Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 108

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Coupe by Touring

  • Chassis no. AR 1900C 10145
  • Body no. 4697

Sold for $176,000


Est. 130 bhp, 120.5 cu. in. DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with double A-arms, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers; live-axle rear suspension with trailing links, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers; and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 98.4 in.

  • The famous “Bumble Bee,” well known to Alfa cognoscenti
  • Desirable Touring Superleggera coachwork with upgraded 2000-specification engine and gearbox
  • Quality older restoration, ideal for rallies and tours
  • Eligible for numerous pre-1957 rally events


The 1900 was Alfa Romeo’s first post-war production model, and it showed the direction that the Milan-based company would take in the coming decades. The 1900 was smaller and more compact than the pre-war–influenced 6C 2500, and it was powered by an iron-block and aluminum-head four-cylinder with chain-driven dual overhead camshafts. Alfa continued to extract more power from the two-liter engine, which culminated into 115 horsepower for the SS (Super Sprint) with its five-speed manual transmission.

A variety of one-off and limited-production designs from Bertone, Ghia, Zagato, Touring, and Pinin Farina demonstrated the capabilities of these now legendary artisans on the 1900 “canvas.” Few of these designs are more classic and iconic than the Touring “three-window” coupe, built to their famous lightweight Superleggera process.

Orin Smith’s beloved 1900 C SS was originally delivered on 3 August 1956 to an Italian client by the name of Mario Carini. It subsequently went to Germany, then in 1969 to San Diego, California, and has remained in American ownership ever since. A subsequent cosmetic restoration in 1989, by Domenico Scaduto of Escondido, California, saw it refinished in the present bright yellow and black hues, a striking and iconic combination inspired by the original Touring design sketch for the model. Enthusiasts quickly and affectionately nicknamed this car “the Bumble Bee,” a moniker that has stuck ever since.

The “Bee” was subsequently sold in the late 1990s to longtime West Coast Alfa Romeo enthusiast Dennis Birkhimer. Thousands of dollars of invoices on file indicate the high degree of preparation that went into making the car a suitable rally car during Birkhimer’s ownership, including rebuilding the gearbox with custom ratios, and addressing preparation of the cooling system, drivetrain, suspension, electrical system, and the engine, which is an upgraded Alfa Romeo 2000 unit, as is the gearbox itself. The shock absorbers, brake master cylinder, and countless other items were replaced or modified to ensure superb performance. Afterwards, Mr. Birkhimer enjoyed the car in both the Tour Auto and the California Mille.

The car’s restoration shows that enthusiastic use, with minor blemishes limited to areas of cracking and minor chipping, but in a charming and patinaed fashion; correct glass and lamps are present throughout, including Carello headlights. The interior features Zagato-style seats, a desirable upgrade, as well as a rare flat Nardi steering wheel and fully restored instruments, while the engine compartment is tidily presented, with its Solex carburetors. Both spare and jack are tucked away in the trunk.

Mr. Smith loved to drive this car, which is obvious upon inspection. The “Bumble Bee” will suitably be loved by a new owner, as it is eligible for the California Mille and numerous other significant tours and rallies all over the world.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more