Andy Reid
Andy Reid HalfDork
6/22/09 9:37 a.m.

At first glance, Paul Smith’s 1959 Fiat 1500 OSCA looks a little like a Fiat 124 Spider, the Italian roadster familiar to sports car enthusiasts.

But wait a minute. The Fiat 124 didn’t arrive until 1967, nearly a decade after the model year of this particular car. If this isn’t a mass-produced 124, what exactly is it? And how in the heck did it find its way to a restoration shop in Virginia?

To find out, we have to set our Wayback Machine to 1959, when this rare car, a Fiat 1500 OSCA, belonged to Count Vittorio Camerana, the aristocratic head of Fiat’s advertising and marketing department and a member of the Agnelli family, the owners of Fiat. The car had been shipped to the U.S. for Camerana’s use, and also for the convenience of other Fiat executives, who when in New York City camped out at the swank Hotel Volney in Manhattan and used the 1500 for transportation about town.

One day in 1959, Camerana drove the car to a meeting with Fiat’s advertising agency, Calkins Holden. Because he was leaving New York after the meeting, he asked Paul Smith, Fiat’s account manager at the agency and a friend, to drive him to LaGuardia Airport in the 1500.

When they arrived at LaGuardia, Smith asked where Camerana wanted the OSCA taken. “Take it back to the agency, or to your house, because it’s yours,” Camerana replied.

Sure enough, a few months later the title to the car arrived from Fiat’s chief accountant, transferring ownership to Smith. It was a new year and Fiat had already shipped over a new car for Camerana and other visiting Agnelli family members, so they no longer needed the old one.

There was one slight oversight by Smith’s generous friend: The count neglected to tell Paul about the 100 unpaid New York City parking tickets in the glove box. It seems titled Italians parked wherever they wanted in those days. Smith paid off the parking tickets and kept the car, eventually giving it to his son, Paul Jr.

Son Paul drove the car for a number of years and recently decided to restore it. As with any restoration, knowledge of the model’s history was an essential ingredient in the process.

Read the rest of the story

7/3/09 11:44 a.m.

Very informative writeup.

2/19/10 8:24 p.m.

Very Nice, I also have a 1958 Fiat 1500 osca, Picked it up from a old truck stop that is now just a service center. Was getting something fixed on a car i was pulling and walked around only to find one in the corner, It needs some work but body is straight, all hub caps there, engine there most everything is there except for the two chrome strips on the side, front and rear bumbers, rear emblem, needs to be cleaned up but was surprised on how clean the body was and no damage with original paint. Not sure if im going to keep her, think i will put some new tires on her, get her running, clean up the inside, maybe redo the door panels, seats and carpet, put a top on her then let someone take over with the few things she needs to complete her.

3/4/10 6:32 a.m.

Have a 1959 Fiat 1200 for sale as well, missing the front bumper but rest is all there, needs restore, taking offers, week by week will start to restore little by little. the 1500 i had sold a few days ago to a guy in Hungary, and it was also a 59.

bubbleman New Reader
11/22/18 7:03 p.m.

Thanks for re-issuing this article.  Owning an unusual vintage Italian car is a lot of fun.  As stated, finding bespoke parts means working the network of like-minded enthusiasts, who are usually very helpful (i.e., you make a lot of new friends around the world).  It would be nice to see more etceterini in the magazine!

wspohn Dork
11/24/18 10:19 a.m.

I have a friend that owns one. Nice looking sports car and he babies it as engine spares are almost non-existent!

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