THE FIRST EVER ALFA ROMEO ON DISPLAY AT CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE AUSTRALIA
The first ever Alfa Romeo and the only one left in existence will be on display at Concours d’Elegance Australia, which is being held at Sydney’s historic St Patrick’s Estate in Manly on 10 October 2010 as part of a display of more than 150 unique and classic cars valued at more than $100 million.
The Alfa Romeo G1, which is owned by Australia and New Zealand Alfa Romeo importer Neville Crichton, is being displayed to celebrate Alfa Romeo’s Centenary. It has been travelling around the country to attend a wide range of classic car, motor sport and club events, including racing at Philip Island and in the historic car event at the Australian Grand Prix, as well as events in Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, with several more events to come this year, but its display at the Concours d’Elegance Australia will be the pinnacle of its Australian tour.
“Given that the Alfa Romeo G1 owes is very survival to the fact that it was sent to Australia, it is highly appropriate that it is one of the stars at the Concours d’Elegance Australia as its history is as much an Australian story as it is part of an Italian legend,” says Neville Crichton. “And we also took the decision, as Alfas, whatever their age, are designed to be driven, that the best way we could mark Alfa’s 100th birthday is to get the G1 out on the road and the race track so that as many people as possible can see her in action!”
The Alfa Romeo G1 is being demonstrated around the country by renowned Australian classic car journalist, broadcaster and classic car restoration expert, David Berthon.
“There could be no better person in Australia to demonstrate the G1 than David,” says Mr Crichton. “His knowledge and passion is unrivalled, while his skill behind the wheel, as demonstrated by him taking the G1 to second place in the classic car event at the Australian Grand Prix, clearly establishes that the G1 is in safe hands!”
The History of the “Aussie” Alfa Romeo The history of the last remaining Alfa Romeo G1 is as colourful as the company that give birth it. Chassis 6018 was imported new into Australia in 1921 and was sold, for £850, to a Queensland businessman who, soon afterwards, was declared bankrupt.
Since he had seen his financial crash coming, he hid the car to keep it out of the hands of his creditors. Then, three years on, he had the misfortune to die and the G1 remained hidden for 25 years, apparently holding up one corner of a shed in the Queensland outback.
Then it was discovered by a couple of young jackaroos who decided it would make a fine ‘paddock bomb’ for rounding up cattle, chasing kangaroos and all the stuff that blokes do on farms. Eventually they managed to hit a tree and the damaged car was towed back to the farm where it was used to power a water pump. With its massive torque at low engine speed, it was ideal for the job and the work ensured that the engine remained in excellent condition even if the rest of the car was brutalised.
In 1964 it was retired from pump duty and rescued by Alfa Romeo enthusiasts. The following year the car was bought by Ross Flewell-Smith who, against the advice of some experts who thought the car unrestorable, began to rebuild it, an exercise that took ten years. In this Herculean task he was helped by the fact that he discovered a second G1, a wreck, which supplied many of the parts that were missing. Most of the body was missing and, after experimenting with various styles, Flewell-Smith took advice from Luigi Fusi who was then curator of Alfa Romeo’s museum.
Flewell-Sinith’s rebuild was good enough to win the 1977 Queensland Vintage Car Concours and to win the 1978 Australian Mile Miglia memorial run. In an historic race at Lakeside it was clocked at 86 mph, remarkable performance for a 1921 car, so remarkable, in fact, it was black-flagged for being so quick!
In 1995, Flewell-Smith sold this car he had nicknamed ‘Milly’ from the ‘Milan’ on the engine black, to Julian Sterling who commissioned a restoration to his own exacting standards. All worn parts were replaced with specially-made components built regardless of cost. New tyres were supplied by Michelin, made from the original 1920s moulds, costing $6,000 for the set. The restoration was undertaken up to a standard, not down to a price, and the work was described in the 1998 edition of the Classic Car Yearbook as ‘breathtaking’.
Following a rationalization of Julian Sterling’s car collection, the car was bought by Neville Crichton, the governing director of the new Australian Alfa Romeo importer, Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd.
Following his purchase of the Alfa Romeo G1, Neville Crichton undertook a full restoration of the G1 to return it to full running order. The quality of this restoration was rewarded in 2005 when the car was entered under stewardship of Australia’s leading classic car journalist, David Berthon, in the World’s most important classic car event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elgance and the Third in Class Trophy, beating more than 60 classic Alfa Romeos from around the world, including seven cars entered by Alfa Romeo’s own museum.
