Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

Offered from a Private Collection

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Lot 257

1955 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Coupe Zagato

  • Chassis no. AR 1900C 01915
  • Engine no. AR1308 01048

Sold for $1,100,000

Please note that this lot is titled as a 1956.

115 bhp, 1,975 cc DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with double A-arms, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers; live-axle rear suspension with trailing links, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers; and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 95 in.

  • Offered from a private collection
  • One of approximately 39 examples built
  • A participant in the 1955 and 1956 Mille Miglia
  • Repainted in its original color, but otherwise completely original
  • Known ownership history and exceptionally well documented
  • Former ownership for 40 years
  • One of Zagato’s most celebrated designs

As a racing enthusiast, Elio Zagato was intrigued by the promise of Alfa Romeo’s sporting 1900C platform. In September 1954, he sourced a 1900C chassis and clothed it with lightweight aluminum coachwork that has since become regarded as one of his finest designs. The new body featured a sculpted nose and bulged hood with dual inlets designed to clear the higher-profile Weber carburetors.

Zagato entrusted this 1900 to Vladimiro Galluzzi, a driver from his Sant Ambroeus racing concern, and based on its promise, Alfa Romeo experimental department director Consalvo Sanesi recommended production of a small batch of officially sanctioned cars. Approximately 39 examples of the resulting 1900 Super Sprint Zagato were built by mid-1956, and for a short period the beautiful car held quite a sway over the European sports racing niche. Six different examples were entered at the 1955 Mille Miglia alone, and Joakim Bonnier notably won the 2-liter Sverige Grand Prix in August 1955 by beating a host of Porsches and Fiat 8V examples.

Steeped in a competition mandate, and exquisitely hand-fashioned by one of Italy’s most esteemed carrozzerias, the 1900 SSZ is now a favorite of heavyweight collectors and connoisseurs of rare Italian sports cars, often gracing premium concours d’elegance and Italian design exhibits.

According to the research of Alfa 1900 Register curator Peter Marshall, chassis 01915 is approximately the 17th example of 21 cars ordered in 1954 on the second-series Sprint chassis. Completed in early 1955, the SSZ was equipped with engine number 01048, which notably remains in the car today. Finished in metallic grey paint, the 1900C was distributed to Franco Venturi of Rome, as clarified by copies of original Auto Club d’Italia registrations. Venturi was a player in the premium sports car market of Rome, trading in many well-specified race cars and berlinettas, and he quickly sold the Alfa on 26 February to Sergio Bettoja, a young driver who went by the nom-de-guerre Pegaso. After registering the SSZ with tags 219047, Bettoja entered the car in the Giro di Sicilia on 4 March 1955. He then used the Alfa to become the champion of the University of Modena, as described in a May 1997 issue of RuoteClassiche magazine.

On 27 April, “Pegaso” sold the 1900C to Vittorio Randaccio of Rome, and he also raced the beautiful alloy-bodied car, entering the XXII Mille Miglia on 1 May 1955, as #503 (though the car was one of many to retire early). Later that year, on 11 November 1955, Randaccio entered the Alfa in the Coppa Inter Europa as #94. His known record with the berlinetta appeared to end the following May at the XXIII Mille Miglia, when the car failed to finish while decorated as #335.

In November 1956 the 1900 SSZ was purchased by Tullio Pacini of Rome, and he sold it in February 1957 to Saverio Gravino of Catania, Sicily. From there, the berlinetta was acquired in 1959 by Richard Hall, a captain in the U.S. Navy who was stationed in Europe. He imported the Alfa to his home in New York and retained possession for three years.

In January 1962, chassis 01915 was sold to Marvin Katz of New York, and he drove the car for about one year before incurring a minor collision. In the process of repairs, Katz ultimately garaged the car to that end. The project never even properly commenced, and the 1900 remained unused in storage for the following 40 years, all the while displaying about 24,000 kilometers.

In mid-2001, Mr. Katz finally brought the SSZ out of storage, and the modestly driven car was sold to a German intermediary, Norbert Wollner, who re-sold it in February 2002 to A.C. Leerdam, a Dutch racing enthusiast and collector living in Florida. Mr. Leerdam undertook significant research to recover 01915’s history, consulting with marque experts Marshall and Italian Car Registry author John de Boer, as well as Italian historian Dott. Ing. Lorenzo Boscarelli, to procure ACI registrations and period photographs of the car’s participation in the Mille Miglia.

Ultimately impressed by the 1900’s preserved originality, Leerdam addressed some of the mechanical elements for basic drivability and then presented the car as a preservation-style entry at the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance. Over the next few years, the Alfa was shown three more times at Winter Park, and once at the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance.

In June 2013, the rare Super Sprint Zagato was sold to the consignor, a respected sports car collector residing in Chicago. As demonstrated by numerous invoices, a more thorough freshening was soon commenced, with International Auto Restorations in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and Continental Auto Sports in nearby Hinsdale collectively handling a complete repaint in the car’s original color, refreshing the wiring and gearbox, and restoring and installing the original bumpers. Completed in late 2014, the work has returned 01915 to a pure state of condition, bringing new life to the exquisite and original Zagato coachwork.

One of 39 examples built, this rare Alfa Romeo 1900C currently displays 26,265 kilometers (16,311 miles) and is extremely well documented, including research input from some of the niche’s most authoritative experts. A veteran of the 1955 and 1956 Mille Miglias, this well-pedigreed Super Sprint Zagato promises entry to some of the world’s most prestigious concours d’elegance and vintage touring events. It is a beautiful example of one of Zagato’s most celebrated designs, and a museum-worthy display piece that would make a stunning addition to any collection.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more