Unique coachwork by Hermann Graber 1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500...
1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Roadster to Super Sport Specification
Coachwork by Graber
Chassis no. 915.163
Engine no. 923.963
• First owned by watchmaker Ernest Morf
• Present private ownership since 1971
• Restored to concours-winning condition in 2020-2022
• Extensive history file
"The current Alfa Romeo conceals as beautiful a chassis as ever with four-wheel independent suspension and a six-cylinder twin overhead camshaft unsupercharged engine..." - The Autocar, July 11th 1947
Its Portello factory devastated by wartime bombing, Alfa Romeo did not resume car production until 1946 with, inevitably, a pre-war carry-over, the 6C 2500 in a variety of new guises forming the basis of the Milanese marque's post-war recovery. Destined to be the last of the separate-chassis Alfas, the 2500 had debuted in 1939 and was a development of the preceding 2300. Styled in-house, but strongly influenced by Touring, the streamlined five-seater Freccia d'Oro (Golden Arrow) sports saloon was built alongside coupé and cabriolet versions featuring bodies by the likes of Pinin Farina, Touring and Ghia.
The engine was, of course, the latest version of Alfa's race-developed double-overhead-camshaft 'six', its 2,443cc displacement having been arrived at by enlarging the bore of the 2300. Introduced in 1934, the latter had been designed by the legendary Vittorio Jano and was later developed by Bruno Treviso, becoming the 2500 in 1939. Maximum power ranged from 90bhp in single-carburettor Sport guise to 105bhp in the triple-carb Super Sport (SS).
The Alfa Romeo tradition of building driver's cars par excellence was upheld by the 2500, for although the box-section chassis was no longer state-of-the-art, it nevertheless boasted all-independent suspension, generously-sized brakes, fast-geared steering and an unusually slick, column-mounted gearchange. The inevitable weight gain over its pre-war predecessor was offset by the increase in engine capacity and superior aerodynamics, the two models' top speed being an identical 97mph (156km/h). After the war the 6C 2500 was further refined by Orazio Satta Puglia, Alfa Romeo's recently appointed head of the Design and Experimental Department.
For all its race-bred charm, the 6C 2500 stood the company in good stead until the arrival of the thoroughly modern 1900 model in 1950. Production of the 6C 2500 continued until 1953, by which time a little fewer than 2,200 of these handsome automobiles had been made (474 to Super Sport specification).
The unique Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 offered here is the only example bodied with two-seater coachwork by Hermann Graber of Wichtrach, Switzerland. Hermann Graber's father owned a carriage repair business which his son inherited on his father's death in 1927. He branched out into coachwork for cars and soon developed his own style; his first major success was winning the Concours d'Élégance of St Moritz in 1929 with a Panhard 20CV sports cabriolet. Hermann Graber's elegant designs were always executed to the very highest standards and his creations were necessarily expensive, costing far more than those of his British contemporaries.
Graber received the car offered here - chassis number '915.163', complete with engine - from the Alfa Romeo dealer in Lugano, Switzerland on 10th July 1943. Its chassis number identifies this car as a 3rd series Sport from 1942, so the Super Sport-type triple carburettors currently fitted are, presumably, a later modification. This car is one of only 53 6C 2500 Sport models built in 1942.
It would seem that Graber was expecting a new chassis; however, the Alfa Romeo factory had been bombed and to fulfil Graber's order the dealer sent this car, which at that time had a body by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan (see extract in history file from Angelo Tito Anselmi's Alfa Romeo 6C Register with special note regarding '915.163'). At the end of the WW2, Graber re-bodied the Alfa with new coachwork, using aluminium for the wings and bonnet but steel for the rear panels, perhaps constrained by having to adapt Touring's Superleggera method of body construction (Felice Bianchi, Touring's owner, had invented the aluminium-panelled Superleggera body in 1937).
The Alfa Romeo's first owner, from the first of December 1945, was Ernest Morf, founder of the watch manufacturer Montremo, which first opened its doors in 1954 and still makes dials today. Morf took out many watch-related patents and was a pioneer of waterproofing techniques. In June 1946, Graber remodelled the car's nose, possibly following accident damage. The lights were repositioned inside the radiator grille, an arrangement that would feature in many of Graber's subsequent designs.
Our vendor purchased the car from the collector Mr JM Santal in 1971 so over half a century ago. Mr Santal bought it at the beginning of the Sixties. Between 2020 and 2022 the Alfa underwent extensive restoration (chassis and body), which included returning the nose to how it looked when Ernest Morf first owned the car in 1945. The Alfa was repainted in its original blue colour, traces of the original paint having been discovered by the owner when the restoration began in 2020 (the Touring body was black). The work was carried out by coachbuilder Jean-Luc Bonnefoy from the Concept et Restauration workshop. The owner's efforts were justly rewarded when his Alfa Romeo 6C Super Sport received a 1st-in-class award at the Concours d'Élégance de Genève in 2022. Prospective purchasers will find that a close inspection of the car's exceptionally comprehensive history file is most rewarding, including drawing, pictures, bill of sale, 1945 customs clearance etc...
Alfa Romeo 6C 2500s are rare cars, soft-top versions even more so, and this unique example of the latter represents a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of these historically important cars restored to concours-winning condition.