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Hello members,

In the German car classic magazine 'Motor Klassik' of january 2010, I found an article on a 6C2500 with a Castagna body. The chassisnumber of this car is #915066, built in 1939. It is part of a collection of the Italian architect Corrado Lopresto.
The car is special because it has a three liter V12 Alfa engine with 200 HP. This engine is said to be derived from the 3560 cc V12 (68mm bore x 82mm stroke) Tipo S10 (140 HP) and Tipo S10 SS (165 HP) engine. The bore was reduced to 62mm and that meant a capacity of 2970cc (62mm bore x 82mm stroke). The car wasn't altered, the engine is said to be made for the 6C2500 and was meant to take part in the Mille Miglia of 1941 which had a limit of 3 liters.
The V12 engine was apparently owned by Mario Righini, Dieter Dambacher and Gianni Torelli. The last person restored the engine for Mr. Lopresto. Have a look at the article here:

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Castagna V12 Coupé: Zwölf-Tour mittags | Oldtimer & Youngtimer | Motor Klassik

Any members that can shed more light on this car?

Ciao, Olaf
 

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I think the article is pretty clear that this car did not exist at the time. It talks about the engine being found in a barn near Lake Osta where supposedly Alfa engineers hid their secrets during WWII. Regarding the body, the article talks about 15 Castagna bodies that were produced betwen 1941 and 1942, that these bodies have similarities to Touring bodies and that experts speculate Castagna built these bodies under license from Touring. It does not say whether this car actually has one of these Castagna bodies but it says Lopresto combined the engine with car 915066 in the spirit of Alfa Romeo plans from 1940. From what I read, I'd say it's a tribute car and not an original.
 

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The car has been delt with in other magazines over the last years.
In my opinion its a Castagne design. Castagna was coming to an end. And in there last period there designs was very close to what has been seen from Touring. But a collaboration between the companies, is hardly thinkable,in my opinion.
I think that this car has been covered in a previous tread.
 

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The car has been dealt with previously, I seem to remember in a thread about the 6C2500 raduno in Antwerp 2007, where the car was entered.

It is also covered in a dedicated chapter in Simon Moore's second edition of The Immortal 2.9.

Ruedi, I'm sure you are better than I at reading German: do you confirm that the wording means that the engine was found in a shelter near the Lago d'Orta? While it is almost certain it was stored there during the war, I'm pretty sure, a.o. from G.P. Garcea's book that everything stored away during the war was brought back to Portello in 1945, and my understanding was that the V12 was "rescued" with plenty of other stuff from Portello's basement in the 90s.
 

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It certainly is one heck of a tantilizing "what if", along the lines of the Gazella or the Tipo 163...
 

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Ruedi, I'm sure you are better than I at reading German: do you confirm that the wording means that the engine was found in a shelter near the Lago d'Orta?
The specific passage in the article states:

"In einer Scheune nahe dem Orta-See, um den herum Alfa in den Kriegsjahren die wichtigsten technischen Zeugnisse versteckt hatte, tauchte auch eine Drei-Liter-Version des nicht mehr eingesetzten V12 auf. Die wanderte durch die Hände der Alfa-Experten Mario Righini, Dieter Dambacher und Gianni Torelli. Letzterer restaurierte den Motor für den Mailänder Sammler Corrado Lopresto, der ihn im Sinne der Alfa-Pläne von 1940 in ein Chassis des Typs 6C 2500 mit der Nummer 915066 setzte."

Translation:

"In a barn near Lake Orta, around which Alfa during the war years hid the most important technical achievements, appeared a 3-liter version of the no longer used V12. It wandered through the hands of the Alfa-experts Mario Righini, Dieter Dambacher und Gianni Torelli. The last one restored the engine for the Milanese collector Corrado Lopresto, who, following the intent of Alfa's plans from 1940, installed it in a 6C 2500 with chassis number 915066."

The "plans" the article is referring to were to use a 3-liter V12 for the 1941 Mille Miglia because of a change in the Mille Miglia regulations that limited displacement to 3 liters without compressor. This engine supposedly was a down-sized version of the 3.6-liter S 10 SS engine of which supposedly 2 were built according to Fusi the article states.

The article is fairly ambiguous about the date the engine was found: It only says "after 1945" -- whether this was as part of bringing stuff back to Portello or independently is unclear.
 

