6C COMPETIZIONE PHOTO CHRONOLOGY
The 6C2500 Competizione berlinetta is a fascinating, early post-war Alfa Romeo. The history of this model is very cloudy and many people, most notably the late Ben Hendriks of SCARB, have tried to clarify the picture over the years with various degrees of success. Some say there were three cars, other evidence suggested there might have been four cars. And was the first chassis, wrecked in 1948, really re-used in 1950 for the improved 6C3000 C50, or was there a fresh chassis under 6C3000 C50?
A small group of us--Peter, Giuseppe, Joost and Bob--confused by the conflicting stories, continued to pursue this topic with the hope of eventually presenting a comprehensive and accurate chronology of these competition berlinettas, using resources from the internet and from physical collections, including "the factory". And registration records at Italy's PRA office, along with photos found online, were useful in helping us unravel the ownership history and chronology of these three cars.
Finally, we compared our work with that of the latest book on the subject, Alfa Romeo 6C 2300, 6C 2500 by Fabio Morlacchi & Stefano Salvetti (Fucina, Italy, 2014), and found that there was much agreement between their work and ours, as well as SCARB's Het Klaverblaadje #64 of 1993.
The true chronology, as best we can
determine it, is that:
And chassis #920002, the Franco Rol car with its known history, was not a factor in this research but served somewhat as a reference point (2013 Gooding & Co. auction catalog). The evidence that we found, confirmed by photographic evidence, looks like this...
Chassis #920001, original owner Franco Venturi, original Carrozzeria Alfa Romeo configuration and colors...the "stepped" ending to the front fender halfway across the door identifies this as 920001… bicolore before its minor accident while road testing a few days before the 1948 Mille Miglia and then repainted dark red for the race;
Venturi's 920001, though
already entered for the 1948 Mille Miglia as car #31, was unable to
compete due to an accident just ahead of race day. The damage was
quickly repaired and the car was repainted monochrome red. It was then loaned to or turned
over to the factory and their test driver, Consalvo Sanesi, for the race
itself and entered at the last minute as car #1047...that would help explain the high race number "1047"
of Sanesi's entry...oddly, though, it still carried private targa (license
plate) rather than factory "Prova" plates...note that the
grille opening has only five bars...
Chassis #920001, below, now re-numbered as #1047, was consequently badly crashed by factory test driver Sanesi during the 1948 Mille Miglia and did not finish (DNF)…
Replacement Chassis #920001...Since Alfa's factory driver had destroyed a customer car, the original 920001, the factory decided to make restitution with a complete new car. The replacement car, also with telaio 920001, was delivered in 1948 between the late-April Mille Miglia and the Coppa del Mare on 12 September...the "feathered" finish to the fender line in the door skin proves this is not the original 920001 (see below)...note "fatter" lower grille shape plus six crossbars in grille opening, so this cannot be 920002 as others have suggested...it also suggests that the grille was enlarged to mimic 920002's total opening size after that car's "chin scoop" was added, and rightly so since it was constructed after 920002 began its racing career...these three photos are often described as being of the original 920001, or 920002 or even 920003, but they are none of those; they are of the replacement car for Franco Venturi's 920001 that was wrecked by Sanesi in the 1948MM...
...below are two photo comparisons; in each case the upper bicolore is the original 920001, while the lower car is the replacement 920001 given to Franco Venturi...in both cases, the bottom photo is flipped horizontally to make this comparison...careful inspection will show a number of differences, most notably how the front fender is now smoothly-blended into the door panel, rather than being truncated prematurely, exactly as it was on chassis 920002 of Franco Rol...
Replacement Chassis #"920001",
below, owner still Franco Venturi, was now
...and after being out of service in 1949 for some unknown reason, the "replacement" 920001 first appears in the records in 1950, being driven by Mario Bornigia as Car #500 at the 1950 Targa Florio...note that there are six crossbars in the grille opening and no chin scoop, and what looks like a quadrifoglio triangle near base of windscreen...in third photo, below, Mario Bornigia is presented with the winner's trophy after the XXXIV Targa Florio, 1950.
