One of a mere four coupés produced
1959 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Coupé
Coachwork by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle
Chassis no. AR1900C 10439
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 firm's 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 company's 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 1900's 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 190 km/h . 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 very rare example of a landmark model from one of motoring's most charismatic marques carries audacious coachwork by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle, the Swiss offshoot of the famous Italian styling house and at 35,000 Swiss Francs it cost more at the time than a new Mercedes 300 SL. 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.
Probably the work of Giovanni Michelotti, the car offered here is one of ten Alfa Romeos bodied by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle in both coupé and cabriolet styles and cost a small fortune in its day. Chassis number '10439' has been partially restored, the interior having been re-trimmed in 1982 and the bodywork renovated in 1993, while the engine has been routinely maintained. Described as in generally very good condition, this beautiful coachbuilt Alfa Romeo would be welcome at all the most prestigious concours gatherings.
Probablement dessinée par Giovanni Michelotti, la voiture présentée ici, fait partie de la dizaine d'Alfa Romeo habillées en coupé ou cabriolet par la Carrosserie Ghia Aigle et coûta à l'époque une petite fortune - à 35,000 francs suisse plus qu'une Mercedes 300SL. Le châssis n° 10439 a été restauré en partie, l'intérieur ayant été regarni en 1982 et la carrosserie rénovée en 1993, tandis que le moteur était régulièrement entretenu. Décrite comme étant en bon état général, cette magnifique Alfa Romeo 1900 à carrosserie rarissime ne peut qu'être accueillie et admirée dans les plus prestigieux concours d'élégance.