Alfa Romeos with special coachwork at Chantilly
Among the classes in the Concours d’Etat in the fourth Chantilly Arts & Elégance Richard Mille two will be dedicated to pre and post-war Alfa Romeos with special coachwork.
The Milan Company, which was a byword for quality, beautiful lines and innovation, enjoyed a period in racing in which it won more events than any other manufacturer – Bugatti and Mercedes-Benz included! A lot of this success was down to Vittorio Jano, one of the greatest engineers of his era, who arrived from Fiat in 1923 and was one of the men behind the 6C 1750 launched in 1929. Alfa Romeo was also one of the automotive companies that inspired the greatest Italian coachwork builders who gave full rein to their talent on both road-going and racing cars. Several of these masterpieces that have marked the history of one of the most famous Italian manufacturers will be on display on the Le Nôtre lawns on 10th September; they will also provide one of the highlights of the Concours d’Etat of the event.
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport Zagato Spider (1929)
The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 was launched in 1929 and immediately proved itself to be a redoubtable racing machine winning on all kinds of circuits including the Irish Grand Prix in the Phoenix Park, the Brooklands Double 12 and the Mille Miglia among others. The car on display at Chantilly is one of the 52 Super Sport models built on the third series of the 6C 1750 chassis in 1929. It is also one of the nine Mille Miglia Zagato Spiders entered by the factory in the Italian classic won by Giuseppe Campari-Giulio Ramponi at the wheel of a similar car.
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 MM Corto Cabriolet Brandone (1933)
In February 1938 Franco Cortese, a young driver who won races for the Scuderia Ambrosiana founded by Count Giovanni Lurani, asked the Touring coach building firm to design a lightened car for him on the base of the 6C 2300B Mille Miglia in which he had scored numerous victories, in particular against the works cars entered by Ferrari. The design of this machine supervised by the Alfa Romeo chief Vittorio Jano led to a weight reduction of 100 kg, which helped Cortese clinch the 1938 Italian Championship by winning seven of the eight races counting towards the title as well as his class in the Mille Miglia.
Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B MM Touring Corsa Spyder (1938)
One hundred and eighty-eight Alfa Romeo 8C 2300s were built between 1931 and 1934. The car was powered by a supercharged straight-8 engine putting out 175 bhp and could reach a speed of between 170 and 215 km/h depending on the versions. The 8C won all the major events of the era with three successes in the Targa Florio (1931-32-33) in the Monza iteration, a hat trick in the Mille Miglia (1932-33-34) and four victories on the trot in the Le Mans 24 Hours (1931-32-33-34). Some of these were achieved under the banner of the Scuderia run by Enzo Ferrari. The Alfa Romeo on display is a works car clothed in coachwork by Nice coach builder, Etienne Brandone, who was very much in vogue in that era because of his unique take on coachwork design. The car in question won the Cannes Concours d’Elégance in 1934.
Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupé (1951)
This model was one of the high points in the fruitful relationship between the make from Milan and the coach builder, Touring, and it is surely the epitome of automotive elegance. This coupe built on the 6C short chassis powered by the 2443 cc straight-6 engine (hence the name SS for straight six), was presented at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elégance in 1949 where it won the Coppa d’Oro so it was renamed after the event. Initially 25 cars were to be made for the wealthiest clientele of the make, but finally more than 30 units were produced. The Alfa Romeo on display at Chantilly is the last 6C built and the last of the Villa d’Este series. Adding to its exclusivity is the fact that the coachwork builder did not create it in keeping with the specific features ordered by a client, but used his own inspiration to celebrate the last of the line!
Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sprint Coupé Zagato (1955)
The 1900 coupe is one of the Alfa Romeos that has provided the most inspiration for the greatest Italian coach builders. While Touring was responsible for the first version of the coupe, Zagato produced his own coachwork a few years later at the request of well-off clients. The extremely arched bonnet with the two air intakes as well as the double bubble roof are typical of Zagato and were used in other coupes. This car is one of 42 made by the Milan coach builder, and one of the three imported into Sweden in 1955 by racing driver Joachim Bonnier who was also the local Alfa Romeo dealer. One was used in races on tracks and on ice by Bonnier himself and the other two were sold to gentlemen drivers.
Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow (1960)
This concept car was originally used for competition as it was one of the eight 6C CMs with coachwork by Colli entered in races in 1956. Out of the eight two were converted into road cars, the first by Boano for the Argentinean President, Juan Peron, and the second (the one shown here) was given to Pininfarina who came up with four successive concept car designs of which this is the ultimate version. This Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV was unveiled at the 1960 Geneva Motor Show.