The 1960s were high times for Italian car design and coachbuilding. The short-lived firm Officine Stampaggio Industriale, or OSI for short, wouldn’t see the end of that decade despite producing some beautiful vehicles.
A partnership between former Ghia president Luigi Segre and an executive from auto parts manufacturer Fergot, OSI was launched in 1960 as an in-house carrozzeria to serve the manufacturing needs of design firm Ghia. Its mission was to facilitate manufacturing of bodies for short production runs of special vehicles.
One such vehicle was the OSI-Ford 20M coupe you see here, which came to us recently by way of Switzerland for a full restoration. Concealing the mechanical package of the German-market 1967-68 Ford Taunus (yes, Taunus with an “n”), its sleek lines were undoubtedly more impressive than the pedestrian hardware underneath.
Powered by either a 2.0- or 2.3-liter Cologne V6 feeding the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox, the OSI coupe was hardly a powerhouse. With stopping power coming from front disc and rear drum brakes and its solid rear axle suspended by leaf springs, it couldn’t match the performance or sophistication of other European grand tourers of the time.
But compared to Ford’s own Taunus 20M coupe, it possessed rock star presence. Penned by Sergio Sartorelli and crafted in steel, the design is unmistakably Italian, especially from the rear. From most other angles the OSI-Ford 20M bears a strong resemblance to the Aston Martin DBS that also debuted in 1967, designed by rival Italian firm Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera.
The interior was trimmed in the manner of other contemporary GT Coupes, with leather upholstery, wood dash trim and wool carpeting. From the driver’s seat it possessed the airiness of a first-generation Mustang combined with world-class materials and finishes.
Production ended when the company entered bankruptcy in 1968 amid declining orders for coachbuilt cars. Fewer than 1,300 examples of the OSI-Ford 20M were built in its two-year run, less than a third of them powered by the larger V6 engine. It’s believed that fewer than 200 still survive today.
Collector car insurer Hagerty just published its annual Bull Market List, an often eclectic top-ten assemblage of collectible vehicles on the rise in the hearts of enthusiasts as well as in the overall marketplace. The 2022 Hagerty Bull List is no exception, including everything from a 1966 GTO to a 2012 Tesla Roadster.
Three vehicles in particular stood out to the team here at Ragtops & Roadsters, based on our own experience with them and recent interest we’ve received regarding restorations and repairs.
First up is the 1969-74 Dino by Ferrari. This controversial grand tourer, with power from a transverse-mounted, Fiat-built V6 (gasp!) and absent of Cavallino Rampante badges, is finally getting the attention it deserves. Like everything else from Maranello, this once overlooked two-seater has become genuinely pricey, crossing the six-figure threshold for anything you’d want to own.
Our Perkasie shop manager Karl knows just how fun the Dino is to drive. “It’s a great car on the road, and it gets plenty of attention wherever we park it,” he says. “We’re really happy to have it in our collection.”
Next up is the iconic Land Rover Defender. Hagerty cites the 1991 model in their article, which was never officially offered here, but speaks to the popularity of the personal import market.
“Fewer than 5,000 examples of the North American Spec Defenders (NAS, if you’re in the know) were officially imported between 1993 and 1997,” says Managing Director Bryan Joslin, “and a clean, original ‘110’ station wagon can now draw nearly $100,000.”
But Land Rover build hundreds of thousands of them for Rest of the World (ROW) markets between 1983 and 2016, and those are often the more affordable starting point for many enthusiasts, who can also choose from a wider range of body and engine configurations than the limited NAS offerings.
Ragtops & Roadsters has also seen a number of pre-Defender models, known as ‘Series’ Land Rovers. These offer the same basic visual package, but with more agricultural mechanicals including leaf springs and torquey (if not quick) four-cylinder engines. Given their rugged, authentic appeal, we expect to see no shortage of interest in all these Land Rovers.
Finally, we love that the 1963-67 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL made the cut. The W113 ‘Pagoda’ generation, so named for the profile of its hardtop, is the successor to the svelte 190 SL and the 230 designation calls out the larger 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine.
Handsome, graceful and athletic with no sporting pretense, it’s a timeless design that really marked the SL’s transition from its Carrera Panamericana racing routes to darling of the Hollywood set. Pagoda SLs have been popular with Mercedes brand loyalists for a long time, and the classic lines and understated elegance are now starting find new a following.
Ragtops & Roadsters has done a handful of work on previous-generation SLs for clients, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to dig into a proper resto on a Pagoda.
To read Hagerty’s take on these three classics and to find out what the other seven models are, check out the full list here.
When Ragtops & Roadsters changed owners back in July, one of the first things the new team started working one was a new website. There were two big reasons for this. First, we wanted to update the look and feel of the entire business, and the website is perhaps the most visible place to establish that. Second, we needed to figure out how to effectively communicate how our two facilities – previously operated as two distinct business entities – would now function as a totally integrated operation.
After months of work with Doylestown-based designer Bill Milnazik of Axis Visual, we’re proud to finally launch the thoroughly reimagined ragtops.com.
The new site focuses first and foremost on the talents and capabilities we offer to the classic car market across a variety of automotive genres. The three main areas highlighted are restoration, serviceand vehicles.
The “About Us” section offers a bit of background on the business itself, including how Pollock Auto Restoration came into the Ragtops & Roadsters portfolio in 2008 and how it is now being integrated into the main business as our “Pollock Works” facility. You can also see how our staff is composed.
The “Events” section is now a fully interactive calendar highlighting select local, regional and national happenings with rich details not previously available.
New to the site are the “Journal” which replaces the old blog, and “Shop” which is our online store for Ragtops merchandise as well as garage sale items from our collection of parts and projects over the years.
We hope you’ll spend some time checking out the new features and getting to know Ragtops & Roadsters all over again. Check back regularly for updates.
A standing tradition every November has been our “Before We Put ‘Em Away Run” and fall open house on the weekend immediately before Thanksgiving. This year was no exception, with a hearty turnout of familiar faces and first-timers alike marking the unofficial final event of the driving season.
The traditional format has been a quick roundup and a scone breakfast at our Perkasie shop, then a lead/follow drive through the countryside to our Pottstown shop where lunch was served and the building was open for tours. This year we twisted the rules a bit by opening up both shops fully for visitors, regardless of whether they were taking the drive or not, and by allowing drivers to select from a couple different routes to run at their own pace on the way to Pottstown.
We bolstered the breakfast menu with the addition of croissants, donuts and fresh fruit while simplifying the lunch offerings to make for a more social event.
Before kicking off the drive, our own Dave Hutchison presented a nearly $50,000 check to Shriners Hospital. The money was raised by participants in this year’s America’s British Reliability Run held in late September and early October, sponsored in part by Ragtops & Roadsters, and organized by Hutchison and other members of various local British-marque car clubs.
The fall open house will return next year, but before then we hope to see you at our spring open house in May. Stay tuned for details.