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Lot 111: Alfa Romeo 6C-1750 Fifth Series Gran Turismo Three-Position Drophead Coupé

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

The 1750, and for that matter the 1500... must be among the finest ever made both from the point of view of engineering and driver satisfaction.' - Michael Frostick, 'Alfa-Romeo-Milano'. It was in 1923 that Enzo Ferrari, no less, persuaded Vittorio Jano to leave FIAT's racing department and join him at Alfa Romeo. One of the most gifted and influential automobile engineers of all time, Jano would not only supervise Alfa Romeo's Grand Prix racing programme but also design its road cars. This happy state of affairs resulted in the latter emerging as some of the most exciting of their day, establishing the Milanese marque's reputation for producing sporting driver's cars second to none. Logical derivative of the Tipo 6C 1500, itself directly descended from Jano's all-conquering P2 that had won the World Championship in 1925, the Tipo 6C 1750 arrived in 1929 boasting a derivative of the 1500's six-cylinder engine enlarged to 1,752cc. Built in single-cam Turismo and twin-cam Sport (later renamed Gran Turismo) variants, the 6C 1750 was an exciting fast touring car combining light weight with sparkling performance, more than 75mph being attainable, depending on coachwork. There was also a supercharged 'SS' version (which later evolved into the 'GS'), only 52 examples of which were made. Most of these cars carried coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato or Carrozzeria Touring, with James Young being responsible for bodying the majority imported into the UK. The 1750's sporting career, aided by its mechanical longevity, extended far beyond its production, which ceased in 1933. This charming Fifth Series twin-cam Gran Turismo is owned by David Howard, a well-known and long standing collectors' motor car dealer who retired and moved to France a few years ago. Mr Howard has owned this particular Alfa Romeo 1750 twice, acquiring the car for the first time in November 1956 while still too young to drive it (he would have to wait until his 17th birthday the following March). David, who up until then had been content with a Vespa scooter, bought the Alfa using the proceeds of the sale of an antique French clock, a gift from his godmother. 'ETN 627' was purchased from Performance Cars in Brentford and registered in his father's name. The old-style continuation logbook (issued 22nd March 1957) records the colour as grey and lists only one other owner - Peter George Moody, who acquired the Alfa in December '57 - David Howard having part-exchanged it against a 4½-litre Invicta at Automo in Hampstead. By this time David had removed the Alfa's corroded Memini carburettor, replacing it with twin SUs. Subsequent research revealed the car's interesting early history. Marine engineer and inventor Andrew Laing (1856-1931) and his wife Catherine lived at 15 Osborne Road, Newcastle. They had two daughters, the elder of whom bought an Alfa Romeo in 1931 (coincidentally the year of her father's death). The younger sister, Jane Laing, followed suit at the 1932 Olympia Motor Show, buying '10914713' off the Alfa Romeo stand. She may well have kept the car until 1937 when the original registration was retained and 'ETN 627' issued. This was probably the time when the car was sold to Brooklands Motors of New Bond Street, their plaque being fixed to the dashboard. Unfortunately, this is where the trail goes cold. Jane Laing never married and continued to live at Osborne Road after her parents' death. She herself is believed to have died in the 1950s after which the house was turned into a hotel. Jane was born in 1886 and would have been 46 when she bought the Alfa. Probably stored throughout the war years, the car reappeared in 1945 outside Wellington Barracks when Lord Assheton Cross, who later raced AC Cobras, requested photographs of it. Whether he actually owned the car is not clear. 'ETN 627' was next heard of in the 1950s owned by a Naval Commander at Portsmouth prior to its purchase by David Howard. The car suffered an engine failure while in the hands of the next owner, Peter Moody, and was stored for the next 38 years. In the meantime, David Howard had succeeded in tracking down his fondly remembered Alfa and eventually persuaded Peter Moody to part with it, which he did in 1995. The engine was rebuilt and a new hood made, the rest of the car remaining in 'as purchased' condition including the Gunmetal Grey coachwork and grey snakeskin leather interior, the latter specially made for the 1932 Motor Show. At that time the car was finished in black (a favourite James Young colour) with all chrome fittings including brake drums. Traces of this were discovered by David Howard when he re-acquired the car in 1995. Beneath the seat cushions he also found a 1932 half-crown, which is now fixed to the dashboard. David recounted the story of his 50-year love affair with the 1750 three-position drophead in an article published in The Automobile magazine (October 2008 edition, copy available). This well documented and highly original Alfa Romeo 1750 is offered with a nice file containing the aforementioned old-style logbook, period handbook, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
Lot Number111
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£90000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£102300
Condition rating1
Registration numberETN 627
Chassis number10914713
Engine number10914713
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2