The Property of a Gentleman

1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta

Coachwork by Touring

The first post-vintage car from Alfa Romeo was designed by Vittorio Jano in 1934: the 6C 2300. With dual overhead camshafts, this high performance, six-cylinder model was conceived as the successor to the fabled, but by the mid-Thirties dated, 6C 1750 as the mainstay of Alfa Romeo production. Virtually identical in displacement to the 8C 2300 Monza, Jano’s new 6C was designed to be an inherently reliable and comfortable automobile capable of providing excellent performance with grand touring coachwork.

The chassis featured independent front suspension and torsion bar sprung independent rear suspension for superior roadholding and comfort. Its brakes, large drums with aluminium cooling fins shrunk around the cast iron drums, were unusually effective for the time. Like the engine, boxed frame and independent suspension the brakes show Alfa’s concern for performance with larger and heavier coachwork as well as the demands of touring use with several passengers and luggage. The rugged design, superior suspension, large brakes and powerful engine were even better with lightweight coachwork, like Touring’s patented Superleggera Berlinetta.

Re-named the 6C 2500 in 1939 when it was expanded to 2443cc displacement, it also received other performance enhancements including an improved cylinder head for better breathing and a raised compression ratio. Inevitably, some of Alfa Romeo’s clientele demanded even more performance consistent with Alfa Romeo’s sporting traditions. The optional 6C 2500 Super Sport engine added a third carburettor and 8:1 compression ratio, raising performance to just under that of the flagship 8C 2900.

The best known and most prolific coachbuilder for Alfa during this period was Carrozzeria Touring. The late Thirties saw substantial evolution in automobile body aerodynamics and Touring of Milan was a leader. It was able to develop its designs in its own wind tunnel and tried a number of approaches. 

The most famous example is probably the streamlined Berlinetta as epitomized on the 8C 2900 chassis, but also offered in slightly scaled down form on the 6C 2300 as fitted to this car. Covered headlights inboard of the voluptuously rounded front wings flank the tall, curved Alfa Romeo grille. The long bonnet and steeply sloped vee windshield unmistakably recall Alfa’s competition successes. The low roof flows smoothly into a tapered fastback rear deck above sensuously shaped rear wings with wheel spats. Despite its four passenger seating the 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta by Touring looks as if it belongs on the starting line for the Mille Miglia or Le Mans.

This example is remarkable for its three carburettor Super Sport specification engine, listed in the definitive Tito Anselmi book as one of probably only four cars thus equipped originally, and is one of ten surviving 2500 Sport Berlinettas bodied by Touring known to modern day 6C historian Peter Marshall, who kindly supplied the 1966 photographs shown here, proving that the car has changed very little from its original appearance.

It exudes carefully preserved originality, a car that has never had, nor needed, radical restoration. In the ownership of a respected yet discreet Italian collector now approaching his tenth decade, and rarely seen in public (its last outing was at the Savonarola Terme concours d'elegance in 2003 where it was awarded Best of Show), its appearance speaks of a car that has always been appreciated, loved and treated with respect. While the exterior was given cosmetic attention by Dino Cognolato in the 1980s, the black leather interior appears original yet is complete, intact and has the appeal of a well worn pair of slippers, just waiting for a new owner to slip it on for a charge over the Futa pass.

The gunmetal grey exterior beautifully complements Touring’s Berlinetta design, quietly aggressive without being flamboyant, and is set off by bright crimson wire wheels and blackwall tires. The Touring body number (2307) is confirmed by Peter Marshall.

Under the bonnet the three carburettor Super Sport engine, also correctly numbered, is clean and orderly with many original details that are hard to find in restored cars. This 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta by Touring comes from several decades in the current ownership during which it has never before been offered for sale. 

Only a handful of 6C 2500 Sport Alfa Romeos were built from 1939-1942, and this may well be the finest survivor. It will be immensely satisfying to own, drive and show.