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121215050 at Pebble - one more

What you've all been waiting for ... The frame number! At least, it is what I would have been waiting for ...!

This number was assigned to the chassis as it was being made. It came long before there was a chassis number assigned. Elsewhere, engines were being built and they also had their own numbers ... that do not relate directly to the chassis number. The same is true of many other major components in these cars. Only when the components were brought together and a completed running car (still without body) was there the task of assigning the actual chassis and engine number.

Despite admonitions to avoid using the word "always", these cars always had matching numbers when they were built because that is how they were built. The matching numbers part of the equation happened late in the game. That's not to say each car always had matching numbers when it was first sold ... or taken back in on a trade, refurbished and sold again. At that point, it was simply a used car. Every now and again there is an anomaly in numbering that we can say is historic simply because the history of the car is well known back to the 1930's. Those anomalies can be fascinating but should not distract us from learning what we can about the majority of the production.

If a chassis is missing this frame number, it might be a replacement chassis or ... it may be that the number was removed by some person who was told by an over-zealous bureaucrat/inspector that his car could not have two chassis numbers. One car that has known history dating back to the thirties in England has neither a chassis number nor a frame number to be found on the chassis! Very puzzling! But, the cars were made by men and not by gods. Undoubtedly, some of them were imperfect men.
 

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John,

Where would Zagato have stamped a s/n on the bodywork of a 1500/1750/2300...or did Zagato not stamp their bodies at this early date?
 

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Zagato body numbers

Hi Peter,

Early Zagato bodies (1929 and earlier) were probably numbered but I've not yet had an opportunity to look one over carefully. The short answer would be, "Look everywhere!". More detail than you probably wanted to know follows:

Zagato was quite inconsistent with their body numbering. At least, after seeing some small number of cars over the last 20+ years I would have to say that they seem inconsistent from the 1930's through the 1950's, particularly for cars that were built individually rather than in a real production line. Sometimes the numbers are easy to find and sometimes not. I saw a 5th series car (6C10814356) in July that carries three different Zagato numbers (at least) in various places by the time I finished looking carefully. It was partially disassembled and beginning a complete restoration so I didn't have to do much more than wander around and pick up pieces to have a look. Very convenient!

One number (987) was clearly the actual Zagato number for the car. This was also a billing number or something we might call a "work order" or even "P.O.". Some structural pieces were stamped "980" while wrapped in alloy painted "987". One door latch pull-bar (internal to the door) was marked "981" while on the other side, the same part is marked only "9" with the rest of the number presumably unstamped. I can theorize that this car was built in greater haste than usual using components already partially completed for another car (980) that was perhaps deemed not as important to finish quickly? Perhaps the entire structural framework from work order "980", already mostly completed, was used to build work order "987"? It is fascinating to think that we might be able to figure it out at this late date but is probably not terribly important to the actual "working" story of the car itself. It is what is is and maybe no more? An eventual understanding may set the stage, however, for understanding more about this car and others similar to it?

The number "987" appears on other parts of the car as well, including the wood framework of the seat back (painted), on the undersides of the floorboards (painted), the spacers that run between the body and the rear wings (fenders) and in large characters in pencil on the hidden side of the upholstered panel inside the rear hatch. This panel is also marked "Sotto" (underneath) in large letters and there is a scribbled little notation that mentions "984" and "987" and some other stuff not yet deciphered. Some markings can be very faint. In fact, I just now noticed the additional notations "not yet deciphered" in the photos I took. I did not notice them in person! Perhaps I need to go look again?

Some parts of this car appear to have been stored in different places, perhaps during World War II? Some parts are remarkably fresh and other adjacent parts have been quite affected by elements and time, leaving only hints as to numbers painted on the bottom side of one floorboard for example. Two other floorboard panels, weathered very little, show numbers that are quite clear.

There are certainly other possibilities to explain the body number change observed on certain parts, one of which might be that the customer for the earlier car (Zagato body number-wise) decided on something different in the way of detailing for the opening panels (doors and rear access hatch) and these parts simply became available as a result. Interestingly, a somewhat earlier car (eastern USA) has been reported as perhaps having the Zagato body #980. If that is a correct reporting, I wonder what putting the two cars side by side might imply? There might be interesting implications ... and then again, maybe not?

