A LITTLE, BIG ITALIAN JEWEL
SGA’s logo, designed in 1961, kept its shape until nowadays.
Sergio Ginestra (Moncalieri, Turin 1917- Milan,2001) lived the years of his youth immersed in an atmosphere full of passion for engines, and cars in general.
Even if cars hadn’t yet reached that typical 50s and 60s spreading level, between 1920s and 1940s, body- builders like Bertone, Ghia and Vignale offered an oppurtunity for those who, like Sergio, dreamed of being part of this big bet.
He was very lucky, because thanks to his passion and dedication, he managed to work for the three iconic turinese body-builders.
After the war, when he was sent in Africa for repairing trucks and tanks in Lybia, in 1947, became friends with the three Maserati brothers. Sergio was called by Ernesto Maserati the following year, and was struck by the stylistic boldness of the A6 1500 racing prototype. In 1951 designed the famous tubular frame of the A6G series and studied how to make the model, made according to the customer’s requests, more aerodynamic and light, introducing ever more complex frame-level innovations, such as the elliptical trellis structure in the 3500 GT.
The experience made during the years of work done in Turin, allowed him to propose some interpretations of the models of the Bolognese house, but always aimed at the racing world.
After the collaboration with Michelotti at the design of the Maserati Sebring, in 1961, Sergio decides to give life to one of his projects: the 398 SP, under the name of SGA (Sergio Ginestra Automobili).
He personally designed his logo, that summed up in itself the characteristics that his creations should have had. The purpose was not to build something to be be mass produced, but something very near to the first Maserati models’ philosophy.
To let the car participate in the “experimental prototypes” category in the International GT Championship, Sergio, who in the meantime collected some “disciples” who followed him in this ambitious project, bought a dozen engines that fitted the Tipo 151, modifying the compression, the carburetors and other settings.
The engine was a 3.9 V8 with 380 bhp and over 422 Nm of torque.
Maserati V8 Tipo 151A (M)
- 3.9 liter v8, aluminum block
- Position: longitudinal,central
DOHC 16 valves
- H forged connecting rods
- Forged flat-top shaft
- 4 DCOE Weber carburetors
- Compression ratio: 9.8: 1
- Tubular racing headers
- 380 hp @ 6700 rpm
- 422.7 Nm @ 5800 rpm
- 208 kg
Chassis and bodywork were entirely designed by Ginestra, using the most advanced materials and tecnhiques:
The chassis was a steel trellis model, with an innovative fiber glass panel, in order to minimize the weight, with double swing arm suspension which guaranteed more sportiness, and double tube shock absorbers.
The rear wheel drive and the self-locking differential allowed the car to discharge the great hp amount to the ground, ensuring extremely high performance.
If Ferrari, Porsche and Abarth dominated the GT divisions, SGA won the P4.0 category, collecting 3 victories in the 500 and 1000 km of Nurburgring, and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
1000 km of the Nurburgring, 1962
At the remaining races the 398 SP always reached the podium. During the Targa Florio, the car had a transmission issue, which cost the withdraw.
English competitions saw the car in difficulty due to the mountainous and narrow tracks, where the 398 SP was not at ease, but showed great tenacity.
In the prototypes and sports cars sector it was immediately the car to beat, and not even Ferrari was surprised about this, because the experience and the important mechanical support that Maserati offered was decisive.
398SP with the British Racing Green livery
The shape is very easy and aereodynamic, adapted for the Sport Prototype category
1962 SGA 398 Sport Prototipo
- Steel trellis frame, fiber glass panel, 2 doors body
- Double swing arm suspension, double tube shock absorbers,
- 4-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, self-locking differential
- Front Wheels: 185/60/R14 Rear Wheels: 255/60/R14
- Top Speed: 282 km/h (varies according to gear ratio)
- 0-100 in 4.0 s
- Cd 0,342
- 275 mm 1-piston disc brakes
- 861,6 kg
Various liveries were presented, depending on the location of the race, this is the original SGA racing livery.
The following year the regulation changed and Ginestra’s creation struggled because of the engine size. SGA was pushed to hugely modify the car, presenting an open bodywork and a new adapted engine.
SGA officially entered the epic of sportscar with the 398SP, and the 10 units produced were successful and source of pride until their withdrawal, in 1964.