Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Touring
From a Private Swiss CollectionArnold Delmarco, Yverdon, Switzerland (purchased new in 1938)Luis Esteve, Barcelona, Spain (acquired from the above in 1945)José Bascones, Barcelona, Spain (acquired from the above 1965)Private Collection, The Netherlands (acquired from the above 2002)Current Owner (acquired in August 2009)
Rallye Liège-Rome-Liège, 1939, Arnold Delmarco, No. 43Grand Prix de Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain, May 1947, Luis Esteve, No. 1Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo (1974 and 1983)
Secure with Italian government backing in 1933, Alfa Romeo built upon the excellent foundation of its “6C” models, with development continuing by series architect Vittorio Jano. The 6C 2300 debuted in 1934 and remains one of Alfa Romeo’s finest. Featuring dual overhead camshafts and initially developing 68 bhp, the 6C 2300 “six” was quickly tuned to 76 bhp GT and a short-wheelbase variant with 95 bhp on tap. In the hands of Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari, the 6C 2300 achieved success on its second race outing, scoring a podium sweep at the 1934 Targa Abruzzi endurance race held in Pescara. To celebrate this brilliant victory, a small batch of “Pescara” 6C 2300s were produced.
Further development brought the sophisticated 6C 2300B with hydraulic brakes, fully independent suspension, and a revised lightweight chassis; an updated second series brought a new gearbox with synchronized third and top gears plus new chassis mounts. Of all variants, though, the 6C 2300B Mille Miglia was the ultimate high-performance model, utilizing a shorter chassis and tuned 105 hp engine.
Milan’s Touring coachworks remains undoubtedly the most successful producer of bodies for the 6C 2300 chassis, especially given its proprietary superleggera process of lightweight alloy panel work over a light yet strong framework of small-diameter steel tubes. Sleek and decidedly sporty, Touring’s close-coupled Berlinetta design graced the 6C 2300B MM piloted by Scuderia Ferrari drivers Boratto and Guidotti that finished 1st in Class and 4th overall in 1937 at the punishing Mille Miglia. With the advent of the 6C 2500 in 1939, 6C 2300B MM production ended. Just 107 of these exotic thoroughbreds were built in all, priced from 79,500 lire new. An unqualified masterpiece, each surviving 6C 2300B Mille Miglia marks a thrilling find with performance, technical credentials, and styling far beyond many newer automobiles.
Numbered 815.092, this 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Berlinetta is a late-production example of this highly desirable and rare prewar Italian “supercar” and, as identified by its Touring body number 2130, it is one of the few Touring Superleggera-bodied examples originally produced. It is currently fitted with a period-correct engine and accompanied by an additional cylinder block stamped “MM 824047,” which is believed original to the car.
The consignor, a longtime Alfa Romeo enthusiast, was fascinated by the highly original condition of the 2300B MM and set about a quest to thoroughly research and compile its history – the subject matter for a wonderful further story in itself. Through a friend, a long-term former owner, Spanish painter José Bascones, was contacted. Mr. Bascones discussed the car at length and while he mentioned he had been told the Alfa Romeo came from Switzerland, he had no documentation to confirm it. Further investigations by the consignor resulted in the discovery of period images from 1939 depicting this 2300B MM, race-numbered 43, on the 1939 Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, the event’s final edition before the onset of war in Europe. The Swiss registration for the car was “VB 19361.” Most importantly, the original rally logbook, accompanied by several letters and a telegram of congratulation, confirms the first owner of this 2300B MM was Arnold Delmarco of Yverdon, Switzerland.
In 1945, the 2300B MM was sold to Luis Esteve of Barcelona. Most likely intended to circumvent the stringent Spanish automobile importation rules, a chassis plate from a 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Turismo had been fitted to the car. This was likely done because only commercial vehicles were allowed to be regularly imported to Franco’s Spain from 1939 through the mid-1960s. The 2300B MM remained with Mr. Esteve from 1945, bearing the Spanish registration “B 74416,” to 1965. It was photographed on May 15, 1947, race-numbered 1, at the Grand Prix de Montjuïc, an event held in Barcelona and organized by the Royal Auto Club of Catalunya. Photographs of the vehicle at the race show it retaining its running boards and the roof distinctively finished in a contrasting color to that of the lower body.
Mr. Esteve retained the 2300B MM until 1965, when José Bascones purchased it from him in an unqualified case of love at first sight. Mr. Bascones retained the car for nearly 40 years and later wrote of the car and his many wonderful experiences with it in his 2007 autobiography Mis Memorias. During their many years together, Mr. Bascones and the Alfa Romeo participated in several classic driving events, including at least two editions of the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo in 1974 and 1983. During his tenure, Mr. Bascones maintained the 2300B MM in highly original, unrestored form until 2002 when it was sold to a new owner in Holland. The consignor acquired it in August 2009.
This 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Berlinetta is a very rare example of the streamlined period at Touring and, according to the consignor, it is perhaps one of 10 such cars remaining today. It must be emphasized that of the 107 2300B MM chassis produced in 1938, not all sported a Touring Superleggera Berlinetta body in period. Many were bodied by Ghia, Stabilimenti Farina, Pinin Farina, and even Swiss coachbuilder Graber. This car, 815.092, has its Touring “2030” body number stamped in many locations, with the number denoting it is the 30th car of the series fitted with this truly special lightweight bodywork.
This 1938 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Berlinetta is a very rare example indeed as one of precious few remaining. The rich dossier includes the aforementioned images from 1939 through Mr. Bascones’ years with the car, plus a report by respected 6C 2300 authority Raoul San Giorgi, an official document from the Swiss police administration, and a signed report issued by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland’s investigation department. A truly stunning example, this sporting legend will be welcomed into virtually any classic event, including the Mille Miglia, where the model achieved its greatest success.