The G1, first model to wear Alfa Romeo badges after Nicola Romeo took over A.L.F.A. in 1919, was not a commercial success. The big luxury saloon flopped in Italy to such an extent that all 50 cars had to be dispatched to Australia to find homes. One of them, chassis number 6018 and thought to be the last one produced, had a fraught life down under, serving as a farm hack and even, it is thought, as a stationary water pump.
It has been a long journey from ignominy to international stardom, via the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (twice an award winner) to the Museo Enzo Ferrari (displayed there in 2015) and to the Goodwood Members’ Meeting grid this year, where the world’s oldest Alfa made a huge impression on all who saw it.
It was a journey that involved not just complete restoration but also the fitment of a completely new two-seat open body, modelled on early Alfa Romeo racing cars of the sort that Enzo Ferrari used to drive.
“This is the only complete G1 in existence today. It is a rare opportunity to acquire the earliest piece of Alfa Romeo history,” says RM Sotheby’s which will be auctioning the car at its sale, A Century of Italian Sports and GT Design, in Arizona on 18-19 January 2018.
There is no reserve on the Alfa, so what will it go for? RM Sotheby’s expects a sale price “in excess of US$1 million”. That’s a snip compared to the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider which sold in 2016 for nearly 20 times that, making it not just the most expensive Alfa ever but also the most valuable prewar car. Being first is not always as good as being the greatest…
Whatever the G1 sells for, for all those who saw and heard it in action at Goodwood this year it will surely always be priceless.