Great Driving 5-Speed Floor Shift Three-Window CSS by Touring. Beautifully Restored and Widely Event Eligible Car with Matching Numbers.
1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS Touring
s/n AR1900C*10081*, eng. no. AR1308*10097*
Red with Grey Leather and Cloth Interior
In 1950 when Alfa Romeo launched their all-new unit bodied 1900, unprecedented demand for the innovative and stylish car immediately propelled Alfa Romeo into larger more profitable markets. By 1953 technical and performance improvements successfully challenged more powerful and costly competitors. The newly developed dual overhead cam alloy-head four cylinder engine featured hemispherical combustion chambers, dual carburetors, and floor shift five speed transmissions, which also came with different gear ratios and “Alfin” self-adjusting rear brakes. The CSS variants (referred to as Tipo 2 or Series II) were formidable performers. Success in the Targa Florio, the Stella Alpina and the Coupe des Alpes, earned Alfa Romeo the slogan “The Family Car That Wins Races”. Many of the finest Italian coachbuilders designed and built bodies for the 1900 in a range of stunning configurations, further cementing the 1900 as one of the leading platforms among European cars of the 1950s.
Touring Carrozeria’s patented Superleggera (super lightweight) construction employed on the 1900 utilized a formed steel sub-frame, cleverly enveloped by a lightweight aluminum skin. In the Touring design, the refined upper body, delicately garnished pillar construction, and forward swept side glass combined visual purity and refined elegance in a very capable road car. The light and airy upper canopy cleverly concealed space for two additional passengers or additional luggage in the rear seating area. During the entire four year run, Alfa Romeo produced just 854 1900 C Super Sprint models with various coachwork including the lovely 3-window Touring body on this car.
This beautifully restored matching-numbers example is one of 248 1900 C Super Sprint models constructed in 1956. The car was owned by Mr. Ruggero Broglio, who paid 3,420,000 Lire ($5,500) upon delivery, a substantial sum at that time. The car was then sold to Luigi Bonfanti, for whom the famed Bonfanti Museum near Bassano del Grappa was named after his death. Bonfanti was well known for his enthusiasm for and restoration work on spectacular coachbuilt cars constructed by Carrozzeria Touring. A penchant and expertise for Alfa Romeos, he later became president of the Alfa Romeo Club of Italy. In the 1970s, Bonfanti befriended Milwaukee businessman John Julien who was gradually able to convince Bonfanti to sell him the car, taking delivery of it for a very reasonable $2,350. Julien enjoyed the car driving through much of continental Europe before shipping it to New York in 1978, aboard the Queen Elizabeth II. After some time in the US, the car was then purchased by a friend of Julien’s, who had admired the car and its detailed international ownership documents including paperwork from the Italian Automobile Alfa Romeo Club.
In 2002, the new owner commenced a comprehensive restoration, changing the color from the previous light green or sea-foam metallic to the current shade of red, but maintaining the originally specified grey interior. Using as much of the original components, patterns, and original parts so dutifully retained with the car, the restoration commenced by carefully removing the original paint and a second coat (applied while in Italy) down to the original Touring skin coat which preserved the relatively undamaged aluminum body. Each handmade aluminum panel including the doors, hood, and trunk were numbered to match the body to ensure exacting fit from the coachbuilder, confirming the aluminum bodywork as the original pieces installed since new. The restoration took a few years to complete as items from Italy (windshield and various accessories) were delayed and originality remained paramount in the reassembly process.
After the restoration was completed, a detailed article with reference photos showing the careful body, paint, and trim work performed on the car was featured in the February 2007 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine. The car went on to win back-to-back Best of Class awards at the 2005 and 2006 Milwaukee Masterpiece Style and Speed Showcase, and a 2006 Best Finish award. More recently, from 2015 to 2017, the car has been shown at the Best of France and Italy, Alfa Only Concours, and Rodeo Drive Concours, where it has received recognition that included two Best in Class awards. The current owner has faithfully maintained the car with services performed shortly after his purchase in 2011 including new spark plugs, oil change, new battery, new pinion seal, and a rebuilt rear wheel brake cylinder. In 2015, a new clutch assembly and throw out bearing were installed.
