Tipo3 or Not Tipo3...that is the question!


     For a long time we carried *01883* in the PhotoBase as a lone "hybrid" Tipo3, thinking that some enterprising European craftsman had grafted a Primavera greenhouse onto a regular Tipo3 that, perhaps, had sustained major roof damage at some point in its life. 

     In January of 2013, I received an email message from the current owner of *01883* stating that rather than being a simple bodyshop "hybrid", *01883* was actually a purpose-built one-off custom created by none other than Mario Boano himself, possibly to try out an alternative to the normal Touring CSS coup√©.

     Then, in February, 2015, we became aware that a seemingly-identical car, *01858*, had been sold by Fantasy Junction in Emeryville, California. The existence of that car cast a shadow over the story above, but anything is possible, isn't it? 

     Now, in 2018, we have received photos that cast more light (or confusion!) on this roof modification. A correspondent in Germany sent photo of a third Tipo3 with this modified roofline, and he contacted the Alfa Romeo Archivo Storico which verified that this chassis, *01860*, was produced in July, 1954, and shipped to Carrozzeria Touring.

     So, now we have three of these unusual cars. Obviously not a one-off custom as originally claimed. And, perhaps not even a Boano product at all since at least one car went to Carr. Touring directly. If Mario Boano were testing a new design, it doesn't seem likely that he would produce three of them that have exactly the same "test" roofline". Also, the roofline on these three cars, while similar to that of Boano's Primaveras, is just that, similar. While the three are identical to each other, they are not identical to the Primavera. 

     And I see a bit of "clumsiness" in the roofline of these three cars from 1954. Ghia (and presumably Mario Boano) had already made one such design with this roofline, and it can be seen on *01078*, a Ghia "America" from even earlier, in mid-1952. So I do not buy the suggestion that the same hand that created two smooth rooflines (Primavera and *01078*) also created the less-attractive version of *01858*, *01860* and *01883* as an experiment-in-triplicate.

     On the other hand, *01860* has other modifications or custom touches which the other two cars lack. It has been suggested to me that these cars were products of a German customizer, and the unique features of *01860* would lend credence to that theory, as would the identical appearance of the three rooflines and the German location of two of the three cars. But it also may be that after Boano was done with them, two of the cars went to Germany and there, at some point, one of them received some visual customization not related to Boano, and thus the story was born that they were all three created in Germany by a customizer. This possibility becomes more credible when you see that *01883* bears a German-language identification plate where there would be none from the Alfa factory:

 

     However, all three of these cars were built between July and September, 1954, suggesting that they might have all been revised at the same time. Were three chassis randomly selected to be sent to Boano for use in developing the Primavera? That certainly cannot be excluded as a possibility. And, since the Primavera did not appear on the scene until two years later in 1956, Boano had plenty of time to cancel this experimental roofline and revert to the "America"-style roofline that became the Primavera.

     Also, note that the headlights on *01858* appear to bear the remnants of the "eyeshade" treatment over the headlights of *01860*. This feature was common among American customizers in the 1950s and could have been used in Germany in 1954.

 

     One more possibility is that the unknown German customizer used the Ghia "America" for his inspiration, and that these three cars have nothing at all to do with Boano or the Primavera. Personally, I am leaning towards this explanation. It covers all the points except the closeness of the manufacturing dates of the three chassis, but that might have been a coincidence, perhaps? Or, maybe that German shop ordered all three cars?

     I wonder if we will ever know the answer to this puzzle.     

 

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