Monaco

11 - 12 May 2012

Lot 366

1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale by Carrozzeria Touring

To be auctioned on Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sold for €240.800

  • Chassis no. AR 1900C 01420
  • Engine no. 05416


143 bhp, 1,884 cc twin cam inline four-cylinder engine with twin downdraft Solex carburettors, five-speed floor-shift manual transmission, coil spring and double A-arm independent front suspension, solid rear axle with longitudinal radius arms and coil springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,500 mm (98.4”)

• Fully documented restoration by noted marque specialists
• Eligible for numerous rally and touring events
• One of only 7 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Garas

The importance of the 1900 as the first modern Alfa cannot be understated. It was the car that began the transformation of the company from a builder of racing cars and a handful of ultra-expensive road cars each year to a true manufacturer, bringing a level of sporting driving to an audience of hundreds of thousands.

Very few 1900 coupés were built on the shortened, or ‘corto’, platform with the uprated engine. They are thought to have numbered only seven. Three of those, including this example, were built as ‘Stradale’ models. The lightweight versions built exclusively for racing were slightly different than the Stradale variants, in that they have a split windscreen, no boot door, no bumpers, a louver on rear Plexiglas windows, and a special dashboard, amongst other differences. The Corto Gara Stradale was fitted with additional amenities, such as tubular bumpers, an air outtake from the cockpit to the underside of the rear bumpers, sliding windows, lightweight door panels, all Plexiglas windows and a short boot door. Of these cars, only three Corto Gara are known to have survived. They include Corto Gara no. 01047, Corto Gara Stradale no. 01361 and the car offered here, chassis number 01420.

Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo states that this car was built on 22 July 1953. It was originally finished in “Grigio/Azzuro” (Grigio Capri–Lechler) and delivered to Tessiture Italiane Seriche SpA of Milano. It was subsequently sold to one Mr Detwiller of Switzerland, before he sold it to Sweden. Mr Hans Joachim Rössing, a well-known German driver, found and bought no. 01420 in Sweden, in barn-find condition, without its original engine. During the 1980s, he entered many historic races throughout Europe in another 1900 coupé, keeping 01420 unrestored. It was at these races where he met Mr Elviro Mario Govoni, who was racing his GTA 1600 and 1900 coupés. They soon struck up a deal, and Mr Govoni bought no. 01420 in 1989. Restoration began on the Corto Gara in 1993. The engine was sent to Officina Gamberini in Bologna, Italy to be tuned, whilst the bodywork was taken over by Mario Galbiati. In 1995, the current owner visited Galbiati’s workshop and fell in love with the car. A few months later, he managed to convince Mr Govoni to sell the Corto Gara.

No. 01420, still unfinished, remained in France until 2007, when it was sent to Italy to be completed. The current period-correct dark cobalt blue finish was given to the coupé during a total restoration by Walter Giusti’s noted firm, Carrozzeria Sport Cars, in Modena. During this work, all bright trim was polished or re-chromed with all new rubber seals used. Mr Ramenzoni performed the mechanical restoration, which included restarting the Gamberini tuned 143 bhp engine, as well as rebuilding the rare and desirable Nardi floorshift five-speed gearbox. The steering, brakes and transmission were also rebuilt to as-new condition. Finally, Mr Maurizio Ferrari looked after the electrical work whilst Mr Dazzi fine-tuned the carburettors.

After an extensive three-year restoration by some of the finest Italian craftsman, Autofficina Omega of Corrado Patella fine-tuned the chassis and suspension to make sure this incredibly rare 1900 Corto Gara runs and drives as well as it looks. Of course this well presented Alfa Romeo is eligible for all the important vintage rally events, including the Mille Miglia Storica. It warrants very close attention from Alfa Romeo enthusiasts in search of the rarest examples.

Addendum

Upon further consultation with marque experts, it has been determined that there were originally eight “Corto Gara” and three of the “Stradale” variant produced. Factory records designate all eleven examples as “C Gara” with the term “Stradale” later applied to differentiate between the two types. A period advertisement by Touring also identifies the Stradale as the “Coupe Superleggera 2-3 Posti Speciale Tipo Super Sprint.” Nomenclature aside, chassis 01420 and 01361 are the two surviving Stradales of three built, with 01047 being the sole surviving Corto Gara of eight built.

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