To answer your question more generally, I've not yet had a detailed look at a car as early as 0211462, but for 1930 cars and later, the most reliable place to search is inside the doors where it is often stamped on the actual steel framework and/or latch parts, painted on the body and perhaps penciled or crayoned on the upholstered panels. I've also seen numbers painted or scratched on the undersides of floorboards on many cars. On just a couple of cars, numbers were seen stamped in the visible portion of framwork or trim around doors or the rear hatch lid and there was no need to remove a part or parts to find it. Of course, in those cases there was also reduced incentive to search for other numbers to verify that it was indeed the definitive number for the car!

As mentioned for the doors, numbers can sometimes be found painted on the insides of certain body panels as well as sometimes penciled or crayoned on the back sides of upholstered panels. I do not recall now if I've seen Zagato numbers stamped in wood, but have certainly seen this with other coachbuilders. I would always try to have a look if other locations did not provide the answer. Because I've found multiple numbers on more than one car, I always prefer to find a number at least a few times on a car before settling comfortably on its designation as "the number" for that particular car. Sometimes there simply has not been that opportunity.

One caution I would give while searching for numbers is that it can be easy to try to look too closely. Some of these numbers were written or painted largely and it may be necessary to stand back a bit (and unfocus just a bit?) to see some numbers. More than once have I thought that there was nothing to be found on a certain part only to set it down and see it again from another angle or distance to have at least a portion of the number "jump" at me. And, I did not notice the multiple numbering of the door parts and hatch opening on 10814356 the first time I looked at them rather casually. It was so clear that the number was "987" due to the obvious paint markings that I failed to note the stamped "980" ... and then "981". Until I looked again.

It can take a lot of time to look again ... and again ... and again! But sometimes it is necessary if one truly wants to learn and understand.
 

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Thanks, John!

Separately:

Anyone know the s/n of the 6C 1500 shown on page 91 of the March 2003 edition of Motor Sport? It's Italian registry appears to be 23729 MI.

Thanks!
 

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Mi23729

Hi Peter,

This plate was issued originally in Milano during July of 1928. I've not traced it yet but there is a very similar plate that was re-issued to an Alfa Romeo 8C2300. "Re-issued?", you might ask.

Prewar Milano plates can be a bit interesting when research is done and here is part of the reason why. There is probably a bit that I do not understand yet. I certainly have not made a study of the specific laws that were passed (or when) and have no specific bureaucratic insight shared by insiders. The following is based on information shared by others who have done similar researches as well as personal observations gained while doing several hundred (if not a thousand or more) license plate researches in order to learn chassis numbers (sometimes engine numbers) and ownership histories of cars seen in period photographs. Information has also been shared by others, most notably Lorenzo Boscarelli, Corrado Bellabarba and Adolfo Orsi. There have been others as well, including Alessandro Bruni, Simon Moore, Angela Cherrett, Luigi Orsini and many more.

The system of plates that concern us for these cars historically had its beginnings in 1927. At some point after Mussolini gained a certain level of "supreme" power and sought to bolster his power base even farther, he tried to conserve and transfer and imply as much prestige as possible to the Rome area, evidently so that it would be considered the center of Italy ... if not the Universe. As part of this vision, Mussolini decreed in some legal fashion that no other area license plate in Italy could have a number higher than the highest plate number that had been issued in Rome at that time. It seems more than a bit preposterous now but it maybe seemed like a good idea at the time? Since Milano either had, or was to have shortly after the creation of this new plate system, more cars registered for circulation, the Milano office had to get creative in order to comply with the edict/law. They settled on a system to re-use plates that had been turned in once cars went elsewhere to be re-registered. I have not done an exhaustive search yet to try to determine when the re-use system was first employed, but the earliest indication I've seen thus far is 6 June 1929 for an earlier plate that was reissued on that date.

As something of an example, you might find the following a bit interesting?

The plate Milano (MI) 23769 was first issued 23 July 1928 to a Fiat "12HP". Apparently that car was either sold elsewhere or destroyed and the plates turned in.

The plate was issued again 10 July 1930 to a Fiat 514 which was subsequently sold March 1932 to someone in Varese where it acquired a new plate issued there and the Milano plates turned in.

