Introduced at the 1950 Paris Salon in preparation for the 1951 racing season, the Alfa Romeo 1900 was a transformative model that ushered in the modern era of design at the Milan-based concern. Primarily available as a four-door saloon, the 1900 proved most desirable to collectors in coupe form, whether clothed in series coachwork by Touring, or in various boutique and one-off designs. The 1900C performed admirably in the Italian Sports Car Championship series, particularly in the form of the lightweight Zagato-bodied examples, while one-off cars built by Farina, Boano, and Ghia received great acclaim at various auto salons of the era.
The featured car showcases an unusually rakish sporting design that is clearly derived from the tradition of the finest coachbuilt 1900 examples. Chassis number 001 is believed to be the first of approximately eight cars that were built during the late 1960s and early 1970s by the carrozzeria Autotecnica del Lario (ATL). Founded circa 1969 by Ercole Zuccoli, ATL was a specialist coachbuilder based in northern Lombardy that created bespoke automobiles to individual customer order. This car was reportedly built to the specifications of an Italian client who desired a unique 1900 that could perform with competition characteristics while being worthy of concours display.
A period tubular chassis was equipped with 1900 running gear and powered by a 1,975-cubic-centimeter engine from a 1900 Super, which features dual distributors, twin-plug ignition, and dual Weber carburetors fed by velocity stacks. (Note that, as this motor’s serial number indicates it was completed toward the end of 1957 production, this car is identified and titled as a 1958 model year vehicle.)
ATL mounted this fine chassis with delectable coachwork shaped in lightweight aluminum that was reminiscent of several of the 1950s greatest sports racing berlinettas. Features like the long front deck, bulbous rear haunches, and the long fastback are clearly evocative of celebrated models like the Zagato-bodied Aston Martin DB4 GT and the Pininfarina-bodied Maserati A6 GCS berlinetta. The sublime shape was further complemented with delicate styling cues such as the louvered hood and front fenders, and Borrani wire wheels, while the external fuel filler implies the car’s competition mandate.
After reportedly completing the build process during the 1970s this Alfa Romeo was enjoyed by the original owner for an unknown period, experiencing relatively little driving use. In 2006 the 1900 Speciale was discovered in Italy by collector Tom Kazamek of Manhattan Beach, California, and after purchasing the car and importing it to the United States he commissioned the respected Steve Tillack of nearby Redondo Beach to perform a significant freshening, as demonstrated by invoices on file. Gradually conducted from November 2006 to August 2016, this work included a rebuild of the gearbox, clutch, brakes, shocks, and carburetors, and the installation of a new fuel pump.
Upon completion of the refurbishment, the handsome 1900 Speciale was presented at the 2014 Manhattan Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won an award for the best original/preserved car. More significant exhibition opportunities followed, including display at the prestigious The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in August 2016, and at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance a year later.
In January 2019 the car was acquired by Mr. Ponder, and he quickly submitted it to his most trusted vendors for further refinement, including Red Car Restorations of Rockwall, Texas. In addition to touch-up of the paintwork, the car was fitted with new front and rear glass sections, and the interior received a new dashboard. The carburetors and the steering box were rebuilt, and the wiring was repaired as needed.
Tastefully equipped with modern disc brakes and an electric fuel pump, this scintillating 1900 Speciale would make an ideal entrant at vintage driving events and tours, where its unique coachwork would surely draw admiration, and the competition-tuned dual-overhead-cam engine could be enjoyed to its full potential. The exquisite finishing of the thin-gauge aluminum coachwork also makes the car a perfect candidate for further display at major concours d’elegance, where the striking design would surely be the toast of any class dedicated to one-off designs or so-called etceterini. In any event, this rare 1900 Speciale exudes the distinct aura of the great 1950s Italian racing berlinettas, offering a rare acquisition for the collector in search of a car of unique character that is nevertheless based in one of the great marques.