1953 Alfa Romeo 1900

Designer: Pininfarina
La Bellezza Non Basta! (Beauty is Not Enough!)
Alfa Romeo is an Italian automobile manufacturer founded in 1910, and it has been a part of the Fiat Group since 1986. The company was originally known as A.L.F.A. which is an acronym for Anoima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (or: Lombard Automobile Factory; Public Company).

Pininfarina S.p.A. (short for Carrozzeria Pininfarina) is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Turin, Italy, founded in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista 'Pinin' Farina. (Following the company lead of combining his nickname and surname, his family name became Pininfarina in 1961). Over the years the company has been contracted by many automobile manufactures, notably Ferrari, Maserati, Cadillac, Nash, Peugeot, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, MG, and Lancia. Since the 1980's Pininfarina has also provided industrial design and interior design consultation to corporate clients. Today, Pininfarina employs more than 3,000 people in subsidiary company offices throughout Europe, as well as in Morocco and China.

Approximately 80 of these beautiful coupes were designed and built by Pininfarina. This example is one of three right-hand cars shown by Thompson & Taylor, of Brooklands fame, at the S.M.M.T. Motor Exhibition at Earl's Court in 1953. This 1900 was meticulously restored in 1992.
Corto Gara Stradale
Coachwork: Touring
Chassis Num: AR 1900C 01420
Sold for $311,091 (€240,800) at 2012 RM Sothebys.
Alfa Romeo's 1900 would bring some of the company's racing heritage to the masses beginning the love affair many would have with the company throughout the years. In the case of the 1900 Corto Gara, Alfa Romeo took a car for the masses and managed to fashion a car even the most affluent would desire.

Ever since Cavalier Ugo Stella acquired Societa Italiana Automobili Darraq, which was an Italian plant for a French car manufacturer, back in 1910 Alfa Romeo would become synonymously known for its racing and high quality automobiles that would be considered at the fore in their day and age. However, Alfa would decide to go a slightly different direction into rather unknown territory when it decided to withdraw from Formula One after the 1951 season. Up until that time, the Italian motor company had some of the most talented engineers and designers, but they were focused on building competitive race cars. Now, Alfa was entering the highly competitive world of production car making.

Perhaps the one thing Alfa did have going for them when they made the decision was the fact it had garnered so much racing experience. That meant it would easily blend into its production cars, which would make them highly desirable amongst the common man and woman wanting to experience the thrill of a racing car without having to shell out an excessive amount of money.

Alfa Romeo's 1900 would be that car that would bring the vast extent of Alfa's racing heritage to the masses with its 1.9-liter inline 4-cylinder engine producing between 80-90 bhp. This car would be well received and would lead to a number of evolutions of the 1900 including the TI, Super and the ultra-exclusive Corto Gara.

The corto, or, 'shortened' platform of the 1900 coupe would be produced in very small numbers. In fact, just eight of the Corto Garas would ever be produced. One of those seven would be chassis number AR 1900C 01420 and this particular chassis would be available for sale at the 2012 RM Auctions held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

The particular chassis offered at RM Auctions' event in Monaco would be all the more rare as it would be considered just one of three Corto Garas that were built as Stradale models. The Stradale model meant the car would be fitted with extra amenities such as tubular bumpers, air outtake from the cockpit, sliding windows, lightweight door panels and a short trunk door. Of all the believed seven Corto Garas to be produced, just three are known to exist and this particular chassis is obviously one of those three.

Built in July of 1953, the car was originally finished in Grigio/Azzuro and delieved to Tessiture Italiana Seriche SpA of Milano. A Mr. Detwiller of Switzerland would come to purchase the car and would hold it for a short time before selling it to a forgotten owner in Sweden. German driver, Hans Joachim Rossing would find the car in Sweden and would agree to purchase the car. When it was found it was resting in a barn without its original engine. Even throughout the 1980s the car would remain un-restored.

While the Corto Gara remained un-restored, Rossing would take part in a number of historic races driving another 1900 coupe. During one of these events he would meet Elviro Mario Govoni. They would develop a relationship and Govoni would end up purchasing the Corto Gara in 1989. Nearly four years later, the Corto Gara would begin the process of being restored to life.

