6C10814318 ex-Symbolic Motor Car Company
(Edit 25 December 2015: New information has been identified from French registration documents located and shared by Nicolas Brondel. The original owner was Pierre Felix beginning 4 June 1931. The car may have made some interesting racing history during 1931 with Pierre Felix and Jean Pesato but this remains to be confirmed. It is seemingly possible that Chinetti and Zehender might have used the car as well during November of 1931. During 1932, the car was sold to Roger Champion and then quickly to Andree Champion. The car was then seemingly sold 1935 and re-registered to someone in Paris but the Parisian records do not exist today. The car turned up again 1941 when it was sold during March as "spoils of war" to Rudolf Mehl and was registered outside of Paris. It went again to Paris during 1947 and the French record seems to end there. I do not yet know if the car was still Mehl's when it was re-registered in Paris. We can thank Nicolas Brondel for the research that has revealed a great number of new leads for our studies.
(Edit 17 April 2014) [I] Based on a thorough review of the major elements of 6C10814318 I can now share additional details and observations with far greater certainty. There is evidence now in hand to support the following revised description of this car. As often happens with the study of these cars, a few new pieces of knowledge gained through reviewing existing evidence, some of which could-have (should-have?) been shared years ago(!), gives us the ability to describe additional cars with increased accuracy. In this instance, both of the cars existing today numbered "10814318" can be described more completely and 6C10814368 can now be described with some increased certainty. Hence, there will edits to the following posting as well and the description of 6C10814368 (not yet shared) will be written with greater accuracy and certainty.
Before I get too far into this revision of the posting describing 6C10814318, I must acknowledge that the mechanical basis for the identity of this car is now proven out in my mind. Various reporting errors of the past made the car seem possibly "suspect" as to its identity but this is no longer the case. It seems clear to me that the chassis, engine, gearbox, rear end housing, steering box are all Alfa Romeo-made parts from 1931 that are almost certain to have come from the original car numbered 6C10814318. There are additional individual components that also support this identification. It must also be acknowledged that there are a great many parts present in the car that were fitted in more recent years. Most of those parts appear to be well made and seem to be acceptable to multiple "restoration" efforts made to an original car. As an example, two differently configured "Made in Italy" Rudge road wheels are in use as spares. Either (but not both) "might be original" to the car (or its early historical usage) while the wheels "on the ground" all appear to be of more recent manufacture. A prior reporting error regarding the Memini carburetor made it seem as if there was perhaps something a bit odd but a careful inspection revealed that two digits were stamped very close together making it appear as if "101534" was perhaps the erroneously reported "10534". Some things have to be seen and studied carefully if we are to consider them seriously as "evidence"!
(Edit 17 April 2014) "I have not seen this car personally but" should now read: Over the past two days I have looked carefully at this car and have reviewed again a great many photos supplied 2005 by Bill Noon well after he sold 10814318 during April of 2001 to Italy. Beginning 2005, I have sought to learn more from others who have been involved with the car at various times. I am always seeking to learn more detail.
6C10814318 was sold June 1969 from Mark Gibbons (Boston, MA, USA) to Keith Hellon in Illinois. The car was described as "Zagato" at the time. We don’t know how long Mark Gibbons owned it but it was evidently long enough to have been a part of his collection for a time. It was probably the car that was referred to generically as a “1932 Alfa Romeo” when the histories of other cars from his collection are described historically.
An owner prior to Gibbons has been reported as “Phil Kupeco” of Willimansett, Massachusetts. I am not convinced that the spelling of the “Kupeco” name is correct. Any thoughts as to who this person might be would be most welcome!
10814318 was sold circa 1972 (advertised Hemmings, April, 1972) to Maurizio Forleo in Italy. It then seems to have been sold into the UK where it traded from dealer to dealer for a time during the 1970’s. We have no specific documentation yet that the car “traded from dealer to dealer” in the UK was the same car that had gone from the USA to M. Forleo in Italy but there is also no reason to doubt this detail. It would be nice to have some confirmation from one or more of those un-named dealers!
10814318 was purchased in the UK by Yoshiyuki Hayashi of Japan, sometime around 1975 or 1976. It was apparently described legally as a “1932” car when we would expect this chassis number to have been completed rather early in 1931. There is no indication that the car ever went to Japan. The car sat around for a time in the UK and was eventually restored by Tony Merrick in company with 6C10814368, also owned by Mr. Hayashi. Mr. Hayashi reported through an intermediary (September, 2005) that he has no records remaining for these cars. Tony Merrick clearly did not think of the two cars based on their chassis identities. When queried (2005) by Simon Moore on my behalf, he reported that 10814318 had something or other on it or with it that suggested that it had come from the USA. No specific mention was made of Italy, M. Forleo or any earlier owners.
Mr. Merrick also described the two cars by a specific feature that we might think of as a sort of “fingerprint”. During their restorations, one of the two cars was given a new body that was copied from the other. Contrary to what has been reported (inconsistently) about both of the “Hayashi” cars (10814318 and 10814368), Tony Merrick, many years after his last work was completed on the two cars, remembered: “The original body had rounded and exposed rivet heads joining the body to the support structure and the copy body had flush-fitting rivets.”
(Edit 17 April 2014) I can now delete some speculative commentary and write in its place, Both cars have been re-restored (and altered) during subsequent restorations and some of Mr. Merrick's memories no longer serve as useful tools to us in the identification of which car had what work done by him. Fortunately, Mr. Merrick supplied some photos of the car that he thought of as being (perhaps) chassis 6C10814318. Those historic photos clearly show 6C10814368 prior to restoration and there are no photos of a car that can be identified as 6C10814318. Even so, this tells us a great deal about 6C10814318 and also the nature of some distant memories that are used perhaps too often as some sort of anecdotal "proof".