Replacement Chassis #920001...below, is Bornigia's car at its appearance as Car #730 in the 1950MM, loaned to the Alfa factory for Fangio to drive in that race. Note six crossbars in grille and no chin scoop, as well as quadrifoglio triangle decal...unlike in 1948, this year the car wore factory "Prova" targa MI-65 because the car was again temporarily out of private ownership...
Replacement Chassis #920001 at the April, 1951 Giro di Sicilia as Car #436, Bornigia driving (photo below; man beside Lancia is not Bornigia). You can just make out 920001's rear in this photo from Targapedia...
Replacement Chassis #920001 at 1951MM as Car #422, Bornigia driving (below). Note missing grille bar (5 bars instead of 6) and no chin scoop...looks like car (or photo) may have been damaged...car has quadrifoglio triangle on driver side...here is YouTube video of 920001 at the 1951 Mille Miglia...
Replacement Chassis #920001 at 1951 Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti as Car #101 (below), Bornigia driving.
Replacement Chassis #920001 at 1952 Targa Florio as Car #56, Bornigia driving once again...nose now modified in 1900C Touring style (somewhat) with a gaping, grille-less intake...and below that as Car #3 at the 1952 Pescara 12-hour race.
Chassis #920002...here it is at its first outing, as Car #20 in the 1948 Mille Miglia. It is at the start, owner/driver Franco Rol at the wheel, starter watching his chromometer and flag ready to drop. Five grille bars, no chin scoop (left photo, below), but by July of 1948, at the Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti as car #177, the car had already acquired the sixth grille bar (right photo, below) but still no chin scoop. The car, owned and campaigned by Franco Rol from 1948-1950, eventually ended up in the famous Dovaz collection in Switzerland as one of its "Sleeping Beauties"...
Chassis #920002 gained a chin scoop at some point after the 1948 Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti and prior to the 1949 Mille Miglia, and it is clearly present at the 1949MM (photo left, below, at scrutineering?)...and then ready for action as Car #648…and for sale in 2014. Note the newly-added narrow chin scoop below the grille, instead of the wider lower grille extension seen later, and while it appears to have five grille bars here, careful examination suggests that bar #6 is missing...post-restoration in 2014 it has six grille bars but the grille shape of the replacement 920001…the chin scoop appears to have been a 1949 Mille Miglia-only feature.
Chassis #920002 ...the photo below, left, appears to show a freshened 920002 sometime after the 1949 Mille Miglia (the gentleman in the middle is not Franco Rol, according to Rol's grandson, but he certainly appears to be Rol; grandson could be mistaken). The chin scoop seen only at the 1949 Mille Miglia is gone now, replaced by a wider, downward extension of the main grille. There are only five grille bars, a configuration not seen after this photo. And below, right, is Franco Rol finishing first in non-championship Susa-Moncenesio in car #78 in June of 1949, just a few weeks after the Mille Miglia. The wider lower section of the grille now has six grille bars...
...and this is confirmed by the photo of Rol in car #68 at the Aosta-Gran Premio San Bernardo in late August, 1949 (below, upper-left). In-between those events, Franco Rol was the winner in 920002 in car #16 at the rainy 12 Hours Cicuito di Pescara race earlier in August, 1949.
Chassis #920002 ...At the 1950MM,Franco Rol prepares to enter the car...920002 is entered as Car #720 and while we can't see how many grille bars are present, there must have been six...
...because in the video clips of the 1950MM, we can plainly see that 920002 now has six grille bars and the extended grille, but not replacement 920001's enlarged grille shape...
Chassis #920002 at 1951MM, as Car #419, 920002 is back to five grille bars, missing-- for some reason--bar #4 that crossed just over the top of the engine crank hole...it seems unlikely that the car had actually reverted back to its original six-bar configuration...but you never know! And at right is Franco Rol, probably in a publicity photo...
