated in all kinds of roads. They used plenty of body filler to get the smooth lines of the Dual Ghias just right so that when the cars were driven on rough roads, the filler dropped off in lumps. Production by Ghia was always in very low numbers, giving the company's products even greater exclusivity than those of the other Italian coachbuilders. In early 1953 Mario Boano left Ghia to open up his own carrozzeria together with his son Gian Paolo and Luigi Segre took over. In 1957, after designing the Volvo P1800 coupé Ghia moved again in order to increase output, taking over premises in the via Agostino da Montefeltro (formerly occupied by a small steel milling and laminating company) just within a few miles from their old building. Unfortunately Segre died in February 1963 and in September Segre's widow, Contessa Luisa, sold 75 percent of Ghia to Leonidas Ramadas Trujillo son of the recently deposed dictator of Dominica. In 1967 Alejandro De Tomaso, with backing from Rowan Controller, an US corporation run by his brother-in-law, acquired control of Ghia. Ford Motor Company purchased 84 percent of Ghia from Rowan Industries in 1970. Three years later they purchased the remaining 16 percent.

 

Luigi Segre, Direttore GeneraleTom TjaardaSergio Coggiola, Responsabile Ufficio TecnicoSergio Sartorelli, Responsabile Centro StileRavetti, Capo OfficinaVajo, Capo VerniciaturaNicolotti (father), Capo ScoccheriaMagnanni, Capo Ottoneria e ProfiliPiatto, Vice Capo OfficinaOdasso, Capo Selleria

Above is a picture of the Ghia-Monviso stand and team in the 1957 Turin Salon. First on left is Tom Tjaarda, second Sergio Coggiola and third is Sergio Sartorelli. The man in dark suit on center is Luigi Segre. Move your mouse over the picture to know the team.

Officine Stampaggi Industriali

The episode of the Dual-Ghia (to be done soon...) had proved that the company was really not capable of undertaking even modest series production; but now Segre had shown handsome new body designs to Fiat (the 2300S coupé) The Fiat 2300 S coupé under production.and Innocenti (the 950 spider) and secured contracts to build these cars in quantity. In order to obtain the space and finance to undertake these contracts, Segre sought assistance from the Olivetti business machine company; as a result, a new corporation was established jointly by Ghia and Fergat, a stamping and Wheel making company owned by Olivetti. The new firm, based just across the Via Agostino da Montefeltro from Ghia, was called OSI; the initials stood for ‘Officine Stampaggi Industriali’  (Industrial Stamping Workshop), though some said they really signified Olivetti Segre Innocenti… The name derived from the one of a small mechanical company, Apparecchio OS, that had a shed near Ghia and belonged to former associates of Segre. With a full paid up capital of 275 million lire, ‘OSI entered the automotive industry in a specially favourable and lively period of the national and world economic life’. The corporation’s president was Arrigo Olivetti, while Segre was managing director; its plant covered 21.000 sq. m and incorporated two continuous loop production lines, with provision for a third, plus a 780 m long paint line. It employed some 600 people and could turn out aproximately 50 cars a day.

According to Virgil Exner Jr. in a August 1989 interview to David Croppen of the Edsel Ford Design History Center, "[Luigi] Segre sought to expand with a new company right across the street called OSI. OSI was a combination of [Arrigo] Olivetti, Segre and [Ferdinando] Innocenti. Innocenti was famous for the motor scooters. They were right around the corner from the Ghia factory. Olivetti was the typewriter people, also in the neighborhood. It was in 1960 or '61 that Segre got together with Innocenti and Olivetti and invested money in a new, modern plant across the street from Ghia, and the three partners named it OSI. The initial product was a small special-bodied Austin/BMC coupe, sports car. I think it was based on the small Austin Healey/MG Sprite components. They also produced a Fiat 1500 sports coupe, which I had something to do with the design of on my consultantship basis. Then they were sold out later after Segre's death and ceased to become OSI."

Although it sounds credible, Mr. Paul Breuer, former OSI staff, thinks Innocenti was not a partner.