Then the MI23769 plate was in use again by 1933 on an Alfa Romeo 8C2300 N. 2211092 but Simon Moore says that the official entry in the Milano PRA (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico) pages were not recorded officially with the change until March of 1937. Sometimes there are curious anomalies in these records! Simon asked me years ago do research in Torino on another car that was owned by Italian Royalty. When I did so, the pages were blank! In any case, this Alfa was also owned by a family who was either considered Royalty or was not far off from being considered "royalty". There may have been some level of anonymity that was accepted by the licensing authorities as a result? The MI23729 plate was recorded just in time for the car to be sold March 1937 to a new owner in Torino where it was re-registered in April and the Milano plates turned in once again.

Then, the Milano plates "MI23769" were re-issued again in May of 1938 to a Fiat 500 Topolino. By the time the Fiat was sold on in November of 1948, Mussolini and his prewar laws and decrees were no longer a factor and the plate was not used again.

So, each time a plate was turned in, the number became part of a pool that could then be reissued after a time. There were probably some internal guidelines about the minimum time necessary to avoid potential confusions with the previous user, so it probably would not have been re-issued immediately.

There was a system for tracking all of these new plate issues but even so, the Milano PRA employees oftentimes have extra work to do when someone such as myself comes along and asks them to check out a plate of the 1930's! And I have to stand in line with many others, some of whom are trying to identify the #[email protected]^^%& who hit them in a parking lot and did not stop to take responsibility. Understandably, my research sometimes has had to wait for more important work to be done first.

If the plate you see in the photo really is MI23729, it could be the original issue of the plate or it could have been a re-issue. If the photograph is dated "1928", there might be an implication that it was the original issue plate. If not, the plate could have already made history on another car.

In the "What if" department ... Going back to the Fiat Topolino that carried the plates that once graced an Alfa Romeo 8C owned by royalty or near-royalty. If the Fiat did still exist on that Milano plate, it might be tempting to the owner to build an Alfa Romeo 8C2300 around the plate? Or perhaps he'd have to at least consider the possiblity that the plates might be worth more to the Alfa owner today than his car is worth! Sometimes fantasies are even more absurd if they could be true!

John
 

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6c 1500 0111210

Here´s some pictures of the above car.
The "basket case" on the trailer shows the car upon arrival in Sweden in about 1964. The black and white picture and the first page of the magzine dates to around 1976 when the restauration was completed.
The colour pictures shows the car when it was exported (most likely) a few years ago. One can see it has suffered from long time storage.
Anyone knows of it´s whereabouts today ?
Björn in Sweden
 

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6C 1750 8513049 Corsica body

Here we go, The car is with it´s 4th owner who bought it in 1953. The car was bought new in 1930 by a Joseph Patrick in the UK. UK Reg OV3264.
The car should have been racing at Brooklands in 1931.
This should be the only 6C1750 bodied by Corsica of Corsica Lane/Road in London.
Enjoy.
Björn in Sweden
 

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6c 1750 8513081

The below car has spent about 10-15 years in Sweden and is a lovely runner.
Pictures taken at the 2008 Thulinträffen in Landskrona South Sweden.
Enjoy.
Björn in Sweden
 

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"beware"

It has been pointed out to me that the "BEWARE" notation associated with chassis "8513081" might be cause for concern to some. Because the listing was edited down to cars that had worn or might have worn GB/UK plates, I agree that it does stand out a bit in this listing. It is not intended to imply anything necessarily sinister. I have not gone and seen the engine from 8513081 myself but I do have somewhat reliable information that the original engine is on display in a military museum at Cecchignola near Rome. Similar comments about the chassis/car are more vague and might have been misinterpreted? In the overall listing, similar warnings could be given about several additional chassis numbers as well. Each case is unique and perhaps we will get to discuss some of them here in the future?

I should point out, however, that the Swedish "8513081" shown above does not seem to be the same car that claimed the same chassis number and which was offered at auction 1998, 2001, 2002 and which may have sold finally in 2003. Of course, if the rough time period in which the car was reportedly sold to Sweden was incorrectly related, the implications might be different.