Chassis #920003, designated 6C3000 C50...was a new chassis, not the damaged original 920001 chassis bits that were lying around Portello after Sanesi's 1948MM crash...it is entered in the 1950MM as a 6C3000 C50 and raced as car #740...apparently bodied by Touring in a newer, more streamlined style…
Chassis #920003, designated 6C3000 C50...below, as crashed by Sanesi at the 1950MM. The car was said to have been scrapped and the engine put on display at Museo Alfa Romeo in Arese. Was this the permanent end of this chassis? Maybe not...
...but there was a “6C2500 Sperimentale” car listed for the 1950 Coppa Inter-Europa, held just 30 days before the 1950MM, and also driven by Sanesi. But that 1950 CIE car was not 920003 on a "shakedown run", but actually Replacement Chassis #920001 and entered as a 6C2500 C46, the actual Tipo designation of 920001 and 920002.
The caption on the photo below, translation by Giuseppe, says ''1950 CS (Consalvo Sanesi) running for victory at Coppa Intereuropa at the wheel of 6C2500 C46 berlinetta Sperimentale (AS)", where "AS" is Archivio Sanesi, Sanesi's personal archive.
Although I cannot read the license plate, the position of that plate, the number and shape of the grille bars and the quadrifoglio emblem clearly mark this as Replacement Chassis #920001 and not some early iteration of 920003.
But a logical question, then, is why is Sanesi, Alfa's factory test driver, driving a two-year-old customer car, just a few weeks before arguably the most important race in Italy, the Mille Miglia? Well, maybe the factory needed a test vehicle for the 6C3000 motore and the Touring-bodied 920003 wasn't ready yet, or the factory didn't want to tip its hand. But why call it a "6C2500 C46 Sperimentale"? The answer, I suspect, is that it was called a "6C2500 C46" because that was the correct, official factory designation for the type, and "Sperimentale" because it carried the experimental, 3-liter version of the 6C engine that was being race-tested in advance of the engine's appearance in the Touring-bodied 6C3000 C50 in the 1950 Mille Miglia.
And remember the question earlier in this saga about why 920001, the replacement Venturi/Bornigia Competizione, seems to have "sat out" the 1949 racing season? Perhaps 920001 spent some or most of that missing year as a test "mule" for the improved 6C Competizione 3000cc motore, under Sanesi's guidance. But just prior to the Coppa Intereuropa, 920001 ran at the 1950 Targa Floria under Bornigia's guidance, presumably with the car's regular motore, so the engines were probably swapped between these events.
Chassis #920003, designated 6C3000 C50...in 1952 or so, the chassis wrecked in the 1950MM was repaired and then re-bodied by Carrozzeria Colli in a style similar to original 1950 "Touring" berlinetta (except front facia) and sold to a privateer, Eugenio Nosenzo, but it never raced again. The car was most likely powered by a normal 6C2500 engine rather than the 3-liter race engine that it carried in the 1950 Mille Miglia.
So, what became of this re-bodied 920003? According to Lorenzo Boscarelli in SCARB's Het Klaverblaadje #148, 2014, the car was "happily used by the Nosenzo family until 1956, noting its outstanding performance, when it was sold to the Tampieri family of Solarolo in Ravenna Province. Although used regularly that ownership lasted until some time in 1960 when the car got sold to a used car dealer and 'dumped' in town standing forlorn in a bed of overgrown weeds until for a reported 50,000 lire it disappeared."
TF = Targa Florio / GS = Giro di Sicilia / M M = Mille Miglia / CM = Coppa del Mare
CD = Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti / CIE = Coppa Inter-Europa
GS = Giro de Sicilia / CT = Coppa delle Toscana / PESC = 12hrs Circuito di Pescara
Rallye = 5th Rallye International Lyon-Charbonnieres
S-M = Susa Moncenesio, 1949 / Aosta = Gran Premio San Bernardo
As long as I'm on the subject, here's a comparison of two 6C Competiziones and a Freccia d'Oro. I think this shows that the 6C Competizione was clearly designed in-house at Portello and intended to have a strong visual relationship to Alfa's bread-and-butter model of the day (at least in profile; not so much for the front end).
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