Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Touring
*Please note that this vehicle is titled by its engine number.
Juan Manuel Fangio, Milan, Italy (acquired from Alfa Romeo in 1951)Juan Augusto Van Deurs, Buenos Aires, Argentina (acquired by 1958)Juan Carlos Lawson, Buenos Aires, Argentina (acquired by 1961)Enrique Brodacz, Buenos Aires, Argentina (acquired by 1970)Rosario Luis Caruso Mac Cormack, Argentina (acquired from the above in 1977)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1989)
Alfa Romeo Owners Club National Meet, June 1991 (Best in Show)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2007 (Best of Class)Bella Italia Concours d’Elegance, San Diego, California, April 2008 (Best in Show)Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, Dana Point, California, September 2010 (Best of Class)La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, La Jolla, California, April 2013 (Spirit of Motoring Award)La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, La Jolla, California, April 2017 (First in Class, Italian Sports Cars)
Alfa Romeo emerged from WWII determined to pick up right where it had left off, creating a stylish and sporting 2+2 coupe that utilized a twin-cam, inline four-cylinder engine. This engine design would become the company’s signature powerplant, and the elegant 1900C has become emblematic of 1950s la dolce vita culture and Alfa Romeo’s return to prominence.
The 1900C, “C” for corto, or short chassis, was introduced in 1951. The first chassis recorded, 00051, was a sleek Touring-bodied coupe, while 00052 was a Pinin Farina-styled cabriolet. The next chassis, 00053, is the stunning example presented here. This Alfa Romeo again utilized Touring’s Superleggera coachwork, and was designated by the factory for a very special recipient: legendary driver Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentine dominated Formula 1 during the golden age of European Grand Prix racing and went on to win an unprecedented five World Drivers’ Championship titles in the 1950s.
Factory records obtained by the consignor indicate that Fangio received 00053 in November 1951, shortly after winning the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship for Alfa Romeo in the legendary Alfetta. Alfa Romeo’s sales slogan for the 1900 – “The family car that wins races” – was never so true as when piloted by the world’s greatest race car driver.
Delivered in the striking color Nocciola Metallizzato, this 1900C differs from production models in several ways. Both front and rear bumpers are unique to early Touring examples and evocative of Alfa Romeo’s earlier 6C 2500. The instrument panel layout and rear license plate surround also differ significantly from later cars, as does its more dramatic profile, with a smaller three-quarter rear window and sweeping C-pillar.
Following Fangio’s ownership, the car was passed on to an acquaintance in Italy in the 1950s before making its way to Argentina, according to the consignor. Imported to the US in 1988, it was sold in 1989 to the current owner, a passionate collector in California who has owned some of the world’s most significant Italian sports cars.
The consignor’s initial restoration won this car Best in Show at the 1991 Alfa Romeo Owners Club National Meet. In 2007, the Alfa emerged from an even more exacting three-year, photo-documented restoration by Symbolic Motor Cars. This work, which retained the earlier restoration’s rebuilt mechanicals, was rewarded with a Best of Class award for the Postwar Sports and Racing Class at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. Other concours wins followed, and 00053 remains a benchmark example of Touring’s mid-century design.
Accompanying this 1900C is an extensive history file, including registration records and service receipts tracing its history in Argentina, restoration photos, copies of factory correspondence and records, tools, and a jack. Significantly, the Alfa is also offered with a spare engine mated to a five-speed gearbox. Originating from an Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider circa 1959, the engine was rebuilt by Italian car specialist Bill Pound, according to the consignor. Although it has never been in the car and thus will require mechanical attention before use, it would suit more challenging, long-distance touring like the Mille Miglia, for which this car is certainly eligible.
In 1990, just a few years before his death, Fangio was reunited with this car during a collector car event in San Diego. It was a chance for “El Maestro” to reminisce on his storied racing career, and to place his signature on 00053’s firewall. During this meeting, Fangio stated that Alfa Romeo gave him the car for winning the World Drivers’ Championship in 1951. Pictures of this meeting accompany the sale, as do an illustration and framed photograph signed by Fangio.
Peter Marshall of the International Alfa Romeo 1900 Registry has stated that chassis 00053 is among the “most significant” of the 1900-series cars for its preproduction features and historical provenance. Impeccably restored and visually captivating, the 1900C is at once a unique masterpiece of design, an important marker in Alfa Romeo history, and includes in its provenance the man many consider the greatest racing driver ever.