1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Supercharged Gran Sport Spider, Coachwork by Zagato

Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams
Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams

In the world of car collecting, there are four primary criteria that establish a vehicle’s worthiness: authenticity, provenance, aesthetics and engineering. The exceptional Alfa Romeo offered here resoundingly checks all of these boxes.

The history of this incredible Alfa Romeo, chassis 10814356, begins in 1931. According to Angela Cherrett’s Tipo 6C book, 10814356 was completed as a fifth-series Gran Sport Spider, featuring the uprated 1,752-cc supercharged dual overhead cam, all-aluminum engine, an improved braking system and more refined Zagato coachwork than its predecessors. The new Gran Sport Spider was equipped with engine number 10814356 and Zagato body number 987.

Baron Philippe de Gunzbourg became its lucky first owner. Philippe de Gunzbourg was from a wealthy Russian family with a background in banking and property ownership. The family moved to France around the turn of the century. The lithe and sporting Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato Spider must have been a perfect fit for this gentleman driver. Philippe’s best racing result was achieved the following year, while owning 10814356, when he, along with legendary racing driver and Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, piloted an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 to a 2nd-place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He sold the car in 1935, to an owner residing in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region of France. The car remained there until 1940, when it was sold and registered to Hydravions F.B.A., an aircraft manufacturer situated in Argenteuil near Paris. Chassis 10814356 remained in this ownership until June 5, 1944, when it was purchased by yet another French racing driver and motoring enthusiast, Victor Polledry. Polledry, a friend of Luigi Chinetti, raced Alfa Romeos, Aston Martins and later Ferraris at world-class motoring events.

By the late 1960s, Polledry sold chassis 10814356 to Monsieur Barriere, one of the designers for the famed Parisian fashion house Courrèges, and the car was then inherited by his son. The totally original and unrestored Alfa Romeo had begun to show its age, and Barriere’s son stripped the paint off in the 1970s but failed to get much further than that. Still in complete and original condition, the car was sold in the early 1980s to yet another French owner, who admired its astounding level of originality and authenticity. The finely aged Alfa Romeo would remain in this collection until 2007.

Still untouched, it left France in 2007, when it was sold at the Pebble Beach Auctions. Most fascinating, the hand-painted Zagato body numbers located on doors and compartment decks were still readable more than 70 years after they were applied at Zagato’s workshop.

Chassis 10814356 was purchased by a collector from Texas, who set out to find a restoration specialist capable and sympathetic enough to bring the Zagato Spider back to an authentically restored condition while paying special care to preserve the car’s remarkable original features.

Noted specialist Gary Okoren of Golden, CO, was chosen for the task, and the restoration process began. To ensure absolute accuracy, the world’s foremost Alfa Romeo historians and specialists were consulted for advice and guidance throughout the process. Okoren finished the running chassis, with an accurate and authentic restoration of all the original factory components. The matching-numbers original engine was rebuilt, as was the gearbox and differential. Brakes, suspension and the original wheels were refurbished as well.

The 6C 1750 was then sold in 2010 to the current owner, an East Coast collector with a discerning interest in only the most original and authentic sports and racing cars extant. Chassis 10814356 was carefully transported to New Jersey, where renowned restoration specialist Steven Babinsky and his outfit, Automotive Restorations, set out to complete the restoration of this hugely important pre-war Alfa Romeo. Here the entirely original and complete Zagato Spider bodywork, still showing its hand-painted and stamped 987 body number throughout, was carefully fitted to the frame and refinished in black. All remaining components of the car were restored as needed during this painstaking process, with close attention paid at all times to ensure that the car’s myriad original components remained intact. Four large binders with photos and receipts of the restoration are available for viewing, carefully documenting this $600,000 restoration in exhaustive detail.

Chassis 10814356 was completed in the summer of 2012, and was promptly invited to participate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Zagato and Alfa Romeo aficionados were delighted for the chance to admire the well-known ex-Baron Philippe de Gunzbourg 6C 1750 once more. In March 2013, chassis 10814356 was shown at the Amelia Island Concours, where it was awarded Best in Class in the highly competitive pre-war Sports and GT class.

The prize-winning Alfa was shortly thereafter shipped back to its native Italy, where it successfully completed the 2013 Mille Miglia. The car performed faultlessly on the legendary 1,000-mile rally, and it returned to the concours circuit once more, where it was displayed among 49 other hand-selected motorcars on the banks of Lake Como at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.