Another interesting comment, made by Dr. Felice Calissano (in a March 2001 AISA conference about Ghia) at some time Direttore Amministrativo of Ghia: "...when was dealt to produce in truly industrial amounts of the Innocenti Spyder and Fiat 2300 coupé, [Luigi] Segre made an agreement with other persons and OSI was created. The name derived from the one of a small mechanical company, Apparecchio OS, that had a shed near Ghia and belonged to former associates of Segre, that Segre “throw out”. From this society, that abandoned the mechanical activity, OSI was born with an unit of metal sheets stamping and a production line of Fiat 2300 and the Innocentis."

 

This picture was taken on March 1966 Geneva Auto Show. It is from April 1966 edition of the French magazine L'automobile. Note the fuel tank cap, the fenders' holes and the side blinkers, all disappeared in the production version.The front and back emblems were not present also. The smaller picture shows the car with the regular OSI wheels, from Fergat. The car was shown also with Borrani wire wheels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Italian magazine Quattroruote also from April 1966 had this full color page. The text explain that the car was shown in the Ford stand and not in OSI's as we could think. At that time no one could know if the car was going to be produced. The car interior is different from the production car.

  

Here are two pictures of the only OSI 20m TS spider ever built.

The picture above was taken on 1967 Turin Motor Show and it was the last appearence of any OSI in such events. Check out the number 0999 on my VINs page and you can see the evolution of its restoration.

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Sergio Sartorelli, Dr. Ing. - Born May 7, 1928 in Alexandria, Italy. Died in Turin on November 28, 2009

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Ing. Sartorelli was 71 in this picture. 

 Director of Centro Esperienze OSI and Ufficio Stile

Sergio Sartorelli joined Ghia in April 1956 after briefly collaborating with Carrozeria Boano and the Pasino truck bodying. Working along with more established names like Sergio Coggiola, he was the head designer of the type 34 VW Karman-Ghia and the Fiat 2300S coupe. After Luigi Segre's death in 1963, he left Ghia. With the arrival of Giacomo Bianco in 1965 to OSI, the in house design studio was created and started Sartorelli's collaboration innitially as external professional and later in May 1966 as Head of Style. Those were the golden years when prototypes like the OSI Bisiluro, the Alfa Romeo OSI Scarabeo or even the Quattroruote Secura were shown in the best car shows.

The Ford OSI 20m TS debutted on the 36th Geneva Salon in March 1966. The idea of a luxurius coupe based on the running gear of the Ford 20m TS was hatched in January 1965 and in June the same year a prototype was already being tested in the Turin-Ivrea highway. The spyder version of the Ford OSI 20m TS, a 200mm shortened platform was presented in the 1967 Turin show and was the last appearence of an OSI in such events.

After the OSI closing in begining of 68, Sartorelli was responsible to terminate operations and he suggested Ing. Dante Giacosa of Fiat, the incorporation of the OSI design centre in Fiat's studio. That's what happened in May 68 and Sartorelli along with many others went to Fiat Centro Stile where he was in charge of "future studies" and remained there for the next 16 years, until 1984.

You can see the 1:5 scale model used in the wind tunnel and a couple of sketches of the OSI 20m TS just above Ing. Sartorelli head.

Among the best Sartorelli creations during the Ghia times are the Ghia G230S, a tubular frame built and powered by the straight six Fiat 2300 or his interpretation of the exclusive Maserati 5000 GT Ghia (chassis number 103.018 made for Ferdinando Innocenti).

 

 

 

 

 This picture on the left was taken in August 1966 at Borgaro, outside Torino, not far from the OSI plant, in a rented villa where the design studio was located. Starting from left, is Mr. Sergio Cattaneo (director of technical office), Ing. Giacomo Bianco (Amministratore Delegato OSI), Ing. Sergio Sartorelli (Director of Centro Esperienze OSI and Ufficio Stile) and Mr. Giuseppi Nicolotti (Chief of Models Department). The picture would be complete with Mr. Pietro Sibona (from Carrozeria Sibona-Basano), the chief of Prototypes Department.

Nearby there was a workshop with all the team needed to make prototypes, including a small wind tunnel.

 

Giacomo B. Bianco, Dr. Ing. - Born April 24, 1926 in Savona, Italy.

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OSI General Director. Also headed stamping company Fergat.