Following his success in classic car events in Australia and the USA with the G1, David Berthon is campaigning the car during its 2010 100th Anniversary tour.
The Alfa Romeo G1 started its birthday year in the National Motor Museum in South Australia, but, as an Alfa Romeo, it has to see a race track and its appearances will started in Victoria when it appeared at the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Australia annual event at Phillip Island. The following weekend the G1 was be back at Phillip Island for the Classic Festival of Speed. Alfa Romeo is the ‘Marque of Honour’ at this year’s event and the Alfa G1 was part of a unique historic display of Alfa Romeo’s finest racing and road cars.
On Wednesday 24 March the Alfa Romeo G1 joined more than 120 classic cars on display in Argyle Square, in the heart of Melbourne’s little Italy.
At the Qantas F1 Australian Grand Prix, the Alfa Romeo G1 was one of 43 classic and historic Italian racing and road-going cars that on display in a marquee celebrating 100 years of Alfa Romeo and it joined a much more select group of cars that took part in events on the track during the Grand Prix weekend, with David Berthon steering the G1 into second place in the Historic Grand Prix.
The G1 than moved to Canberra where the Italian Ambassador held a special event at Embassy to welcome the G1 to the Australian Capital before going to Brisbane, where it was on display on 24 June, the actual 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo.
1910 – 2010: Alfa Romeo celebrates a century of wins and world records
Alfa Romeo was officially established in Milan on 24 June 1910. That year, a group of entrepreneurs and businessmen acquired Società Italiana Automobili Darracq, the Italian branch of the French car maker, and its Portello workshops on the city outskirts, and established A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili – “Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). The emblem underlined the new company's ties to the city of Milan: a red cross from the city's banner and the Visconti family "grass snake" ("Biscione" in Italian). The first car to sport it was the “24 HP”, a model that stood out from the very beginning for its mechanics, performance and driving pleasure - features which will become by-words for the brand.
The outbreak of World War I and limited resources created trouble for the company, which was acquired on 2 December 1915 by Neapolitan engineer and entrepreneur Nicola Romeo. The name was changed to “Alfa-Romeo”. The Portello plant, with a workforce of 2500 workers, was expanded and converted to war production. The plant made engine compressors, ammunition, aircraft engines and - starting in 1917 - trains. The company went back to making cars at the end of the war.
The Alfa Romeo G1, the first car to carry the name ’Alfa Romeo’, was in production from 1921 to 1923 and its single most important innovation was its new 6.3 litre six cylinder engine which produced 52 kW and gave the G1 a 138 kmh top speed. Although designed as an Italian rival for Rolls Royce, it was also used in motorsport, winning the Coppa de Garda. But it was launched into difficult economic period of rising fuel prices and its 6.3 litre engine also proved to handicap, limiting sales to just 52 examples, but it provided the basis for its successor, the Alfa Romeo RL, which won many races and sold 2640 units.
Alfa Romeo made a first important leap forward winning Targa Florio in 1923 (the brand's first of ten wins) with the “RL TF”, which was also the first appearance of the four-leaf clover (“quadrifoglio” in Italian) racing emblem, and then in 1925 with the “P2 Gran Premio”, that won the first Automobile World Championship in history, the first of Alfa Romeo's five victories.
In the meantime, Romeo replaced Alfa Chief Engineer Giuseppe Merosi, who had created the first models and joined the company back in 1910, with Vittorio Jano, technical creator of the great Alfas of the 1930s. His debut model was the “P2”, which was followed by the “6C 1500” (1928), “6C 1750” (1930), “8C 2300” (1931) and the “Gran Premio Tipo B-P3” (1932), all models which greatly contributed to increasing the “Quadrifoglio” prize record and elevated the technical prestige of cars made at the Portello plant. Jano was responsible for the legendary "8C" eight cylinder in-line engine with supercharger.
The 1930s were the years in which the Alfa Romeo legend took shape. Engine reliability was undisputed and the names of valorous drivers - Antonio Ascari, Gastone Brilli Peri, Giuseppe Campari, Enzo Ferrari, Tazio Nuvolari, Achille Varzi - were on everybody's lips. They won many legendary races: Mille Miglia (11 wins, an undefeated record), Le Mans 24 Hours (four consecutive editions), Targa Florio, and a very long list of international Grand Prix. In addition, the valuable indications arising from racing were transferred to standard production models.
