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Lot 234: Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS Supercharged Spyder

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams (29 June 2012)

The 1750, and for that matter the 1500... must be among the finest ever made both from the point of view of engineering and driver satisfaction.' - Michael Frostick, 'Alfa-Romeo-Milano'. It was in 1923 that Enzo Ferrari, no less, persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave FIAT's racing department and join him at Alfa Romeo. One of the most gifted and influential automobile engineers of all time, Jano would not only supervise Alfa Romeo's Grand Prix racing programme but also design its road cars. This happy state of affairs resulted in the latter emerging as some of the most exciting of their day, establishing the Milanese marque's reputation for producing sporting driver's cars second to none. Logical derivative of the Tipo 6C 1500, itself directly descended from Jano's all-conquering P2 that had won the World Championship in 1925, the Tipo 6C 1750 arrived in 1929 boasting a derivative of the 1500's six-cylinder engine enlarged to 1,752cc. Built in single-cam Turismo and twin-cam Sport (later renamed Gran Turismo) variants, the 6C 1750 was an exciting fast touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance, more than 75mph being attainable, depending on coachwork. There was also a supercharged 'SS' version (which later evolved into the 'GS'), only 52 examples of which were made. Most of these cars carried coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato or Carrozzeria Touring, with James Young being responsible for bodying the majority imported into the UK. The 1750's sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production, which ceased in 1933. This 1750 SS has been in the ownership of Carol Corliss - Pre-War Registrar of the AROC in the UK - since September 1964 when she purchased it from a garage in Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire where it had been towed with a broken half-shaft in 1958. There are photographs on file of the car when purchased. Although neglected, the Alfa was complete apart from a missing half-shaft and differential. The instruments, etc were all present and all mechanical parts were in useable condition. Upon purchasing the car, Roy Slater, the then Secretary of the VSCC's Alfa Romeo Register, was contacted. He was very helpful and after some research said that he believed that the body was later than 1929 and probably circa 1931, although the car was first registered by Styles (the Alfa Romeo concessionaires for the UK) in early 1929. The chassis number shows this car to be one of the first Super Sports to be imported and the number is listed amongst the competition car chassis numbers. Roy felt that it had probably been used in competition but no record could be found, and it is not known what bodywork might have been used in the two years prior to the James Young bodywork being fitted. There was no supercharger on the engine at time of purchase but Roy thought that the car had been supercharged as several parts indicated that it had. Carol Corliss has since made contact with the owner of the car in 1953/54, Michael Gaudin, who has written confirming that it was supercharged while in his ownership (copy of letter on file). Believed to have been damaged, the crankshaft had been replaced circa 1953 when the supercharger was removed. The James Young bodywork was in a very poor condition and when removed from the rolling chassis it was discovered that a lot of the woodwork was rotten and the aluminium panelling decayed. The car was initially stripped down to the bare chassis and the parts checked and restored as necessary, the work being carried out by Alan Wragg of Sherwood Restorations. At the time, the Yimkin Engineering body that was being taken off Mick Camber's 1500 Team Car seemed a good option and ex-March Engineering employee and Bugatti restorer, Kim Argyle fitted it straight onto the 1750 chassis. The car had this bodywork for some years and continued to be run un-supercharged until relatively recently. At some point a hole had been made in the crankcase and stitched very effectively. The engine had been filled with oil when left, preventing any deterioration. An advertisement in Motor Sport for rear axle parts in 1965 drew a response from Bart Loyens in Luxemburg offering a complete 'new old stock' rear axle, which when purchased would have fitted directly on. It is not known whether the old casing was retained or the internals transferred. Its restoration completed in 1971, the Alfa was driven by its enthusiastic owner as often as possible, which included participation in the first race meeting at the newly reopened Donington Park circuit in 1977. In 1980 new connecting rods and pistons were fitted to the existing crankshaft, which has always been crack tested on any dismantling of the engine, likewise the rods and pistons. Over many years Carol has striven to keep the car as original as possible, carrying out whatever repairs were necessary assisted by the late 'Wilkie' Wilkinson's tuning expertise and the careful maintenance of Roy Gibson of Roman Garage near Grantham, Lincolnshire. In 2002 it was decided to return the car to a more original state and factory drawings of the Zagato spyder coachwork were obtained. The coachbuilding was carried out by Western Coachworks of Derby (Mick Sharpe) to precise standards, the trimming by Stan Chilton of Derby and the painting by John Ward of Litchfield. Great care was taken to keep to the original patterns and design. The car was run in un-supercharged form until 2004, at which point Carol was able to continue work on the mechanicals. A supercharger had been purchased some years before as a complete set of castings, which were machined by Lahoma Engineering, after which the supercharger was assembled and the engine given an initial check by Derek Chinn of Bedford. Carol's nephew, Christopher Gamble, a well qualified and experienced engine builder, had recently returned from Italy and took charge of the work, building the engine and setting up the ignition timing, carburetion, etc. An SU carburettor is fitted together with twin SU fuel pumps to replace the rather inefficient Autovac system. Two days after completion the Alfa went to Jersey and performed very well there. Over the past few years the car has continued to run well, benefiting from regular maintenance and checks. Two new wheels were fitted to the rear and shod with larger section Blockley tyres, which have been found to improve the handling and roadholding. The tonneau covers are all in good condition, while the hood has only been used twice in five years. A detachable electric fan has been fitted for long distance travelling but is easily removed by way of four bolts and an electrical connection. In May 2010 'UV 3349' was taken to York for a celebration in the city centre and then in June it attended the Alfa Romeo Centenary celebrations in Milan, where it was elected as one of the 'Top 100' cars there (approximately 3,000 cars took part). Carol took an overnight train from Holland on the trip to Italy but drove all the way back via Alpine passes with no problems other than some dirt in the car's fuel system which was soon dealt with. On 21/22 August the car was driven to Worcester and back for the Shelsley Walsh National Alfa Day when it led a parade of historic Alfas up the hill. Other events attended include: the Stoneleigh Prize Giving Dinner in 2006, when the Alfa was used as the photograph centrepiece; the AROC display at the NEC Classic Car Show in 2006; the AROC National Concours in 2008 (winning car); the Jersey Festival of Speed in 2008; Classic Car magazine's stand at Race Retro in 2010; and the Bourne Motor Show in September 2010 where it won the 'Best Car in Show' award. The Alfa was also invited to and attended the Hurlingham Salon Privé in 2010 and many more events than its owner could afford to attend. Very well known in Alfa Romeo and VSCC circles, this much loved and well maintained Alfa Romeo 1750 SS Compressore is offered with sundry restoration invoices, current road fund licence, MoT to April 2013, Swansea V5 registration document and a copy of Auto Italia magazine's article featuring the car.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood,UK
Lot Number234
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£330000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£371100
Condition rating
Registration numberUV 3349
Chassis number0312897
Engine number0312897
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors