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Discussion Starter #22
6C8513026

8513026 was seemingly fitted early in life with the "testafissa" engine numbered 6C8513027. It appears that Stiles (the British Alfa Romeo agent) stamped an Alfa Romeo ID plate with the juxtaposed engine number when the car was sold into private hands. Reports of the two identities have been confused and still cause me some confusion today when I come across notes that seemingly cannot be precisely correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
6C8513027

8513027 was seemingly fitted early in life with the "testafissa" engine 6C8513026. It appears that Stiles (the British Alfa agent) stamped an Alfa Romeo ID plate with the juxtaposed engine number when the car was sold into private hands. Reports of the two identities have been confused and still cause me some confusion today when I come across notes that seemingly cannot be precisely correct. I think I know more about the history of 6C8513027 than I do about 6C8513026 but some certainty about specific details eludes me. More study needed!
 

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Discussion Starter #24
6C8513006

8513006 was a testa fissa 6C1750 that was used by Ferrari and Siena before being sold to Tadini. In 1935, the PRA record shows that the chassis number became recognized as "8433002", based almost certainly on the frame number of the frame that was in use. We cannot yet know that the frame was still the original at that time. Other than the fact that we know that some chassis were indeed changed, there is not yet a reason to doubt this detail.

So, we can tentatively identify chassis 6C8513006 as having had frame "8433002" ... or the second numbered "Gran Sport" chassis off a "pile" of chassis from early in the production run.
 

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Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
6C8513028

It seems that this chassis number is found today under a car that has been known for some years by another chassis number identity. Although there is nothing truly unusual in this sort of event among Alfa Romeo 6C cars, some inconsistent details have been reported from more than one source. I am presuming that these are mere reporting errors. I am confident we will learn more about the car in time and that additional details will become known to us. More study needed!
 

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Discussion Starter #26
6C8513030

Not all is 100% clear as to what happened when, but it is also true that there is no reason to doubt the historical integrity of this car. It would seem as if this car was one of several cars to have experienced a numerical identity melding of some sort while with the UK dealership "Alfa Romeo British Sales".

The chassis of this car is reportedly stamped "6C8513028". That is, if I have interpreted the data received correctly. There is a chance that I have not but this description will still serve as a valid example of "possibility" regardless. I will be happy to change this posting to reflect "reality" more than it might ... if I have some specific detail noted incorrectly.

The engine and identity (I.D.) plate report "8513030" for both the chassis and engine?

The chassis stamped "6C8513030" may be sitting under a car that has long been known as "6C8513025"? The stampings are not 100% clear last I heard.

These are seemingly all long-standing matches for each of these cars even though there are some prejudiced souls who might call them "mismatches". I cannot agree with the prejudicial "numbers-must-match" ("numbers-matching") crowd in all instances! At a minimum, we should perhaps consider an alternate definition for "numbers matching"?

I consider that numbers are tools. Rather like names and other specific descriptors, they help us to feel comfortable that we are discussing the same object or person. But, as with names, it is often not enough to simply state one number in order to be certain we are all thinking of the same car. It is not enough to say only "John Smith" if we wish to talk about a specific individual.

There was a comedy show in the USA that I never watched but which brought us the popular statement, "This is my brother, Darrell, and this is my other brother, Darryll". One could never say "brother Darrell" (no matter the spelling) and be certain the same person was under discussion.

In the fourth series there is the rather obvious example in the 8513026/8513027 pairing against the 8513027/8513026 pairing. It seems quite simple at first but it is actually more difficult to keep these identities straight than those of some other cars that have had similar numerical confusions added to their mix at an early time, even if not acknowledged until recent times when some folks began paying attention to actual number stampings rather than merely what was stated on some documents.

We have clear evidence in a number of cases that Stiles (Alfa Romeo British Sales) considered the chassis to be simply a part of a car. It mattered not if a chassis was handy that happened to have a number on it that did not match the number of the car being completed or repaired for use or sale. In fact, there is ample evidence that Alfa Romeo treated some cars with the same practical philosophy in both the 6C and 8C. series I will not be surprised if there is some of this philosophy yet to be identified in cars that are earlier and later. Oh wait(!), there is already some of this that has been observed in some 8C2900 cars and some number of racing cars of the late 1930's. Number changing and re-use was not everyday practice but it was also not avoided at all costs.

