1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV

by Aug 8, 2019

Photo Credit: John Lamm

1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV

by Aug 8, 2019

Photo Credit: John Lamm

YEAR

1953

MODEL

6C 3000 CM

MANUFACTURER

Alpha Romeo

ESTIMATE (US)

$6,000,000 - $8,000,000

CHASSIS NUMBER

1361.00128

AUCTION COMPANY

Gooding & Company

AUCTION DATE

August 16, 2019
Scrolling through the auctions offered by houses like Gooding and Company, RM Sotheby’s, and Mecum, there are plenty of cars to draw your attention. Have you seen that Porsche from the past? What about the Ferrari whose engine purred its way into your memory? Do you like vintage cars or cars from more recent years? What models or features stop your mouse mid-scroll?

For me, that car is the 1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 Superflow IV being offered by Gooding at its Pebble Beach auction on August 16 and 17 of this year. Many of us caught our first glimpse of the Alfa Romeo on the cover of Sports Cars Illustrated in February, 1961, and few of us have forgotten it.

The Alfa Romeo name has been legendary since its birth in 1910, but the rest of this car’s name is a bit more complicated. It’s partially the result of the several different lives this model has seen. Alfa Romeo built a small series of race cars — four coups and two roadsters — and labeled them 6C 3000CM. Colli designed the coupe with an aggressive body shape, while the chassis has an unequal-length A-arm front suspension. It sports a De Dion layout with drum breaks with the rears mounted inboard. The engine is a 3.5-litre twin-cam straight 6 that sports 175hp and is paired with a 5-speed transmission.

While Alfa Romeo planned to promote the car in major sports car races, the model only boasted two notable finishes. Juan Manuel Fangio claimed second place at the Mille Miglia in 1953, finishing directly behind a 4.1 litre Ferrari. Fangio also drove a 6C 3000 CM roadster to victory at the 1953 Supercortemaggiore in Merano, Italy.

The cars were then passed on to other owners. One went to race driver Jo Bonnier and another was rebodied by Boano for Argentine president Juan Peron. Fangio’s Mille Miglia car was acquired by Pinin Farina.

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The next name for this Alfa Romeo chassis was the Superflow I which debuted as a Pinin Farina show car at the 1956 Turin Motor Show. Six months later it appeared with updated body work on Pinin Farina’s stand at the Paris show. Two years later, the car returned with a new shape and details including white paint and a new name — Super Spider. Afterward, the studio reworked the design yet again, this time into the car we know today. It was also given its final new name — Superflow IV. At the 1960 Geneva Motor Show, Pinin Farina displayed a lower body shape, a huge transparent top, and sliding roof panels. This model would go on to become Alfa Romeo’s production Duetto sports car.

The late Dan Batchelor, editor of Road & Track, drove the Alfa Romeo and wrote that it, “displayed its early-fifties competition heritage; there was quick, positive steering, gobs of torque from the big 6-cylinder engine, a firm but comfortable ride, and brakes, gearbox and engine that showed great reluctance to perform to design until thoroughly warmed up.

If the engine’s redline could be obtained in all gears, it would result in speeds of 66, 93, 122, 145 and 166 mph for the five speeds. Backing off on the throttle produces shattering noises from the exhaust as the results of the enormous carburetor openings and the 101-degree valve overlap. The exhaust pipe, only slightly muffled, pokes out of the side of the body just forward of the left rear wheel and would no doubt leave the riding mechanic deaf for hours after a race.”

During that era, it was more common for show cars to wind up in private hands. Later in 1960, the Pinin Farina Superflow was taken on a tour of Alfa Romeo showrooms in the US to gauge American opinion on the design. The car never left American soil. Eventually, it was purchased by Aaron Mosko in Colorado. The purchase price is unknown but when Mosko advertised the car for sale two years later, it was listed at $9,000. It stayed in Colorado, changing hands to Howard Wignal then to Jackson Brooks, and finally was sold to Peter Kaus, a then-well-known German collector who kept it for 18 years. After it returned to US soil in 2006, I photographed the car in Steve Tillack’s shop in Redondo Beach, CA.

It was like taking photos of an old friend whom I had known for years yet never met.

Superflow IV is a frequent award-winner at major auto shows around the world like Villa d’Este, Chantilly, and Pebble Beach. I was proud to be part of the judging crew in 2013 for the Vitesse Elegance Trophy at Pebble Beach, a prize given for exhibiting elegance and speed. The Alfa Romeo won the prize plus its class.

Superflow IV is the reason I once owned a 1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto. Now I just need to get my hands on the $6-8 million sale estimate before Gooding’s August auction at Pebble Beach.

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