Today, the car presents in beautiful condition. The paint is excellent overall showing consistent coverage and proper luster with detailed garnish molding, rubber gaskets in very good condition, and fine detailing. All panels fit very well with particularly nice body side contours and door fit along the reflection lines. The vibrant, high gloss red accents the sporting nature of the Touring design, while the refined and delicate chrome, polished trim, lenses, and all exterior features are exceptionally well fit to the body. The gleaming Borrani wire wheels are beautifully accented with chrome plated dual-ear knock offs, and shod with period correct Michelin 165R 400 tires. The wheels and spokes are brilliantly polished, reflecting nicely against the large drum brake castings, delivering an elegant stance with a touch of competition flavor. The Touring emblems, coachwork badges, and carefully fit trim are remarkable pieces of automotive jewelry, accenting reflective sky tones against the contrasting body color.
The beautifully finished two-tone grey leather and cloth interior is beautifully restored, perfectly balanced against the textured black instrument panel, body colored dash, and light colored carpeting. The dashboard and accompanying instruments are detailed to a very fine finish, perfectly arrayed with gorgeous Italian flair, accented by the polished aluminum and wood flat Nardi steering wheel. Racing type lap belts have been fitted, adding the finishing touch to the comprehensively restored and elegantly finished interior.
The engine compartment has been correctly restored with very clean and refined finishes, handsome detailing, and correct hardware, all done with originality in mind. The textured black castings of the original engine are uniformly finished with attention to detail and authenticity. And while many restorations will often fall short as time advances, here the warm gold hues on the carburetors, lightly browning exhaust manifold, and inner fender quilting all reflect poise and a pleasant mellow character the restoration settles while still making a very crisp and attractive impression.
The trunk is finished with correct materials, housing a Borrani spare wheel and matching Michelin 165R 400 tire, nested into the formed tub, while the floor is covered with a correct ribbed rubber floor mat, surrounded by quilted material also fitted in the engine compartment. A set of factory tools, tool roll, and jack are housed in the trunk, wrapped in individual cases. The underside of the car is a handsome combination of restored and original finishes. As the car was repainted with the body on, there is no evidence of structural damage or replacement panels, further representative of a car that has been carefully looked after by few owners and properly restored by competent and attentive shops.
On the road, this 1900 delivers a wonderful period driving experience. Originally designed as a touring car, one can instantly feel the joy and ease of driving from the comfortable seating position to the easily operated floor mounted gear selector. The engine starts easily and has a rorty exhaust note that gives the car a purposeful and sporting character. The throttle response and carburetion are both excellent. The gearbox is easy to use and modern in feel with well defined gates, good synchromesh, and a reassuringly durable and high quality mechanical feel. The clutch is easy to modulate, the brakes effective and symmetrical in their operation, and the steering and suspension free of slop or uncomfortable play. From the comfortable seats, ample room for luggage, and expansive glass, it’s hard to find another 50s car that combines so many of these exceptional attributes as the 1900 CSS. Accompanying the car are multiple original ownership documents, Automobile Club D’Italia documents, stamped Italian registration documents from previous owners, a users manual, some recent service invoices, restoration photos, an original set of tools, tool roll, and factory jack.
This matching-numbers event-eligible Touring-bodied Alfa Romeo features excellent presentation and enjoyable road manners, ready for shows or driving events, where its easy-to-use character underscores what a sophisticated car this was in 1950s. The contrasting elegant interior and bright red exterior color truly highlights the handcrafted coachbuilt artistry of the period. Spacious accommodations, state of the art engineering, and exciting driving all beautifully converge in this Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS - a delightful motoring proposition for its next enthusiastic keeper.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608