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Alfa Romeo 6C2500 N. 915066

I no longer recall the source but this chassis number was reported several years ago with a German owner, "Heinz Jaspert". The information seems likely to have come from Peter Marshall as I have Heinz listed against another 6C2500 and four AR1900C. No further description of 915066 is in my computer at the moment. I suspect it was known already in 1994 at the time of my last published book of chassis number lists but was edited out for lack of descriptive information about the car? Mr. Jaspert certainly appears in the listing of AR1900C cars published in 1994. I will check through my paper files one of these days to see when 915066 first appeared on the study scene. I do have an old address for Mr. Jaspert so I guess we could actually do something bold and simply attempt to ask him about the car? Personally, I think it is clear that the car and engine are not an original pairing.

The V12 engine has been mentioned quietly for quite some time by various folks and it was not unknown that some project like this was planned for it. There is often a level of secrecy surrounding these kinds of projects that sometimes makes us wonder "why?" ... as to the secrecy. But, we live in a critcal world that sometimes makes it uncomfortable for some projects to proceed once they become known. Regardless, it seems that many "teaching moments" may have been lost ... unless they've been recorded for another day?

Whether 915066 was "Castagna" in its original configuration I do not yet know. I'm fairly certain that patient and persistent study will bring us that answer one day. It may be that the answer will longer be perceived as an important detail when that information turns up? From what I've seen so far, the car is a nicely done tribute to what "might have been".

The "Castagna su disegno Touring" is fairly well documented in Anselmi's 6C2500 book. That it happened there is no doubt. This was during war-time and allies were made where there might not have been such relationships before. It is important to acknowledge that we tend to make assumptions today about the nature of "competition" and intellectual property that simply did not exist in the same way in that time period in that part of the world. Many of our assumptions are simply not valid. There was often some level of cooperation between various car builders and coachbuilders. There was much more of a sense of "being in it together". It was a time when the automobile was still a magical thing that was not for everyone. It was also a time when it was culturally OK to simply have "enough". It was not perceived as being necessary to drive every competitor out of business.

John
 

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Ar 6c2500 915066

I got a bit curious about this and searched my computer for "S10". I found that I'd been informed very late in 2007 that the V12 engine had been fitted to a "6C2300B". At least, this is when the cryptic (and erroneous) reference began to show up in my backup files. The source was not noted. Bad student!

John
 

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Alfa Romeo 6C 915066

I have asked Corrado Lopresto via email to describe his project a little bit. Of course, I am assuming that reports are correct in describing it as being his project. Maybe I will have a bit of "news" in the next few days? Or, maybe I will hear only, "Sorry John. This car is not mine." (?)

When it comes down to it, Corrado doesn't really have to explain what he has done to any of us. It is perhaps more "interesting" if it is left as something of a mystery?

John
 

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Alfa Romeo 6C2500 915066 "V12"

Sometimes one simply needs to ask the owner!

Corrado Lopresto has sent a nice digital "stack" of information about the car. Because the engine was designed to fit, he says that no major modifications were necessary to fit the V12. He also shared photos of the original "Sport" 6C2500 engine. The car was discovered in Prague and went to Heinz Jaspert and then to Dieter Dambacher and on to Corrado in 2003. Apparently even Anderloni thought it was "Touring" when he first saw the car but it was quickly determined that it was actually Castagna. Castagna built a small series from late 1941 to 24 October 1942 when Castagna's premises were destroyed by Allied bombs. Sixteen similar "Castagna" cars are documented by surviving Alfa Romeo ledgers that begin during the fall of 1942. The earlier ledgers were lost during WWII. During the same time period of the documented "Castagna" production, Touring bodied 21 cars. Unfortunately, we do not know about the earlier production except from cars themselves and scattered references from other sources.

There are Alfa Romeo design drawings dated 3 September 1941 that are specifically designated "Castagna" and the design is clearly a derivative of the Touring designs from 1939 but with some important variations. It would seem that it was Alfa Romeo who was the driver of this body style and not some brief relationship between Touring and Castagna. Some of the drawings appeared in Anselmi's 6C2500 book (1993) and in a specific story (on the Touring-Castagna confusion) that he wrote for La Manovella April 1996. Photos in this article show a car that is undoubtedly earlier than the cars listed by the ledger and some features seem to indicate it was destined for the Germans in North Africa. In this same article, Anselmi mentions that some Castagna may have been badged "Touring" for some reason, perhaps in ignorance after the fact? In particular, he mentioned the "Claretta Petacci" Alfa Romeo 6C2500 "in USA" as being perhaps one of those cars? That car has been discussed elsewhere here on the Alfa BB. Of course, the Claretta Petacci car is widely acknowledged as being 915033 but I'm not certain that there is documentation yet to prove the connection? Since 915033 has been reported as having the Touring body #2305, it seems unlikely that it was a Castagna?

