Monaco

11-12 May 2012

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Lot 366

1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Gara Stradale by Carrozzeria Touring

  • Chassis no. AR 1900C 01420
  • Engine no. 05416

Sold for €240.800


143 bhp, 1,884 cc twin cam inline four-cylinder engine with twin downdraft Solex carburettors, five-speed floor-shift manual transmission, coil spring and double A-arm independent front suspension, solid rear axle with longitudinal radius arms and coil springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,500 mm (98.4”)

• Fully documented restoration by noted marque specialists
• Eligible for numerous rally and touring events
• One of only 7 Alfa Romeo 1900 Corto Garas

The importance of the 1900 as the first modern Alfa cannot be understated. It was the car that began the transformation of the company from a builder of racing cars and a handful of ultra-expensive road cars each year to a true manufacturer, bringing a level of sporting driving to an audience of hundreds of thousands.

Very few 1900 coupés were built on the shortened, or ‘corto’, platform with the uprated engine. They are thought to have numbered only seven. Three of those, including this example, were built as ‘Stradale’ models. The lightweight versions built exclusively for racing were slightly different than the Stradale variants, in that they have a split windscreen, no boot door, no bumpers, a louver on rear Plexiglas windows, and a special dashboard, amongst other differences. The Corto Gara Stradale was fitted with additional amenities, such as tubular bumpers, an air outtake from the cockpit to the underside of the rear bumpers, sliding windows, lightweight door panels, all Plexiglas windows and a short boot door. Of these cars, only three Corto Gara are known to have survived. They include Corto Gara no. 01047, Corto Gara Stradale no. 01361 and the car offered here, chassis number 01420.

Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo states that this car was built on 22 July 1953. It was originally finished in “Grigio/Azzuro” (Grigio Capri–Lechler) and delivered to Tessiture Italiane Seriche SpA of Milano. It was subsequently sold to one Mr Detwiller of Switzerland, before he sold it to Sweden. Mr Hans Joachim Rössing, a well-known German driver, found and bought no. 01420 in Sweden, in barn-find condition, without its original engine. During the 1980s, he entered many historic races throughout Europe in another 1900 coupé, keeping 01420 unrestored. It was at these races where he met Mr Elviro Mario Govoni, who was racing his GTA 1600 and 1900 coupés. They soon struck up a deal, and Mr Govoni bought no. 01420 in 1989. Restoration began on the Corto Gara in 1993. The engine was sent to Officina Gamberini in Bologna, Italy to be tuned, whilst the bodywork was taken over by Mario Galbiati. In 1995, the current owner visited Galbiati’s workshop and fell in love with the car. A few months later, he managed to convince Mr Govoni to sell the Corto Gara.

No. 01420, still unfinished, remained in France until 2007, when it was sent to Italy to be completed. The current period-correct dark cobalt blue finish was given to the coupé during a total restoration by Walter Giusti’s noted firm, Carrozzeria Sport Cars, in Modena. During this work, all bright trim was polished or re-chromed with all new rubber seals used. Mr Ramenzoni performed the mechanical restoration, which included restarting the Gamberini tuned 143 bhp engine, as well as rebuilding the rare and desirable Nardi floorshift five-speed gearbox. The steering, brakes and transmission were also rebuilt to as-new condition. Finally, Mr Maurizio Ferrari looked after the electrical work whilst Mr Dazzi fine-tuned the carburettors.

After an extensive three-year restoration by some of the finest Italian craftsman, Autofficina Omega of Corrado Patella fine-tuned the chassis and suspension to make sure this incredibly rare 1900 Corto Gara runs and drives as well as it looks. Of course this well presented Alfa Romeo is eligible for all the important vintage rally events, including the Mille Miglia Storica. It warrants very close attention from Alfa Romeo enthusiasts in search of the rarest examples.

Addendum

Upon further consultation with marque experts, it has been determined that there were originally eight “Corto Gara” and three of the “Stradale” variant produced. Factory records designate all eleven examples as “C Gara” with the term “Stradale” later applied to differentiate between the two types. A period advertisement by Touring also identifies the Stradale as the “Coupe Superleggera 2-3 Posti Speciale Tipo Super Sprint.” Nomenclature aside, chassis 01420 and 01361 are the two surviving Stradales of three built, with 01047 being the sole surviving Corto Gara of eight built.

Alexander Weaver

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

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Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

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

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

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Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

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