Senior Specialist, Head of Sale, Switzerland
Sold for CHF316,250 inc. premium
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Senior Specialist, Head of Sale, Switzerland
Head of Department, Bonhams Collector Cars Europe
International Chairman for Motoring
Head of Sale, Belgium
"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 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 Coupe 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 motoring's 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 1955 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 car we offer here is one of approximately ten Alfa Romeos bodied by Carrosserie Ghia, Aigle and cost as much as a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL in its day. The first owner was a wealthy Swiss businessman with a passion for Riva speedboats, who commissioned Ghia Aigle to produce a car styled along Riva lines: no doors, no boot, and with a boat-type windscreen. '10098' is 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 coupe 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 Alfa's first attempt at unitary construction).
Completed in 1956 but not registered for the road until September 1958, this car was displayed at the Concorso d'Eleganza Autovettura Campione d'Italia in October 1956. It is understood to have been bought for the owner's mistress, and when his wife found out she banished the Alfa to storage where it remained for some 30 years! Mr Michel Kruch of Brussels owned the Alfa in the late 1980s when it was registered 'OBD-978' on Belgian plates. In April 2001, the car was shown at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, Italy (entrant No. 12 in 'Open cars and convertibles of up to 2,000cc'). The current vendor acquired the Alfa in October 2013.
Recently the engine and shock absorbers were completely restored (bill on file) and new wheels fitted (originals with car). The Alfa presents very nicely, the paintwork and interior seemingly original and in very good condition, while mechanically it appears excellent and is very clean. Currently EU registered, this unique and wonderful car would be welcome at any of the world's most prestigious concours events or provide stylish transport to any form of elegant marine transport from a Riva speedboat to a super yacht.
Please note that if this vehicle is to be imported into Switzerland, Swiss Customs charges (Duty, Car Tax and VAT) will apply at roughly 12.5% of the Purchase Price. Included in this is the Swiss Duty which is calculated on the weight of the vehicle and shall be CHF 15 per 100 kg. Also included is Swiss Car Tax at 4% and this is calculated on the total Purchase Price (Hammer + Buyers Premium). Swiss VAT will then be applicable on the aggregated amount of the Hammer Price, Buyer's Premium, Swiss Duty and Swiss Car Tax at a rate of 7.7%.
Please note that customs rates to other countries shall vary. This vehicle will not be available for immediate collection after the sale and will only be released on completion of customs clearance. If you have any questions regarding customs clearance, please contact the Bonhams Motorcar Department or our recommended shippers.