- Desirable SS-specification engine and factory-correct color combination
- Sold new to the US; known ownership history
- Accompanied by personal correspondence from Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni
- Meticulously restored by marque specialists in 2007; acquired by Davis in 2008
THE FINAL HAND-BUILT ALFA ROMEO
For Alfa Romeo, the 6C 2500 was the swansong of an era. When it debuted in 1939 featuring the third series of Vittorio Jano’s legendary inline-six motor, the engineers involved could never have imagined that it would ultimately herald the end of hand-built production for the marque.
Capable of 100 mph, these cars benefitted from four-wheel independent suspension and could be had in a handful of levels of tuning, spanning from the adequate 87-horsepower Turismo to the 110-horsepower Super Sport to the track-ready Tipo 256 with 120 horsepower. These versatile engines proved a true delight to Alfa Romeo’s discerning customers, especially when paired with the creative minds at Europe’s finest coachbuilding firms. In fact, by the end of its production run in 1952, more than 100 body styles had been offered on the 6C 2500 platform.
In 1949, Alfa Romeo and Carrozzeria Touring of Milan debuted a new form upon the 6C 2500 chassis, widely regarded as one of the most elegant coachbuilt sports cars of the immediate post-war era: The Super Sport Berlinetta Coupe “Villa d’Este.” The “Villa d’Este” name arose after this beautiful Touring Superleggera design won the Concorso d’Eleganza at the historic resort Villa d’Este on Lake Como in northern Italy.
This body style was available on several 6C chassis configurations, although the “default” Villa d’Este order came equipped with the Super Sport engine and corresponding 108-inch chassis. Size scaled up to 118.1 inches for the regular Sport chassis, and the rarest configuration was the 128-inch “Lungo” Turismo chassis offering a grand rear seat. Altogether, these special 6C 2500 editions were exceptionally expensive regardless of the chosen body style. Very few were produced, and even fewer have survived to the present.
A TEXAN MILLIONAIRE IN ITALY
According to 1989 correspondence on file from Touring Superleggera designer Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, the “Experimental Sport Series Type IV, triple-carbureted touring (long) chassis 918100” offered here was completed on 15 April 1952 and clothed in grey over blue leather with a matching cabriolet soft top. It was purchased new shortly thereafter by James Omar Radford of Abilene, Texas on tourist delivery registration from the factory “EE 4926.” The millionaire heir to a vibrant wholesale grocery and real estate fortune, Radford actually lived in Hollywood for most of the year doing business as a movie producer. In June 1952, his mother passed away and his access to the family fortune was henceforward unrestricted; he seems to have celebrated this fact by purchasing another new 6C 2500 later that same month (chassis 918094).
Just a few years later, this remarkable Villa d’Este Cabriolet is reported to have passed to the notable Southern California architect William Kesling—no doubt prior to the turn of financial fortune he experienced in 1962. Its next recorded owner was L.H. “Bud” Von Nordheim of National City, California in 1972. Registration records on file show that Von Nordheim retained the car in working order until August 1979, whereafter it was mothballed in a state of partial restoration on his property until it was rescued in 1987 by Alfa Romeo enthusiast David Skora of Escondido, California. Photos on file show that the car had by then been painted several times since 1952, but nevertheless retained much of its original blue interior beneath a light-colored top, and rode on a set Borrani wire wheels (which have been retained by subsequent owners to the present).
FROM DAVID TO OSCAR
A sizeable compendium of invoices spanning the entirety of Skora’s ownership show that he did much to bring the car up to roadgoing condition. He also endeavored to discover its significant history and unique configuration by writing to fellow 6C 2500 owners, marque historians, and even Anderloni.
By 1997, Bruce Robertson of Lake Forest, Illinois, found this 6C 2500 Villa d'Este Cabriolet in the midst of a total restoration originally commissioned by Skora. Though Skora had intended to paint the car black with a red interior, Robertson’s purchase ensured that it was returned to its factory-correct color combination and completed to the highest standards by Eric Roseneau.
The car emerged from Roseneau’s purview in 2003 and immediately claimed Best Alfa and Best of Show honors at the Detroit Concorso d’Italia. Robertson later exhibited the car at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and several local events near Chicago during his ownership, before selling this exquisite Alfa Romeo to Oscar Davis in 2008. Since entering his collection, the car has been rarely exhibited, sparingly enjoyed, yet carefully maintained in its splendidly restored state.
Every year, the famous Villa d’Este Hotel hosts a gathering for the surviving examples of this exceedingly sought-after model, which they playfully refer to as “the most exclusive car club gathering in the world.” At time of cataloguing, chassis 918100 is believed to be one of very few surviving examples produced in this particular specification. As such, this 1952 2500 GT Villa d’Este Cabriolet would certainly make for a welcome, and heavily anticipated, participant—one of any number of exciting opportunities that will be available to its next owner.