The worldwide recession that followed the Wall Street Crash of 1929 had repercussions on Alfa's expansion: the company was taken over in 1933 by IRI (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale - Industrial Reconstruction Institute). Ugo Gobbato was appointed Managing Director. He rationalised and reorganised production focusing on the core business of aircraft engines, industrial vehicles and touring and racing cars. The company left the world of racing in the year and its “8C2300B” cars were given to Scuderia Ferrari. Results were brilliant: Alfa won more races than any other manufacturer in 1934, and racing even outshone standard production in 1936. Aeronautic production reached nearly 80 percent of the entire yearly revenue. New orders came in, also from abroad, and a new plant was opened in Pomigliano d'Arco (Naples) at the end of the decade.
The outbreak of World War II on 10 June 1940 unsettled the company's ambitious plans. As most Italian industries, Alfa converted to war production and its plants were bombed by the Allies (the Portello plant ceased operations all together following the damage it received on 20 October 1944). Work resumed the following April after the peace treaty was signed but the workshops had been damaged and there were no components for making aircraft engines, coaches or cars. So the eight thousand workers of the Portello plant made electric cooking ranges, metallic furniture, doors, windows and shutters - in other words, the objects needed to rebuild a country.
Auto building was resumed only in 1946. Pre-war 6C 2500s rolled out of the factory and 158s salvaged from the debris raced on tracks. New versions (Freccia d'oro and Villa d'Este), fitting an innovative steering wheel mounted gear shift, soon arrived. The 1900, the first Alfa with monocoque body shell, was designed by Orazio Satta Puliga (who had joined the company in 1938) in 1950, and the first assembly chain was opened at the Portello plant. Racing wins multiplied. The supremacy of the Alfa 158 in Grand Prix was absolute and Nino Farina won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950. In the following year was legendary Juan Manuel Fangio's turn: he won the second Championship behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 159 fitted with the most powerful 1500 engine ever made delivering 425 HP at over 300 km/h. Straight afterwards, Alfa decided to retire from Grand Prix competitions but kept on competing in the Sport category with the “1900 Disco Volante”, a flying-saucer shaped car capable of reaching a top speed of 225 km/h. In the meanwhile, the company concentrated on the production of standard cars, industrial vehicles, aircraft and naval engines, and diesel engines for industrial applications. Following the IRI reorganisation in 1948, Alfa passed into the Finmeccanica sub-holding.
“Giulietta Sprint” was introduced in 1954. This car - along with the “Spider” (1955) and the “berlina” (1955) - would be crucial, and not only for the history of Alfa: it established new parameters (this was the first standard car with a two-shaft engine entirely made of aluminium) and embodied Italy's willingness to emerge from the dark years of the war. Furthermore, it consolidated Alfa Romeo's vocation as "major auto maker". The 1960s started with the success of the “Giulia” (1962), which developed the philosophy of the earlier “Giulietta” with new proportions, forcing Alfa Romeo to expand the shop floor and open a new plant in Arese near Milan. At the end of its long, honoured career, “Giulia” and its spinoffs - the “Giulia Sprint GT” (1964), the “1600 Spider Duetto” (1966) and the “1750” in saloon, coupé and spider versions - reached the outstanding goal of one million units made. Racing activities continued throughout the decade. The Autodelta racing team was established and Alfa Romeo won on tracks worldwide with the “Giulia TZ” (1963), “TZ 2” (1965), “Giulia GTA” (1965) and “33” (from ’69 to ’71).
The 1960s were florid years for the company: cars were sold worldwide and ties with the United States market - still particularly lively today - were consolidated. As a result of the forward-thinking managerial skills of Giuseppe Luraghi, CEO until 1974, and the remarkable engineering skills of Orazio Satta Puliga, Alfa Chief Engineer, who created all the models up to the "Alfetta", Alfa Romeo reached the peak of its development. The Portello plant, by now incorporated in the spreading city of Milan, was insufficient. Production was gradually transferred to the new plant (with an area of over two million and a half square metres) which was opened in Arese and a prototype test track was opened in Balocco (Vercelli).
