1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1900
In 1923 Vittorio Jano was persuaded by Luigi Bazzi 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 program but also design its road cars. This set up resulted in the latter emerging as some of the most exciting of their day, establishing the Milanese marque’s reputation for producing fine sporting driver’s cars, second to none.
A 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 sports car combining light weight with sparkling performance. The chassis, also a product of Jano’s thoughts applied to a clean sheet of paper, was low and lightweight, featuring semi-elliptical springs that passed through the front axle. The 6C 1750 would go on to be victorious over much larger and more powerful machinery, the triumph of balance, quickness and almost thought-control responsiveness over much less refined opposition.
The last derivative of the hugely popular, original 6C 1500 model was the 6C 1900 Gran Turismo. The sixth series of the 6C, it bore a production of 197 examples in 1933. The 6C 1900 Gran Turismo featured the larger displacement synonymous with it’s name designation, with double overhead camshafts mounted in an aluminium cylinder head. A new four speed gearbox was fitted, with synchromesh on the two top gears and a freewheel mechanism. The chassis used was of 2,920 mm wheel base, with an improved composition featuring fully boxed rails and cross members which increased rigidity. The 6V 1900 GT shares many of the same mechanical features as the 8C 2300, including the gearbox, back axle and similarity in chassis design.
The 6C’s sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production. Countless wins were taken, including 1-2-3 finishes in the Mille Miglia, with top results at Targa Florio, the Tourist Trophy and Spa 24 Hours in 1930. Nuvolari, Marinoni, Campari and Varzi all recorded successes in Vittorio Jano’s “light car” all helping the model to become an icon of Pre-War motoring.
This car, with chassis number 121315124, engine number 121315124 and gearbox number 12545316, is the 23rd of the 197 6C 1900 Gran Turismo produced in 1933. First registered in Milan on the 13th of July 1933, with what is believed to be saloon body by Touring of Milan. With no further registration documentation coming to light at this time it is most likely that the car left Italy early on in its life.
With the kind help of leading Alfa Romeo Historian and Alfa 6C 1750 registrar, Angela Cherrett, we know that this car was purchased in Belgium in 1962 by Bart Loyens. Well known within the vintage car world, he owned a garage in Luxembourg and is responsible for sourcing a great many of the cars for the Schlumpf Museum.
It looks likely that 121315124 remained in Belgium, although Angela Cherrett has notation in her records of this car as one of three early Alfa Romeos owned by a Mr. Joseph Neumayer of West Coyle, Illinois. Whether the car went from Belgium to the USA and then back to Europe, we are sadly at this stage not able to say. What we do know is that just over 20 years ago it was purchased in Belgium, in unrestored condition, still retaining its original saloon body by Pat Heron. Pat was an avid collector owning a number of fabulous Pre and Post-War cars including Bugatti, Hispano Suiza, Cadillac and more. Pat bought the car to his home in Ireland and set about its restoration. He removed the saloon body from the bonnet back wards and set it aside. He then set about building an open sporting body retain the original bonnet and radiator cowling. The left over original saloon bodywork still survives today and we know of its whereabouts.
Very sadly Pat died before he could get too far into the restoration and this car along with his beloved Hispano Suiza, were bought by his close friend, the current owner. The current owner, a well know racer and figure on the vintage sports car scene, set about the ground up restoration this car deserved. 121315124 was sent to the workshops of well known restorer of Pre-War cars Paul Jaye. Pat Heron’s bodywork was removed and the car was stripped back to a bare chassis. A detailed photographic record of the restoration is in the file along with a lot of the owners research.
The engine and gearbox were sent off to be fully rebuilt by internationally renown Alfa Romeo expert Paul Grist, while the owner and Paul Jaye set about restoring the rest of the car. No stone was left unturned. A supercharger was sourced, rebuilt by Derek Chinn Precision Engineering and fitted to the engine. The owner managed to find a stunning Touring Le Mans style body that had been built by Neil Twyman for an 8C 2300 and never used. A great deal of research was undertaken by the owner to make sure the details of the body were finished correctly and as can be seen in the restoration photographs, the body was expertly fettled and fitted by Jaye. A new radiator was fitted and all of the springs and shock absorbers were completely rebuilt. Finally painted and trimmed, the results are clear to be seen.
Most recently, the Alfa Romeo has been subject of a gearbox rebuild by vintage Alfa Romeo specialists Setford & Company. The original Alfa Romeo clusters remain, with new baulk rings fitted along with new bearings and bushes. The back axle was also checked over, and the oil refreshed. Setford & Company commented on it as “driving well and being a great car to cover large mileage across Europe in”.
Touring bodied pre-War Alfa Romeos, both short and long chassis, have to be some of the most evocative and striking Pre-War sports cars of all time. Built in Alfa Romeo’s absolute heyday, when they duked it out with Bugatti for supremacy of both the grand prix and the sports car racing world. Today that rivalry has not diminished and this car poses a fabulous opportunity to take on Bugatti again in the wide array of prestigious tours, events and Pre-War racing across the globe. With its distinctive sounding supercharged engine it is a delight to drive, beautiful to behold and raring to head out on the open road.