I would say that, if Alfa Romeo or Stiles ("Alfa Romeo British Sales") changed or swapped a chassis for some practical reason before selling a car off (even if it might have been a sale that postdates some original use?) then the car is still an Alfa Romeo with "matching numbers" ... that simply requires more in the way of a description than looking at a few digits stamped in the chassis.

In the end, we should always remember that there was a legal requirement for any car to have an identity. The legal requirement was treated differently in some countries but virtually all countries had some requirement for the identification of motor vehicles. We can find a great many examples of what was done by many manufacturers and builders (and owners) to use this legal requirement in various creative ways to make it seem as if unrealistic simplicity existed in a world that experienced complex deeds dictated by the business needs of the moment.

Each story is its own but we will find that some stories are intertwined ... as is suggested by this "chassis number" example. I am not ashamed to admit that I find this sort of minor mystery more of an attraction to a desire to explain the "why" of what went on rather than inferring that something must be "wrong" .... which would then infer that all of the history made by some cars has been somehow "wrong" for 80 years, or perhaps a bit more ... or perhaps less?
 

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Discussion Starter #27
6C8513031

6C8513031 was a 1500cc car that was sold new or almost new to England. We know some ownership and dealer history from the 1931 to 1934 time period. A mysterious possibility exists for 1931 that may lead back into 1930 as well? As of June 1934, the car was sold to a person named "Margetts" in the UK. Nothing is known to me of this car after that time.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
6C8513032

Chassis 6C8513032 is well described from 1930 to 1950 through a succession of owners beginning in Sicily. I've not yet attempted to follow the paper trail beyond 1950 but will try to do so at some point in the near future.

The following posting will discuss a car that presented itself a few years ago as "8513032" but which seemed less than convincing when the component parts were described to some degree.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Claimed "8513032"

A car turned up a few years ago in the USA claiming the identity of "8513032". The few parts that were described did not seem to belong to a car with this chassis number. The history that was claimed did not belong to this chassis number. I never saw the car myself. Nor any photos. A car (perhaps the same car?) was subsequently offered by Aldo Cesaro under this identity and some similarly numbered component parts were also seen by myself and others in his shop in association with one or more cars numbered "8513081". There are many mysteries for us when we study certain cars that have spent a little bit of time (or a lot of it) in certain shops in certain parts of the world!

Some time-consuming studies of certain mysteries lead us in directions that help us to understand the broad appeal of these cars but the studies sometimes have little to do with an actual study of actual Alfa Romeo production ... even though something can always be learned from many of the parts used in any project ... if some context can be understood. Many of the lessons and sample data that we might label today as "tbd" (to be determined) might continue to be part of a pool similarly described data when analyzed by a more youthful generation ... should anyone care to continue to try to figure out some of these details.

I wish I could be comforting and suggest that there is one specific characteristic in these cars that cannot be duplicated convincingly and that there will therefor always be a certain characteristic that will betray a car's true origins. I can only suggest that there is an overall sense that comes from the overall collection of parts. Lots of parts! After 80 years (more or less) there will be some parts that have been changed in almost any car. Some work will have been done! Sometimes there are clues to history in the work that was done. If we really wish to respect the actual history that was made, we should be open to all that a car and its parts can tell us. In order to become adept at learning these sorts of lessons, we should be learning as much as possible from other similar cars (and their parts) as well. And we need to understand that some lessons will be unique to those cars and not our own. Just as there may be unique lessons for us in our own cars. This is part of the "magic" that is present in any hand-made car, particularly if it was subject to certain specific customer wishes during the build. All manner of contemporary "sense" that can be gleaned will help when trying to make sense of the subtle messages inferred by the nature of the parts and sometimes the way they were attached and used.

From a presentation standpoint for a car that has been restored with a newly made part that could not be found as an "original", we are fortunate that most details can be duplicated in ways that can be truly evocative of the original. When studying "history" (which continues today) we need always be aware that precise copies that are accepted easily in a "restoration" might also be used in a recreation that is built of any number of parts that are precise copies of originals. "No harm, no foul" might easily be said if the collection of parts is described accurately. If not, confusion might ensue?

