Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale 1953
Chassis no. AR1900.CO1411
Design: Carrozzeria Touring
•One of 11 Corto Gara models built
•One of only two surviving Stradale variants
•Fully documented restoration by recognised marque specialists
•Eligible for numerous prestigious historic motoring events
Historically significant as the first modern Alfa Romeo, the '1900' arrived in 1950. Alfa Romeo's first all-new offering of the post-war period, it was designed by Dr Orazio Satta Puliga and intended for volume production, unlike the competition cars and hand-built luxury models that preceded it. The 1900 was also the first Alfa Romeo to employ unitary construction and - in keeping with the company's sporting heritage - was powered by a twin-overhead-camshaft engine.
The example offered here is one of the few coupés built on the Corto (Short) 1900 platform. It is one of 11 Corto Gara (Short, Competition) models built, of which only three were Stradale (road going) versions like this car. Only two of the Stradale models survive (this car and '01361') with '01047' being the sole surviving Corto Gara. All were supplied with an up-rated engine.
Built exclusively for racing, the lightweight Corto Gara models boasted a split windscreen, Plexiglas rear windows, a special dashboard, and a fixed boot lid, while the bumpers were deleted. There were, of course, numerous more minor differences in addition. The better-equipped Corto Gara Stradale featured tubular bumpers, lightweight door panels, Plexiglas windows, an abbreviated boot lid, and a cockpit air extractor.
According to the Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo, '01420' was completed on 22nd July 1953 and originally finished in Grigio/Azzuro (Grey/Blue). The car was delivered new to Tessiture Italiane Seriche SpA of Milan, and subsequently was sold to a Mr Detwiller in Switzerland, who in turn sold it on to Sweden. '01420' was still in Sweden when it was discovered – in 'barn find' condition and minus its original engine – by the well-known German racing driver, Hans Joachim Rossing. Mr Rossing continued to race his other 1900 coupé but left '01420' un-restored.
While racing he met fellow competitor, Mr Elviro Mario Govoni, who bought '01420' from him in 1989, although the car's restoration did not begin until 1993. Officina Gamberini of Bologna, Italy tuned the engine, which is of period-correct type, while the bodywork was entrusted to Mario Galbiati. It was at Galbiati's workshop that the previous owner first saw the Alfa Romeo and fell in love with it, purchasing the car from Mr Govoni a few months later.
'01420' remained in France, unfinished, until 2007 when it was sent to Italy for completion by some of the country's foremost specialists, a process that would take the next three years. Walter Giusti's noted firm, Carrozzeria Sport Cars of Modena, completed the bodywork restoration and applied the period-correct dark cobalt blue paint. In addition, all the brightwork was either polished or re-chromed, and new rubber seals used throughout. Restoration of the mechanicals, including the Gamberini-tuned 143bhp engine, was undertaken by Mr Ramenzoni, who also rebuilt the rare and desirable five-speed gearbox with Nardi floor shift. The rest of the transmission and the running gear likewise were restored to as-new condition. The electrics were refurbished by Mr Maurizio Ferrari and the carburettors tuned by Mr Dazzi. Finally, Autofficina Omega of Corrado Patella fine-tuned the chassis and suspension. Invoices on file for maintenance and work carried out on the car since acquisition by the last owner total €22,000.
Said to run and drive as well as it looks, this ultra-rare Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale is eligible for many of the most prestigious historic motoring events, including the Mille Miglia Storica.
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