Alfa Romeo introduced the 1,752-cc, 6-cylinder cars designed by Jano in 1929. Adept on both road and racing circuits, the engine proved reliable and powerful, offering impressive output from its relatively small displacement. Further benefiting from excellent handling, the car, in top factory racing engine trim, could comfortably exceed 100 mph. The 6C 1750 is significant for introducing in-house-manufactured sedan bodies, along with those produced by firms such as Touring, Castagna, and Zagato, among others. Three models were available-the single-overhead-cam Turismo with a 122-inch wheelbase and a maximum speed of about 70 mph, the twin-overhead-cam Gran Turismo with a 108-inch or 114-inch wheelbase and a top speed of about 80 mph, and the Gran Sport or Super Sport, a supercharged Gran Turismo producing 85 hp and a top speed of 95 mph. Regardless of the version, the 6C remains today one of the most compelling and desirable of all Alfas. All told, Alfa Romeo built a total of 2,579 1750s through 1933. This spectacular 6C 1750 Gran Sport has a well-known, documented history. A supercharged GS example, it was sold new to Mr. Di Brigatti of Milan, Italy, on June 28, 1929. Its second owner, also a Milanese citizen, was Mr. Giuseppe Fantacci, who later took the car with him to the United States as a duty-free entry. Rather than exporting it back to Italy, he sold the car to well-known author and collector Ralph Stein. During the 1950s, the car came under the ownership of Alec Ullman, who is remembered for organizing the 12 Hours of Sebring and the United States Grand Prix. It would then become the property of various collectors in New York and has since been restored by David Pruitt of Alfa Workshops, sensitive to its original condition. The Alfa still wears its old Florentine registration plate and includes its full restoration file, along with a certificate of the Automobile Club Italia showing its original Italian registration. Both the chassis and engine bear the same serial number-0312940. The steering box, gearbox, and front and rear axles are stamped with numbers that are close to the chassis number (within ten), as per factory practice at the time of production. The construction number stamped atop the bell housing ends in 2929, as does the bonnet hinge. The rare coachwork by Carrozzeria Sport, a small workshop in Milan, boasts its original panels and windscreen, along with front fenders which were first modified in the 1930s. The original Jaeger instruments and carburetor have also been preserved.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport
Number Produced:372
Original List Price:$3,692
Tune Up Cost:$900
Distributor Caps:$750
Chassis Number Location:Right frame rail behind rear axle
Engine Number Location:Right side of block
Club Info:Alfa Romeo Owners Club PO Box 12340 Kansas City, MO 64116
Investment Grade:A

This 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport sold for $865,208, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Automobiles of London Auction in England on October 28, 2009.

The collector car world, like Hollywood, has its bona fide stars, celebrities, has-beens, and former reality show players. The ranks of has-beens are full of former celebrities who proved they weren’t on their way to being stars after all, and the brilliant light of the reality show player shines briefly indeed.

It’s not hard to place collector cars into the various categories. Try it with your friends over a few of your favorite adult beverages; it’s bound to be entertaining. That said, in the interest of keeping the SCM inbox free of burning email, I will abstain from doing so here.

The fact is, however, that if a car has the stuff, it always shows in the end. There’s no doubt the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 is one of the top-ranked cars of all time. It has a reputation hard-won in competition and it certainly made Ugo Zagato a famous man. When many visualize a pre-war Alfa, it’s probably a Zagato-bodied 6C 1750 in their mind’s eye. No wonder-it’s one of those cars that just looks right, a perfect blend of smooth and aggressive.

Of course, when new you bought a 6C 1750 chassis with drivetrain and clothed it in whatever coachwork you wanted; until recently, not many enthusiasts cared for the more mundane cabriolets, coupes, and sedans. Many became Zagato replicas and more’s the pity.

Delightful for the clothes it wears

This car is delightful in that it retains its original body rather than a sexier replica Zagato body, even if it serves to demonstrate the true beauty of the more desirable design. It is also a testament to the aggressive use to which it was put when new to learn that it needed a repaint and interior re-trim when only eight years old.

To my mind, it’s unfortunate that Ralph Stein felt compelled even then to switch the color from the original gray to red, but I suppose nothing really changes when it comes to the perception of Italian high-performance cars. Somehow red is their natural color, no matter in what hue they left the factory. Even if the closest you get to competition is the parking lot at the racetrack, it’s got to look the part.

To be fair, of course, this car’s top-line spec does entitle it to wear red paint if it chooses. It is, after all, the same short-wheelbase, supercharged-engine chassis which powered the 6C 1750 to impressive results in race after race in 1929, ’30, and ’31. Research has determined that this car didn’t begin life with a blower; however, it was a common fitting to the short-wheelbase Gran Turismo chassis, and apparently this car has had the supercharger for quite a long time.

Some observers in the U.K. felt the car was a bit over-restored, but that’s very much a personal perception. It certainly appeared in photographs to be finished to a very high level, and the care taken and expense incurred in doing this work on a non-Zagato-bodied car is to be commended.

Many who are active in pre-war Alfa circles were astonished by the strong result this 6C 1750 achieved. After failing to meet reserve on the block, a post-sale deal was concluded at $865,209 on its estimate of $800k-$900k. To place the sale in perspective, in the confident August 2008 market, Gooding & Company achieved $1.3m for a superbly restored Zagato 6C 1750, and Bonhams & Butterfields got $1.1m for an example with Scuderia Ferrari history and a nice patina.

Don’t forget the Hollywood factor

More recently there was confirmed private sale of $500k for another Zagato with a good period competition record and an original body in need of about $100k in work to complete it. In this light, this non-Zagato street car by a little-known body maker can certainly be considered well sold indeed.

However, it’s important to consider another dynamic-the Hollywood factor. With the softening in most prices has also appeared a curious strength in certain pockets, and that’s where the Hollywood factor comes in. In any market, especially a soft, buyer’s market, the smartest money realizes that what may seem a bargain today since it’s fallen so far will likely be the last thing to appreciate in an upturn-if it does at all.

So buying the best you can when it comes available is in the long term the genius play. Since 6C 1750s have always been at or near the top of collectors’ lists practically since they were new, it shouldn’t surprise that heritage, provenance, and condition trumped conventional wisdom. Well sold, therefore, but also a smart buy.

Comments are closed.