At a hefty 3,000 pounds and with only 95 horsepower, the 6C 2500 Sport was far from an AA Fuel dragster


By the later 1930s and during the early 1940s, thanks to the high-profile successes won in motor racing by its sports and Grand Prix cars, Alfa Romeo had earned a well-deserved reputation for producing outstanding road cars. The groundbreaking and innovative engineering of Vittorio Jano was responsible for one of the most outstanding designs of all time, the 6C 2500.

This 6C 2500 with Berlinetta Touring Sport coachwork by Milanese coachbuilder Touring was made by Alfa Romeo in 1947, supplied new to Luigi Ledosti and Company, also of Milan, and first registered in the U.K. in September 1951.

The coupe is claimed to be an original and unrestored example, hence its appearance, which was described by a previous owner as "used." Incredibly, the 13,889 kilometers displayed when consigned for this sale are believed to be the genuine total for this car from new. The current condition of the chassis, coupe bodywork, and red paintwork is reportedly very good. The interior is original and the 2,443-cc, six-cylinder engine and four-speed manual gearbox are in very good order.

{analysis} This 1947 6C 2500 Berlinetta Touring Sport sold for $69,865 at the H&H Buxton auction held on April 7, 2004.

Early in the '20s, automotive engineers became aware that the four-cylinder engine could never be fully dynamically balanced. (The same was true of eight-cylinder engines, which were really just two joined fours.) However, the inline six (and its derivative V12) were naturally balanced. The slightly higher cost of a six, as opposed to the four, was more than offset by its quicker revving and higher output. Thus many sports car manufacturers, including Alfa Romeo, favored sixes.

Beginning in 1920, Alfa produced six-cylinder cars continuously through the end of 1953. The 6C 2300 engine was developed under the auspices of one of the great automotive engineers, Vittorio Jano, and powered Alfa to a string of international victories. In 1937, after Jano's departure, Bruno Trevisan took charge of the design and development of Alfa's six-cylinder cars and the 6C 2500 was the next logical step. By 1939, production was humming along.

In typical Alfa fashion, the 6C was offered in a variety of body styles, ranging from four-door sedans called "ministeriale" (these tend to be donor cars today), to the honest-to-goodness factory race cars. With some exceptions, all 6C 2500s shared the same chassis with various wheelbases ranging from 325 cm (about 128 inches) to the 270-cm (about 106 inches) Super Sport. Power ranged from a low of 90 hp at 4,200 rpm in the "coloniale" (to be used primarily in African colonies) to 110 hp at 4,800 rpms in the Super Sport. The difference between the engines was due to the usual factors, like camshafts, compression ratios and the number of carburetors.

Standard Alfa construction practices continued: a four-speed gearbox (the top three gears were synchronized after World War II), large hydraulic brake drums, independent front and rear suspension, 18-inch wheels, and right-hand drive. (Myth has it that this was done in imitation of the great touring and sports cars from Britain, including Jaguar and Bentley, but we would be interested in hearing other theories on this subject.)

The sportier, two-door versions of the 6Cs rode on wire wheels, which for some strange reason always had hubcaps hiding them. The bread and butter of the 6C production range was the Sport model, with a 95-hp motor and a 300-cm (118-inch) wheelbase. It came with many different body styles, but the most frequent were factory built, as in the Freccia d'Oro two-door coupe, and Berlinetta by Touring. Because of the rather generous wheelbase, the rear seats were even comfortable.

Depending on the number of grappas consumed, a claimed top speed of 155 kph (96 mph) was obtainable. However, at a hefty 1,350 kg or thereabouts (roughly 3,000 pounds), the 6C 2500 Sport was far from a AA Fuel dragster. I don't have any contemporary acceleration tests, but would guess that 0-60 mph was pushing 20 seconds. The late Pat Braden called the car a "sheep in wolf's clothing."

According to various records, a total of 1,256 cars were produced. (This is a guesstimate-never take production figures from this era as absolute.) Excluding the pure race cars, the most interesting and valuable examples came from the last three years of production. These 109 examples built from 1951 to 1953 were fitted at the factory with the SS engine (triple carbs, 110 hp), and predominantly had interesting bodies by the finest coachbuilders. Some Alfisti consider these SS-engined cars a separate sub-series, with an appropriately much higher market price than plain vanilla examples. The most valuable of these are the Touring-bodied cabriolets, which, when in perfect condition, can command upwards of $200,000.

Which brings us to chassis #916015. According to my records, this Berlinetta Touring Sport was built as a 1948 model (finished in November 1947) and "officially" sold in the beginning of 1949. One should not take the time gap between completion and sale date seriously. More than likely the enterprising first owner drove the car with a junkyard title to avoid the dreaded value tax.

At almost 70 grand, I would say this 6C 2500 sold for fair money. It's a large, comfortable car that needs to be capital-D driven to achieve maximum performance-just sitting behind the steering wheel and adjusting the radio won't do it. If, for less than $50,000, the new owner can make the car presentable and reliable, he has a car that will be accepted into nearly any vintage event in the world. The late Tom Congleton had a magnificent 6C 2500 SS Berlinetta that he drove in the Copperstate 1000 and the California Mille numerous times, and it always attracted a great deal of attention.

So for the right buyer, who isn't looking for a big Alfa that handles like a Giulietta, this sounds like a nice, low-mileage, well-patinated driver. Regardless of value, one rarely sees them offered for sale. As the market is beginning to value unrestored cars, the new owner should be okay here provided the surprises he is sure to find are small and inexpensive ones, and that he doesn't decide that a full nut-and-bolt restoration is needed. I wish him the best, and I hope to see this unusual car, from a relatively unknown period of Alfa's history, back on the road.{/analysis}

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