If made as were the originals, any differences can be difficult to discern without some very specific testing. We have a great deal of work in front of us if it should become necessary to develop a scientific database of the myriad characteristics that might be found in an original part from the original builders ... as compared to the additional and varied characteristics placed in front of us when we look at various pretenders from many sources.

With rare exception, I prefer to avoid resorting to metallurgical testing and x-ray analysis in order to arrive at a sense of what a car is made of. Generally, there is a sense that can be made of the whole package if one does not focus on certain individual parts as specific proof of any intent to mislead, whether in a good way or in a way that might seem rather sinister.

I am a long-term student of these cars and their characteristics. I am learning new things about many of them every day. May it always be so! One day, I may get to see "8513032". I will perhaps learn more if it should be the original, but something will be learned even if it is not.
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
6C8513033

Two cars exist that claim the chassis number "6C8513033". At least, two cars existed as of 2005. This posting will describe the car that I inspected that year and concluded was very likely the remains of the original car despite lacking the original body and some small parts.

8513033 was a spider Zagato that was completed initially in a rather minimalist configuration in order to run the 1931 Mille Miglia (with Scuderia Ferrari support) in the hands of its proud new owner, Luigi Scarfiotti. The car supposedly broke a suspension spring and was a DNF for that reason. During the car's repair, additional work was done by Zagato and subsequent appearances show that the body had become evocative of the normally catalogued version from Zagato, with bright trim accents and added detailing.

I've never before shared in writing a small suspicion I have that the chassis of this car was replaced sometime following the Mille Miglia (but likely the same year) with a new chassis. This suspicion is based on the observation that the frame number seems a bit later than the batch of chassis frames that seem to have been completed early 1930. I am becoming more and more aware of other examples of chassis replacements and period chassis swapping that makes this concept more easily "acceptable" in an historical sense ... even if the reality complicates our study considerably.

Each story is its own and it is not fair to paint the entire production with a broad brush of historical uncertainty, but it seems clear that there are quite a number of instances where these lightweight chassis required attention during early use and the quickest fix to please a customer was to give them (or sell them) a new chassis ... or another that had already been repaired. A posting below discusses some of the environment in which these cars were designed and built. We should not expect that they were all necessarily the same. Some may not have conformed precisely to the original design of a special request was made. We certainly see variations today and it is possible that some variations existed from the start when somebody started the day at the factory by saying, "Today we'll try doing this a different way."

Scarfiotti's car has been described as an ultra-light example but I do not know the original source, nor do I know that it had a particularly lightweight chassis. We can see from photographic evidence that the body was lacking some typical trim in its first outing on the Mille Miglia I have wondered if there was a decision following the car's failure on the MM that perhaps the chassis was a bit too fragile and was therefor replaced a month or two later as other work was being done? We need additional data from additional cars to begin even to postulate this as a reasonable possibility.

Scarfiotti traded or sold the car back to Alfa Romeo prior to the May of 1932 and the car was re-registered to Alfa Romeo.

After that, there is no news of the car until the 1960's, when the car was reportedly found near Modena by Giuseppe Bruni of Florence. It reportedly took some time to acquire the car and I have only second and third-hand reports as to the details. If the car's parts were not so convincing to me, I'd be rather skeptical of the stories! In any case, Bruni reportedly acquired the car within a few years of 1970 and some quick "restoration" work was done. Photos were shared with Luigi Scarfiotti and a letter was written that showed quite clearly that not all details were remembered with 100% accuracy. Still, it is a pleasant artifact. Restoration standards were rather different then than they are today and the car was later re-restored again, although (once again) not to what we might call a completely "accurate" historical configuration that the car displayed in any of its documented forms during 1930 and 1931.

To be completed ...

There will also be a discussion below of a second car that claims the chassis number "8513033".
 

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John, as always: Thank you for sharing your insights from researching these cars.

What would you say would be the most likely reasons for chassis replacements? I can imagine accidents (cracked or bent frames), failure due to fatigue (e.g. the points where leaf springs were attached), and/or the quality of workmanship or materials they had available then (e.g. purity and consistency of welding supplies)?
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Every story is its own

Thank you Ruedi for showing an interest.

