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Lot 600: Alfa Romeo 1900 Monoposto 'Satta' Special

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

The unique Alfa Romeo 'special' offered here was inspired by the work of Dr Orazio Satta Puliga, the man responsible for designing the '1900' model and also for the final development of the Alfetta Grand Prix racer. Work commenced while the vendor was living in New Zealand, the basis for the monoposto being an Alfa Romeo 1900 Super saloon (chassis number '13140') that previously belonged to Betty Roycroft, wife of well-known local racing driver, Ron Roycroft. Apart from the tubular steel chassis frame, the De Dion rear suspension and the body, all the Satta Special's major mechanical components are from this same donor car, dating from 1955 or earlier. All work has been done to a high standard of engineering with no expense spared to produce a car comparable with a factory-built racer, which although not a copy of the World Championship-winning Alfetta 158/159 is very much in the spirit of those legendary models. Most of the work had been completed in New Zealand before the Alfa was brought to the UK, where it was finished in 2012 with assistance from Keith Poynting. Peter Bruin built the chassis frame and De Dion rear suspension in 2002, completing the task in only 12 weeks, while the aluminium bodywork was constructed by the late Fred Gosley, who worked at Vickers Brooklands during the 1930s. Post-war, Fred worked for both Alta and HWM, constructing bodywork for monoposto racing cars. General mechanical work was carried out by George Darbyshire. Graham Brayshaw, an experienced racing car engineer, built one 1,975cc engine from two 1900 units. The inlet manifold and two twin-choke Weber 45 carburettors are from a 1900 Superleggera and have air trumpets with gauzes. Designed and built by a racing engineer, the competition extractor exhaust system features paired headers from cylinders one and four and cylinders two and three, which feed a single expansion chamber complete with period-style shaped and drilled cover. The Webers have been set up by Jeremy Brewster using a rolling-road dynamometer. Apart from the aforementioned modifications, the engine is to standard specification. Although taken from a 1900 saloon, the front suspension and finned aluminium brake drums look entirely convincing on this 1950s-era monoposto 'special', which is perhaps not so surprising given Alfa Romeo's competition heritage. De Dion rear suspension was common on 1950s racing cars and the Satta's incorporates an aluminium-cased 1950s Alfa Romeo differential and open half-shafts. This is supported by an adjustable transverse leaf spring enabling the suspension to be set up correctly for competition. A similar arrangement is employed at the front. Damping at the rear is courtesy of a pair of new Houdaille lever-arm shock absorbers, as fitted to many 1950s racing cars, while a pair of second-hand Houdailles is fitted at the front. Shod with Dunlop Racing tyres, the alloy-rimmed Borrani wheels are mounted on new-old-stock splined hubs all round. There is a new aluminium fuel tank, which is shaped to fit inside the tail unit and is filled via a large, period, flip-top, racing filler cap. The battery is mounted in the tail, as is the new SU electric fuel pump. Copied from a period original, the racing windscreen was made by hand, as were the bonnet louvres. Fully rebuilt at great cost, the large tachometer is mounted on the aluminium dashboard alongside correct Aric oil pressure and water temperature gauges. The correct, racing-type steering wheel was copied from a 1950s original, consisting of an aluminium centre and 32-piece walnut rim, while the seat is authentically upholstered in brown corduroy. The end result is a beautifully constructed 1950s-style racing car, built using period-correct components, that promises some wonderful driving experiences for the fortunate new owner. Although not registered for the road, the Satta Special is currently MoT'd (certificate expires 26.04.2013) and is recognised by the Alfa Romeo 1900 Register. Included in the sale is a complete history file containing detailed photographs of the work done and a list of useful spare parts that accompany the car. Affording an exciting prospect for further development, these include a Mario Speluzzi supercharger originally fitted to a Scuderia Milano Maserati 4CL/4CLT racing car.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number600
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis numberAR 1900 13140
Engine numberAR 1900 14150
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors