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#OMP50 Episode 1: Everything began in a train station

It’s a Sunday evening in 1973. Roberto Percivale is on his way back to Genoa, after taking part in a hillclimb race in Tuscany, driving a Fiat 500. The 500 is the little car that motorized Italy, and for Roberto it is the cheapest way to try his hand at motorsport. Along the road, Roberto is thinking about the excellent result he got, but at the risk of a flip as well. Danger is a constant threat in motorsport.

Stop racing or keep pursuing his passion? The following weeks brought clarity. The solution was to continue racing, but increase the car’s passive safety, to minimize the consequences of an impact. After a consultation with Piergiorgio and Claudio, Roberto’s brothers who share the same love for motorsport, the path was paved. In October 1973, OMP, which stands for “Officine Meccaniche Percivale”, was established.

The newly born OMP began working on the construction of a rollbar, the protective metal cage inside the car’s interior. In Italy, only one company produced them, while others on the market were mainly of English origin. The rollbars were sold in a kit with separate pipes to be assembled after delivery. The Percivale trio, supported by two friends, carried out a primitive, but still brilliant, experiment. They made a pre-built product, with only two blocks to join. This allowed for greater assembly ease and more rigidity, creating more security.

After a successful first attempt, the second rollbar was made in the Percivale house, on the premise of the Quinto al Mare train station, where their father, Giuseppe, was the stationmaster and their mother Emilia, a housewife, kept the three boys at bay. The idea launched by OMP also attracted the most important tuners in the Genoa area, where word of mouth had already started.

The starting share capital was five hundred thousand lire, and the tools disposal were minimal: a portable welding machine, a hand drill with column support, a grinding wheel for cutting pipes and a small bending machine. Above a table, Claudio drew the designs. At night, when it was dark and trains were not passing, the tubes were bent using the rails as a support.

In a few months, OMP’s activity took off. The requests, which arrived by mail and telephone, continued to increase. In addition to the production of roll cages, different items were also produced with inventiveness and determination. The small company was already building its reputation, even signing official supply deals with Italian manufacturers such as Abarth, Alfa Romeo and Lancia. Born from a train station, a modern fairy tale began.

Stories of races, drivers, and passion.