OTAS 0015


True Classic
As promised, I will start the long tale of OTAS 0015.

Stage 1:

A little back ground. Many details about how these cars came about were so poorly documented that I don't wish to get too detailed, I have been involved with this car for more than half my life and have heard many varying stories.

It was built by Francis Lombardi of Vercelli Italy. Carlo Francis was a WW1 flying ace. In 1938 he started building light aircraft. After WW2 Lombardi became an Carrozzeria, modifying Fiat 1400, 1800 and 2300 sedans. In 1967 the Lombardi Gran Prix was born. Thre Gran Prix was based on the Fiat 850 Sedan. Gianinni and Abarth made hot rod versions of the car. The Officina Transformazioni Automobilli Sportive was created to import this car to the U.S. The late John de Boar lists Otas # 104 in his Etceterini Register, likely 200-300 cars of all versions were made.

My Father has been a Fiat fan since the late '50's and in the late '80's decided to feed a mid life crisis with his dream car. It was either a Moretti Sportiva, or an OTAS. Enter Greg Schmidt. Greg was the undisputed expert in Fiat 600 and 850 based cars and owned and sold many Otas cars in the 70's and 80's. Communication ensued and Otas 0015 was shipped (sans motor) from San Diego California to Richmond Vermont in 1987.

These are the original Poloroids sent from Greg prior to the purchase.

In hind sight the spoilers would have been a nice rare item, but a bare original car was desired.


While some work was done throughout the '90's this project, was a daunting one.

More than a decade later the car entered the body shop.
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True Classic
Stage II

Upon disassembling the car for body work, the enormity of this project became more and more apparent. Every wire that was unplugged was either melted from voltage or crispy brittle from a life in SoCal. The upholstery and carpet were cooked and we havent talked about the body yet.

The nose was pretty banged up.

This is the underside of the drivers fender. The previous repair was so bad that a new rail was fabricated.

The belly or chin was beyond repair. A new one was fabricated.

Rusty trunk box sections.

Our body guy worked for a Porsche dealer in a previous life and insisted on lead filler, hammer and dolly.

Original color comes through.

The bottom of the doors were toast.

The rear fender bottoms were also punky.

First round of high fill.

Seam sealer.

At this point, many dollars later we took a break to work on the suspension and wiring... and to give our body guy to catch up on other work.


True Classic
Stage III

So, It's been a few years again. Life gets in the way. Honestly, many aspects of this restoration are way over my head. In these years I am playing with Alfa's Yugo's and a few Fiat Spiders and 131's. Learning how to wire a car, rebuild transmissions and engines. All of this knowlege will come in useful on the OTAS.

Here is what did get done in this period.
I fabricated this grill. Difficult because it is curved in every direction.

Suspension is removed, bead blasted and painted.

The underside of the floor was cleaned, sanded 3M undercoat applied and top coated with satin black.
The front leaf spring was flipped and rebent to lower the stance and a compensating spring was procured for the rear. All period mod's from the Greg Schmidt 'Fiat Abarth tricks' books.
This is a photo from Jeff Stitch (?) years ago.

Rear comp. spring.

Upside down Mazda RX-7 Monroe shocks are also a Schmidt trick.


Observant individuals will notice that the body was painted before the suspension was done. Hey, that's how my photo's are organized.

Lets do that next......


Tim Hoover
Love it!

AND I just peeked at your 131s. In the words of my 9 year old daughter OMG! Love that car too and would be happy to take it off your hands if you ever want to sell it.


True Classic

Fast forward another 6 years to now. This summer I really felt like getting the wiring sorted out.
After tracking down, snaking out and replacing virtually every wire in the car, the lights work.

The headlight motor is a major challenge. The original setup uses a switch to reverse the polarity.

The problem with this setup is that as the switch moves from one side to the other, the default is to short. Blows the fuse every time.

My buddy Andy was a huge help in all this.

Andy came up with these diagrams.

At his point, the only option was to come up with another mechanical devise to operate the polarity switch.

This is what I came up with.

Some of this is on this site already, but now it's all in one thread.
Bench test.
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<iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="320" height="240" src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/2029931859_sDKNrTJ?width=320&height=240&albumId=24577227&albumKey=mnrNHQ"></iframe>

To keep the wiring from cooking again. I installed some relays.
Horn and hazard.

Head light relay harness.

Relay install, positive ground bus.

The older Fiats had no group connectors for the switch gear. I have had this apart so many times by now, it's time for some re-engineering. I soldered connector ends from a Yugo harness to hook into these connectors.

Dash removal and repaint.

I re-wired the gauges as well. All the instrument bulbs were smoked black. These LED bulbs only draw .08 watts and look cool.

The steering wheel. My Mom helped me leather wrap this when I was about 16. Not sure that's going to cut it, but I can deal with that later.

Another important wiring improvement was common grounds. A have three ground bus'. Engine, cabin and trunk all linked to the battery. Everything goes to a ground bus. No more holes in the body. The lights are bright and the switches are sharp.


True Classic
Where did you end up finding grey wire?

I never did. I used green as it was the largest size I could find. I made black stripes in the second green wire with a sharpie.

The gray is available from marine suppliers. It's expensive and comes in 50 foot rolls. I figured the concourse judges will never see it anyway.


True Classic
Rear Bumper

In the early photo's you can see that the bumper is a iron pipe.

The original was made of fiberglass. A few years ago Guy Moerenhout From Belgium started making repos. There is a market for them because of the Abarth Scorpione. The Abarth uses a different license plate light arrangement. I had to drill all the holes needed.

The light is the same used on the 850 coupe and Dino Spider.

I made some abs mounting blocks for a pair of LED bulbs.

The original set up hung down bellow the bumper.



True Classic

Years ago I cleaned and painted the Transmission. Recently I figured that all my hard work would probably turn into an oily mess If I didn't replace the gaskets.

Stud removal

What starts as a simple gasket replacement turns into two new gears, renewed syncros and a replacement clutch arm.

Setting the differential backlash.

Shift check.

I got a little carried away with the photo's on this one. :whistle:


True Classic
Parts needed.

As with any project like this there is some unobtainium that I am looking for.

3 hub caps, OTAS specific.

Indicator lights, originally red. They are from an early '60's Lamborghini 350 or 400 GT.

With list, Gianinni alloy oil sump.


True Classic
very cool
maybe you could have saved a bunch of time and weight and gone with a lever and cable to open lights like on Opel GT, too much deviation from stock I imagine, still I loved flipping my Opel's headlights. Dang I miss that car.:(


True Classic
very cool
maybe you could have saved a bunch of time and weight and gone with a lever and cable to open lights like on Opel GT, too much deviation from stock I imagine, still I loved flipping my Opel's headlights. Dang I miss that car.:(

That sounds complicated as well. The point here is to stay as original as possible. I am not opposed to making 'drivability' changes. Such as, an electrical system that actually works and will be reliable.

BTW, the headlight motor is a Maserati Ghibli window motor. Lombardi dove into the Exotic parts bucket for this one.


True Classic

Beautiful work. I love the color. Please continue to share updates with us as they are available.
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