Lifestyle

Wartime Alfa


One of the beautiful and rare interim-bodied Alfa Romeo 6C 2500s, it was bought by a German general during WWII

Virtually identical in displacement to the 8C 2300 Monza, Vittorio Jano's new 6C 2500 was simpler to produce and designed to be inherently reliable and capable of excellent performance. The 6C 2500 employed a single dual-choke carburetor and 7.5:1 compression to produce 95 hp, driving through a single-plate clutch and 4-speed gearbox to the torsion bar independent rear suspension. Front suspension was independent with coil springs.

The most prolific coachbuilder for Alfa during this period was Carrozzeria Touring, which was able to develop its designs in its own wind tunnel. One of these was the Torpedino Brescia, an interim step leading to the traditional full-envelope bodies that would appear in 1941 on the Mille Miglia-Brescia GP BMW 328s.

One of the beautiful and rare interim-bodied Alfa Romeo 6C 2500s is the example offered here. Chassis number 915128 was completed in June 1942. Alfa's chassis records show it being delivered in April 1943 to General von Carnap in Berlin.

Its subsequent history is not known until it was purchased in Texas in 1960 by Donald Vesley. Vesley owned it until 1974, when it was acquired by Lew Lazarus, later passing to Dale Finstrom, then back to Lazarus, and then on to John Siebert in Uxbridge, Ontario, in the early 1980s. After completion of a restoration, Siebert sold it to Paul Myers in 1989, who kept it until it was bought in 1997 by Lawrence Smith, from whom the present owner acquired it in 2008.

It has an extensive show history, including appearances at Pebble Beach, a CCCA Senior National First Prize where it was judged 100 points, a Meadow Brook Blue Ribbon, Most Elegant Sports Car at Amelia Island in 2005, a best-in-class win at Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2008, and 2008 acceptance in the long-distance Pebble Beach Motoring Classic.

Its appeal and quality have earned it invitations to The Quail Motorsports Gathering and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2009. According to Anselmi's 6C 2500 book, it is believed to be one of only three cars bodied in this style by Touring. Of the two that survive, this is the only one with its original engine.

This car sold for $345,400, including buyer's premium, at the Worldwide Group's auction at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, on November 1, 2008.

As World War II unfolded in Europe in 1940 and '41, automakers in the U.S. were ordered first to limit production, then to eliminate the use of chrome trim prior to the halt of car manufacture altogether in February 1942.

There are, therefore, almost no 1943 or 1944 non-military cars from U.S. makers, and those that were built were olive drab sedans and ambulances. A similar situation existed in the U.K. from 1939 to 1945. However, in Europe, the factories of Mercedes-Benz and their cross-Alpine equivalent Alfa Romeo continued to turn out cars for private buyers through much of the war.

In fact, while Mercedes stopped auto production in 1943, Alfas were made in every year from 1939 through 1945. And as was the case with this 6C 2500 Sport, most of these cars were not dull, nondescript sedans. The still-confident military and industrial elites of both Germany and Italy continued to order fast, beautiful cars for their personal use, even as things began to unravel.

Performance matched more powerful rivals

Available in Turismo, Sport, and Super Sport tune, with power outputs of 87, 95, and 110 hp, respectively, the sophisticated suspension, capable chassis, and flexible Jano engines gave the 6C 2500 road performance that matched more powerful rivals from Bugatti, Mercedes, and Delahaye. The Alfa chassis were clothed in a variety of attractive bodies, none more so than those from Carrozzeria Touring.

Touring had become the coachbuilder most associated with Alfa during the late 1930s and did some of its best work on Alfas, capturing the signature blend of performance and luxury. The 6C 2500 was a sales success for the state-owned company, with more than 2,500 produced from 1939 to 1953, when it was finally phased out in favor of the 4-cylinder 1900.


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