I am of the general opinion that it is misleading to generalize about characteristics that are not yet studied well enough to pretend that meaningful statistics can be presented. We have collected incomplete data on a certain small percentage of cars that were produced in limited numbers to be competitive while racing against other limited production cars from other builders.

After collecting a limited amount of data it is already my impression that the 6C1750 Gran Sport (and the 6C1500 GS version) were produced in a way that might have made Colin Chapman proud, had his work been done some 20 to 25 years earlier. By that, I mean that a car that was built to race in a certain category was expected to last the distance of the race and perhaps not much longer. The most extreme example is to say that, if a car lasted 100 feet or 60 meters beyond the finishing line, then it clearly had been made just a little too strong ("heavy") in some areas that failed to fail as the car crossed the finish line.

While I will not pretend that a post-checker-flag failure was the goal of any constructor, it is important to recognize that these cars were designed and built to be tools. Each was a tool that was intended for a purpose. In a business sense, each was supposed to contribute to the bottom line of Alfa Romeo's profits at the end of the year. In the case of the Gran Sport, the bottom line benefit was not always based on the necessity that each example make a financial profit. The Gran Sport series, when raced by privateers, had promotional value for the company. Hence, there are some instances where there was promotional value perceived even if there was a temporary loss from a financial standpoint while a customer's needs were being attended to.

These cars, while seemingly conventional in many ways, had some features that were rather high-tech in their manufacture. There were a number of specialized forgings composed of highly specialized steel alloys and alloys of aluminum and sometimes magnesium. I've not seen a huge number of factory drawings but I have seen a few. A friend has seen a bunch of them and made a list of some of what he saw. Each drawing of each part calls out for a specific type of steel. Not all parts are made of the same steel. Each steel required its own heat-treatment (or lack of it) in order for the part to have the desired properties.

The designs of the Gran Sport chassis (4th & 5th series) and the preceding "Super Sport" from the 3rd series were quite light for chassis of the type at the time. The light weight came through the use of highly specialized steels that required careful heat treating in order to have the necessary strength and additional characteristics called for by the minimalist dimensions of the chassis structure. The roads of the days were also not kind to the chassis and suspension systems. The average road car of the day was built with a some extra "over-engineering" tolerance for that reason. The 6C Gran Sport was not "an average road car". Jano's minimalist design approached the limit of what could be done with the technology of the day in a package that was, in many ways, rather typical of many cars of the time but which was perhaps a bit more fragile than most in the chassis structure. The lightweight chassis and its "spring rate" was an extremely important element in the performance ability of these cars.

I'll not pretend that Alfa Romeo was alone in this sort of thing but it seems that the Gran Sport pushed the concept of lightness to the maximum in the chassis of some cars. We also see some chassis that have been strengthened in 6C, 8C and some Maserati racing cars. They were all trying hard to build cars that would be competitive on the track and on the road.

But, if there was a flaw in the steel or its heat-treating ... or if some early use gave the chassis a "tweak" that exceeded its design strength, an eventual or immediate failure was understandable. It seems likely to me that chassis were replaced sometimes because of failures due to manufacturing flaws and sometimes due to over-stressing the design limits. This may be one reason why the bulk of these cars had frame numbers before there was a chassis number assigned. If it was noticed that two or three chassis frames from the same build batch were somehow defective, there might be a good reason to pay some attention to the other chassis that were part of the same batch! Warranties existed even then and some manufacturers were perhaps eager to repair some defects before their customers realized there was a problem. Some makers do this today and others pretend that they are unaware a problem exists until they have to appear in court.

It seems that many cars sold through Alfa Romeo British Sales ... and perhaps a good number of those that were used by that dealership for promotional racing purposes ... were largely disassembled before and after their use in various races. Work was done and cars were reassembled, not always with the same chassis that was paired with the legal identity, the engine and ID plate. Chassis were clearly treated as parts and not as a necessary ingredient to establishing the legal identity. We are living with the result of that sort of chassis swapping as well.

I am convinced that some confusions we see today were created by Alfa Romeo themselves and some were created by their dealers while trying to keep their wealthy clientele happy. That sort of thing happens even today with modern cars that are considered rather special. It should not be a huge surprise that it happened nearer the dawn of the motorcar when cars were not yet perceived by most to be mere appliances.

