Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport z piękną i lekką karoserią stworzoną przez Carrozzeria Touring z pewnością należy do najwspanialszych wozów swoich czasów. Nie mniej fascynująca niż jej wygląd jest również jej ciemna historia. Ten konkretnie wóz był podarunkiem, który Benito Mussolini złożył swojej wieloletniej kochance, Clarze Petacci. Również ta Alfa towarzyszyła im w próbie ucieczki do Szwajcarii, zakończonej niepowodzeniem – rozpoznaniem przez partyzantów, aresztowaniem, egzekucją i publicznym wywieszeniem ciał. Rok później Alfa trafiła w ręce amerykańskiego oficera i dotarła do USA. Teraz ma być sprzedana za ok. 8-10 milionów złotych… i szokujący może być fakt, że w roku 1970 Alfa zmieniła właściciela za marne 300 dolarów.
4 February 2015
1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta by Touring
To be auctioned on Wednesday, February 4, 2015
€1.900.000 – €2.400.000
Chassis no. 915.033
Engine no. 923.865
Body no. 2305
110 hp, 2,443 cc dual overhead-camshaft inline six-cylinder engine with triple Weber 36DO2 carburettors, four-speed manual synchromesh transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, independent rear suspension with swing axles and torsion bars, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,000 mm.
Known as the “Mussolini Mistress” car
Original chassis, engine, and body
Engine-upgraded to triple-carburettor Super Sport configuration
Outstanding restoration by Garage Bonfanti
Numerous awards, including a 2011 Salon Prive Best of Show
Properly sorted and lovely to drive
BEFORE THE STORM: CHASSIS NUMBER 915.033
This Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport, chassis number 915.033, was produced in 1939 and, at the time, was clothed in exceptionally handsome lightweight berlinetta coachwork made of aluminium by Carrozzeria Touring, of Milan, body number 2305. Records indicate that a mere 16 Touring berlinettas were produced, with an unknown number of survivors.
Whilst the standard 6C2500 Sport was equipped with a 95-horsepower engine, it became common practice later in production to have the factory upgrade the engine to the competition-bred Super Sport configuration, which resulted in a useful increase in horsepower to 110 brake horsepower. According to noted historian and Alfa Romeo specialist John de Boer: “It would appear that the commercialised ‘Super Sport’ configuration was considered to be a modification to the engine…and that there was a ‘kit’ number for the conversion. It seems that a plate was attached to the firewall or right-side inner wing panel for cars that were fitted by Alfa Romeo or possibly their dealers with the ‘Super Sport’ conversion”.
On this car, the engine is the original, number 923.685, and it does, indeed, bear a plate attached to the firewall, number SS15, which fits neatly into the sequence that was established by Mr de Boer during his decades of research.
Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini once gifted a beautiful Alfa Romeo to his favoured mistress, Claretta Petacci, and this is that car.
FAST FORWARD: THE FINAL DAYS
In April 1945, with the war in Europe in its final days, Claretta Petacci, her brother, Marcelo, and his family left the Italian town of Salo to rendezvous with Mussolini and his last small band of supporters, who were plotting their escape. They headed north via Milan, travelling on the western shore of Lake Como, and were escorted by only a small procession of four or five cars, including Signora Petacci’s Alfa. Along the way, the group was joined by a heavily armed German anti-aircraft unit, which was also fleeing the advancing Allied forces.
Most accounts report that Mussolini’s getaway plan was to seek asylum in Switzerland. The Alfa Romeo was disguised with Spanish diplomatic license plates and legation flags and was driven by Marcello Petacci, who posed as the Spanish ambassador to Italy.
The motorcade proceeded north until it was stopped at a partisan roadblock near the town of Dongo on 27 April 1945. Although they heavily outgunned the small partisan force, the Germans were in no mood for a fight by this stage of the war. After lengthy negotiations, the partisans finally agreed to let the convoy pass, provided that the Germans would allow the vehicles to be inspected for Italian Fascists.
Before proceeding, the most prominent Fascist of them all, Mussolini, donned the uniform of a German corporal and climbed aboard one of the German vehicles. Unfortunately for the dictator, the disguise proved unconvincing, and he was quickly identified at the checkpoint. All of the Italians in the convoy were arrested, and during the ensuing interrogations, the true identities of the “Spanish ambassador” and his “sister” were established.
Mussolini and his mistress were taken back south towards Como, to a remote partisan hideaway in Mezzegra. After reportedly spending their only full night together after 13 years of romance, they were executed, with their bodies infamously put on display in Milan.
Signora Petacci’s Alfa Romeo was confiscated by the Italian authorities and moved to Livorno. Around 1946, it was acquired by an American Army Air Corps officer, Major Charles Pettit. Pettit drove the Alfa in Italy whilst based at Camp Darby near Livorno, and in 1949, he shipped it back to his family’s farm in New York State, where he drove it for several years before a connecting rod failed. The car then sat dormant on the farm for many years; that is until it was acquired in 1967 by Pettit’s uncle, Albert Harris, who partially dismantled it in anticipation of a restoration that never proceeded.