Looking at the information reported above and trying to make sense of it against my collected chassis number listings and historical data, I see that some implications cannot be left as stated. For example, a good portion of the documented "Castagna" production postdates the bombing date mentioned above. So, an additional edit will be required once I study this some more.

Although many questions remain and indeed some mysteries as well, we should thank Corrado Lopresto for sharing his exciting project with the world. I hope to see it one day.

Grazie Corrado!
 

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Alfa Romeo 6C2500 N. 915066 con motore S10SS

I did a bit of checking online last night about the bombing(s) of 24 October 1942 and found somewhat different accounts. The Italian sources describe it all a bit differently from the english language (Allied) accounts. This comes as no real surprise.

The easily found Italian perspective generally was that the bombing of 1942-1943 seemed to be designed to frighten and demoralize the general population while the 1944 bombings were focused on military targets. The allied accounts indicate that the Caproni aircraft factory was hit completely by surprise in a daylight run of 24 October while the Italian accounts found thus far indicate there was only a night-time bombing that had some warning, but very little. The allied accounts indicate that the night-time bombing seemed to do little additional significant damage. This was expained in part by the slightly smaller contingent of planes sent in the evening and which ran into bad weather and re-routed from France through Switzerland where Swiss anti-aircraft gunners "defended their neutrality". 39 aircraft reached Milan in the evening instead of the 88 Lancaster bombers that hit earlier that day. This all goes to show that "history" cannot often be described accurately as a precise event. Differing perspectives may lead us in many different directions and not all accounts will agree.

I'll check into this some more but it seems that the Castagna works at the intersection of via Montevideo and via Valparaiso were indeed destroyed on 24 October 1942, either during the day or night. Castagna reportedly moved their operation to via della Chiuse, not far away. It seems likely that 915066, being seemingly quite early in the series, was probably built in the former location but this cannot be documented at this point. Corrado has an idea that 915066 might even be the "prototype" for this body style. There were certainly some noticeable differences that came later.

Looking into this, I have realised that I saw this car at the Pebble Beach Concours in 2007. I'll post a photo, the best of four I took while practically "running" through the displays. I was "on the clock" and had to be elsewhere in a short time but had been gifted a pass by a friend and could not resist having a quick glance at what was on the field. Other than remembering saying "hello" to a few friends on my way through, I hardly remember being at Pebble as there was an awful lot that went on that weekend. I certainly was not aware that the pretty Alfa 6C had a 12C engine hidden under the bonnet. It didn't even occur to me or I would have certainly "fallen" under the car with camera in hand.

John
 

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John, do you have any opinion about Fusi listing 915066 in the 1939 production year instead of 1941-42?
 

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I'll check into this some more but it seems that the Castagna works at the intersection of via Montevideo and via Valparaiso were indeed destroyed on 24 October 1942, either during the day or night.
Carrozzeria Castagna: MILAN RECALLS THE HISTORICAL SITE.
Corriere della Sera, 27/10/2009

An Allied bombing, on October 24, 1942, destroyed the Castagna's plant at the corner of via Montevideo and via Valparaiso, in Milan. 
Those bombings, as well bring death and destruction and forcing many to Milan displacement, put an end to an era, one in which, from the factory came out the prestigious cars of this company founded in 1849 in Via della Chiusa, a short distance, close to the Navigli. After the war, in fact, the company left Milan and moved to Venegono Superiore, near Varese, where in recent years has resumed production of individual pieces or small series. Today a small exhibition (open until late November 2009 in via Montevideo 19, where was the main entrance of the factory) recalls those places, the people who work there, the artisans who gave body to the cars and to the myth of Castagna. The Castagna brothers were among the first to export their creations abroad, thanks to showroom open since 1908 in New York and London were first coaches created by founder Carlo, then cars devised by the genius of Ercole. Already in the 20's reputation of this "atelier" was published abroad and 70% of orders came from international customers. In memory of that the City of Milan has also placed a plaque, unveiled its on 24 October, at 17:57, exactly 67 years from that tragic event.

