Following its 1947 Mille Miglia victory, Alfa Romeo understood its aging 8C 2900 B Berlinetta would soon be outpaced by offerings from Ferrari and Cisitalia. Without the resource to design a new sports racing car from the ground up, it raided the corporate parts bin to create the 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinetta, a car designed to keep the brand competitive in Italian motorsports. Three were built in-period, but only one survives today, and on August 24 this 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinetta sold for a fee-inclusive $3.53 million, topping the Bonhams Quail Lodge sale.
To underpin the new 6C 2500 Competizione, Alfa Romeo turned to the already proven 8C 2900 frame, produced in both 118.1-inch Lungo (long) and 110.2-inch Corto (short) wheelbases. Beginning with the smaller of the two versions, workers cut the frame in front of the rear wheels, further reducing the wheelbase to 100 inches. This saved a bit of weight while retaining the original suspension mounting points, and to further shed pounds, the frames received drilled crossmembers.
Power came from Alfa Romeo’s 2.4-liter, double overhead-camshaft inline six-cylinder, fed by three Weber DCO 35 carburetors and mated to a four-speed gearbox. Original output was said to be in the neighborhood of 145 horsepower, enough to give the 1,900-pound car a top speed of 124 mph. Though Alfa Romeo maintained a relationship with Carrozzeria Touring, all three 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinettas were originally bodied in-house. The final example built would later receive a Touring body (and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine) to become the 6C 3000 C50, but this car was destroyed in a crash during the 1950 Mille Miglia.
Two 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinettas were completed in time for the 1948 Mille Miglia, including the team car of Consalvo Sanesi and Zanardi Sala, which Did Not Finish (DNF) due to an accident in the race’s early stages. A privateer Competizione Berlinetta, owned by gentleman racer Franco Rol, also failed to finish after suffering an off-course excursion. This chassis, 920002, was the car sold at Quail Lodge last week.
Rol’s fortunes behind the wheel of 920002 soon turned around. In his next event, the July 1948 Coppa d’Oro della Dolomiti, Rol scored a class win and a fifth-place overall finish. In the 1949 Targa Florio, Rol drove the Alfa to a second-place finish, despite suffering a ruptured fuel line during the event, and at the 1949 Mille Miglia – where the car carried the same number 648 it wears today – he drove to a class win and a third-place overall finish.
Rol raced the Alfa into the 1951 season, though by then it was increasingly less competitive at major events. The car’s next owner campaigned the 6C in Switzerland through late 1953, when it sold to its third owner, who’d mechanically refurbish the car, but sell it within a year to Swiss collector Michel Dovaz. Dovaz did little to preserve the Alfa, instead parking it in a leaking horse barn with the remainder of his collection for the next three decades.
In 1983, Dovaz’s collection was featured in Herbert Hesselmann’s book Sleeping Beauties, and the attention it garnered prompted Dovaz to loan the majority of his collection to museums across France. The 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinetta was borrowed by the Club Alfa Romeo de France, which sorted the car mechanically and entered it into the 1984 Mille Miglia Storica.
In 1995, the Alfa was purchased by a marque specialist in Germany, who’d sell the car and then buy it back before initiating a comprehensive restoration. Upon completion in 2003, the car made appearances at a trio of European concours d’elegance events, but then sold to collector David Smith in Washington state.
Smith soon commissioned a new restoration, this time focused on originality. A proper grille was recreated and the original Carrello headlamps refitted, a process that involved reshaping the fenders, which had been fitted with larger headlamps over the years. Past owners were contacted for cast-aside parts and the Alfa’s original engine was tracked down, repurchased, and rebuilt. In its debut outing at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the car scored 100 points and would have taken first in class as well, had it not been for the failure of a brake light switch at a most inopportune time.
The Alfa’s value was enhanced not only by its documented in-period racing history and its status as the sole-surviving 6C 2500 Competizione Berlinetta, but by the extensive collection of records and spares included in the sale.
Other lots in the top 10 at Bonhams Quail Lodge included a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sports Roadster, which sold for $3.28 million; a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe, which sold for $1.88 million; a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Series II cabriolet, which sold for $1.68 million; a 1928 Bentley 6½ Liter Open Sports Tourer, which sold for $1.66 million; a 1953 Siata 208S Spider, which sold for $1.66 million; a 1929 Bentley 4½ Liter Sports Tourer, which sold for $1.44 million; a 2015 Porsche 918 “Weissach” Spyder, which sold for $1.41 million; a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Touring Phaeton, which sold for $1.22 million; and a 1996 Porsche 911 GT2 Club Sport, which sold for $1.11 million.
Bonhams sold 110 of the 135 cars on offer, for a sell-through rate of 82 percent. Sales reached $37.7 million for an average per-car price of $342,727. For complete results from Quail Lodge, visit Bonhams.com.