I can't find almost anything about Professor Bianco. He was OSI General Director from 1965 to early 1968 while he was still Fergat Technical Director. He signs the first page of the OSI instructions manual and was present at the Georghausen Palace, Cologne, in January 10, 1967 during the OSI presentation to the German market. He liked horses and dogs much better than cars, and maybe for that reson there were horses and dogs in the Georghausen's OSI presentation. I also found some evidence of his work on Indestor in Turin at least from 1971 to 1973.

Arrigo Olivetti, Dr.

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(Biella, November 12, 1889 - Ivrea, January 13, 1977) - Italian lawyer known as an industrial entrepreneur/politician/intelectual.

Chairman of OSI.

Luigi Segre, Ing.

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Luciano «Gigi» Segre (November 8,  1919 - February 28, 1963) was an Italian automotive designer and engineer, leading the Carrozzeria Ghia from 1953, when Mario Boano left, until his death.

Mario Boano brought in the late 40's Luigi Segre, a remarkable designer/businessman aged only 30 from SIATA tuning company where he was the Commercial Director. His most famous design was the VW Karmann-Ghia (1953), a scaled down Virgil Exner's Chrysler d'Elegance with a different front end. He also established the OSI coachbuilding company with Arrigo Olivetti in 1960. During one of his trips to America in February 1963, he complained of feeling tired, and went into the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit for a check-up. The doctors told him that not only was suffering from gall bladder trouble, but that he should have his appendix removed as soon as possible. Segre continued his business trip, but arranged to go into the Turin's leading hospital directly on his return where a friend would perform the operation. Five days later he died under the anaesthetic from complications during the surgery to remove the appendix, aged only 44.

To be done soon...

Ferdinando Innocenti, Commendator

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Ferdinando Innocenti (September 1, 1891- Milan, June 21, 1966).

Born in Pescia, Italy, was the founder of the Innocenti company and was the creator of the Lambretta motorscooter. Apparently, his need for a production line for the Innocenti Spyder helped the creation of OSI and some suggest he is the "I" on the OSI.

Never rode a Lambretta and never drove a car (didn't had driving license) but this didn't stop him to have one of the most exclusive cars at the time: the Maserati 5000 GT, styled by Sartorelli and one-off custom made by Ghia.

Sergio Cattaneo - Born 1934(?)- Director of OSI's technical office.

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sergio_cattaneo

Sergio Cattaneo started his professional career in 1954 as a technical trainee and body designer apprentice in Fiat.

In 1960 he joined the German coachbuilder Karmann (Osnabrück), where he worked in the design development of the VW 1500 Coupé. A year later he moved to GHIA-OSI. In 1968, soon after leaving OSI, Sergio Cattaneo and Renzo Richetto founded the Tech. Companie TESCO in Turin, which became one of the biggest engineering offices in Europe (Tesco started with 10 employees). He did all the construction work for SAAB and a lot of other companies. Sergio Cattaneo left Tesco in the end of 2007.

To be done soon...

Werner Hölbl - Born May 2, 1941

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The Austrian designer Werner Hölbl started working on OSI in 1967 as a chief designer hired by his good friend Giacomo Bianco. Before OSI he worked on General Motors' Opel design centre. He was the son of the Austrian "carrozziere" Otto Hölbl, from Wien. When he left OSI he started working as a freelance designer.

Hölbl like Sergio Cattaneo did not went to FIAT. Beside the G31, Mr Hölbl did the final renderings of the record car OSI Bisiluro, or Silver Fox  to the famous race driver Piero Taruffi and also of the OSI 20m TS cabrio. Werner Hölbl is still active as a successfull Industrial Designer, with brands like Swarovski Optik or Leica Microsystems trusting him the design of their products. Many thanks to Mr. Hölbl who kindly answered my questions.

Otto Hölbl, Werner's father owned one Ford OSI 20m TS for a couple of years from 1968 on, and he was very happy with it.

On left, the G31 from OSI Centro Stile, a study for Fiat styled by Hölbl. "G" was for Giacosa, Dante, the Fiat chief engineer and 31 was the number of the project.  It was a middle engined sports car.

