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Fiskens presents pre-war heroes in Paris

10 February 2017

Crowds have flocked to the Fiskens’ stand at this year’s Salon Rétromobile to admire two pre-war heroes; the 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider by Zagato and the 1932 Bugatti Type 55.

These examples outline two different experiences of the era; the Alfa being put through its paces by Tazio Nuvolari at the Belgium Grand Prix and the Mille Miglia, and the Type 55 Bugatti being bodied in the height of luxury by Lyonese coachbuilder, Billeter & Cartier, to allow additional leg room for its gentlemanly doctor owner.

The Type 55, a thinly veiled Grand Prix car is, for many, the car of dreams. Unlike the majority of their contemporaries, Ettore and son Jean Bugatti, understood the direct correlation between success on the track and the demand for “race-enhanced” road cars by the public that were both capable from an engineering standpoint and coveted by speed and beauty.

The Type 55 Bugatti Super Sport model was introduced at the Paris Salon in October 1931. Together with its modified Type 51 powerhouse, the model boasted a Roots supercharger, magneto ignition, eight-spoke cast aluminium wheels and a four-speed gearbox. As deepening depression gripped the world’s economy, demand for this type of unadulterated luxury car dropped, meaning that no more than 38 chassis were built in period.

Of those 38 Type 55s, it is generally believed that only 27 have survived in one form or another, but very few remain intact with their original bodies – 55206 is one such example. Dismantled and hidden during World War II to preserve this French beauty from requisition, 55206 is undoubtedly an original and unique example of what is acknowledged as the “best Bugatti road car ever produced”.

The 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider by Zagato, meanwhile, paints a different story of the era. The 2300 Alfa, regarded by many as the “finest pre-war sports car”, grew to greater heights with the 8C model, which sported a new supercharged straight-eight engine that pushed performance into another league.

Chassis 2111006 is one of the first “Corto” Spiders. In the Alfa’s debut year, it is linked with many Alfa legends including Enzo Ferrari and Italian ace driver, Tazio Nuvolari. Finishing third at Spa in the Belgium Grand Prix of that year, followed by a win in Nuvolari’s hands at the Coppa Ciano, the Alfa was a stead to be reckoned with.

A competitor in the 1931 Mille Miglia, along with countess other events, the Alfa’s original engine has been removed, which is a decision made by many owners of the 8Cs in order to help preserve the vehicle. An exact copy built by foremost specialist Jim Stokes has now been fitted, while the original motor has been carefully stored. With a freshly supercharged eight cylinders, the famous Spider drives as well as it looks.

Gregor Fisken said: “The 8C and the Type 55 are both rare and superb examples of the finest that the pre-war motoring era has to offer a collector of fine and important automobiles.

“One of my greatest pleasures is the diversity of machinery that we offer, from both the track and the road, sometimes only linked by their ‘best-in-class’ positioning.

“As ever, we have been pleased to see continued buoyancy in the classic car market at Salon Rétromobile and look forward to the rest of the show.”

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1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato Spider

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1932 Bugatti Type 55

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