P.S. I'm in the photo.
 

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915066 production date/year

It seems that there are enough errors when it comes to Fusi's tables that the tables should be used as a general guide rather than as some sort of specific "proof" for any individual car. There are obvious errors in listings for later cars ... for which there is no "records destroyed in World War II" explanation available for any confusions.

The Alfa Romeo production listings as compiled by Fusi are helpful but are not valid for all cars. "Production" was far more complex than is implied. This seems to be well known and yet the tables are still used by some folks as "proof" of when their car was built. The tables would be thrown out of any reasonable court of law ... if it came to that. A good lawyer would not even present them as evidence.

Lets just say that I rarely even refer to the Fusi tables any longer when studying specific cars. It has led too often to confusion that is pointless and ... after years of study we often have better information available to us! I am cleaning up (mostly minor) errors in my listings all the time and every now and then there is something "obviously incorrect" that is rather surprising. This kind of study is best done patiently and from more than one "doubting" perspective. This can make me and others seem a bit negative sometimes but this is not the intent. The intent is to learn what "is" and "was" rather than what has been assumed or claimed, sometimes based on erroneous data presented by others including Fusi ... and myself in the past. I fear it will continue into the future. That said, we are lucky to have had Fusi's charts early on. They have helped to de-mystify some things even as they confused us about others. Only time will tell what can be thought of outside efforts such as mine and those of some others who tend to be more private in their studies.

Although there are some Alfa Romeo books that reveal some of the complexities of what went on in general, a review of Anselmi's appendices in the 6C2500 book are perhaps most relevant here? The remaining Alfa Romeo production ledgers begin with chassis 915119 and cannot tell us precisely what happened earlier than 1942/43. But, there are clues that can be derived from comparing the "chassis ready" dates to the delivery dates on the earliest cars that are included. It becomes clear very quickly that these cars were not often finished and delivered in a matter of days or weeks. Some materials were scarce. There were worker strikes and some key workers may even have been injured or killed during some military actions? Some others without influence may have been called to duty in some Italian military command, leaving Alfa Romeo understaffed?. It was not an easy time to build cars through all of this. And, it seems that the automobile end of things was not the main focus of Alfa Romeo activities during this time period!

If the number "915066" was allocated in 1939, it seems it was not finished until 1941 at the earliest ... presuming it was not a rebodied car at that time? I rather suspect that the "chassis ready" date was not 1939. It might not even have been ready in 1940? All it will take is one piece of information to tell us ... if it is the right piece. And I suspect there is more than one such piece out there just waiting for us to find it. I tend to focus on the cars themselves and the clues that are present. The original engine and other mechanical parts may have internal parts that are dated and numbered with additional identifying markings, as some mechanics and machinists did fairly frequently. I kind of suspect that the 12C engine might have some similar markings. But, it was rebuilt by Gianni Torelli and not myself, so I did not get a chance to look for those details. This kind of study takes time. Usually it is non-billable time and simply does not get done.

It is curious the number of times I have heard some variation on, "Yeah, there were markings, and a number that was on everything, but I didn't write it down.". One day, when this stuff is considered seriously as not just "art" but history as well, I hope a large number of folks will begin to pay attention to these details. Too many of them are lost already.

John
 

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Another small "Ahah!" moment.

Thank you Paolo,

You've added a couple of of angles not yet shown by other photos in the digital dossier that is starting to become fairly extensive.

Your photo showing the ID plate explains why many of the photos and descriptions found on the net are in error when they describe the car as "6C2300B". The ID plate is from another car in Corrado's collection. You have solved a minor mystery in my notes and mind.

Di nuovo, grazie!

John
 

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John, i don't know the 915066 story, but i have 2 photos of the bay engine the berlinetta Castagna 1939 you have seen in Pebble beach 2007.
FYI: I believe these pictures were from Raduno 6C 2500 in Antwerp 2007 and they were posted by Carlo in post #25 and 26 of this thread.
 

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The misidentification as a "6C2300B"

This is no longer a mystery and was never very important. Either a mistake was made in the ID plate fitted at the time or it was fitted for other reasons at the time. I can guess at a practical reason but it really does not matter. It has become a part of the car's history. That partcular confusion is no longer important. Fortunately, there are enough mysteries and confusions that remain, not just for 915066.

John
 
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