1956 Alfa Romeo 1900

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Coupe
Coachwork: Zagato
Most of Europe was devastated during the bombing raids or ground attacks that occurred as a part of World War II. Factories which had produced motor cars had been switched to wartime production, and in the early 1950's were slowly being returned to their original purposes. The 1900 was produced by Alfa Romeo in a variety of body styles with the intent of regaining some of its pre-war market share.

The car was a radical new product as it was to be mass produced on a production line. This radical shift was a necessary evolution for the company which had previously done small numbers of custom cars in the new post war economy.

Zagato created 41 examples of their coachwork on the 1900 chassis. 39 of these are coupes and there were two convertibles.

This 1900 Zagato SS (Super Sprint) is one of two 'double bubble' low nose cars built at the end of the 1956 production year. The car is powered by a 1,975 cc, twin-overhead-cam, in-line 4-cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower and capable of 112 mph. This 1956 Geneva show car was sold off the stand to a Swiss owner. It remained in Europe until it went to Japan as part of the Hyashi Collection.

The present owner purchased the car in 1995 and had it restored. They have driven it in the California Mille twice and the grueling Italian Mille Miglia. The car has been the recipient of numerous awards and appeared on numerous magazine covers.

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Coupe
Coachwork: Touring
Aluminum Body over a Tube Frame
Alfa Romeo launched the model 1900 in 1950, and then introduced the short wheelbase 1900C ('C' for Corto, meaning 'short') in 1951.

The 1900C was a favorite of Italian coachbuilders and the car defined the shape of modern automobiles. The 1900C was bodied by Touring, Zagato, Ghia, Pininfarina and others.

In 1954 Alfa Romeo introduced the Super Sprint version of the 1900C. It featured dual downdraft carburetors and a five speed transmission.

The 1900C SS displayed here was bodied by Touring of Milano, Italy. It was previously owned by the president of the Alfa Romeo club of Italy. It has been featured in Hemming's Sport & Exotic Cars and has been on the front cover of Alfa Owner.

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Coupe
Coachwork: Zagato
One of only Six Built!
The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by Cavaliere Ugo Stella, an aristocrat from Milan, in partnership with the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq. The firm initially produced Darracq cars in Naples, but after the partnership collapsed Stella and other Italian co-investors moved production to an idle Darracq factory in Milan suburb of Portello, and the company was renamed A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili). The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Giuseppe Merosi. Merosi would go on to design a series of new ALFA cars with more powerful engines (40-60 HP). ALFA also ventured into racing, with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24 HP models.

Zagato is an Italian coachwork firm that was founded after WWII, and has designed bodies for most major marques. The 'double bubble' top is their trademark. Zagato is still operating today under the leadership of the grandson of the founder, Andrea Zagato. There were only six 'double bubble' 1900SSZ Alfas produced. In 1956, they cost about $3,500, and had all-aluminum bodies and all-plexiglas windows, except for the windshield. This car has been shown coast-to-coast, and has completed the famous Mille Miglia in 2002, 2003, and 2007, when it placed second among all American drivers!

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Coupe
Coachwork: Touring
An English Visitor of Italian Ancestry
Felice Bianchi Anderloni of Milan established Carrozzeria Touring in 1926 and by the 1930's his firm had become one of Italy's leading coachbuilders. Anderloni developed the patented 'Superleggera' (super light) construction system, consisting of a structure of small diameter tubes to form the body's shape, with thin alloy panels attached to cover and strengthen the framework. Touring did not survive the 1960's, as it lost out to larger competitors.

The founder's son, Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, designed this car as a 'Superleggera' model. It was the third and last model on the 1900 Alfa Romeo chassis to be powered by the larger 1957cc motor, with five-speed gearbox. The 1900 Alfa was in production from 1950 to 1959 and 21,304 cars were made. Only 854 were Super Sprint models, which were produced in numerous versions from 1955 to 1958.

This Super Sprint was first registered in July 1957 to Robert Seaux in Grand, Belgium. In 1994, it went to a new owner in Livorno, Italy. The present owner bought the car in April 2003 and drove it over the Alps to his home in England. To date, this Super Sprint by Touring has recorded 91,850 kms. It was shipped from England to Michigan to take part in the 2007 Alfa Romeo Owners Club national meet and Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance.

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Coupe
Coachwork: Touring
Most 4-cylinder 1900s were sedans, the Portello, Milan plant building 17,390 of them out of a total of 21,304. Most of the coachbuilt coupes (including Sprints), Spiders and Cabriolets were built by either Pinin Farina or Carrozzeria Touring (the latter using their superleggera process) on Alfa's unibody chassis created specifically for third-party coachbuilders (meaning stiff enough not to require a roof.) Zagato, Bertone and Ghia, among others, also play their part. This particular numbers matching car is a Tipo 4 SS (last series) short chassis (C for corte or short) Touring-bodied '3-window' coupe that has undergone a two-plus year restoration. No two Touring bodies are identical.
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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