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$2,420,000! 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider by Zagato

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1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider by Zagato
Sold For $2,420,000 Including Commission
RM Auction, Amelia Island, Florida 2015
Chassis No.10814313
Engine No.10814313
Body No.917
The 13th of approximately 106 fifth-series Gran Sports produced
One of 76 examples built for 1931
Comprehensive restoration completed in 2009
Exhibited at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Overwhelmingly original example with numerous matching body stamps and parts numbers
A racing legend built on the triumphs of such Alfa greats as Tazio Nuvolari and Achille Varzi
85 bhp 1,752 cc DOHC supercharged inline six-cylinder engine with a Memini carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear live axle suspension with leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.
As the world of motorsports evolved during the early 1920s, FIAT continued to dominate grand prix racing, but they soon watched many of its brightest and most talented employees hired away by the competition. Perhaps no loss was more significant than that of engineer Vittorio Jano, who not only demonstrated a mastery of technical design but also supervised field testing, contributed to race strategies, and even occasionally worked with pit crews. While his exodus from FIAT in late 1923 marked a downturn for the Turin firm’s fortunes, it was a coup de grâce for Alfa Romeo, whose team manager, one Enzo Ferrari, had personally recruited the young engineer.
Jano was immediately charged with developing Alfa’s new grand prix car, the P2, and the model’s smashing run of victories overwhelmingly justified his hiring. In 1926, Jano succeeded Giuseppe Merosi as Alfa’s head of design, and he then set to work on a touring car that was centered around a brand-new overhead-cam, 1.5-liter, inline six-cylinder engine. The 6C 1500 officially entered production in 1927, and the Sport version, which became available a year later, featured a twin overhead cam that raised power by 10 to a brisk 54 horsepower. (This motor would become the conceptual basis for the evolution of small-displacement dual-cam engines that defined Alfa’s greatest cars over the following four decades.) Both Normale and Sport versions rode wheelbases of 114 inches and were generally clothed in saloon or four-seat tourer coachwork.
In 1929, the 6C 1500 Super Sport was introduced, and it featured two-seat spider coachwork and an optional Roots supercharger, which increased power to 76 horsepower. These cars were produced in very small numbers during the two series of 6C 1500 production, which lasted until late 1929, when the engine displacement was enlarged to 1,752 cubic centimeters.
The resulting 6C 1750 was produced in four more series of gradual improvements over the following six years, soon distinguishing itself as one of Alfa Romeo’s most important models. While nearly 2,600 examples were made in total, many of these cars were equipped as the single-cam Turismo version (the replacement for the Normale) and were built on Alfa’s long 122-inch chassis. A minority of these cars were classified as Sport models, which were built on 114-inch chassis and equipped with the twin-cam 1750 engine. Most of these cars were clothed with Alfa saloon coachwork and were soon more appropriately renamed Gran Turismo.
This distinction paved the way for the Super Sport examples, which rode the shorter 108-inch wheelbase and were available with finned alloy superchargers and intake manifolds. Perhaps most importantly, these cars were coachbuilt to individual customer order by firms like Zagato, Castagna, and Touring.
In 1930, the Super Sport name was updated to Gran Sport, and these cars featured an ingenious sloping radiator that not only gave the car a more rakish appearance but also functionally increased the surface area of the radiator for improved cooling. The 6C 1750 Gran Sport Standard was equipped with the Roots supercharger, which developed an unprecedented 85 horsepower, and approximately 106 examples were produced before the introduction of the sixth and final series of cars in 1933.
In factory competition form, the 6C 1750 firmly thrust Alfa Romeo into the winner’s circle, making it arguably more successful than any Alfa model to date. With five major victories in 1929 alone, including Giuseppe Campari’s triumph at the Mille Miglia, the 6C 1750 took the top three places at the 1930 Tourist Trophy and the 1930 Mille Miglia, the latter of which constituted an epic duel between legendary drivers Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari.
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