Vintage Alfa Romeos with unique, coachbuilt bodies often end up as the highlights of classic car shows, as evidenced by this gorgeous 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B that won Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours two years ago. That car wears a body hand-hammered by Carrozzeria Touring, while the two Alfas headlining the UK’s Concours of Elegance held at the Fountain Gardens of Hampton Court Palace in London feature Graber and Ghia coachworks.
Only four of each were ever made, and since Pebble Beach’s concours was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to be in England between September 4–6 to catch these two beauties—plus a whole fleet of McLaren F1 GTRs, and the rest of the promised “nearly 1000 rare cars of all ages.” Let’s see the 1938 and 1951 Alfa Romeo pair first, though:
Starting from 1927, the Vittorio Jano-designed, straight-six-powered 6C came in many variations as a cheaper (and lighter) alternative to the straight-eight-powered 8C. The 1935–38 2300B and 1938–52 2500 SS models featured upgrades such as an independent front suspension and a swing axle at the rear, along with hydraulic brakes to complement their up-to-145-hp, DOHC engines.
The cabriolet featured here is the only remaining of the four designed and built by Swiss coachbuilder Graber. What’s more, this is the only Graber 2300 chassis with the Mille Miglia-specification engine and chassis specs. In 1938, it was ordered by Martin Mueller, CEO of Bruggmuehle Goldach, one of the largest wheat mills in Switzerland. Some 86-years later, this survivor underwent a three-year restoration to return it to the condition in which it was first produced by Graber. Cementing Alfa Romeo’s reputation, 6C 2300 and 2500s finished first and second in their class at the 1937 Mille Miglia and took the top three places at the 1937 Targa Abruzzo in Pescara, only to win there again the following year. Alfa also took the crown at the Targa Florio in 1950.
The Ghia-bodied 6C 2500 SS lived an even more colorful life. As a successor to the 2300, it was probably built in 1950, with the design house adding its Supergioiello (Super Jewel) body to this 2.5-liter (and three others). However, while the other trio was based on a standard steel ladder frame Alfa Romeo chassis, this 2500 SS was built on an advanced tubular chassis produced by Gilco, the same company that fabricated the first-ever Ferrari, the 125, along with several prototypes for Maserati, Lancia, and the rest in that engineering-focused part of northern Italy. While its chassis was made in 1950, the rest of the car seems to have left Alfa Romeo in 1948.
Ordered by Carrozzeria Ghia’s representative in Lombardy, a company called SIRCA, this performance-focused special left Italy for the UK in 1959. Two years later, it changed hands again for what would be $31,000 today and traveled to Austria and the Netherlands before saying goodbye to Europe for the U.S. in 2016.
With two and a half years put into its restoration, the sole Supergioiello 6C 2500 SS is now the ultimate coachbuilt Alfa coupé from the start of the 1950s, the decade in which Europe got back on its feet.
And at The Concours of Elegance 2020 from September 4–6, you can decide whether this or the collection of McLaren F1 GTRs that finished first, third, fourth, and fifth at Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995 is more impressive surrounded by the Fountain Gardens of Hampton Court Palace.