Building upon the ‘6C’ dynasty established by legendary engineer Vittorio Jano in 1925, the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 debuted in 1938 as the successor to the immensely successful 6C 2300. Rooted in the brilliant prewar racing machines from Alfa Romeo, the 6C 2500 remains historic as what noted author and historian Griffith Borgeson characterized as the company’s “bridge to post-World War II production,” with the 6C 2500 produced until 1952. The 6C 2500 was also Alfa Romeo’s answer to the drastic changes enacted in 1939 for sports car racing, which meant the end of the line for Alfa’s mighty supercharged racers and heralded the new Sport Nationale formula shifting emphasis to normally aspirated, production-based sports cars. Rather than being a restrictive obligation for manufacturers, this fundamental change in competition rules ushered a brilliant new, yet all too brief, period of creativity before the onset of war in Europe during late 1939. Alfa Romeo’s solution was elegant – a proven combination of light, aerodynamic Touring alloy bodywork and uprated “triple-carburetor” induction for its newly enlarged 2.5-litre DOHC inline six-cylinder engine.
According to Angelo Tito Anselmi’s authoritive book on the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500, there were five rolling chassis of the 3,000-mm wheelbase chassis built and this example is number one. The Berlinetta coachwork was fitted by Carrozzeria Touring that carried no less than three patents and was formally known as Touring design number 1137. A select few were built with triple carburetors and dubbed as “SS” models. The example offered here carries the “SS” plate in the engine compartment that identifies it as an ultra-rare early triple-carburetor car, of which only five were ever built. With its powerful engine, the Touring-bodied 6C 2500 was catalogued as Alfa’s fastest production car available.
Numbered 915.005, this 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta is one of just five examples equipped from the factory with the top-specification “SS” triple-carbureted engine. According to its known history, 915.005 was exported from Italy to Canada by Elmer Leigh, a serviceman with Canadian forces operating in Italy from 1943 to the end of hostilities in May 1945. Mr. Leigh subsequently moved to Colorado during the 1960s, taking the rare Alfa there with him. It was road-registered and plated (TU 8183) in Colorado, eventually being stored in Mr. Leigh’s garage until circa 1979-1980, when it was removed for photography, presumably after Mr. Leigh had passed away. Numerous photographs recorded the Alfa at this moment in time, with the body appearing in bare metal, worn and in need of restoration, but complete with only an approximate 44,000 kilometres indicated on the odometer. It is understood that Mr. Leigh’s grandson, an architect based in Calgary, Alberta in Western Canada, subsequently attempted to sell the car. It is further understood that the identification tags have never been removed from this 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta, which retains the “SS5” tag verifying it.
In 1987, racer and restorer Steven Tillack offered the car for sale on consignment and advertised it in the UK’s Classic & Sports Car magazine for $75,000. Mr. Tillack eventually sold the Alfa to Holland, with the car reported by enthusiasts in Volume Three of the 1997 newsletter of the International Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Register. According to this update, “We visited a panel beater nearby (i.e. in Holland), where Raoul San Giorgi’s 1939 Sport Touring Berlinetta (915.005) is stored, awaiting its restoration. The car is in complete and well-preserved condition and will make a very worthwhile restoration project. I recall that the car was offered to me in 1986 by a young architect in Calgary who had inherited the car from his grandfather Elmer Leigh in Denver, who had owned the car for many years.” In another entry by Alfa Romeo marque expert Angelo Tito Anselmi, the author of the definitive book, “Alfa Romeo 6C 2500,” the Alfa was not in entirely original condition in 1992, since it was photographed at this juncture with a new(er) paint finish. In 1998, 915.005 was listed for sale in Holland and photographed at this time at a classic car exhibition.
In 2006, it was sold to a new owner via the Deventer Car Museum of Holland, who would submit 915.005 in 2011 for total restoration to none other than the Restoration Division of Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera S.r.l., in Milan, the successor company to the famed original Carrozzeria Touring coachbuilding firm established by Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni. Subsequently, the bare “under restoration” bodyshell of the rare Alfa Romeo was exhibited at first edition of Milano Autoclassica held during February 2012.
It was next shown in February 2013 at the world-famous Retromobile show in Paris, this time with the body painted and fully finished and with the glass, lights, bumpers, and brightwork all fitted. As best described by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera S.r.l. in its Retromobile 2013 event brochure, “This car, VIN 915.005, is the very first 6C 2500 Touring Berlinetta built in cooperation with Alfa Romeo, between 1938 and 1939, powered by an SS engine fitted with three Weber carburetors. It is built in aluminum with Superleggera technique. By the time it was designed, Touring was starting a revolution in shapes driven by the search for aerodynamic efficiency. Headlights, fenders, boot and other formerly separated elements had drawn the attention of designers and were progressively integrated in the body. This model features a transitional design where extended elements tend to converge toward the main cell. Details characterizing the Alfa Romeo cars of that age are strongly present, blended by the art of Touring into a perfectly balanced and fluid result…” Its resurrection was also an international effort with many mechanical components being refurbished in the Netherlands. In his book “Carrozzeria Touring” by Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, he described this 6C 2500, which graces the cover, as “one of the most desirable of its period.”
A complete listing of the restoration work is stated on the Certificate of Original Restoration issued on June 6, 2013. Extremely rare, beautifully restored, well-documented and offered in the top available “triple carbureted” SS specification, this 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta marks an amazing find as a coachbuilt, race-bred legend on all counts from the immediate prewar era. It displays timeless beauty, impressive rarity, and outstanding performance and is truly worthy of display amongst the world’s most prestigious concours lawns and collections. See the catalogue description here and be sure to register to bid!