The car's engine would be found and it would be sent to Officina Gamberini in Bologna to be cleaned and tuned. At the same time, the work to begin the restoration of the bodywork would be undertaken by Mario Galbiati and would begin in earnest. While the bodywork was with Galbiati, the car's current owner paid a visit and would see the car immediately falling in love with what he saw. Therefore, just a few months later, he would agree to purchase the car.

Unfortunately, when the car was sold the restoration would come to a halt since the car would move to France. Restoration would remain idle until 2007 when the car would be returned to Italy to undergo the final restoration processes. It would be an all-out effort as the trim would need to be polished, and then, re-chromed. The period-correct dark cobalt blue finish would be undertaken by Walter Giusti's Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena. Mechanical restoration would be completed by Mr. Ramenzoni while Gamberini would perform the final tuning of the 143 bhp engine. Steering, brakes and transmission would be rebuilt, Mr. Dazzi tuned the carburetors and Mr. Maurizio Ferrari completed the car's electrics. After three years and some of the best work by some of the most noted restorers in Italy, this rare and very important Alfa Romeo would reemerge in its grand state.

Eligible for the vintage rally events like the Mille Miglia Storica, this striking Alfa would certainly be a sight to behold. And amongst the Alfa Romeo purists it would certainly become a favorite and a highly honored member of the Alfa legend. As a result of its exclusivity, which was actually rare for the 1900, and the place it takes within Alfa Romeo history, this particular chassis would end up selling for 240,800 EUR at auction.

'Lot No. 366: 1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale by Carrozzeria Touring', (http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r321&Currency=EUR). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/CarDetails.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r321&Currency=EUR. Retrieved 18 May 2012.

'Alfa Romeo History', (http://www.alfaromeo.com/com/#/history/timeline). Alfa Romeo. http://www.alfaromeo.com/com/#/history/timeline. Retrieved 18 May 2012.

'1952 Alfa-Romeo 1900C News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z8965/Alfa-Romeo-1900C.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z8965/Alfa-Romeo-1900C.aspx. Retrieved 18 May 2012.

By Jeremy McMullen
Designer: Pininfarina
The 1900 was Alfa Romeo's first mass-production car, its first road car designed after World War II, and its first car with the body and chassis constructed as a single unit. There were approximately 16,593 Alfa Romeo 1900 sedans produced.

Several Italian coachbuilders were commissioned to build special sporting bodies. There were about 1,796 built by Italian coachbuilders such as Touring, Ghia, Zagato, and Pinin Farina. This is one of about 700 designed by and produced at Pinin Farina; only 15 are known to exist today. This is one of only 10 cars built with left-hand drive.

The car is powered by a twin-overhead-cam, in-line 4-cylinder 1,884 cc (115 cu. in) engine developing 100 hp coupled to a manual 4-speed manual transmission. It has fully independent coil-spring suspension, with rear struts, drum brake, and weighs 2,205 pounds with a top speed of 106 mph.
This 1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Ghia Coupe was especially built for the 1953 Milan Auto Show. It was displayed at many other auto shows throughout Europe as one of Ghia's show cars and won awards for its styling.

The Alfa Romeo 1900, introduced in 1950, was the marque's finest mass-produced car designed after World War II. The car is powered by a four-cylinder twin-overhead-cam, 1,975 cc engine developing 115 horsepower coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission. Suspension consists of coil-spring suspension (independent in front), worm-and-roller steering and hydraulic drum brakes. This 2,535 pound car has a top speed of 115-mph.

This car has had only 3 owners since new and was recently brought to the U.S. by its current owner. It is making its American Concours debut at Amelia Island in 2005.
Much of Europe was devastated by bombing and attacks during World War II and factories that had been producing vehicles switched to producing materials and vehicles in support of the war efforts. The war ended in 1947 and by 1950 Alfa Romeo had a new vehicle ready for serious production. It was designed by Dr. Orazio Satta Puliga and was the first Alfa Romeo to use unitary construction. Under the hood was a four-cylinder engine with dual-overhead-camshafts which was a tribute to the companies racing history. The suspension was also sporty with an Independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs. In the rear was a live rear axle.

