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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1954 Moretti-powered Gilco 750 race car

Pick of the Day: 1954 Moretti-powered Gilco 750 race car

Car comes with some spares, and with a great story to share

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When spelunking the ClassicCars.com Marketplace searching for gems to share as Pick of the Day, I like to find vehicles privately owned that come with a story, such as long-term family ownership or racing history. 

Well, the Pick of the Day, a 1954 Gilco 750 with a Moretti engine, not only has a private seller, but a wonderful story of racing history.

I’ll share much of that story here, and it comes from a nearly 15-minute YouTube video as noted in the text of the advertisement for the car, which was retired from competition after the 1964 season and now, while a wonderful piece of metallic sculpture, would need restoration to return to the track.

According to the story, the car is believed to have been commissioned for Grand Prix racer Felice Bonetto, who planned to drive it in the 1954 Mille Miglia across Italy. However, after ordering the car, Bonetto died while racing a Lancia D24 in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.

Moretti, Pick of the Day: 1954 Moretti-powered Gilco 750 race car, ClassicCars.com Journal
Moretti, Pick of the Day: 1954 Moretti-powered Gilco 750 race car, ClassicCars.com Journal

The chassis was one of many produced by Gilco, a Milan-based race-car builder that produced racing chassis for the likes of Ferrari and Maserati, as well as selling them to private individuals. In the case of the Pick of the Day, Carrozzeria Auto-Moto of Bologna, Italy, was hired to craft the car’s coachwork. 

As the story goes, the car was completed with a Lancia engine and was sold to a Chicago resident, who apparently was disappointed with the car’s performance and installed a Moretti twin-cam powerplant.  The car finished first of second in a succession of early-season races in 1956 — until the engine blew during a race at the Road America track in Wisconsin.

Moretti, Pick of the Day: 1954 Moretti-powered Gilco 750 race car, ClassicCars.com Journal

The car was sold to another racer, who replaced the Moretti engine with a Mercury outboard boat engine, which was legal under the rules of sports car racing. It was fast but unreliable.

The car was sold again and the next owner, tired of being passed by rear-engine sports cars, moved the Merc from the front to the rear of the chassis and won three races in a row. 

But by this time, the car was 10 years old and it was retired after the 1964 season. The car now is in Brookfield, Connecticut, has the Moretti engine under the hood as raced originally, and retains its Fiat 1100 transmission and differential as well as its 15-inch Borani wheels, its steering wheel and trio of gauges — tach, oil pressure and water temperature.

“It is in need of restoration but once restored, it will be eligible for use in some of the most prestigious events in the world,” the seller notes.

The car, engine and spares are being offered for $96,000. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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