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Coachwork by the Style of Zagato
Multiple Concours Award Winner | Single Family Ownership for Over 50 YearsSilvio Lügli, Lucerne, Switzerland (acquired in 1947)Heinz Berchtold, Lucerne, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1948)Willy Baltensberger, Dietlikon, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1950)Jean Sulzer, Cologny, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1955)Robert Baer, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1959)Jean de Dobbeleer, Brussels, Belgium (acquired circa 1960)Gene Cesari, Vermont (acquired from the above circa 1960)Derry Mallalieu, South Norwalk, Connecticut (acquired from the above circa 1960)Vivian Krespi, Princeton, New Jersey (acquired circa 1960)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1966)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 1996 (Best in Class, Strother MacMinn Award for the Most Elegant Sports Car)CCCA National Meet, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 1997 (Senior Premier, Best in Class, 100 Points)Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, March 1997 (Best in Class)Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, July 1997 (Road & Track Award for Best Sports Car through 1955)Louis Vuitton Classic, New York City, September 1997 (Best in Class, Best of Show)Father’s Day Car Show at Stan Hywet Hall, Akron, Ohio, 1998 (Best in Show)Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles, Canton, Ohio, 2003 (Best in Show)Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, March 2005 (Best in Class)Stan Hywet Hall Concours d’Elegance, Akron, Ohio, 2014 (Best in Class)
Though the Alfa marque was founded in 1910, the origins of the legendary 6C 1750 model can be traced to 1923, when Nicola Romeo hired Vittorio Jano, a talented engineer, from rival Fiat. Sig. Romeo wanted to build a successful Grand Prix car with his name on it and Sig. Jano possessed the technical and managerial expertise to achieve this goal. Less than a year after joining Alfa Romeo, Sig. Jano unveiled the P2 – a model many regard as the first modern Grand Prix car and a masterpiece of automotive design. It was an immediate success, winning several Grand Prix races and claiming the first manufacturer’s championship for Alfa Romeo in 1925.
Following this achievement, Sig. Jano’s next task was to design a production chassis with great sporting potential. The result was a series of six-cylinder (6C) cars built between 1927 and 1933 in various specifications. During this period, 3,514 Alfa Romeo 6Cs of all types were built. The most rare and desirable models were the short-chassis Super Sport and Gran Sport 1750, which featured beautiful straight-six engines, with twin overhead camshafts, hemispherical combustion chambers, and Roots-type superchargers. In total, just 309 of these very special 6C 1750 Alfa Romeos were built; almost all were fitted with elegant custom bodies by the preeminent European carrozzerie.
Light and nimble, with excellent roadholding qualities and reliable power, these supercharged 6Cs were among the finest high-performance automobiles of their day and proved wildly successful in competition. They often challenged Bugattis and Maseratis of greater displacement and proved victorious. In both Gran Sport and Testa Fissa forms, 6C 1750s won nearly every major sports car race of the day, including the Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of Spa, Brooklands Double Twelve, and the Tourist Trophy Race.
According to Angela Cherrett’s definitive book on the model, Alfa Romeo Tipo 6C 1500, 1750, 1900, this engine and chassis, both numbered 10814349, fall among those produced between 1931 and 1932, of which just 106 examples were built. This particular car was built for the 1931 model year, and its history can be traced back to February 23, 1934, when the car was imported into Switzerland.
The provenance between 1934 and 1947 is unrecorded, although the research of respected collector and enthusiast Hans Matti has provided a roster of Swiss owners from 1947 through 1959. Little is known of the Alfa’s time in Switzerland, except that the original body was damaged and repaired at one point, leaving only the original substructure and some interior panels intact.
Around 1960, the Alfa Romeo was purchased by Jean de Dobbeleer, the noted Bugatti agent and exotic automobile dealer in Brussels, Belgium. Soon after, the Gran Sport was sold to American enthusiast Gene Cesari and exported to the US, where it eventually landed on the lot of a Cadillac and Rolls-Royce dealer in St. Louis, Missouri. It was from this dealership that Vivian Krespi of Princeton, New Jersey, purchased the 6C 1750.
In 1966, the consignor learned of the availability of an Alfa Romeo Gran Sport and purchased the car directly from Ms. Krespi. The Alfa saw little use over the next two decades, though extensive research was carried out and parts were accumulated in anticipation of the high-level restoration that would eventually take place.
In 1993, after an initial restoration attempt did not satisfy the owner’s high standards, the project was entrusted to Clay Cook Enterprises, a respected prewar car specialist based in Erlanger, Kentucky. In the course of this exhaustive restoration, which culminated in three years of concentrated effort, two complete and original Zagato-bodied 6C 1750 Gran Sports were referenced to ensure a completely authentic and accurate re-creation of the coachwork.
For example, the door interiors of one of these cars was disassembled so that parts for the door latches and the backup wood for the upholstery panels could be replicated exactly, even though they would not be visible after the final assembly. Similarly, great pains were taken with external details, such as the traditional Italian color scheme, the maker’s label for the shock absorbers, and the distinctive crackle paint finish on the dashboard – features that are rarely restored with such accuracy.
As this work was being carried out, the chassis was carefully restored. The engine was completely rebuilt and brought back to original specifications. Every step of the process was documented with photographs, notes, and detailed invoices.
After the restoration’s completion, the Gran Sport received enormous positive public response everywhere it was shown, and it earned many Best in Class and Best of Show awards. This was made possible by the technical skill and artistic brilliance of Clay Cook, the restorer, along with the owner’s meticulous attention to detail and in-depth knowledge of the marque.
This Alfa Romeo was unveiled at the 1996 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it earned Best in Class and one of the most prestigious special awards – the Strother MacMinn Award for the Most Elegant Sports Car. The car went on to capture a Best in Class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and a perfect 100-point score at the CCCA National Meet. Perhaps its most impressive concours honor came at the exclusive Louis Vuitton Classic at Rockefeller Center in 1997. There, a panel of discerning judges, including Phil Hill – a famed Alfisti, Grand Prix driver, and fellow Gran Sport owner – selected it as Best of Show from a field of 48 significant classics and sports cars, including an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B, an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Corto, an Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A, a Hispano-Suiza H6B, and a Ferrari 250 GT SWB.
Shown selectively in more recent years, this superb Alfa Romeo still remains in exceptional condition and ought to remain competitive at any concours d’elegance. Complementing the car’s outstanding presentation is a selection of important accessories and components including a proper owner’s manual, tool kit, jack, and appropriate 1930s-era Italian export license plates. Also included with the sale are the original crank, a spare cylinder head, and an additional central headlight and two mirror spotlights, all with the appropriate mounting brackets, which would be put to good use during long-distance touring events, such as the Mille Miglia retrospective, for which the car is eligible.
Gooding & Company is honored to present this technically sophisticated and aesthetically brilliant prewar sports car, which combines the most desirable Series V Gran Sport chassis with striking open coachwork in the classic Zagato style. Offered for the first time from over 50 years in the hands of one passionate and knowledgeable caretaker, this is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire one of the most celebrated and expertly restored examples of the legendary 6C 1750 Gran Sport – quite simply, one of the most desirable Alfa Romeos of all.