The History of the Legendary Alfa Romeo 6C

The Alfa Romeo 6C was not only ultra-fast but also beautiful. In the early quiet morning of April 13, 1930, the surroundings of Lake Garda were shaken by the rumble of an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider Zagato, dashing at 140 km/h with the headlights off.

Tazio Nuvolari was at the wheel of this car along with Alfa Romeo's chief test driver Giovanni Battista Guidotti.

Alfa Romeo 6C Alfa Romeo 6C

The crew chased the leader and almost the winner Achille Varzi. It was not easy to catch up with him. So, Nuvolari and Guidotti resorted to the trick. They turned off the headlights in order to sneak up on the leader unnoticed. And it worked out. Varzi and his co-driver Canavesi detected the echo of another engine. Before they realized what was happening, they had been overtaken by a car identical to their own.

The History of the Legendary Alfa Romeo 6C photo 2

Tazio Nuvolari won that race. Achille Varzi came second, and Giuseppe Campari came third. All of them were driving the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750. It was one of those cases when it is possible to speak about absolute superiority. Yes, at that time, the cars of the start-up Alfa Romeo shone on many race tracks. The 6C 1750 was one of the fastest cars of its era.

The main technological features of the Alfa Romeo 6C

Young engineer Vittorio Yano, who was lured to Alfa Romeo by none other than Enzo Ferrari, joined the company in 1923. At that time, Enzo Ferrari was a very successful driver who raced Alphas. Later, he would organize a team of stars “Scuderia Ferrari” and thus the history of the Ferrari brand would start. It would take him more than a dozen years to build the first cars. As the company's chief engineer, Vittorio Yano developed the 8-cylinder engine that helped Alfa Romeo to perform successfully in many races in 1925.

After that, he took up the development of the 6C model with a six-cylinder power unit (hence the name), intending to design a car not only to win races but also to conquer new markets. As a result, the model combined simplicity of design and power-to-weight ratio. Yano's power units were small in volume (1 or 3 liters) but developed a good power at that time. Road units of the second half of the 1920s produced 40-50 hp, and turbo sports variants — up to 80 HP, or even more. The second number in the name is the engine capacity, which, as we can see, was quite small. Initially, it was 1.5 liters, then 1.75, and ten years later it grew to 2.3 liters. At the same time, the design features laid down by Vittorio Yano were preserved for a long time: two upper camshafts, four valves per cylinder and double ignition. The Alpha Romeo models also shone with other innovations, such as independent wheel suspension and chassis with welded (rather than riveted) components to increase rigidity. The power and handling on the road of the Alfa Romeo cars have become key elements of the company’s DNA.

6C 1750 GranSport

The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, introduced in January 1929 at the motor show in Rome, demonstrated the full maturity of the 6C formula. The engine was a development of the previous 1500-cylinder inline engine. It was produced in various variants -single and double-shaft, with and without a volumetric compressor. Its power ranged from 46 HP in the Turismo to 102 HP in the Gran Sport, which could reach speeds of up to 170 km/h. The speed indicators of the other modifications (the Sport, the Gran Turismo, the Super Sport, etc.) were slightly more modest but also at about 120-150 km/h.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GranSport Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GranSport

The engine was not the only factor that made the 1750 6C the pinnacle of automotive innovation at that time. It used a mechanical brake system with large drums. The pressed steel frame with reinforced axles was perfectly balanced and extremely rigid. Leaf springs were fitted to the outside of the body, not under the spars. The fuel tank was pushed back for better weight distribution. As a result, the low center of gravity allowed for faster cornering. It is interesting that in accordance with the brand's philosophy, all innovative solutions were applied to both race and road cars.

And the more races were won, the higher the model's reputation grew. Since its launch, the 6C 1750 had immediately achieved notable sales growth. Between 1929 and 1933, about 2.500 models left the assembly factory for sale in Italy, as well as abroad, especially in the UK. It was an exceptional result because these cars were premium and cost between 40.000 and 60.000 Lira (about seven years of average wages) in Italy.

Bodies

The Alfa Romeo 6C was not only ultra-fast but also beautiful. Its success is largely due to the designers of bodies, masters who left their mark on the era. Up until the 1930s, conventional frames equipped only with the engine, transmission, and suspension left the shop. The customer purchased a car, and then commissioned one or another shop to build a body, rather a very unique one. The 6C 1750 featured fine finishing of bodywork. Alfa Romeo's extraordinary mechanical and engineering base made it possible to build some of the most elegant bodies ever created, which was designed by the best specialists and purchased by the most famous VIPs of the time.

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The Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS “Flying Star”

One of such cars was the Alfa Romeo Flying Star. It was created as irresistible as its owner Josette Pozzo, a millionaire model and socialite. The Star was conceived specifically to participate in the 1931 Concours d'Elegance at the Villa d’Este, organized by Felice Bianchi Anderloni at Carrozzeria Touring.

The 1750 6C Spider was a unique creation: a gem of originality, elegance and attention to detail. It was all white, including the bottom, wheel spokes, steering wheel and interior, except the contrasting black dashboard.

Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera gave the car new proportions by adding a number of elegant, aesthetic details in the style of Art Nouveau, such as suspended front and rear footrests that extended from the wheel arches and crossed under the doors without touching each other. The 6C 1750 GS Touring won the Gold Cup for the most beautiful car at the Villa d'Este.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS “Flying Star” Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS “Flying Star”

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