The Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este Coupe is a classic car that was introduced in 1949 as the Villa d’Este version of the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 nameplate comprising road, race, and sports cars. The Villa d’Este version is so named to celebrate its win at the competition of elegance (Concours D’elegance), a prestigious annual event held in an Italian hotel since 1929 to showcase the best of the best in classic and vintage cars.
The Competition of Elegance event kicked off in 1929, two years after the launch of the first Alfa Romeo 6C. The “6C” was a nod to the car’s straight-six 6-cylinder engine.
By that time, the 6C nameplate has spawned various models, ranging from the 6C 1500 to 6C 3000 and bearing the fingerprint of different coachbuilders. The first 6C 2500 was introduced in 1938, marking the beginning of the end for the Alfa Romeo 6C road cars as the second world war loomed. Yes, the 6C enjoys a rich postwar motorsport history, including a spider variant that won the 1st Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore held in Merano in 1953.
A Closer Look At The 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este Coupe
The “SS” in its name is a nod to the platform it was built on, the 6C 2500 Super Sport chassis. The Super Sport variant was produced from 1939 to 1952 and debuted by winning the Tobruk-Tripoli coastal endurance race in 1939. The marquee intended the 6C 2500 SS coupe as a Berlinetta (Italian for “little saloon”) model, that is, a 2-seat sports coupe, a term popularized by Ferrari in the ’50s.
The car was later christened with the Villa d’Este title after winning the overall best in the Concorso d’Eleganza at the historic Lake Como resort in Northern Italy. As mentioned before, the 6C range of cars had different coachbuilders, including James Young, Zagato, Touring Superleggera, Castagna, and the famous Pinin Farina design studio.
As for 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este, it was a hand-built model by Milan-based Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, with just 36 prototypes (including cabriolet variants) produced by 1952. However, Alfa Romeo built a few more racing variants of the 6C 2500 the following year.
The 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este came with an upgraded 2,443 cc displacement engine featuring an improved cylinder head that allowed better ventilation and a higher compression ratio that rose from 6.75 to 7.1. This postwar engine with increased cylinder bore was an upgraded version of Alfa Romeo’s all-new 2.3L 6-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft motor that replaced the 6- and 8-cylinders of the late ’20s and early ’30s.
The new motor was robust, efficient, and sporty. In the Super Sport Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 variant, the motor could produce 110 BHP (109 horsepower) at 4,800 rpm using 3 Weber carburetors, 15 BHP more than the Sport variant with a single 2-throat Weber carburetor. Tied to a 4-speed manual transmission, the Villa d’Este could produce a top speed of 102.5 mph with a specific output of 45.03 bhp per liter.
The Concours D’elegance win may have earned it the Villa d’Este christening, but the car stood out and won the much-coveted prize, thanks to its masterful Superleggera craftsmanship. In fact, this unique subliminal coachwork by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan made its debut with the 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este coupe.
The car’s eventual emergence as winner of the Public Referendum Grand Prix was as much a recognition of the elegant machine as it was a recognition of the coachbuilder who designed it, in this particular case, the owner and head designer at Carrozzeria Touring, Carlos Bianchi Anderloni.
The design was marked by flowing crisp lines in an avant-garde style that’s still as beautiful today as it was innovative in 1949. Following the one-off Villa d’Este model, Alfa Romeo rolled out 31 more before ceasing production in 1952. This end-of-an-era handmade Alfa Romeo was succeeded by the Alfa Romeo 1900.
How Rare Is The 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este Coupe
The 1949 6C 2500 with just a few dozen produced is bound to be scarce after more than seven decades, but the Villa D’este Coupe is easily one of the most famous and rarest Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS models. It is equally one of the most expensive classic cars of that era, with prices reaching upward of a million dollars. A restored 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este with build number 915.882 formerly owned by Dutch racer, Toine Hezemans, sold for $900,396.00 at RM Sotheby’s in 2015.
By the standards of the Golden Age era, the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 line of cars was not just top-of-the-line but the most expensive. It was favored by royalties and deep-pocketed customers, including Prince Rainier, Tyrone Power, King Farouk, Rita Hayworth, and Ali Khan. The car was even featured in the cult classic Godfather movie that premiered in March 1972.
Judging by the few Villa d’Este copies that still show up at the historic hotel to celebrate and get together, less than 20 are left around the world, and that’s us being generous with the numbers, assuming logistic troubles prevented most from attending the homecoming party. The organizers call it “the smallest car meeting in the world,” with just five or so cars displayed.
If you happen to buy one of these, you’re buying a piece of history, and the best part is that no two Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa D’este are the same because they were handmade. A copy with chassis number 915888 is currently up for sale at MM Garage, California.