1929 OM 665 SSMM

1929 OM 665 SSMM 1929 OM 665 SSMM 1929 OM 665 SSMM Roadster
Coachwork: Carrozzeria Sport SA
Chassis #: 6651095
Engine # 6651095
Sold for $1,946,645 (£1,255,900) at 2014 Bonhams : Goodwood Revival.
The firm of OM, which stands for Officine Meccaniche, was founded in 1899, in Milan. It came into being as a result of the merger of Miani, Silvestri & Co with Grondona, Comi & Co. Both firms were active in the production of railway locomotives and rolling stock. OM's involvement with car manufacturing began in 1917 when it purchased the Roberto Zust factory in Brescia. Their first car appeared in 1918 and it had a close resemblance to the Zust. The punitive taxation system on Italian manufactured was based on engine capacity which dictated the need to get the most power out of 'nominal' engine sizes.

In 1920, the company introduced the Type 465 which had been designed by the Austrian-born engineer Lucien Barratouch. It came with a 1325cc four-cylinder side-valve engine which was followed by two additional four-cylinder models, the Type 467 and 469. The nomenclature for the OM vehicles was based on the number of cylinders followed by the bore dimension in millimeters.

In 1923, the company introduced their first six-cylinder model, the Tipo 6-65 (christened the 'Superba'), at the Milan Auto Salon. It would remain in production from 1923 through 1932. During that time, it was continued improved with each revision receiving a suffix to its name. The gearboxes were reworked, engine sizes grew, short and lowered chassis variants were offered, etc.

The MM cars were given an increased compression ratio, shorter wheelbases and reduced weight. By 1929, the engine capacity had risen to 2.2-liters and a Roots-Type Supercharger was available, adding an 'S' to its title.

This famous OM factory team car is the supercharged 665 SS MM model with the larger 2.3-liter engine, finned cylinder heads, dual water manifold pipes, and Memini carburetor. It was driven in its racing debut to first in class and fifth overall in the 1930 Mille Miglia by Aldo Bassi and Carlo Gazzabini. There were 24 (possibly 25) OM 665 SS cars in the race, the third largest group of entrants behind Alfa Romeo and Fiat. That same year it was driven to sixth place in the Targa Florio by Nando Minoia, and in 1930 Giulio Ramponi drove it to ninth place in the Irish GP.

The Mille Miglia was a thousand mile race that was first held in December of 1926. The even began and finished in Brescia and ran a 'figure of eight' course down to Rome and back. It was won with a 1-2-3 finish by Brescia based car manufacturer, OM.

The racing events with which these cars competed in required four seater sports touring bodies. It is believed that this car, and others, would have been sent to Milan where local coachbuilders Carrozzeria Sport modified its existing coachwork or else replaced it with the four seater lightweight touring bodywork that it needed in order to be eligible for the Irish Grand Prix in July. At the Tourist Trophy on August 23rd, Ramponi crashed the car in practice, rolling it into a ditch. Period photos do not show much external damage to the car, but it did require it to retire from the race. This would be the final major outing for '1095'.

It was not until the early 1950s when the car re-surfaced again. Anthony Hopton owned the car for over three decades, purchasing it in 1966. During that time, he has exhaustively researched the car's history. It was also sympathetically and comprehensively restored during this time. In 1999, it passed to another caretaker named Heiko Seekamp. In his ownership the car received a thorough cosmetic and technical restoration at the hands of Bernhard Huke. Since then, it has taken part in concours on both sides of the Atlantic and has done the Mille Miglia retrospective for the last 10 years. On numerous occasions it wore the coveted number '1' and was the first out of Brescia.

Seekamp kept the car for more than a decade before selling it to the current owner. It has continued to be shown and campaigned on the Mille Miglia. It was shown at the St. James Palace Concours d'Elegance, the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, and the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded the Mille Miglia Trophy.

OM, meaning Officine Meccaniche, was founded in 1899, in Milan Italy and produced railway stock. The company was the result of a merger between Grondona Comi & C and Miani Silvestri & C. By 1918, the company switched production to automobiles after taking over the Zust Car Company of Brescia, Northern Italy.

OM's first car was the Tipo S305 which borrowed heavily from the prior Zust vehicles. It was the first vehicle to wear the OM badge and remained in production until 1923. It was powered by a four-cylinder side-valve engine that displaced 4712cc and produced 30 horsepower. In 1919, a new model was introduced, which was not based on prior Zust vehicles. It was dubbed the 465 and powered by a 1327cc four-cylinder engine. The name '465' was chosen to represent the engine configuration, mainly the '4' cylinders and the stroke of 65mm. There was a three-speed manual gearbox which sent the power to the rear wheels. This vehicle was offered in a variety of body-styles in a 2700mm short wheelbase or on a longer, 2900mm wheelbase. The torpedo configuration with seating for four was the most popular setup.

In 1921, OM introduced the Tipo 467 which stayed in production until 1923. It was followed by the Tipo 469 in 1922. The 467 had four-cylinders and a 67mm stroke. The 469 had a 69mm stroke and would remain in production the longest of all the OM models, lasting until 1934. The engine in the 469 displaced 1496cc's and produced 30 horsepower. The only wheelbase offered was 2800mm.

The most famous and memorable model from OM was the Tipo 665, also known as the Superba. It was in production from 1923 through 1932 and was available in two versions, the 665N and the 665S. The 'N' version sat atop a 3100mm wheelbase while the 'S' remained on the traditional 2800mm unit. Both versions had the same mechanical configuration, being powered by a six-cylinder 1991cc side-valve engine capable of producing 40 horsepower initially. As the years progressed, so did the engine and the vehicle.

The beginning of the 1930s saw a new 2200cc engine that increased horsepower to 55. This was used in the 665 N5 and the 665 SMM. The N5 was built atop a wheelbase that measured 2790 and had a narrower track, though it increased in 1930. The 665 SMM had entered production in 1928 and replaced the 665S. Improvements included a wheelbase of 2790mm.

Horsepower increased when OM attached a supercharger to their 2200cc engine. The result was the 665 SS MM Superba Compressore which was constructed in small numbers between 1930 and 1931.

In 1933, the OM company was merged with Fiat and soon, OM's efforts would be turned toward the production of commercial vehicles.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2007

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