Plate-Alfa N. 002
I haven't yet learned which car was "N. 001" ... if there was a N. 001. Haven't found any sign of N. 003 either.
This is a pretty interesting car. My attempts to contact a previous owner (and then his widow) were ignored ... or the study might have progressed further by now? Sometimes it is difficult to be inspired when one feels alone in having any interest. It would certainly be nice to know more about the car's precise origins. It is almost certain that the body was not built by Luigi Plate himself (or his racing team) but it was almost certainly built to his wishes ... as was the rest of the car. Some Milanese or Torinese coachbuilder probably did the bodywork.
Note: Each time "Plate" is mentioned here, there should be an accent on the "e" but I don't know that this is possible here.
Luigi ("Gigi") Plate and Enrico Plate (a younger cousin) had an interesting collection of cars over the years and had a racing team (Scuderia Plate) that ran quite a variety of cars somewhat sporadically. Many of the cars were modified extensively by some noted Milanese tuners. Perhaps not over-reaching as much as the Scuderia Milan, it would seem that they also sometimes got a bit too clever and did not do the development work necessary to have some successes that were expected or hoped.
Luigi Plate was born in either 1894 or 1896 (sources agree as to the day but not as to the year) and raced a few different cars in the 1920's and 1930's. In 1946, he raced an Alfa Romeo 2300 a few times and it seems likely that it was this car that supplied the engine for the subject car.
It would seem that Plate had a tubular chassis built and fitted it with a tuned Alfa Romeo 6C2300 engine (700174) that dated from 1934. The chassis was given a certificate of origin 16 September 1948 but it was not recorded as "sold" to Luigi Plate until 28 March 1949. If "dretceterini" were here he would remind us that Gilco was a possibility as to the source of the chassis ... or the steel tubing. Plate registered N. 002 on a Milano plate in October 1949. The fact that he seems to have had the ability to assign a chassis number might imply something ... or perhaps he involved another specialty car builder who had the authorization to assign such a number?
At the Salone Torino in 1950, "Gigi" displayed a Plate 1500 racing chassis that had some Maserati parts in it ... if I recall the photos correctly. It is probably that chassis that was (also) entered at the Susa-Moncenisio in July of 1951 as a racing "Plate 1500" was entered for Alfonso Catella. Also without success I'm afraid. I wonder if it also had a "Plate" number!
Aside from the 1951 Susa-Moncenisio DNF in 1951 with Paolo Soprani for N. 002, I am not aware of any other race participations, but it probably made for an interesting road car after this? I can only guess at motivations for why N. 002 was seemingly not used after this time. Since "Gigi" was no longer a young man by this time it may be that he was not so personally "involved" in the racing by this point? As Curami and Vergnano noted in their book, La Sport, (source of your period photo?) the racing "sports" Maserati and Ferrari cars made it rather more difficult to race with success in the larger classes unless you had one of their cars.
There were two "Plate" Maserati 4CLT cars entered at the GP del Valentino in June of 1952, one for Felice Bonetto and one for Harry Schell but neither car appeared at the race.
I suspect that any disappointments with the lack of success in racing was compounded by the death of Enrico Plate when he was hit by a Maserati while in the pits at a race in Buenos Aires in January of 1954?
N. 002 was sold in 1959 to an Italian-American (Piccione) from New York who was probably spending time in Italy as he registered it in care of the Automobile Club in Milano for a time. There a few more details that I could share with the owner of the car but perhaps nothing truly significant?
Unfortunately, the new body is not quite "correct" even though it is certainly nice. It has lost a bit of the magic of the original. Part of problem with imperfectly finished bodies that become restored "too perfectly" or which get remade new (and become "too perfect") is that they almost invariably become "bulkier" when the work is done and the body is painted. Somehow boxier and heavier appearing. I wonder which engine is fitted today? But then, I wonder about a lot of things!
I saw a couple of historic prints with a guy about thirty years ago and took a couple of very inadequate copy photos. Those prints have now passed to a friend and I took a couple of better (but still hasty) photos of those prints a couple of years ago and they appear below. I could almost certainly borrow the originals for better scans if it should become necessary. The tail lights appear to be from the late fifties or early sixties so these photos may date from the late 1950's when the car was sold to Piccione ... or maybe when he offered it after that?