Here is an ad that appeared in the 1932 edition (August) of the owners handbook for the 6C1750. The steel supplier "Cogne" is quite proud to offer some special steels and declare that Alfa Romeo cars were built with steels supplied by Cogne.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
A second car claiming the identity of "8513033"

The car that I believe is comprised of the remains of 6C8513033 is described above. This description will seek to acknowledge a second claimant to the identity.

After the car above was sold at auction in 2005 to a new owner in Texas ... and after I was asked to go have a look at it in order to voice an opinion as to the claims that had been made about it ... and after my opinion was given even as studies were continuing ...

A second car appeared less than two months later at an auction in Europe claiming the same identity! As documentation, it was using some copies of the paperwork from the car described above. A quick check with the auction company revealed a bare minimum of data, but it seemed quite clear that the car's numbering was only a distraction to the study of 6C8513033. From the few photos and component numbers provided, there seemed to be nothing identifiably "Gran Sport" (Fourth Series) about the car's makeup. Even so, I felt it should be studied a bit more so that we can know how to describe it.

Reputedly, this car was sold 1976 by Massimo Colombo to Giovanni Giordanengo. He restored it either for himself or for an un-named customer and the car was sold 1996 to a new German owner. Mr. Giordanengo stated to another that he'd worked on two similar 6C1750 cars and believed them both to be genuine. I suppose that the restrictions of language might allow "genuine" to be used providing most of the parts used are comprised of pieces that originated with Alfa Romeo? Having seen the other car he restored (claiming chassis "10814318") I can state that it has essentially no parts that are identifiably from the original car that bore that number. The second "8513033" appears to be similarly configured. I will need to look at the body of the second "10814318" in order to state this with conviction but it remains true also that a Zagato body is not, technically, an Alfa Romeo component. Language is a wonderfully inaccurate way to communicate unless we know the precise intent behind its use.

Regardless, it seems that this car (claiming the identity "6C8513033") ran the Mille Miglia event in 1996 so it actually has begun to generate a history of its own. It was sold to another German owner before 2002 and the engine was rebuilt that year. The engine has a numbered crankcase from a non-Gran Sport engine but bears the stamping "6C8513033" nevertheless. The car was sold again in 2009 and a German shop was given the task a couple of years ago to try to determine the cars actual numerical origins. I do not yet know the outcome of that study.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
6C8513034

Nothing is yet known to me of the early history of 8513034. It turned up 1955 in a wrecking yard on Long Island, NY, having come from an insurance company. A witness has stated it was a coupe and Gordon Barrett (source of some of what we know) says he thinks it may have been a coupe by Zagato that can be seen in some period references.

The car was reportedly rebodied by Pettenella to spider Zagato form during the 1970's and was later sold to the UK. It failed to sell at auction in 1998 but was sold later to a new German owner. An inspection done by a correspondent friend revealed that a few components were no longer of Gran Sport origin but no doubts were cast upon the identity of the car itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
6C8513035

The history of 8513035 is currently described from 1931 to 1937 and the study is progressing to earlier and later times. Thus far, eight owners are named and five license plate changes are recorded.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
6C8513036

The history of 8513036 is described from April 1930 to April 1952 with 14 owners named thus far. Some precisions may come from some documents not yet purchased. A small road-block might be passed if some studies are followed with greater intensity ... and outlay of document purchases. There is no guarantee of success but I am hopeful based on some similar successes had by others in similar situations. I suspect that Angela Cherrett probably has additional detail describing the first three years over and above what I've collected thus far.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
6C8513037

A car with this number was reported as having participated on the MM of 2003 but I suspect it was a mistaken reference to another car?
 

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Discussion Starter #38
6C8513038

8513038 is described 1930 to 1934 through ten owners and three license plates issued.

Conflicting reports describe one or more cars existing today that claim the identity.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
6C8513039

8513039 is described incompletely from its origins until today. Some uncertainties about name spellings will be clarified once additional historical documents are purchased and studied.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
6C8513040

8513040 can be researched with data in hand even though our normal research channels are unlikely to be available to us. A number of PRA (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico) records are lost or destroyed and cannot be accessed through normal research paths. There are similar documents that sometimes exist in other governmental archives and we are seeking ways of gaining access to them.
 
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