In 1970, a Hemmings Motor News advertisement for the car was brought to the attention of Ron Keno, of Mohawk, New York, by one of his high-school students. Keno, a respected dealer of antique furniture when not teaching, purchased the Alfa over the phone for $300. Several photos depict the car as-found and being loaded onto a trailer virtually complete, even wearing the rear spats with their unusual, believed-unique scalloped ornamentation. Whilst the car was being secured, Harris made mention of an incredible story—a story of the car originally being the property of Mussolini’s mistress.
After three years of owning the Alfa Romeo and puzzling over Mr Harris’s claim, Keno wrote a letter to Mussolini historian Richard Collier, who referred him to Herr Franz Spögler. Spögler was a former SS Obersturmführer who had been assigned as Petacci’s chauffeur and bodyguard after the deposed Mussolini was reinstated as a puppet dictator by Hitler in September 1943. Due to his proximity to both Mussolini and Petacci during the last years of the war, Spögler had proven an invaluable first-person witness to Collier and other biographers, and he was in a unique position to elaborate upon the Alfa Romeo’s history.
Spögler responded to a letter from Keno with interest, and he eventually endeavoured to meet the Alfa Romeo’s owner whilst visiting the U.S. in November 1975. Keno eagerly took the former custodian to the garage to see the car, with Spögler reportedly recalling details of its design even before the garage door had been opened. Indeed, he recognised many details of Keno’s car, with one particular item proving that it was the same one he had driven so many years earlier: a German-made tool roll, which had been given to Spögler by soldiers who had assisted him after he and Claretta had broken down in the car.
The visit attracted local attention and was captured in an article published in the local newspaper. Keno’s subsequent visit to see Spögler, in the Italian Alps where his family ran a hotel, is detailed in several issues of the Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Register, which were published in 1977 and 1978.
In late 1978 or early 1979, the partially restored Alfa Romeo was sold by Keno to collector Donnie Morton, of Connecticut, who ultimately passed it to the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. The collection performed a cosmetic restoration and displayed it as part of their vast holdings of rare and coachbuilt automobiles for the next two decades, until it was sold to another long-term owner in 1999.
The new owner had the car’s engine rebuilt in Italy, with parts sourced from renowned Alfa Romeo preservationist-restorer and master mechanic Francesco Bonfanti, and this prepared the car for entry into the Mille Miglia Storica in 2001 and 2002. Afterwards, at Bonfanti’s advice, the owner undertook a two-year, €500,000 restoration at Garage Bonfanti, who collaborated with body specialist Dino Cognolato. During the restoration, which was meticulously documented by dozens of photographs, the team was often visited by Carlo Anderloni, the son of Carrrozzeria Touring’s founder, Felice Anderloni, who had access to the original drawings, which were required to authentically recreate missing sections of the floorpan and door sills. Going to great lengths to ensure authenticity, Bonfanti preserved as much of the original metal as possible, estimating that it is 85–90% pure in that regard, with the carrozzeria’s hammer marks remaining visible under the aluminium bonnet. In addition, authentic, beguiling details abound. For example, various dashboard switches were recreated from scratch. Even the delicate Carrozzeria Touring logo, which had been etched into the glass of the rear-view mirror, and the 1939 tax disc on the steering wheel are genuine.
An RM specialist who recently had the pleasure of driving chassis number 915.033 was exuberant in his praise: “I had a decent amount of time behind the wheel, and the drive was absolutely lovely! The engine is very flexible at different revs, pulling away smoothly at 1,500 rpm in fourth gear. The suspension filters the feel of the road very well, and the brakes are efficient; even the gauges are all operational. It is so light to drive; it lives up to its Superleggera name”.
When shown on the concours field, chassis number 915.033 won its class at the 2007 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and Best of Show honours at Salon Prive in 2011, after which it was the subject of a major feature article in Classic and Sportscar magazine, adding further notoriety to the car. The superb artisanship of its masterful restorers is undiminished.
The car is offered today with a history file, which includes correspondence between Collier, Keno, and Spögler, as well as copies of the Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Register, in which Herr Spögler’s verification of its history as “the Petacci getaway car” is documented. Most importantly, the car is accompanied by the storied German tool roll, which had been reunited with the Alfa Romeo most recently, courtesy of Ron Keno.
Whilst there is a growing movement amongst aficionados to compare beautiful automobiles to fine art, the understanding of certain automobiles as invaluable historical objects is still in its infancy. Some travel through time to the present day with their chronicles undocumented. Others are fortunate to survive, whilst being inextricably linked to a specific time and place in the history of the world. This 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport Berlinetta displays timeless beauty, impressive rarity, and outstanding performance, and it is the living embodiment of its fascinating history.