1958 ALFA ROMEO 1900 GHIA AIGLE "Boat Car"
1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta
Coachwork by Ghia, Aigle
Chassis no. AR1900C 10098
LAlfa Romeo 1900 fut la première création de la marque après 1945. Elle bénéficiait dun moteur raffiné à deux arbres à cames en tête dans la tradition sportive de la marque malgré sa vocation de berline moyenne prévue pour être produite en masse. Elle évolua sous forme de versions plus puissantes, les TI puis Super et Super Sprint, la puissance passant de 90 à 115 ch. Ces Sprint et Super Sprint furent produites respectivement à 949 et 854 exemplaires. Cest dire leur rareté.
Cet exemplaire unique dun type marquant provenant dune des marques automobiles les plus charismatiques porte une audacieuse carrosserie due à Ghia Aigle, branche suisse de la célèbre firme italienne.
Dessinée par Giovanni Michelotti, la voiture que nous présentons est une des dix Alfa Romeo environ habillées par la Carrosserie Ghia Aigle dont le prix était équivalent à celui dune Mercedes-Benz 300 SL à lépoque. Cest aussi un rare exemple de carrosserie découverte sur châssis 1900. Les modèles 1900 Sprint et Super Sprint eurent beaucoup de succès auprès des carrossiers italiens même si les carrosseries étaient le plus souvent des coupés en raison, pense-t-on, des renforts supplémentaires exigés par une caisse découverte. (Il faut rappeler que la 1900 fut la première Alfa Romeo monocoque.)
Achevée en 1956, mais immatriculée seulement en septembre 1958, cette voiture aurait figuré au Concorso dEleganza Autovettura Campione dItalia en octobre 1956. Au moment de la rédaction du catalogue, le détail de ses propriétaires est mal connu bien quune source indique comme premier propriétaire Tell Umiker, de Lugano (Suisse). Michel Kruch de Bruwelles la posséda à la fin des années 1980 sous limmatriculation belge « OBD 978 ». La voiture fut exhibée au Concorso dEleganza Villa dEste à Cernobbio (Italie) en avril 2001 (sous le n° 12 « voitures découvertes et cabriolets de moins de deux litres »). Elle fut achetée par lactuel propriétaire la même année.
Dans un état de présentation exceptionnel, « 10098 » naffiche que 10 959 km au compteur et démarre et fonctionne excellemment arès un récent entretien. Immatriculée actuellement en Union Européenne, elle est prête à concourir dans les plus prestigieuses manifestations
The final flowering of the 1900 was the Super series, of which the Berlina, or saloon, and the 1900C Super Sprint were produced from 1953 to 1958
the Super series was mainly distinguished by the fact that the engine was enlarged
raising capacity from 1,884cc to 1,975cc. The 1900C Super Sprint could achieve 118mph
Alfa Romeo - A History, Hull and Slater, 1964.
Its factory devastated by wartime bombing, Alfa Romeo did not resume car production until 1947, the pre-war 2500C standing the Milan marque in good stead until 1952. The firms first all-new offering of the post-war period arrived in 1950. Designed by Dr. Orazio Satta Puliga and intended for volume production, the 1900 was the first Alfa to employ unitary construction and - in keeping with the companys sporting heritage - was powered by a twin-overhead-camshaft engine. A four-cylinder unit, the latter displaced 1,884cc and produced 90bhp, an output sufficient to propel the four-door saloon to 93mph.
Although ostensibly a humble family conveyance, the 1900 was endowed with sporting credentials which extended beyond its type of power unit, owners enjoying the benefits of wishbone and coil spring independent front suspension and an exceptionally well located live rear axle. It should have surprised nobody therefore, when the 1900s potential was realised in the form of two high performance derivatives. Launched in 1951, the 1900C Sprint featured bodywork by Pinin Farina (cabriolet) and Touring (coupé), both models utilising the 100bhp engine of the 1900TI sports saloon. The Touring-bodied Sprint Coupé attracted such public acclaim that it was subsequently adopted as the basis for all future aerodynamic Alfa Romeo coupés. One direct descendant was, of course, the lovely little Giulietta Sprint in which the family resemblance is immediately obvious.
The Sprint Coupé was designed to offer sporting performance together with 2+2 accommodation - guaranteed to appeal to the sports car enthusiast with a family - while the heart-shaped vertical grille with matched horizontal side intakes became an Alfa trademark on later models. In June 1954 the engine was enlarged to 1,975cc and the model re-designated as the Super Sprint. With 115bhp on tap and possessing an excellent power-to-weight ratio courtesy of the aluminium-alloy body, these cars could top 118mph. They shone in competitions of all kinds. A total of 949 Sprints and 854 Super Sprints had been made by the time production ceased.
This unique example of a landmark model from one of motorings most charismatic marques carries audacious coachwork by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle, the Swiss offshoot of the famous Italian styling house. Founded on 30th April 1948 as Carrosserie Ghia SA, Aigle by Dr. Pierre-Paul Filippi, a Torinese physician, the firm bodied cars to Ghia designs in Switzerland. Turin-based Carrozzeria Ghia was owned by Mario Boano at the time and its post-war products were initially styled by him, subsequently by Giovanni Michelotti and then by Pietro Frua.
In September 1954 the firm relocated from Aigle to Lugano, remaining there until April 1958 when it returned to Aigle. Ghia, Aigle was astonishingly eclectic in its choice of chassis, bodying cars from Delahaye, Mercedes-Benz, Citroën, Jaguar, Jowett, FIAT, Bugatti, Lancia, MG, Singer, Panhard, Austin-Healey, Bristol, Ferrari, Opel, Volkswagen, Renault, BMW, a wide variety of American makes and, of course, Alfa Romeo. Mainstream coachbuilding petered out in the early 1960s, the firm concentrating on repairs and the manufacture of bodies for ambulances, removal vans and other commercial applications thereafter. It went into liquidation in the mid-1980s.
The work of Giovanni Michelotti, the car we offer here is one of approximately ten Alfa Romeos bodied by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle and cost as much as a Mercedes-Benz 300SL in its day. It is also a relatively rare example of open coachwork on the 1900 chassis. The 1900 Sprint and Super Sprint models were immensely popular with Italian coachbuilders, though the majority of bespoke bodies were of coupé configuration as a consequence, it is believed, of the additional strengthening required by an open bodyshell. (It should not be forgotten that the 1900 was Alfas first attempt at unitary construction).
Completed in 1956 but not registered for the road until September 1958, this car is believed to have been displayed at the Concorso d´Eleganza Autovettura Campione d´Italia when new. At time of cataloguing, little of its ownership history had come to light, though one source lists the first owner as Tell Umiker, of Lugano, Switzerland. A Belgian collector owned it in the late 1980s when the Alfa was registered OBD-978 on Belgian plates. The car was shown at the Concorso d´Eleganza Villa d´Este in Cernobbio, Italy in April 2001 (entrant No. 12 in Open cars and convertibles of up to 2,000cc) and was acquired by the current owner that same year.
Presented in wonderful unrestored but cared for condition, 10098 displays a believed-genuine total of only 10,959 kilometres on the odometer and is on the button and running well following a recent engine service and complete brake overhaul. Currently EU registered, it would be welcome at any of the worlds most prestigious concours events or provide stylish transport to any form of elegant marine transport from a Riva to a super yacht.