The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
8/24/17 12:49 p.m.

By Massimo Delbò
Photography by Dirk de Jager

In the fall of 1954 in Lucca, an ancient and breathtaking Romanic city in the northwest of the Italian Tuscany, life is running smoothly, with the beautiful month of September bringing warm, sunny weather.

The opening scene of our story takes place September 28 at the Grande Garage Internazionale, the city’s Alfa Romeo dealer. Here, Signor Ruggero Ricci takes delivery of his brand-new car, something to be proud of. It’s the dream car of the day, the jewel of Alfa Romeo for that period: the 1900 Super Sprint Zagato.

It is based on the Alfona, the “big Alfa,” the 1900 sedan that made its first appearance in October, 1950 at the Paris Motor Show. The 1900 was the very first new Alfa after the war. It had a four-cylinder engine, meaning it was smaller and less expensive, but it was still a real Alfa: beautiful, smooth and fast. The alloy head, twin cams and hemispheric chambers were the engine’s trademarks, while the chassis featured a live rear axle and double wishbones up front.

Today, the Alfa 1900 sedan is remembered as a capable racing car. However, as is often the case in the world of automobiles, enough was just not enough. That’s why, in March 1951 at the Geneva Auto Show, Alfa introduced the Sprint.

This Touring-built coupe, based on the Alfa 1900, featured a shortened wheelbase–in addition to the special bodywork, of course. The shape was so aggressive and attractive that many still consider this car to be one of the most beautiful Alfas ever built.

Not surprisingly, as soon as the coupe was available, many drivers used it to race. In response, Alfa introduced the TI version–short for Turismo Internazionale. This one was already prepared to compete in the TI class, receiving a pair of two-barrel carburetors, twin exhaust pipes and bigger drum brakes.

In 1955, the Sprint became the Super Sprint thanks to a 2mm overbore that upgraded the engine from 1884cc to 1975cc and 115 horsepower. The gearbox became a five-speed unit.

The production coupes were built by Carrozzeria Touring in Milano, while Pininfarina in Torino built the cabriolets. As is typical of the period, though, other coachbuilders used the powerful 1900 SS mechanicals as a base for their work. This is how Carrozzeria Zagato, in one of the many mysteries of the Italian car world, started to produce a car with SS specification during the summer of 1954, a good half-year before the official launch of the SS.

Ugo Zagato established his company in 1919 with the aim of bringing his aeronautical experience to automobiles. The shop’s trademarks quickly became slippery aerodynamics and lightness thanks to its wide use of aluminum.

After the war, the growing appeal of cars sporting a very low roof forced Zagato to develop a new style concept: the double bubble, a roof featuring two longitudinal bubbles that allowed the driver–usually a very wealthy gentleman–and a co-driver to remain comfortable in a car so sleek.

Read the rest of the story

tuna55 MegaDork
8/24/17 1:03 p.m.

Wow cool, what a rare and neat looking car.

jakebarrell New Reader
8/29/17 1:07 a.m.

In reply to The Staff of Motorsport Marketing:

I have never heard about this Alfa Romeo model, must've missed it. Alfa Romeo has always been unique with their car models since the beginning.

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