Modified description courtesy of Bonhams Auction House:
c.1950 F.I.A.T.-Daniela 750 Testa d'Oro - Coachwork by Zagato
Fiat powered racers dominated the under 750cc class up to the 1960s. OSCA, Cisitalia, Moretti, Stanguellini, Siata, Lamborghini, and others all got their start racing in these classes. Some 200 750cc and under vehicles are classed as having run the Mille Miglia and still qualify for the Mille Miglia Historia today.
One popular and easy modification was to take the Topolino's 500cc motor, bore it out to the class's 750cc maximum, and replace its pushrod head with an overhead valve unit. Some manufacturers produced OHV heads that were cast in bronze, earning the cars into which they were fitted the nickname 'Testa d'Oro' – Italian for 'Head of Gold'. It is believed nine to eleven such cars were built by Daniela (about five to six cars) and Marinella (at least four cars) utilizing Testa d'Oro engines modified by Giorgio Giusti's Casa dell'Auto in 1947. With coachwork by Zagato and campaigned by such Italian luminaries as Elio Zagato, Nuccio Bertone, and Alfredo Morbidelli, these Testa d'Oros found success across Europe in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
One such Daniela found its way to the United States in the garage of Italian racing driver Antonio 'Tony' Pompeo. Tony was a prolific racer who had achieved success in Italy before WWII and raced around the world in Alfas, Siatas, and more in the late 1940s and 1950s. The Testa d'Oro he bought is believed to have been driven at the Monza Autodrome by Luigi (Gigi) Villoresi prior to Tony's ownership. In September of 1958, Tony traded the Testa d'Oro with a DKW owned by George Waltman. The original Bill of Sale between Tony and George is on file and includes a picture of the car at the time of trade.
Mr. Waltman was an amateur racer who drove at tracks across the country, but especially in the Northeast. Among his more interesting feats was driving from his home in Great Neck, New York to the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona in his Morgan Plus 4. The 2,000 mile journey out and back is interesting, but what made it really impressive was that he ran the actual race by himself—with no other drivers or crew—and finished the race in 30th place, 335 laps behind the overall winner but only five laps behind James Garner's L88 Corvette.
With his Testa d'Oro, George drove it and drove it hard. Riveted plaques from the many events in the 1960s including races at Bridgehampton, Lime Rock, Roosevelt Raceway, Watkins Glen, Nassau (Bahamas), and Mt. Equinox (hill climb) cover the passenger side bulkhead to such an extent that there is even a badge (for the '72 Mt. Equinox hill climb) slapped onto the coolant tank under the hood. George would actively campaign his little Fiat-powered Testa d'Oro into the 1990s with footage of it racing at Lime Rock in 1989 against the likes of John Fitch and Sir Stirling Moss showing its competitiveness.
Not actively campaigned since the early/mid-1990s, it still presents as a stunning machine today. Having been raced hard for over three decades, it should be noted that the original engine has long since disappeared with a modified Fiat 1100 engine now in its place. Additionally, the nose and parts of the tail have been reworked or repaired—largely as a result of light incidents on the track. Included with the car are its original cycle fenders, headlights, carburetor cover, radiator, seat cushion, tonneau cover, Lexan Brooklands screen, and damaged rear leaf spring cover as well as the aforementioned original 1958 Bill of Sale, a c.1980 description of the car by George Waltman, and a copy of the George's original Florida title. After over six decades in single family ownership, this stunning machine is ready to race on to its next, lucky owner for refurbishment back to its former glory!