Sold for $4,000,000 at 2014 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach Concours.
In many respects, a true sportscar is something of a wolf in sheep's clothing. From the outside they can appear merely elegant, luxury-based, sophisticated, even a bit docile at times. But, the heart that rests within beats with the passion and drive of a fearsome war horse ready to charge into the fray. This balance certainly reflects the enigma that is the 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 Cabriolet Sportivo.
Being an Alfa, a pre-war one at that, chassis 915026 started out life as one of the factory's racing Tipo 256s. In fact, the car would start out its life with coachwork designed and built by Carrozzeria Touring. Being that it is described as a Tipo 256, it means this particular car represents one of the last collaborations between Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Ferrari. Enzo's outfit in Modena prepared and outfitted the Tipo 256s which boasted of Alfa's 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine producing upwards of 125hp at nearly 5,000rpms.
The Tipo 256 was produced in response to new regulations. Not only would these new regulations see the supercharged Alfa Romeo's come to an end, but it would also be the last collaboration between Ferrari and Alfa since the Second World War was right around the corner.
Because it would be the final time Scuderia Ferrari and Alfa Romeo would be working together very few Tipo 256s would ever be built. In fact, just a total of about 20 would be produced in which 915026 would be one.
But this particular car would serve two lives. It is widely held that this car was driven to victory in the Corsa dello Stelvio by Mario Tadini, an Alfa Corse factory driver. This victory would come in July of 1939 and would be about the only documented race in which the car took part in before the outbreak of the war. Thus would begin the car's second life.
Not long after the victory in the Corsa dello Stelvio, 915026 would be sold to Sigfrido Koelliker. Koelliker certainly had the means to purchase the latest from Alfa Romeo. Known as 'Gigi', he was an heir to a milling and textile empire. He would form a partnership with Lombardi Automobili and would later become Lombardi and Koelliker. He would have the car delivered to Pinin Farina in 1940 where it would undergo work to fit a whole new body to the Tipo 256 chassis.
It is taken as fact the resulting body style was penned by Count Mario Revelli de Beaumont who worked for a number of different coachbuilders, including Pinin Farina. Not surprisingly, his design would reflect the influences of the day. Teardrop front and rear fenders highlight an aerodynamic, and yet simply-elegant, enveloped design. This streamlined car, which would include 'suicide' doors and innovative 'V' windscreen, would be a brilliant amalgamation of performance and styling. Farina himself would be proud of the creation and would even advertise this very car in an issue of Auto Italiana in July of 1940. Not long after this, the famous football star and racing driver Piero Dusio. Unfortunately, the war would provide little opportunity for its beautiful, evocative lines to grace the road.
Following the end of the war, 915026 would pick up right where it left off. The car would leave Dusio's ownership and would change hands a couple of times and would finally end up in the United Kingdom under the ownership of Ann Phillis Wood. Arriving in England, the Alfa Romeo would end up in a 1949 issue of The Motor. Soon afterward, the car would return to the continent and would be owned by a handful of Swiss residents, including one Karl Weber who would actually compete in a number of hillclimbs with the Pinin Farina-bodied Sportivo.
The car would prove it still had what it took to succeed and that it wasn't just a looker. In 1951 Weber would finish 4th in the Tiefencastel-Lenzerheide Hillclimb and would follow that up a couple of years later with a 2nd place result in the Swiss National Slalom. Nearly fifteen years old, the Alfa still demonstrated it had what it took to get up a mountain in short order.
The car would remain in Weber's ownership all the way up to 1988 when it was given by Weber to his mechanic where it would remain in his care until 2008 when it came to be owned by its current owner.
By Jeremy McMullen
Joining an already impressive Alfa Romeo collection, 915026 would undergo some refinishing, which includes its current Gunmetal Grey livery and new tan soft-top. Despite these updates, the car remains highly original and, obviously, truly something extraordinary to behold. Gorgeous from nose to tail and overflowing with that Alfa Romeo mystique, this car is undoubtedly an exceptional and significant piece of mechanical art.