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Lot No. 465 - 1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Speciale (Sixties re-creation)

Sold for: £166,500

An exquisitely beautiful celebration of the essence of Italian creativity in metal.
Details Specification
  • Probably built in the Sixties, the car is now UK-registered as a 1953 Alfa 1900
  • The chassis consists of light steel tubing with boxed-in sections to which all of the mechanical ancillaries are attached
  • The voluptuous bodywork is hand-formed in 12/10 gauge aluminium and is suspended over a steel birdcage
  • Powered by Alfa Romeo's classic four-cylinder 1900 twin-camshaft unit derived from the 6C
  • Independent suspension with coil spring shock absorbers. Disc brakes all round
  • A little tired and in need of some recommissioning
  • A unique coachbuilt Alfa special on offer at a fraction of its build cost

In 1950, Alfa Romeo introduced their latest Saloon at the Paris Motor Show. Available initially with two or four doors it was the first Alfa assembled totally on a production line and was fitted with their new 1,884 cc, 90 bhp 4-cylinder twin-cam engine. Designed by Orazio Satta, and produced from 1950 to 1959, the car was simple, yet quick and sporty and, in common with everything else in Italy on two or four wheels, the 1900 was raced and enjoyed success in the Targa Florio, Stella Alpina, and other competitions.

In 1951, the short wheelbase 1900C (c for Corto - short) was introduced and was joined by the 1900TI with a more powerful 100 bhp engine with bigger valves, a higher compression ratio, and twin carburettors. Two years later the 1900 Super and 1900 TI Super with a 1975 cc engine were introduced featuring two twin-choke carburettors and producing around 115 bhp which was fed through a 4-speed manual gearbox on basic versions and a 5-speed manual in the Super Sprint. All versions had drum brakes, independent front suspension, and a live rear axle.

Iginio Alessio, General Manager of Alfa Romeo at the time, was concerned for the future viability of the independent Italian coachbuilding industry as the arrival of the 'unibody' chassis design was threatening to put the 'Carrozzerie' out of business. Consequently, Alfa magnanimously offered official contracts to Touring to build the sporty 1900 Sprint Coupé and to Pininfarina to create an elegant four-seat Cabriolet and Coupé. The availability of a suitable chassis led many other coachbuilders to build versions of the 1900. Carrozzeria Zagato built a small series of coupés with the unofficial designation of 1900 SSZ, designed for racing, with an aerodynamic lightweight aluminium body and their trademark double-bubble roof. One-off specials were numerous from the famous Bertone 'BAT' series of aerodynamic studies to an infamous sci-fi-like Astral Spider designed by Carrozzeria Boneschi for Rafael Trujillo the dictator of the Dominican Republic. There was a Barchetta or "Little Boat" made by Ghia-Aigle in Lugano, Switzerland and designed by Giovanni Michelotti at the request of a wealthy Italian who had two passions: his mistress and 'Riva' boats, so consequently the car was extremely curvaceous with no doors! 

This lovely Alfa Romeo-powered Sports Coupé lacks any concrete history and may have been built by ATL (Autotecnica del Lario) in the city of Lecco in Lombardy in the mid-sixties. We are not able to confirm the date of construction but it certainly looks like one of the half a dozen ATL cars built around this time. This is a lovely thing but we must stress that we don't have sufficient paperwork to confirm who built it and when and we suggest that interested parties satisfy themselves as to its origins.

This stunning car appears to have been developed largely along the lines of the Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva Prototype built by Alfa Romeo in 1954, with styling cues from other notable Italian '50s & '60s Grand Touring cars. The chassis consists of varying diameter steel tubing with boxed-in sections to which all of the mechanical ancillaries are attached. The voluptuous bodywork is hand-formed in 12/10 gauge aluminium and is suspended over a steel birdcage like the patented Touring Superleggera method on the Maserati 3500GT or Aston Martin DB Series. The suspension is independent on all four wheels with coil spring shock absorbers, together with disc brakes all around and lovely period wire wheels. The engine is Alfa Romeo's classic four-cylinder 1900 twin-camshaft unit derived from the 6C, and these are superb compact engines that have plenty of kick. This operatic engine coupled with the lightweight build of this car makes for an undeniably rapid sports car and with its well-spaced 5-speed gearbox and ballerina-like sense of poise, it's a delight on twisty Targa Florio style roads. Reminiscent of the iconic coachbuilt GT sports coupés of the 50s and 60s, the stunningly executed lines of this car are every bit as good as anything created by Alfa Romeo at the time.

The car has seen little use over the past years and would benefit from a light recommission.

The DVLA have chosen to register the car as a 1953 Alfa 1900 based on the Chassis Number but it was built much later, however, that's all a bit academic if you like it.  This is an unmissable opportunity to acquire a hand-crafted sports coupe that is a celebration of the essence of Italian creativity in metal. Offered at a realistic estimate when you consider the cost of more mass-produced contemporary aluminium replicas and coachbuilt cars of the era, this example is an eminently affordable work of art.  

You can now book a one-to-one appointment (up to one hour) to view this lot at our central location of Stoneleigh Park (CV8 2LG) Monday to Friday, between Thursday 29th October – 12th November. Please contact Harry on 01926691141/ harry@silverstoneauctions.com to secure your appointment or to discuss the car in more detail. The health & safety of both our customers and team remain the utmost priority, we are therefore operating to strict COVID-19 guidelines and full instructions for arrival and inspection protocols will be given when making your appointment.

Year of manufacture:
1953
Make:
Alfa Romeo
Chassis number:
AR01351
# of cylinders:
4
Transmission:
Manual
Engine capacity:
1888
Body colour:
Rosso
LHD/RHD:
Left-hand Drive
Registration number:
878 UYT
Model:
1900 Speciale
Interior colour:
Black

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