Click to enlarge

This recently auctioned 1:5 scale model based on the OSI G31 proposal was designed by Pio Manzù in Fiat Centro Stile for Autobianchi, but this company from Milan was acquired by Fiat in 1969 and the project was finished although without serial production.

Paul Breuer

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Born March 7, 1946 in Verviers, Belgium

After graduating, Mr. Paul Breuer sent several letters with copies of his work to coachbuilders asking for a period of training. OSI invited him for one month period and OSI General Director Ing. Giacomo Bianco offered him a position in the "Centre Stile e Esperienze OSI" directed by Ing. Sergio Sartorelli where he remained from October 1966 until the close of the company in 1968. He went to Fiat Centro Stile with Sartorelli and others and worked directly with Architect Pio Manzù, the Fiat 127 creator, in projects like the Autobianchi G31 until Mr. Manzù tragical death.

Mr Paul Breuer experienced one of the most interesting periods in OSI and was gentle to enlight me in some lack of information about OSI. The information supplyed by someone who was there is absolutely precious and I can't stop thanking him his help. You can visit his webpage in http://www.paulbreuer.it

Virgil Max Exner Jr.

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Click on the icon to see some pictures, courtesy of Mr. Exner 

Born April 17, 1933 in South Bend, Indiana, USA

Virgil Exner Jr. and his father had a long work relation with Ghia as Design-Consultants at least from 1958 to 1969. Mr. Exner Jr. told me that "Luigi Segre first told my father about the formation of O.S.I. at the Paris Auto Show in 1959 and gave him some photos of the factory plans. Segre said that O.S.I. stood for Olivetti, Segre, and Innocenti. I designed the basic concepts for Segre, under a special contract, for the Volvo P 1800 Sport Coupe, the Renault Caravelle, the Ghia Selene II, the Renault R4, the Ghia FIAT 2100S Coupe that became the 2300S, and the Ghia 1500S Coupe that was produced by O.S.I. (only 50 were made)."

1/4 scale photo of Exner's clay model for the Ghia 1500S (courtesy of Virgil Exner Jr)

"Soon after a visit by Segre and Coggiola to our studio in Birmingham, Mighigan in early 1962, where my father and I had agreed to start a Ghia U.S.A. with Segre (that Coggiola and I were to run), Segre died. Unfortunately, Ghia U.S.A. never happened, but we continued our Ghia contract with Luisa Segre and Giacomo Gaspardo Moro until 1969 when Ghia was sold to Ford. I had joined Ford Design in 1967, was assigned to Ford of Europe in 1969, did some design work with Ford/Ghia, and managed the production design of the first Ford Fiesta in England, after Tom Tjaarda (under Filipino Sapino) had designed the basic concept at Ghia for Ford."

Still working on this, keep visiting...

Virgil Exner is a tremendous help with his informations, and this is my public acknowledgment of sincere gratitude.

Left: photo of Exner's 1/4 scale clay model for the Ghia 1500S (courtesy of Virgil Exner Jr).

Tom Tjaarda, Architect

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Tom Tjaarda was born on July 23, 1934.

He worked on Fergat, a automotive and wheels stamping company owned by Olivetti and also headed by Giacomo Bianco. Mr. Tjaarda designed wheels and all the Fergat exhibition stands. He  worked in OSI from January to September 1967.

To be done soon...

Sergio Coggiola, Ing. (1928 - 1989)

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Created Coggiola Carrozziere Srl company in 1966 near Turin, Italy.

To be done soon...

Giovanni Michelotti

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Giovanni Michelotti (Born October 6, 1921 in Turin, Italy - Died January 23, 1980) was one of the most prolific designers of sports cars in the 20th century. He was also responsible for a number of saloon cars and truck cabs.

Born in Turin, Italy, Michelotti worked for a number of design houses, notably Vignale, before opening his own design studio in Italy in 1949. He was the designer of the Ford Anglia Torino, produced by OSI. Michelotti died of cancer in 1980 and his design studio was run by his son Edgardo until 1990.

To be done soon...

 

OSI designs by Michelotti:

OSI Alfa Romeo 2600 De Luxe
OSI Fiat 850 (pictured left)
OSI Fiat 1200 Spider
OSI Ford Anglia Torino
OSI Alpine A 1100 metallica