The SCM 1961 Alfa Sprint Speciale is in transition.
When we bought it at Auctions America in Fort Lauderdale in March of 2015, it had been stored for at least 30 years in the Cayman Motor Museum.
Its engine was frozen — upon disassembly, it appeared the head gasket blew, and the car was pushed into a corner to sit for decades.
At least it had the correct engine (AR00120.00778) for the chassis (10120.177277).
It appears the car had been raced at some time. The rear wheel arches were radiused, the hood had an additional seven louvers on each side, and the engine bay had been modified to accept air horn intakes on the Webers.
Alfa guru Nasko has put the car into running and driving condition. Now it’s at the shop of Tom Black and Guy Recordon to start the restoration of the body and interior.
It’s been quite a puzzle. My other cars have come to me complete and relatively correct, so I haven’t had to make any real decisions about patterns and materials.
This SS is mostly a blank slate. Today Tom Black measured local owner Rick Martin’s Sprint Speciale to get a template to “un-radius” the rear wheel arches. He will also attend to some minor rust in the floors and take a couple of small dents out of the body.
The goal with this car is to have a handsome driver, not a concours specimen.
But just how correct should the car be?
It has aftermarket Alfa magnesium wheels that were an option in the 1970s. Should I replace them with the correct Borrani wheels (which I have a set of)?
Matt Jones at Re-Originals has been sending me samples of options for seat materials. It appears that a “bluette” car like this SS could have had either a blue or red interior.
The seats had cloth facings. Guy has been doing research from his library of Alfa books.
Many owners, especially in the United States, choose to upgrade the interiors to leather or vinyl. I could also make the seats all red as they are in my Giulietta Sprint. This is handsome — but incorrect.
Now I have to decide between my personal aesthetic and what is correct.
Because this is a relatively rare car, with just 1,400 built, I feel a responsibility to try to make it right when I have the choice to do so.
Would you put all leather to the seats? Would you put the correct wheels on it? What should the guiding principle be here as this restoration moves along — my personal feelings or my responsibility to give the car a correct restoration?