Culture / Auctions

First-generation Alfa Romeo heads to RM Sotheby’s

An exceptionally rare, pre-war Alfa G1 with 6.3-liter side-valve inline-six engine gets updates before it heads to Arizona sale in January

Dec 29, 2017 | By Andrea Sim

The First-generation Alfa Romeo Commercial Car

It is rare that a famous automaker would put up its very first generation of commercial model for sale, but patrons to the RM Sotheby’s auction in Phoenix, Arizona, next January 2018, will witness the 1921 Alfa Romeo G1, which is expected to fetch an estimated price of $1.5 million.

Only 52 units of the G1 were ever built by the Italian automaker between 1921 and 1923. The example is stamped with the chassis number 6018 and is believed to be the only surviving, fully operational Alfa Romeo G1 in existence.

According to the auctioneers, a stripped-down version of the G1 won its production class at the Coppa del Garda, but the production models didn’t sell well, as they were seen as expensive fuel guzzlers in a period of economic and political uncertainty in Italy after World War I.

Specifications of the Alfa-Romeo G1

The Alfa G1 is said to be the largest engine ever built by the marquee, and comparing them to the new generation Alfa Romeo cars, are what by today’s standards is an incredibly modest 71 hp and 216 lb.-ft. of torque.

Alfa G1 is powered by a 6.3-liter side-valve inline-six engine believed to have been designed with some input from none other than Enzo Ferrari, who was a driver for the company at the time.

Tracing the ownership history of the Alfa G1

Before the WWI, “Alfa Romeo decided to export all 50 production versions to Australia, and possibly South Africa, which is how this one ended up in the hands of a Queensland businessman. The owner later went into bankruptcy, and decided to send the car to a remote farm in the Australian outback to hide it from his creditors.

“After its years of being used as a farm runabout by ranchers and as a water pump after its rear axle failed,” according to AFP Relaxer. The G1 was later bought over by Ross Flewell-Smith in the mid-1960s and he restored it with authentic car parts before another three full restorations in subsequent years.

For more information about the Arizona sale in January 2018, visit RM Sotheby’s and view the range of Alfa Romeo automobile here.

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