Coming up on the auction block: 1934 Alfa Romeo P3

With the Scottsdale Auctions of 2017 finally coming to a close being successful in some areas and not so much in others, it is time to move on to the next showing, in Paris. The Retromobile swap meet in Paris is approaching quickly in February and every year it attracts hundreds of car enthusiasts from all over the world and following close behind are the large auction houses. Artcurial being the larges auction during the weekend, but RM Sotheby’s and Bonham’s have sales during this time as well and we will cover those auctions as we get closer to Retro. In the meantime we noticed RM is bringing a few important cars to the table, one in particular being the 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3. This, according to the history given by RM, is a pretty good car with a well-known history which goes as follows: Chassis number 50006 is the sixth example of the seven second-series wide-body cars.untitled It was raced by the scuderia Faerrari team throught the 1935-1936 seasons being switched on and off with the other cars they had on hand. It is strongly believed that this car was piloted and tested by vaunted drivers like Nuvolari and Varzi, but they don’t know for certain if it actually was. However, it can be proven that this car was indeed campaigned at the 1935 Masyrk Grand Prix in Brno, Czechoslovakia, with Antonio Brivio, placing 4th overall. In late 1936, the Scuderia Ferrari sold this P3 to Frank Ashby, an Englishman who ran the car at the Brighton Speed Trials. He continued to campaign it in hill climbs and other events over the next two years at venues like Brooklands. The original engine began to “crack” as RM puts it so Ashby apparently built and installed a new cylinder head and undertook modifications to the radiator and exhaust. His local racing exploits were covered by the British motoring press in magazines like Motor Sport and The Light Car. Ashby later emigrated to Sydney, Australia.


The Tipo B was sold in 1946 to Ken Hutchison, a wealthy British enthusiast who wrote about his experiences with the car in an extended cover feature in the January 1948 issue of Motor Sport magazine. The car continued to see racing use through 1950, sold to enthusiast Joe Goodhew in the winter of 1949. In 1953, he sold the car to John McMillan of New Zealand, who immediately campaigned it in the New Zealand GP in January 1954. The Tipo B saw additional time on the local circuit through the ownerships of Ernie Sprague and Bill Harris of Christchurch. Leon Witte of Lyttleton then purchased the car and undertook restoration of the bodywork.


Prior to 50006 making its way to New Zealand, modifications to the bodywork were carried out according to RM. During 50006’s life in England, a new narrow body had been constructed and fitted. Leon Witte later decided that the car should be put back to its original wider cockpit as campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari. At the time of restoration, Bill Clark owned 50005, and an exact copy of the original wide cockpit used during the Scuderia Ferrari era was crafted using 50005 as a guide. According to the noted Alfa Romeo historian Simon Moore’s Magnificent Monopostos text, it is believed that ‘only the centre section of the body had to be replaced, the rest being original’. Further evidence of this is noted in a photograph of both Leon Witte and Bill Clark with 50006 and 50005, respectively, with only the centre section appearing new. This is further confirmed by an inspection report on file. The Alfa was purchased around 1990 by one of Japan’s foremost collectors, Yoshiyuki Hayashi. The car then went to American collector Bruce McCaw in 2000, who retained the car until 2007. At that time, the Tipo B was purchased by Umberto Rossi.


The car is certainly a very impressive car with a seemingly beautiful restoration with beautiful paint and detail worthy of a car of this caliber. RM Sothebys explains that “With the exception to the aforementioned restored cockpit section of the bodywork, the bonnet panels are largely original. Stampings throughout the car appear to be entirely genuine upon examination. Of course, all of these cars were raced in period and parts were exchanged and replaced as necessary to keep them competitive. Thus, finding a wholly original P3 is next to impossible.” These P3’s were certainly raced as that is what they were made for, but this particular example #50006 was raced extensively for an enormous portion of its life. Which means there were modifications performed after the fact, not in the “period” which to us here at Driven History is not a positive piece of information. RM explains that only the center section of the body was replaced which is most of the body minus the tail section and this was done in England many years later. Also during the second owners time with the car the head was changed probably in the 1940’s. The fact that really does this car in for us is the fact that it went to Australia and New Zealand which shows this car has really been put to the survival test. Many cars that go to New Zealand/Australia or, even worse, South America get pretty abused. Now, we are not saying all cars that come from these places are bad, but most of the time they are pretty rough. Between the switched engine parts, new body and no in person inspection of the chassis and its numbers, if we were perspective buyers for this car, even with the ok write up in Simon Moores book, we would have to see this car in person and up close and really dig into this cars history to even think about bidding. Overall, it is seemingly a very nice car that certainly warrants further inspection and research. It can be found here on RM Sothebys website in its Paris sale during the Retromobile weekend in February with an estimate of 3.8 Million Euros – 5 Million Euros. With the known but interesting history of this car we are estimating this car to bring in the 5 million Euro range, if it was super original, meaning without a doubt a known history with its unquestionable original body, chassis and engine than we think it would be in the $10,000,000 range. There is nothing like an 8 cylinder Alfa, these cars are the ultimate driving machine. 

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