With its inherent sporting pedigree and graceful lines, this rare car demonstrates that Italian models have long possessed a distinguishable, refined grace
There’s something discernibly elegant and stirring about an old Alfa Romeo. We can’t help but stare in wonder.
The 1900 Gran Turismo represents the sixth series of Alfa’s 6C. The car was designed by the highly gifted Vittorio Jano who, a decade earlier, had been persuaded to leave Fiat’s racing department and contribute to both Alfa Romeo’s Grand Prix racing programme as well as the design of its road cars.
By the time 197 examples of the 6C 1900 Gran Turismos left the Alfa factory, Jano was already one of the most influential engineers in pre-war motoring. Having developed the virtually unstoppable P2, which won the 1925 Grand Prix Championship for Alfa, as well as the P3 that was raced with great success by Enzo Ferrari, Jano had been tasked with developing a series of high-performance vehicles with four, six and eight-cylinder configurations.
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The initial 6C was launched as a 1500 model at the Salone dell’ Automobile di Milano in 1925. Its mechanicals were clearly based on those of the fruitful P2, but within three years the 1500 had been upgraded to a Sports model whose 1487cc six-cylinder engine was Alfa’s first to use double overhead camshafts. In 1933, the 1900 Gran Turismo was the final derivative of the original 6C 1500.
Not only was this model blessed with all the evolution that had taken place since the P2, it had also gained aluminium cylinder heads, an improved chassis that had semi-elliptical springs passing through the front axle, and a new four-speed transmission with synchromesh on the top two gears and a freewheel mechanism.
It was a superbly lightweight vehicle, delivering 68bhp at 4500rpm, which quickly attracted compliments from eager drivers who revelled in its speed and superior agility.
This particular 6C 1900 Gran Turismo was first registered in Milan on July 13, 1933, and it was the 23rd example of this model to be produced. As with many others throughout the 6C range, it is believed that this 1900 Gran Turismo was constructed with a saloon body from coachbuilder Touring of Milan.
Unfortunately, it is unclear what occurred in this Alfa’s first three decades, as there is no further documentation prior to the early 1960s. It is most likely that the car left Italy not long after manufacture. Its documented history picks up again in Belgium, where it was bought in 1962 by Bart Loyens, a garage owner best known for sourcing numerous vehicles on behalf of the Schlumpf Collection in France.
Some notes in the model’s history file mention possible connections to Illinois during this time, but currently it remains unconfirmed as to whether or not this particular 6C 1900 ever made it to America.
The Alfa did, however, find itself travelling to Ireland for restoration some 20 years ago, after being bought in Belgium by Pat Heron. Pat then crafted an open sporting body, but kept the original saloon shell. This is still available today.
The Alfa then passed onto its current owner, a keen vintage sports car racer, who has continued the 6C 1900’s restoration. The engine has been fully rebuilt by internationally renowned Alfa Romeo expert Paul Grist, and a supercharger has been sourced, rebuilt and fitted by Derek Chinn Precision Engineering.
Meanwhile, the gearbox has been rebuilt by Alfa specialist Setford and Company, which has also given this 6C 1900 a thorough inspection and recently reported it as ‘driving well’.
In addition, a new radiator has been fitted, and all springs and shock absorbers have been completely rebuilt. The Alfa now wears a Touring Le Mans-style body, which was built by Neil Twyman for an 8C 2300 but remained unused until now.
Now proudly restored, this 6C 1900 Gran Turismo is a sensational reminder of Alfa Romeo’s long and prolific career in motor racing. Never did an automotive history lesson look so good…
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