Alfa Romeo: more than a brand, a bank

  • 19 June 2020
  • 1 min read
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Alfa Romeo: more than a brand, a bank image

I would like to point out that Alfa Romeo, with three sales above the $10,000,000 mark, is the third-largest car brand in the world for cars sold above this threshold preceded only by Ferrari and Aston Martin but ahead of giants such as Porsche (2), Mercedes-Benz (2) and Bugatti (1).

According to the market, the golden age of Alfa Romeo was between 1929 and 1939. As many as 28 of the 30 most expensive cars sold are from this decade (the other two are the same car awarded twice).

But what are the most expensive Alfa Romeo sales ever? Let's find out.

The current world record was set during Pebble Beach week in 2016. The car in question is one of twelve Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Lungo Spiders by Touring from 1939. After a somewhat troubled history (exported to South America in the 1950s without a body and later with its engine replaced by a Chevy V8) in 1997 it ended up in the hands of none other than Sam & Emily Mann – the collectors who have won no less than four Best of Show awards at Pebble Beach – who commissioned the restoration and reunited the chassis, engine and bodywork once again. The car was debuted at the 1999 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (where it was awarded 2nd in Class), and after the competition is was not relegated to the garage but continued to be used on numerous tours and rallies. In August 2016, the car was offered for sale by RM in Monterey, where, against an estimate of $20,000,000 to 25,000,000, it was sold for $19,800,000, at the time a world record for any pre-war car.

1939-Alfa-Romeo-8C-2900B-Lungo-Spider-by-Touring 4-scaled 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring sold for $19,800,000

The silver medal for the most expensive Alfa Romeo goes to another 8C 2900. This time it is a 1938 Berlinetta Touring (although the catalogue indicated 1939), the history of which is far better. Presumably originally sold in Italy in the summer of 1938 it had always remained in Europe, first in England (from 1939 to the mid-1960s), then in France in the hands of Nigel Mann (curious – the same surname as Sam Mann) who sold it in 1976 to its current owner, the Dutchman Jan Martens. Compared to the Spider from RM, however, it was less desirable because it was a Berlinetta and therefore, against an estimate of €16,000,000 to €22,000,000, the car was sold in February 2019 for €16,745.600, about $19,000,000.

Although these two cars are the most expensive Alfa Romeos ever sold, it must be said that they both lacked something. The Spider had a “dotted” history, with extensive missing periods while the Berlinetta presented itself with a restoration that dated back 4 decades and with a change of colour (performed in the mid-60s) so I wouldn't be surprised that, if another 8C 2900 arrived onto the market – hard to imagine since they produced only 32 – it could comfortably exceed $20,000,000 or perhaps even higher barriers.

3888 10646390 1-opt-scaled 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta sold for €16,745.600 (about $19,000,000)

On the same day that RM sold the 8C 2900 Lungo Spider, Gooding added some “Alpha magic” by selling the third most expensive Alfa Romeo ever. This time an 8C 2300 Monza by Brianza from 1933. I would like to briefly mention the story of this car: in the early 1930s, Zagato, financed by the Ascari family, opened a second semi-independent workshop in Via Brianza in Milan that took the name of the street where it resided; it would be what we now call a Zagato spin-off. The car belonged to Scuderia Balestrero and won the Italian Sports Car Championship in 1947. Offered with an estimate of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000, it was sold for $11,990,000.

Beneath the 8C 2300/2900 on the list of the most expensive Alfa Romeos, we find a long series of 8C and 6C models in various forms from the 8C-35 (sold for £5,937,500) to the 6C 1750 (a world record: $3.08 million) to conclude with the “car porn” P3. Two were sold: one for €3,920,000 in February 2017, and another €4,593,500 (roughly $5.3 million euros) in 2018.

1933-Alfa-Romeo-8C-Monza-Main 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Ex. Scuderia Balestrero Coachwork by Brianza sold for $11,990,000

As mentioned previously, the first – and only – Alfa Romeo built after the war among the top 30 prices is a 6C 2500 Competition from 1948. Encouraged by the victory (with an 8C 2900) at the first Mille Miglia of the post-war period in 1947, the men from Portello decided to build three more coupes to try to match the success but shortened the chassis of the 8C 2900 and paired it with a brand new 2.5-litre engine. This model, the second one built, participated in all four editions of the Mille Miglia between 1948 and 1951. In 1954 it was sold to Michel Dovaz, known for his book “Sleeping Beauties” (the first book on barn finds and to this day the most important one) who, after restoring it in 1984, sold it in 1995 to the famous Raoul San Giorgi who took it to the world’s best Concours d’Elegance competitions. In 2013, Gooding sold it for $4,840,000 (well above the estimate of $2.8-3.5 million) but the owner, after using it for 5 years, was forced to sell it for $3,525,000 (well within its estimate of $3-3.5 million).

1948-ALFA-ROMEO-6C-2500-COMPETIZIONE 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione Coachwork by Carrozzeria Alfa sold in 2013 for $4,840,000

Although this 6C 2500 could well be considered a reconfigured pre-war car, the reality is that Alfa Romeos after the 1940s are not worth less but are extraordinarily uncommon with models that almost never arrive onto the open market. This is the case with the 1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000CM Superflow IV offered by Gooding at the recent 2019 Pebble Beach auction, that went unsold at $4.3 million (against an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000) or the 33 Stradale, of which not a single example has been sold in the last 30 years, making it impossible to make even a vague estimate of their current values.

alfa-romeo-6c-3000-cm-superflow-iv 1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV Coachwork by Pinin Farina was unsold for $4.3 million

But the most interesting case may be the TZ2: the last one listed for sale at an auction was in August 2005 when chassis 118 went unsold for $1.6 million. To put that into perspective, at the time with $1.2 million you could have bought a Ferrari 250 California LWB. A California is now worth between $8 and £10 million, and if the ratios remained unchanged, that means the TZ2 could possibly fetch $10.5-13,000,000 in today’s money.

THE-NURBURGRING-AND-REIMS-CLASS-WINNING-EX-AUTODELTA-RACING-TEAM-VDS-1966-ALFA-ROMEO-TZ2-BERLINETTA-COMPETIZONE 1966 Alfa Romeo TZ2 Berlinetta Competizione Chassis no. 116 was unsold for $1.6 million