(Edit 17 April 2014)
At the moment, we have only some flawed promotional talk and writing that describes the original configuration of the body of 6C10814318. Unfortunately, there are no clues present in the car today as it is quite clear that the current Zagato-style body was made in part by Tony Merrick (copying the body that was on 6C10814368) and which has subsequently been revised in Italy for a subsequent owner.
(Edit 17 April 2014)
Both 10814318 and 10814368 have a "rectangular" insert venting panel today in the sides of their cockpit cowling. Although it seems as if an “error” might have been made by using a rectangular insert in the body of 10814318 rather than the triangular insert that we might expect based on observations of other cars from early in the fifth series, we cannot yet be certain about this detail's originality (or lack of it) in 6C10814318. We know that it is original to 6C10814368 ... as we might expect.
(Edit 17 April 2014)
10814318 was described 1998-1999 as having no documented early ownership or use history. I have to agree at this moment but this might change tomorrow or another day when new information comes to light.
This general description accompanied the car through three auctions when the car was offered by Symbolic Motor Car Company. At one point, the VIN number was reported as “10364317” and it seems that this number was probably seen by the reporter on the front axle? (edit ... now confirmed!)
During the same time period, 6C10814368 was also being offered by Symbolic inconsistently as not having its original body, a description that then became ignored in later descriptions. Photographs tell us that it is the car having flush-fitting rivets, i.e. supposedly the car that has the “new body” … as reported by Tony Merrick. Some interesting photos have recently turned up of 6C10814368 when it lived 1953 in the USA. More will be discussed later under a posting that will be devoted to that chassis number.
(edit: Several photos now in my hands, thanks to Tony Merrick having supplied them to the dealer "Thiesen" and the current owner of 6C10814318), clearly show us that it was 6C10814368 that retained at least a good portion of its original body and certain specific characteristics that were repeated in the body made for 6C10814318 tell us quite clearly the source of some of that body's shapes, some of which have been subsequently made more typical of a greater number of Zagato bodies of the time.)
6C10814318 passed to Bill Noon seemingly near the end of 1999 or early 2000. He used it on several events during 2000 before selling it April 2001 to a new owner in Italy. Bill shared enough detail photos of the car to suggest to my studies that it seems quite likely to be the car that I would describe as 6C10814318 once a personal inspection (edit: ... now accomplished!)
(Edit 17 April 2014)
Some non-historical number “clues” have been inserted into the discussion in the past. The last four digits of the chassis number were stamped into quite a number of body pieces as if to suggest that they should be considered to be a body number. We now know that this work was done almost certainly by or for Tony Merrick for Mr. Hayashi.
The 1931 history that has been claimed for this car seems to be entirely circumstantial and I have no great confidence that the "Felix" name found inside the "Uso e Manutenzione" manual accompanying the car (edit: ... for a time, after the car passed to Bill Noon) reflects on the history of this chassis number. Based on what has been reported to date we cannot know that this booklet was accompanying the car during the 1970's. The auction offerings of 1998 and 1999 specifically indicated that no earlier history was known or even supposed.
More historical study is needed!
Certain numbered features of this car can be seen quite easily. Additional information is sought from the remainder of the car.
The “frame number” (assigned to the frame itself during its build process before the chassis/engine/VIN number was assigned) is “10434350". This number was a tracking number assigned to the frame alone.
The crankcase number (located on top, between the cylinder block and the gearbox) is “10824317”.
The steering box is numbered “10154228” and has the ratio “3x29” marked most prominently today. These numbers have been stamped on top of “0152903” and the ratio “3x26”. There is also an “SS” marking that is certain (in my mind) to have been associated with the original numbering and is reflective of the steering box’s first intended use in an early “SuperSport” chassis. This sort of re-use and repurposing can be shown for quite a number of steering boxes and does not reflect negatively on what we might think of the “originality” of this component. It “fits in to expectations” (quite precisely!) based on observations of similarly numbered cars and their steering boxes. As an aside, based on too little data to be entirely certain, it seems the steering box (when numbered “0152903”) might have been used originally in a car numbered near 6C0312950(?) … presuming the steering box had earlier use in a car.
The Memini carburetor has been reported as being numbered “10534” but is now known to be “DOA N.101534”.
The gearbox number has been reported as “1044313” but this number does not include the third digit that was clearly drilled away. The complete number was “10344313” with the ratio “17x27”.
The front axle is numbered “10364371”. This number was reported as a “chassis number” during an auction offering of 1999.
The gear carrier in the rear axle housing is numbered "0172120" and bears the unusually "tall" ratio of 12/49.
The rear axle housing bears the number "10484315". It was thoroughly hidden by plastic filler and paint that also hid all signs of the original fabrication welds and other markings. Who'd have thought that such a hidden part of a car would be prepared as if it was to be entered in a "Concorso d'Eleganza di Ponti Posteriori"?
Many additional "hidden" clues were also checked and I am comfortable to call this car "6C10814318" without any lingering doubt. It is unfortunate that this determination removes any "benefit of the doubt" that was given until this time to the car that is described by the following posting ... that must now be revised.
Last edited by iicarJohn; 12-25-2015 at 02:50 PM.
Reason: New information found ...