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Lot 374: Alfa Romeo 1900C 1st Series Sprint Coupé

The Beaulieu Sale, Bonhams (7 September 2013)

Alfa Romeo's first all-new offering of the post-war period arrived in 1950. Designed by Dr Orazio Satta Puliga and intended for volume production, the 1900 was the first Alfa to employ unitary construction and - in keeping with the company's sporting heritage - was powered by a twin-overhead-camshaft engine. A four-cylinder unit, the latter displaced 1,884cc and produced 90bhp, an output sufficient to propel the four-door saloon to 93mph. Although ostensibly a humble family conveyance, the 1900 was endowed with sporting credentials which extended beyond its type of power unit, owners enjoying the benefits of wishbone and coil spring independent front suspension and an exceptionally well located live rear axle. It should have surprised nobody therefore, when the 1900's potential was realised in the form of two high performance derivatives. Launched in 1951, the 1900 Sprint featured bodywork by Pinin Farina (cabriolet) and Touring (coupé), both models utilising the 100bhp engine of the 1900TI sports saloon. An immensely influential design, Touring's Sprint was designed to offer family-sized accommodation in a two-door sports coupé format and its heart-shaped vertical grille with flanking horizontal intakes would become an Alfa trademark on later models. Shortly after the Series 2 arrived in early 1954, the model was mildly restyled and upgraded as the Super Sprint, gaining a 1,975cc, 115bhp engine and five-speed gearbox. A rare original right-hand drive example, this 1900C Sprint was first registered 'TR 24610' in Terni (100 kilometres north of Rome) on 5th October 1953. Its first owner was one Concezio Lusi, who kept it for 12 years. The car then passed through several owners' hands and by the 1980s belonged to one Paola Marengon, living in Rome. In October 1983 Ms Marengon sold it to Richard Schimmer of Dusseldorf, who is believed to have driven the Alfa from Italy to Germany. The current owner bought the car from Mr Schimmer in April 1985. At that time the bodywork was rough, compounded by the fact while the car was being trailered from Dover Docks, the bonnet flew open and folded itself in half. Bodywork restoration was entrusted to RS Panels of Nuneaton where Bob Smith and his men did a superb job restoring the aluminium panelling and repainting the shell in black (as before). Nearly all chromed parts were re-plated, the bumpers restored and brake drums polished. The interior was restored, retaining as much of the original materials as possible, and fitted with new headlining and carpets. The entire car was rewired. After purchase it was discovered that a replacement engine from an Alfa Romeo 2000, equipped with twin downdraft Solex 40 PII carburettors, had been installed. The reason for this and when it was done is not known, but it is believed that the transplant was carried out fairly early during the car's life in Italy. It is possible it was used in competitions. The engine was rebuilt by John Clifton of Forest Green, being re-bored to 85.5mm and fitted with new pistons; new main and big-end bearings; new valves, guides, seats and springs; and new cam followers and camshaft chains. A stainless steel exhaust was fitted and the gearbox rebuilt with new bearings, seals and a new reverse gear. We are advised that the new engine gives a better drive, being of larger capacity (2,022cc after the re-bore instead of the original's 1,884cc) and benefiting from a five-speed gearbox with floor change. Described by the private vendor as in generally very good condition, the car is offered with its old Italian libretto, current MoT and Swansea V5 document.

Lot Details
Auction The Beaulieu Sale
Bonhams, Hampshire, UK
TypeCar
Lot Number374
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£135000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£152700
Year1953
Condition rating2
Registration numberWSU 590
Mileage-
Chassis number1900C 01583
Engine numberAR 00204 00913
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors