As always, I read Doug Nye’s article on the Maserati Eldorado, in the January issue, with enjoyment and personal benefit. I must point out, however, that the statement that, in 1958, “the Gruppo Orsi industrial combine had collapsed in bankruptcy” is untrue. It is, in fact, defamatory in regard to the business activities of Commendatore Adolfo Orsi and of his son, Omer.
I say this having studied documents of the period made available to me by long-standing friend Dr Adolfo Orsi II. As you know very well, he is Omer’s son and is a dedicated scholar of Maserati history.
The 1957 racing season was a triumphal one for Officine Alfieri Maserati, having culminated in the conquest of the World Championship with Fangio and that of the European Mountain Championship with Daetwyler. The firm, which at that time also produced high-quality machine tools, found itself to be temporarily low on operating capital. This was due to various causes, the principal ones of which were, in order of importance:
1 retarded payments on a longterm commitment by the Argentine government for the supply of machine tools;
2 losses incurred in the liquidation of owned companies which had been established in Argentina, Mexico (one for machine tools, one for the construction of a motor-scooter factory), and the USA for commercial development in those markets;
3 non-payment of credits extended to clients who had fallen into financial difficulties;
4 non-payment of performance premiums of the Sporting Commission of the Automobile Club of Italy (Ferrari was paid);
5 exceptional expenses in connection with the cessation of racing activity and with the accelerated development of the new 3500 GT model car.
In this situation Comm. Adolfo Orsi, as president of the company, requested the Court of Modena application of the procedure of Controlled Administration. This is a measure provided by the Italian legal system for the assistance of businesses which are passing through moments of financial difficulty. It is limited to a duration of a maximum of one year, and I suppose similar procedures exist in most or all developed countries.
Within this context of total good faith on the part of the Orsi family, and through the making of massive personal sacrifices, all of the creditors of Officine Alfieri Maseratl were paid, in full, by April 1959. Among the sacrifices were the liquidation of a good portion of the personal fortune of the Orsi family, and the sale of the machine tool division.
This demonstration of corporate and personal responsibility is quite the opposite of bankruptcy, in which creditors habitually pay dearly for the confidence they have placed in others.
The Orsi family remained owner of the Maserati company until 1968, when it ceded the marque to Citroen of France.
Through repetition of the ficticious charges of bankruptcy a rather grave injustice has been done to the memories and reputations of Comm. Adolfo Orsi and his son, Omer Orsi. I have spent a great deal of time in the Modena region, doing research on its marvellous history among surviving participants in the events. There, where the Orsi name is known best of all, it is most esteemed. What I like best about the whole thing is that local pride is taken in the fact that Il Nonno – Grandpapa – Orsi achieved his great success having begun with strictly nothing.
These comments are offered in a spirit of friendly cooperation between colleagues with very closely related interests.
Griffith Borgeson, Vaucluse, France.
We apologise to the Orsi family for this inaccuracy and any distress which may have been caused – ed