The few people who recall the name Moretti appearing on something other than beer probably associate it with some stylish custom bodywork which appeared on modified Fiats in the 1960s and 70s. This Moretti 2500s Spider from 1963, for example, hit the spot for Henry Manney at Road & Track, perhaps because it looked so much like Giorgetto Giugiaro's one-off Ferrari SWB for Bertone from a year earlier. Underneath the sinuous curves of the body shell is an enlarged version of Fiat's 6-cylinder 2300 engine. Earlier, though, Giovanni Moretti designed and built his own sports racers to compete against OSCAs, Stanguellinis and the like, and the expense of this bankrupted his company. What's left of this period is a handful of almost forgotten cars and the saga of the Frecchia d'Oro, or Golden Arrow...
Moretti started building motorcycles in 1925 and graduated to microcars (before they were called that) in the late 1920s. After building some electric vehicles during the war, Moretti launched a line of utilitarian small cars with his own 600cc 4-cylinder engine in the late 40s. The first Moretti to get attention from sports car fans in the USA was the tiny 750 twin cam from the early 50s. Giovanni Michelotti has been credited with the design on the coupe below, from 1953-'54.
There were also spyder versions in both 750cc and 1200cc engine sizes, and these were credited to the same designer…
And there were a handful of slightly larger and very handsome coupes with the 1200 Grand Sport engine. These could have competed against the then-new Alfa Giulietta Sprint, had Moretti been able to produce them in greater numbers.
Instead of tooling up to produce any of these promising designs in large (or even noticeable) numbers, Moretti decided to produce a sports racer to compete with the OSCAs, Maseratis and (increasingly) Porsches in the 1500cc class. This was the Frecchia d'Oro, the Golden Arrow from 1956. Like other Morettis, it featured an all-Moretti engine, but this larger unit featured an alloy block, twin ignition with twin distributors, and twin carburetors. The tubular chassis and the alloy bodywork were also the product of the Moretti shops, an unusual accomplishment in an era when race car bodywork was usually subcontracted to specialists like Scaglietti, Motto or Zagato. With the exception of the Fiat 1100 transmission, then, this was an all-Moretti Moretti. Three cars were produced in response to an order from a client in Argentina. The Argentine client never paid for the first car delivered, and before Moretti could devise a way to repossess a car in faraway Latin America, the deadbeat client added injury to insult by demolishing the car. The was the last straw for the fragile finances of Moretti, and the second and third Golden Arrows were seized by creditors in a bankruptcy reorganization. Golden Arrow #2 disappeared in a trade for an Alpine Renault in the late 60s, but car #3 came to the USA in amazingly original condition, and shows up for car shows and vintage races today. Moretti, reorganized post-bankruptcy, shifted to using Fiat engines entirely by 1960, and focused on providing special bodywork on the small end of the Fiat line, producing a few exceptional cars on the big 6-cylinder Fiats, and one body on a Maserati 3500 chassis. Moretti continued to build specialist Fiats until 1985, and their nearly 6 decade run marks the Moretti team as champion survivors in the competitive world of etceterini.
Photo IDs and credits:
Top and 4th from top: Moretti 2500s and 1200 Sport (Moretti Automobili)
2nd from top: Moretti 750 Grand Sport (Coys Auctions + Sports Car Digest)
3rd from top: Moretti Grand Sport Spyder (www.abarth-germany.de)
Bottom: Moretti 1500 Frecchia d'Oro (the Williams family, www. gwandrw.com)