THE ALFA ROMEO 2600 SPRINT BERTONE 1963 FROM THE OFFICIAL ALFA ROMEO TEAM.
THE ONLY SURVIVOR.
With a declared factory speed of 200 km/h, the Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Bertone was an exceptional road runner. To the point that the Italian Highway Patrol or” POLIZIA STRADALE”, used them in their famous squadron “Pantere” (panther).
In Argentina, the first Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Bertone arrived in hands of an Alfa enthusiast, Mr. “Pepino” Vianini, who imported one and put it in the starting grid of the 1962 Argentine Gran Premio, driven by a brilliant argentine champion: Oscar Cabalen, with Juan Carlos Navone as a co-driver.
The car was an instant attraction with the argentine “tifossi’, as Argentina has a tradition and background in motor racing, specially oriented to Italian cars, this because of the huge immigration of Italians that came to the argentine lands.
This car raced with its Milano license plate (MI 687788) but as every new racing car, the results were not as expected for the very first race, though it showed fast.
But finally, that same year, in November 9 in the “Mar y Sierras” circuit in the city of Mar del Plata, with another excellent argentine driver,” Larry”(Alberto Rodriguez Larreta) the Alfa Romeo Sprint Bertone won the race at an amazing average speed of 184,003 km/h, in an…open road race!!!.
With this excellent result, “Pepino” was encouraged to import another “2600”, and in the 1963 Argentine Grand Prix, two cars entered this race.
The first one, was driven by Juan Carlos “Tito” Quevedo and Alberto O”Connor. In the first stages, the car was just behind the official Mercedes Benz team which was winning the race, but mechanical problems took the Alfa out of race.
The second Alfa in this race, driven by Rodolfo de Alzaga and Norberto Rondelli, also was out of the event, so it was a race to forget. The cars showed extremely fast but not reliable.
But finally, on November 24th in the “Onofre Marimon” circuit, Rodolfo de Alzaga won with eight minutes over the second, Nasif Estefano, who was driving another Alfa Romeo, but a Giulia TI Super.
On December 15, in the “Mar y Sierras” race, the Alfa Sprint won another outstanding race, driven by De Alzaga, but with Eduardo”Tuqui” Casa as co-driver.
In the 1964 Argentine Gran Premio, Andrea Vianini was winning the race at an amazing average speed of 203 km/h in open road and at night!!.
In second place was the official Mercedes Benz team, but Vianini, had a serious crash and the car was nearly destroyed.
Finally in 1965 was the last attempt for the Sprint Bertone in an argentine race, again in the Gran Premio, but it didn’t arrive to the end.
The only survivor car today is the one driven by Juan Carlos Quevedo.
When the car finished his racing days, it was sent to Italy and restored completely, coming back to the argentine roads, but as a Touring car.
Then, Guillermo Iacona an “Alfisti” by heart (and father of “Lao” Iacona, author of the brilliant book “Alfa Romeo in Argentina”) bought the car and used it many years, until it was sold to Luciano Zilio in the city of Rosario.
Then Pedro Di Guardo bought the car, and finally in 2001 I bought it from him.
I remember that Pedro had two cars available at that time, one was the Alfa and the other was a Triumph TR6.
But I got crazy about the shape of the “2600”, which I knew very well since child, as I have it in scale made by the french Solido manufacturer of miniature cars. It was an instant love.
I found all the original records of this car, which I keep as an important part of the history of this Alfa, but why?
It’s simple: the first paper shows that the Alfa came in the Giulio Cesare Ship straight from Italy and it was asked at the Argentine port customs to have a temporary importation permit, exclusively just to race the Argentine Gran Premio” YPF”
( Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales, the official petrol & gas company).
I remember that the Giulio Cesare was a so huge cruise for the 1960’s that it become an instant attraction, and my father took me to the Buenos Aires port to see the impressive shape and size of that ship.
Is amazing to think that in the same ship that my father took me to see, just inside of it was storage the car that forty years later would be mine!!!.
Once the car took part of its first race, then they asked the definitive importation permit.
The interesting part of all this paperwork is that they are signed by Juan Carlos Quevedo, the original driver.
I used the car as an everyday car, despite that in summer the car had no air conditioning and it was the perfect was to loose weight. I was going every single day from Tigre to downtown Buenos Aires, about 22 miles, with a temperature of more than 90 degrees!!!
My wife Mariana said that I was crazy (possible yes), but both my kids Kevin and Katia enjoyed when every morning I took them to school in the Alfa.
Then my wife confirmed that I was crazy, as one day she told me that the car of her dreams was a BMW Compact Cabriolet, and the next week I bought for her a BMW Isetta !!!.(at least it was a BMW, extremely “Compact”…and cabriolet!!!.
We used to say that the Alfa was the “Alarm Clock” on wheels as because of the noise; everybody would get up in the morning in the narrow streets of San Isidro, Province of Buenos Aires.
Then in January 2002 I went to Punta Del Este beach in Uruguay to race the Classic Car Rally Trophy.
My co- driver was my friend and local hero Horacio Moyano winner of the “19 Capitales Rally” of Uruguay. We did a nice job, finishing in 5 place, in 51 entries.
Our rivals were such important cars as Saabs 93(very popular in those lands in the sixties),Renault 8,Jaguar”C” Type, MGB, Triumph TR3, Duettos,Auto Unions,etc.
Horacio is an “open book” for everything related to classic cars and he has the same hobby as me: he collects scale model cars.
Finally, when with my wife we decided to move from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Miami, Florida, then I realized that the moment of a deep restoration has arrived.
My good friend and Vice President of The Federation International de L’automobile, Mr. Rafael Sierra, ( probably one of the most important personalities in the motor car world) told me that the right people to do the work was Mr. Julio Petrucci, in charge of the restoration of the cars from the Automobile Club from Argentina (ACA) private collection.
It took nearly two years; everyone was following Rafael Sierra’s directions and the final result in gorgeous.
The Alfa was completely disassembled, even the engine and it was rebuilt from scratch but if I say”scratch”, believe me that it was from “scratch”!!.
The structure and body was a mess. When they took off the paint, they discovered that the car was nearly destroyed. The entire roof was taken off and placed right.
Also the tail was completely disassembled as it was out of shape.
One of the biggest problems was to find the rubber molds for the entire car, but Horacio Moyano found the main part of it in Montevideo city, a real source of spare parts for classic cars.
Also the half bottom of the left door was replaced and so the two back pillars.
But the restoration job was outstanding and now, we are good friends with “Julito”.
It worth the wait; two years later, the car is being shipped to Miami, to my enjoyment and from all my family.