John
 

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Damien,

you can correct:
????????? 6C 1750 AXG 965 (advertised by Gregor Fisken in 1999)
is : 0312902 6C1750SS 3rd serie 1929
was with Peter Sutcliffe, UK and is now mine in Germany with plates: CO-X60H
ex Gaspari Bona (first owner)

Martin, northern Bavaria
 

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121215050 at Pebble Beach

Very interesting reading and good pictures! I can add to the thread that not only the car completed three Mille Miglia's but before exhibiting it on the lawn at Pebble Beach I drove it 2.300 km's from Seattle throught the mountains of Washington and Oregon, along the Oregon coast and into the Californian redwoods to Monterey on the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic. No problems with the car whatsoever! It is not known I believe how many 6th series Touring spider bodies were made. We believe 6 of whic 3-4 remain (plus some replica's!). The prewar history of my car is unknown but I do know the first two registration numbers of the car's first owner in Como, Cesar Felog: CO 7816
The second owner in Milano, Renato Bordone MI 54094. If anyboy could dig up pictures of the car in that period I would be most happy to get a copy. After the war the car was in the USA. Where the story about the accident came from we still do not know as the car as far as we can see has never been inolved in an accident. Paul Grist restored the car over a long period. The bodywork is original with even the double plating under the wings (to prevent stones fron damaging the aluminium) in place.
 

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Memories of GN57 1750 cc and the Swedish car

Here we go, The car is with it´s 4th owner who bought it in 1953. The car was bought new in 1930 by a Joseph Patrick in the UK. UK Reg OV3264.
The car should have been racing at Brooklands in 1931.
This should be the only 6C1750 bodied by Corsica of Corsica Lane/Road in London.
Enjoy.
Björn in Sweden
I believe that this car is the property of Norman F, a long time friend of my late father in the UK. My father's brother John Nicol ran Ex Campari Mille Miglia (It is said) 851.3092 6C 1750 UK reg. GN 57 Zagato for many years starting at the same time as Norman. GN 57 had racing trips to Silverstone, Monza (my dad steering-they towed it all the way) and Crystal Palace for racing with Chris Don amongst others driving. My father and his brother at one point had 7 Alfas between them which must have ben a sight outside their terraced home in Croydon. I have pictures of them crammed into a 1500 with my Grandparents. Not so many people had cars back then so parking heaps was not a problem. They also ran a number of vintage motorcycles (Scott's, Norton Inters and the like). We still have one of the bikes, an ex Brooklands and IOM Beardmore Precision Racer (bit like a Cotton).
One trip was the 1953 British GP to see the Raymond Mays BRM expire on the grid (I think). Dad had contributed like many others to BRM as a "British Contender". At some point he got a rod and piston for his efforts.
My father regularly was the wrench on GN57. These guys were about 20 years old when they were buying Alfas that are worth millions today. I believe that Norman still makes an annual trip down to the Italian Alps in his own beast. My old man remained close to Norman and made a visit in the 80s with obligatory ride in the Alfa.
I have somewhere details (UK Alfa Register circa 1966 magazine) of the extensive engineering that had to be performed on the vehicle in the 50s including casting several new blocks, rods, pistons etc. The complaint was that Mr. Don was rather rough on the car. All of which was performed locally in Croydon UK by RAF trained engineers and my father and uncle who were talented enginers. No doubt there was a time before ECU machines when such people were typically available and reasonable costs. Exotic today was normal then. GN57 was sold on in 1966 for approximately 600 UK Pounds.
It may have been exported to the USA at some point. I am unaware of the whereabouts of the GN57 car now and would be interested to know as would my surviving uncle.
 

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Hello, I have seen the Alfa 1750 GS s/n 8512092 in an advertisment in Motorsport March 1975. The history is in Classic Car March 1974 but I not have this magazine.
Today is easy to seen at historical Mille Miglia with is original immatriculation plates GN 57.
Now raced with engine number 10814376.
MM 2000 # 60 Sielecki-Sigman (Arg)
1000 Milas Sport, November 2001, #5 Sanchez Zinny-Del Buono (Arg)
MM 2002 #62 Sanchez Zinny-Preusche (Arg)
MM 2003 #47 Sanchez Zinny-Sielecki (Arg)
MM 2005 #48 Sanchez Zinny-Neme (Arg)
MM 2008 #50 Sanchez Zinny-Bartolomè (Arg)
 

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