This was a very important vehicle for Alfa Romeo as the company struggled to regain its market-presence after the war. The 1900 was produced by Alfa Romeo in a variety of bodystyles with the sedan being the most popular. Though custom coachbodies was not as prevalent after the 1940's, nearly every major Italian Coachbuilder created a coupe or cabriolet version of the vehicle. Part of the popularity was the vehicles sporty characteristics which made it easier for the coachbuilder to design and create attractive bodies.

Touring created three series of Super Sprints on a shortened version of the chassis. As mentioned before, the majority of the vehicles were sedans and only 10% of the vehicles created sat atop a shortened (corto) chassis. It is estimated that Touring created around 965 examples of the corto chassis, each were hand built and created as a special-order purchase. Many of the details were left up to the consumer to cater to their every wish and desire.

The examples created by Pinin Farina were mostly cabriolets. Zagato created 41 examples with most being coupes and two being convertibles. The bodies by Zagato are considered some of the most memorable and exciting of all the custom built Alfa Romeo 1900's.

When the 1900 was first introduced it was powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced an adequate 90 horsepower. A few years later the Ti version was introduced which raised the horsepower to about 100. Throughout the years, horsepower would again be improved and specifications varied.

Production of the 1900 lasted for ten years with more than 21,000 examples produced.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2007
The Alfa Romeo 1900 Series was produced from the very early 1900s through 1959. It was designed by Italian designer, Orazio Satta, and became the company's first car built on a production line. This vehicle signaled a radical departure from the type of business Alfa Romeo had constructed in the pre-War era. This shift towards an affordable production automobile was a necessary evolution for the company and a gamble that would prove to be the correct endeavour. In the pre-War era, the company had created expensive and powerful performance machines. Other marque's, such as Delahaye and Talbot Lago, had also be renowned for their performance machines, and had continued to cater only to this type of business in the post-War era. By the close of the 1950's, Alfa Romeo was still in business, while Talbot and Delahaye both were not.

In keeping with Alfa Romeo's tradition, Satta was given the difficult task of creating a vehicle that was affordable and could be mass produced, yet still retain the company's heritage of quality and performance. What was created was a major advancement, as the vehicle was given a unitary construction where the body worked as part of the chassis and housed many of the mechanical components. Prior to this, the body and chassis had been constructed separately, which was a traditional method by most marque's. The unitary construction made mass production much easier, allowed cost to remain low, and kept the vehicles performance to maximum. The major drawback to this type of construction was the difficulty it provided with custom coachwork.

The design of the vehicle was perfected by the Alfa Romeo designers with the help of wind tunnels. The vehicle was given a very aerodynamic body that was elegant and memorable. Under the bonnet was a four-cylinder engine that displaced 1884cc and fitted with dual overhead camshafts. Horsepower was impressive considering the engines size, rated at around 90 which put it on par with the larger 6C 2500 six-cylinder engine. The engine was placed in the bay at a longitudinally angle, matted to a four-speed manual gearbox with steering-column levers, and powered the rear wheels. Top speed was achieved at just over 105 mph.

The vehicle was attractive, sporty, and elegant. It was a fine addition to Alfa Romeo's proud heritage and their quest to create a more affordable, mass produced automobile. 7,400 base model examples were produced between 1950 through 1954 making it their most popular vehicle to date.

One year after the vehicles introduction, Alfa Romeo introduced the Ti and Super versions. Both were created in a way that provided flexibility to coachbuilders to create a wide range of custom bodies. The list of builders included Ghia, Touring, and Pinin Farina. The list of body styles ranged from racing machines to two-seater luxury automobiles. The Super body style had a shorter wheelbase and was an excellent platform to create sporty versions of the 1900.

By 1954, Alfa Romeo introduced a larger engine that increased horsepower even further. The top-of-the-line version in terms of performance was the Super Sprint, which offered 115 horsepower. It seems that after Alfa Romeo secured their initial goals of creating an affordable automobile, they immediately searched for ways to improve upon its performance.
By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2007
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