Monterey 2024

1955 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Berlinetta by Zagato


$700,000 - $900,000 USD 

United States | Monterey, California



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Chassis No.
AR1900C 01955
Engine No.
AR1308 00891
US Title
  • The 23rd of 39 examples built
  • Period Italian racing history, including 11th in class at the 1955 Mille Miglia
  • Retains matching-numbers engine; exquisite aluminum alloy coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato
  • Recipient of recent mechanical rebuild totaling over $129,000
  • Eligible for premium concours d’elegance and driving events worldwide, including the Mille Miglia Storica
  • A beautifully presented example of Milan’s rare Zagato-bodied berlinetta

As a racing enthusiast, Elio Zagato was intrigued by the potential of Alfa Romeo’s short-wheelbase 1900C platform. In early 1954 his carrozzeria clothed a chassis with lightweight aluminum coachwork now regarded as one of the company’s finest designs. The skin-tight body featured a sculpted nose and bulging hood with a single inlet to feed the SS engine’s high-profile Weber carburetors.

Campaigned by Zagato’s Sant Ambroeus competition concern, the coachbuilt 1900C showed considerable promise, prompting Alfa Romeo to approve a small batch of officially sanctioned cars. Approximately 39 examples of the resulting 1900C Super Sprint Zagato were built through 1956, and for a short period the beautiful berlinetta held quite a sway over the 2-liter class in European sports car racing. Six different examples were entered at the 1955 Mille Miglia alone, and Joakim Bonnier took a class win at the Sverige Grand Prix in August 1955, beating a host of Porsches and Fiat 8Vs.

As a consummate agreement in form and function, the 1900C SSZ was steeped in a competition mandate, yet its exquisite hand-pounded alloy coachwork featured concours-worthy aesthetics. The model’s brilliant combination of beauty, rarity, and power has made it an important collectible among today’s connoisseurs of post-war Italian racing machines.

This 1900C SS Zagato berlinetta claims period racing use, the presence of its matching-numbers engine, and a recent mechanical rebuild, resulting in a splendid example ideal for driving enjoyment or display. According to the combined data of Alfa Romeo, model expert Peter Marshall, and Italian car researcher John de Boer, chassis number 01955 is the 23rd of 39 examples built, and the second car delivered in 1955.

Built in September 1954, the Alfa Romeo was equipped with engine number 00891, which remains in the car today as demonstrated by stampings. As a mid-production first-series car, this 1900C was clothed with Zagato coachwork with a standard roof, and it received the racing-specification single-vent hood, which more exclusively directs intake to the carburetor bank.

In March 1955, the Alfa Romeo was delivered to its first owner, Dr. Vincenzo Fornasari, a preferred client of Zagato who also owned a Maserati A6G/54 Zagato. The doctor’s son, Luigi Fornasari, entered the 1900C as race #415 in the Mille Miglia in May 1955, where he finished 11th in class and 38th overall. His performances that season continued to improve with a 3rd in class (11th overall) at the Bolzano-Mendola, 1st in class (11th overall) at the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo, and 2nd in class (5th overall) at the Stella Alpina.

By early 1959 the Alfa Romeo had been modified with a double-bubble roof and imported to the United States, where it was owned by Ernie Mendicki, a well-known performance dealer, racer, and collector based in Oakland, California. After passing through the care of Jim Keown of Monterey, the 1900C was acquired in the 1970s by Jim Cesari, a Palo Alto-based collector who was active in vintage racing. Mr. Cesari campaigned the berlinetta at the Monterey Historics and Sears Point during the late 1970s before offering the car for sale a few years later.

The Alfa Romeo was then purchased from Mr. Cesari by Ugo Piccagli, who was based in Texas but participated in European events; he ran the 1900C in the 1986 Targa Florio and the 1987 Mille Miglia Storica. Later acquired by a long-term owner, the rare Zagato was displayed at the Blackhawk Museum during the mid-2000s.

In 2016 the Alfa Romeo was treated to a freshening by the specialists at Phil Reilly & Co. in Corte Madera, California, including repairs to the brakes, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, and flywheel. After undergoing further sympathetic work in 2022 the Super Sprint was offered by RM Sotheby’s a year later, when it was acquired by the current caretaker. The consignor then invested over $129,000 in a mechanical freshening that included a rebuild of the engine, carburetors, and gearbox, and re-coring of the radiator, in addition to numerous other measures. He has since enjoyed the car at a small handful of touring events, including the 2023 Colorado Grand.

It bears reiterating that chassis number 01955 retains its matching-numbers engine. It is a rare example of one of the trademark post-war Zagato-bodied racing berlinettas, comparable to concurrent investment-grade stalwarts such as the Fiat 8V Zagato, Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, and the Maserati A6G/54 Zagato. Zagato enthusiasts seeking to complete their collections should not overlook this outstanding opportunity to acquire the Alfa Romeo-based expression of the carrozzeria’s significant 1950s output.