1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Spider
RM | Sotheby's - ARIZONA 2018 - A Century of Sports Cars
- A Century of Sports Cars Collection
- Best of Show, 1998 Concorso Italiano
- An exquisite restoration to a striking degree of detail
- Among the most beautiful 6C 2500s in the world
In the ’20s and ’30s, Alfa Romeo was equivalent to today’s Ferrari, supplying not only competitive rides for their best drivers, but also a steady stream of beautifully designed and engineered cars for privateer entrants. When the company, which employed thousands of artisans, mechanics, and functionaries to build only a few cars, encountered the inevitable financial difficulties, it was bailed out by the state. Instead of being directed to downsize and build saleable automobiles to generate cash flow and keep those thousands employed, Italy directed Alfa to build great racing machines to demonstrate Italy’s technology and competitiveness on Europe’s racecourses. Production shrank, but the few cars that were built were the best in the world.
In a time when automobiles were exotic and often idiosyncratic creations, the products of Alfa Romeo were finely crafted works of art, elegant in conception and executed with due regard to combining excellent function with exquisite form. Virtually every important piece was produced in house in Alfa’s fabrication shop, pattern works, foundry, and machine shop. The product of artisans, each of whom took pride in the performance, reliability, quality, execution, and appearance of his separate creation. These Alfas also reflected the overall responsibility of engineer Vittorio Jano, who continually tested, evaluated, and improved their performance until they met his high, and growing, standards.
Debuting at the 1925 Milan Auto Show, the 6C 1500 set the standard for lightweight, high-performance road cars and was followed in 1929 by the 6C 1750. The next evolution of the 6C came in 1934, and although traditional in its layout, the 6C 2300 had nearly twice the displacement of the car it succeeded. Accordingly, it was a highly competent automobile capable of providing excellent performance with multi-passenger coachwork.
In 1939, the 6C 2300 was replaced by the 6C 2500. Although the basic engine design traced its roots to the great pre-war racing machines, highly regarded automotive author and historian Griffith Borgeson characterized the 2500 as a “bridge to post-World War II production.” This was due to the fact that production of the model lasted from 1939 through 1953, including the war years, albeit in limited numbers. The change in displacement was affected by an increase in the cylinder bore of two millimeters, as well as an improved cylinder head for better aspiration and increased compression, from 6.5:1 to 7.1:1. In the sport configuration, this translated into a respectable 95 hp, with performance aided by lightweight aluminum coachwork. The ultimate version was the triple-carbureted 6C 2500 SS, one of the great Italian sporting machines of its era.
THE BEAUTIFUL SPIDER: AN AWARD-WINNING ALFA ROMEO
This stunning spider’s earliest known owner was Corrado Cupellini, who recalled acquiring it either in South America or the South of France. Cupellini mounted it with the present coachwork, one of three earlier-style 8C 2900 bodies he commissioned from a former coachbuilding employee, based upon the design of an original period body. In recent correspondence, John De Boer of the Italian Car Registry noted that he had inspected the car several times, including when it was fitted with its original engine, and that “all of the major components that match each other seem likely to match the identity of 915.515,” thus establishing the car’s correct identity.
The Alfa Romeo was sold in the 1980s to Homer Taskis, and was entered in the 1987 Mille Miglia. It was then sold to Laurence Frye, who commissioned its restoration, completed in 1997. Around this time it was also equipped with the present SS-specification 6C 2500 engine, a period-correct unit from 1942. The superb work was honored with numerous awards, most prominently 2nd in class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1997, and Best of Show at Concorso Italiano in 1998. In 2013 it was judged 2nd in class once more and received the Megiuar’s Award for Best Finish at the San Marino Motor Classic in California. The gorgeous Alfa Romeo was later acquired by the current consignor, an avid collector in Southern California.
Superbly presented today, this car is offered with a collection of detailed restoration photographs and historical information. It is among the most breathtaking 6C 2500 SSes to have recently been offered, dramatic in the intensity of its beautiful lines, and considered an inspiration to others.