Following the high increase in demand, Alfa Romeo planned the opening of a new plant in Pomigliano d'Arco (Naples): the foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1968. Engineer Rudolf Hruska was called to design a new car: the "Alfasud", a compact entry-level car equipped with a number of sophisticated mechanical solutions (flat-4 “boxer” overhanging front engine), was introduced in 1971. Production of the ”Alfetta” started in Arese the following year. This sporty saloon with sophisticated mechanics (longitudinal front engine, rear wheel drive, “De Dion” rear axle and transaxle) was leader in its segment for many years: the "Alfetta GT” (1974), followed by the lower segment “New Giulietta” (1977) saloon, were the backbone of production at the Arese plant. In the meantime Alfa Romeo took two World Championship titles: in 1975 with the 33 TT 12 (Manufacturers Championship), and in 1977 with the 33 SC 12 (Prototype Championship).
Troubles deriving from the social unrest of the seventies were felt across Italy and in Alfa Romeo. Despite this, the company pulled ahead preparing models and strategies for the forthcoming decade: the "Alfa 33”, replaced the "Alfasud” in 1983, the remarkable “Alfetta” was replaced by the "Alfa 90” (1984) and the "Alfa 75” (1985), the last of the “Alfetta” family, was introduced to celebrate the brand's 75th anniversary.
The company changed hands again in 1986, for the third time in its history. Fiat Group acquired Alfa Romeo, at that time producing the brand-new top-range saloon “164” (1987). The car's success would revive Alfa Romeo and the Arese plant. 1992 was the year of the “155”, remarkably successful in races. The “145” was introduced to replace the “33” in 1994 and the sporty “GTV” and “Spider” were launched the following year.
These were the two cars that revived Alfa Romeo in Australia in 1998 and provided the launch pad for the brand to return to its status as a serious rival in the sporting prestige market in Australia.
The model of the 1990s revival was the “156” (1997). The sporty hatchback is the result of a new style and top-notch technical contents (like high double-wishbone front suspensions and common-rail diesel engine): it was sensationally successful on the market - awarded “Car of the Year” in 1998 - and on international race tracks taking many wins in the Touring category. The “166” replaced the “164” in 1998, and in 2000 “147” (also “Car of the Year”) replaced the “145” and was even more successful than its "big sister" the “156”, that in the meantime had complemented the range: the “GT”, a four-seat coupe, with a style concept reminiscent of the “Giulietta Sprint”, was introduced in the Autumn of 2003. In the “159” replaced the “156” in 2005, evolving its style and implementing new proportions, engine versions and body configurations: the "Brera” coupe was introduced in the same year, followed by the new “Spider” in 2006.
Again in 2006, Alfa Romeo introduced the long-awaited “8C Competizione”, a very high performance coupe with a remarkable design that made it an “instant classic”. With only 500 units made, this supercar was for collectors and a handful of lucky owners. It was joined by the “8C Spider” in 2008, which maintained the same mechanical features and performance as the coupe. The Alfa Romeo MiTo, a compact car with a sporty look, for young motorists and everyone who want a distinctive, performing car, was introduced the same year.
Now is the turn of the brand-new “Giulietta” with the aim of reviving the brand in one of the most important segments in Europe. In the centenary year, the name is a tribute to an automotive legend which was key in the history of Alfa Romeo: the Giulietta is a car that, in the fifties, caught the imagination of generations of car enthusiasts, making the dream of owning an Alfa Romeo and enjoying the high level of comfort and technical excellence accessible for the first time. The Alfa Romeo Style Centre has designed the new Giulietta, a five-door hatchback with an unmistakable Alfa Romeo look, capable of expressing both great agility on the most demanding routes and providing comfort on everyday roads. This is the merit of the new "Compact" architecture. Using sophisticated suspension technical solutions, a dual pinion active steering, top-quality materials and state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, the Giulietta achieves excellent levels of on-board comfort, dynamic features and safety (both active and passive).
Alfa Romeo G1 – Technical Specification
Front longitudinal mounted driving the rear wheels
Straight six, cast iron double block and fixed heads
Bore x stroke (mm)
98 x 140
Side vales, one laterally mounted camshaft, chain driven
Street Address: Heritage Building, Campus Business Park, 350 Parramatta Road, Homebush NSW 2140 Australia. Postal Address: Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd, Locked Bag 260, Silverwater, NSW 1811, Australia A.B.N. 34 000 486 706
Alfa Romeo Media web site: http://media.ateco.com.au/
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Date of Issue: 20 maggio 2018. Time of Issue: 15:39:10