Mario Boano's short lived eponymous Carrozzeria Boano produced a slew of exciting and highly memorable designs, and one that falls straight into this category, his futuristic Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Speciale, is headed for the auction block at RM Sotheby's Arizona sale in just under two week's time.
Boano was known for wildly futuristic designs, and few of the designer’s energetic creations exhibited his special flair as exuberantly as this Speciale, produced on Alfa Romeo’s high-performance 1900C SS chassis for the 1955 Turin Motor Show.
Its styling was based upon another Boano creation, a 6C 3000 coupe that had been built for Argentinean president Juan Perón, a former racing driver and avid automobile collector. Boano had hoped to showcase the Perón car at Turin, but it was instead shipped directly to Argentina, leading to the creation of the 1900C SS version.
The design shows the influence of other futuristic show cars of the period, most notably the aerodynamic B.A.T. Alfa Romeos designed by Franco Scaglione for Bertone, and Touring’s famous 1900 Disco Volante ('Flying Saucer').
Its long, rounded curves are simple in their elegance, with classic “long hood, short deck” proportions set off by delicate chrome bumperettes and small round taillights. The curve of the greenhouse, with a B-pillar design that would later appear on Boano’s Ferrari bodies, was set off by a finish in black, contrasting to the creamy yellow of the lower body. Taken all together, the styling clearly speaks Alfa’s design language of the period, but in a more sensual voice. Accentuating its sporty pretensions, the car was fitted with a competition-style Tipo 1308 engine with large-diameter valves, a ram-type induction system of the type found on period Ferrari four-cylinder racing cars, and twin high-volume Weber 50 DCO3 carburetors, as well as a five-speed transmission.
Understandably, because its styling was so perfectly tuned to its time, the Boano Speciale was featured in Turin coverage in the March 1956 issue of Quattroruote, in which Boano’s “creation of a modern line” was widely lauded.
Following the show, the 1900C SS was sold to Giuseppe Dalmazio Vallerga of Milan; several other Italian caretakers followed, ending in the 1980s with renowned Bolognese collector Mario Righini. A well-known European enthusiast acquired the car from the Righini collection in October 2013, and after exhibition at Rétromobile in 2014 and an appearance in the September/October 2014 issue of Retro Passion, brought it to the U.S. for the first time in its long, rich history.
In 2015 the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in the Preservation Class, having remained, aside from an aging red repaint, an unrestored, original, and remarkably pure automobile. Indeed, an inspection noted that it retained the original engine and induction system, as well as the original tubular header, dual-outlet exhaust, and Borrani wire wheels. Even the brake-cooling scoops are original, while correct spark plugs, ignition wires, and breaker points were sourced and installed.
The current owner elected to restore the car to its original Turin livery, at the hands of the respected Fastcars Ltd. of Redondo Beach, California. Removing the paint revealed a very solid and intact body, which was properly restored in the correct yellow and black color scheme, using a sample of original paint located under the aging red finish. The original interior remains, in black leather piped in creamy yellow, accentuated by the original unique instrumentation, Nardi steering wheel, and Autovox vacuum-tube radio, which still plays. Photographs and receipts on file detail the restoration work, showing both the car’s excellent condition and purity prior to restoration, and the level of attention given to the task.
Following completion of the restoration, the car returned to the Pebble Beach Concours’ fabled lawn in 2017, and was rightfully judged Best in Class, recognising the consignor’s determination to see it returned to flawless original condition. It has not been shown since, and therefore a world of new opportunities await the new owner interested in the highest level of international show competition.
Offering superb history, wonderful documentation, and a riveting design that attracted attention from auto show crowds and journalists alike, this is certainly among the most spectacular creations on the 1900C SS chassis. It is in the first rank of post-war coachbuilt Alfa Romeos.