Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Figoni
Sté Tricotage de l’Ariège et Bonneterie de Garonne Réunis, Toulouse, France (acquired in 1934)Yvonne Chassagne, Cannes, France (acquired in 1947)David L. Jayet, Cannes, France (acquired in 1948)H.B. Moore, Dania Beach, Florida (acquired by 1958)Bob Clark, Coral Gables, Florida (acquired by 1963)William S. Comer, Lake Park, Florida (acquired circa 1967)Gene Cesari, Allentown, Pennsylvania (acquired from the estate of the above in 1974)Sir John Venables-Llewelyn, Powys, Wales (acquired from the above in 1997)Private Collection, UK (acquired from the above circa 2014)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The supercharged 6C 1750 Gran Sport, designed by Vittorio Jano and built by Alfa Romeo in three series between 1930 and 1933, was among the finest high-performance automobiles of its day. At the heart of the Gran Sport was its engine, a beautiful all-alloy straight six, with twin overhead camshafts, hemispherical combustion chambers, and a roots-type supercharger.
Light, nimble, and pleasant to drive, with excellent road-holding and reliable power, these Alfa Romeos were popular with wealthy sportsmen and successful in competition. They often challenged Bugattis and Maseratis of greater displacement, and proved victorious. In both Gran Sport and Testa Fissa forms, 6C 1750 examples won nearly every major sports car race of the day, including the Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of Spa, Brooklands Double Twelve, and Monza Grand Prix. Though the 6C 1750’s reputation was primarily based on its advanced chassis and unrivaled competition record, the model was also regarded for its exceptional style.
Alfa Romeo sold the model as a bare chassis; most were sent to prominent Italian coachbuilders, such as Castagna, Touring, and Zagato, where they were fitted with sporting touring or spider bodies. A limited number of 6C 1750 chassis were originally sent to Carrosserie Figoni, the famous coachbuilder located in Boulogne-sur-Seine.
Established by Italian expatriate Giuseppe Figoni, the firm rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most influential coachbuilders in Europe. Exceptionally high build quality, fine woodwork, luxurious interiors, and handsome styling characterized Figoni bodies of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Figoni’s later partnership with Ovidio Falaschi led to some spectacular coachwork in the late 1930s, defining the aerodynamic style with flamboyant Art Deco-inspired designs for French luxury manufacturers.
The first body that Figoni built on an Alfa Romeo chassis was a lightweight tourer for Raymond Sommer’s short-chassis 8C 2300. It was an auspicious start, as this car went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1932 with Sommer and co-driver Luigi Chinetti.
Chinetti, another Italian expatriate, was at this time an independent distributor for Alfa Romeo. Before 1933, Chinetti imported several examples of the 6C 1750 and 8C 2300 into France and sold them through his Paris agency. Today, these special cars are known as “Paris Alfas”; they often have distinctive badging, data plates, and stampings that distinguish them from their Milanese cousins.
The Alfa Romeo presented here, chassis 10814377, is a Series V Gran Sport,regarded among the most desirable of the supercharged 6C 1750 models. Alfa Romeo authorities Luigi Fusi and Angela Cherrett both recognize this car as the first of approximately 30 Series V Gran Sport chassis built for 1932. Delivered new to France, this car features the appropriate “Alfa Romeo Paris” radiator badge and French-language data plates, reading “Grand” rather than the Italian Gran Sport. As reported by marque expert Simon Moore, this 6C 1750 also features French-language wheel knock-offs and rarely seen adjustable shock absorbers.
This 6C 1750 GS was among the few chassis originally supplied to Figoni, who fashioned an elegant two-seat Roadster body for the chassis. Identified by its fold-flat windscreen, flowing fenders, and striking two-tone paint scheme, the new Alfa Romeo Roadster was completed in October 1932. It was illustrated in a Figoni advertisement in the November issue of L’Auto Carrosserie magazine, where it was evocatively described as a “Phaëton Sport.”
According to Simon Moore, it is possible that the car’s first owner was Pierre Louis-Dreyfus, who founded the famous commodity trading company that still exists today. During the 1930s, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus often provided financial support for Chinetti and raced at Le Mans in two different 8C 2300s.
Evidently the Figoni Roadster was registered in Paris until August 1934, when it was sold to Sté Tricotage de l’Ariège et Bonneterie de Garonne Réunis, a company in Toulouse, France. The company’s CEO, José Soler Puig, also owned several Bugattis that were registered in his business name rather than to him as an individual. In December 1934, Mr. Puig sold the Alfa Romeo to a new owner in the Paris area, and it was registered there as “9084 RJ 4.”
The Alfa Romeo then remained in Paris until December 1947, when it was sold to Yvonne Chassagne of Cannes, France. It is believed that Mrs. Chassagne was associated with an automobile dealer in the area, as the car was sold soon after to David L. Jayet, an engineer living at Villa Baron in Cannes.
It is understood that Mr. Jayet owned the 6C 1750 GS until 1953, and several years later the car was exported to the US, where it settled on the East Coast of Florida. In the mid- to late-1960s, the Alfa Romeo was sold to William S. Comer of Lake Park. A collector of fine European sports cars, Mr. Comer also owned one of the original Squires and a Bugatti Type 57.
In January 1974, after Mr. Comer’s passing, his estate sold the Figoni-bodied 6C 1750 to Bugatti enthusiast Gene Cesari, who purchased the car sight-unseen. The Alfa Romeo was then set aside for two decades before a restoration commenced, with highly regarded specialist Chris Leydon entrusted with the mechanical rebuild. While this work was being finished, the bodywork was restored, as it had been somewhat neglected during its time in Florida. In December 1997, Mr. Cesari sold the Alfa Romeo to Sir John Venables-Llewelyn, a collector living in Wales. As the restoration had not yet been completed, Alfa Romeo specialist Jim Stokes was enlisted to finish the project.
The previous owner acquired the Alfa Romeo from Sir Venables-Llewelyn around 2014 and immediately commissioned a more comprehensive restoration, one that would return this rare 6C 1750 to its original splendor. Patrick Blakeney-Edwards – whose Hertfordshire-based firm is widely recognized for high-quality restorations of important exotic cars – was selected to undertake the project because of his experience with supercharged prewar Alfa Romeos.
During the restoration, the decision was made to return the Figoni coachwork to its original and highly attractive two-tone color scheme, as pictured in the original coachbuilder’s advertisement. Additionally, the interior was re-trimmed by Graham Moss, the UK specialist acclaimed for his accurate, detail-oriented workmanship with regard to upholstery in prewar cars.
The Figoni Roadster has seen little use since its expert restoration was completed in late 2015, and, under the current ownership, has been serviced and maintained by Continental AutoSports in Hinsdale, Illinois. Continental was charged with inspecting, servicing and documenting it to make operation reliable and easily understood, completing a major service in late 2017. At that time, a number of small items were addressed. The owner reports that the car starts easily and is an absolute joy to drive. The cosmetics of the car remain in show condition and the mechanicals are reported to be in excellent order.
Presented here is a sophisticated and highly desirable prewar Alfa Romeo, combining the supercharged Grand Sport chassis with attractive open coachwork from the most famous French coachbuilder. Offered with an impressive history file dating to the late 1950s and supported by an expert report by marque historian Simon Moore, it is a particularly well-documented and genuine car, retaining its original matching-numbers engine and rare Paris features.
Given its extraordinary qualities, the appearance of this car at auction represents an exciting opportunity for the devoted Alfisti who has always dreamt of owning one the most beautiful and unique examples of the legendary 6C 1750 GS.