Swiss Magazine Autombile Revue celebrated their centenary at the Geneva Motor Show with a welcome selection of classic cars exhibited separately in Hall A located within the Congress Centre. Covering a space of 600 m2, fourteen exceptional cars were presented, all of which contributing to the theme 'Cars Which Helped Create Automobile Revue.'
The fourteen classics on display included three Italian masterpieces of design – a 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport ‘Freccia d'Oro' (chassis number 916 050) the 1969 Pininfarina Sigma Grand Prix and the 1981 Pininfarina Quartz.
1948 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Sport ‘Freccia d'Oro'
Starting with the Bordeaux red Alfa Romeo 6C2500 Freccia d'Oro, this car is one of the most glamorous cars penned by Carrozzeria Alfa Romeo, then established at Portello. It was also the first post-war car created by Alfa Romeo (in 1947), and its nickname translates as Golden Arrow. In fact, on this model the Alfa Romeo scudetto grille incorporates an arrow, however the vertically-placed strip is finished in silver rather than gold.
The Freccia d'Oro's chassis and engine stem from before the war, when in 1939 Alfa Romeo introduced the 2.5-litre six cylinder unit and the Sport and Super Sport chassis. The six-cylinder engine was basically an enlarged version of their previous 6C2300 block. Fitted with a single down-draught carburettor in the Freccia d'Oro, the 2,443 cc DOHC unit produced 90 bhp at 4,600 rpm.
Despite its age, the car's chassis was still highly advanced for its time, featuring all-round independent coil suspension and specially cooled hydraulic brakes. This excellent road-holding (for the period) was met with a top-speed of 147 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of 22.3 seconds.
The Freccia d'Oro's good performance was complimented with handsome 2-door coach bodywork inspired by the advanced pre-war designs of Carrozzeria Touring. Featuring a wonderfully arched roofline, the Freccia d'Oro offered seating for five, with a three-seat bench up front and a two-seat bench behind. The glamorous dashboard and interestingly shaped controls further added to the car's charisma and romance. As was typical of the day for Italian automobiles, all examples were built with right-hand drive. This was for use on the Alpine passes, so when driving on the right the driver was also on the right and could see the edge of the road. Falling off the edge of the road was considered a greater danger than head-on collisions, and in fact
modern Italian trucks in the Alps are still often right-hand-drive for the same reason. The Freccia d'Oro's four-speed gearbox was operated by a column mounted shifter.
Only 680 examples were ever built until production ceased in 1952, all going to wealthy customers including King Farouk of Egypt, Alì Khan, Rita Hayworth, Tyrone Power, and Prince Ranier of Monaco. The Freccia d'Oro model also infamously starred in the film ‘Godfather' (1972), where it was unfortunately blown up (how times change).
Nowadays, the Freccia d'Oro is a real collector's item for the dedicated Alfa Romeo enthusiast. The special example on display in Geneva belongs to the Berne-based Braunschweig family. Robert ‘Brauni' Braunschweig happened to be the editor of Automobile Revue, and bought the car in 1948 before starting a lengthy ‘road test' period for the magazine in the same year.
At the time, the policemen in Berne gave the Freccia d'Oro the nickname of ‘aircraft carrier' due to the combination of its stately size and loud aftermarket Abarth exhaust. Although the car was owned by the editor, it was always fitted with the number 97 red ‘road test' sign. The police were initially a little perturbed, however were later reassured when Braunschweig explained that the sign denoted a ‘long-distance test car'. Indeed, the car remained on test for 20 years, with the final report being published in Automobile Revue in 1968! ‘Brauni' drove the six-cylinder Alfa Romeo regularly until 1980 when he retired, after which time it has remained in the Braunschweig family estate. Unfortunately, Robert Braunschweig died in 2001, however hundreds of anecdotes still surround his most favourite car.
One such anecdote materialised during a ground-up restoration in the 1960s by Graber in Wichtrach, when Braunschweig ordered them to make the No. 97 test sign light up in the same shade of wine-red as the car, instead of the official red. Highly illegal of course (especially in Switzerland), but the police at the time turned a blind eye.
Other than the No. 97 sign, special features on this particular Freccia d'Oro include the vertical arrow on the grille, wing-mounted mirrors, a unique rear taillight design and roof-rack mounting points.
1969 Pininfarina Sigma Grand Prix
Positioned centrally at the very end of the hall (directly next to the Alfa Romeo), the Pininfarina Sigma GP concept from 1969 forms the most interesting and important car on show at the display.
This particular concept car has a direct link to Automobile Revue, and indeed the magazine's logo can be found on the car's flanks. The concept was originally unveiled at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, and anticipated many of today's safety features implemented on racing cars.