This 1940 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 was built as the spasms of war seized Europe, and was completed by Hermann Graber Carrosserie in Wichtrach, Switzerland. For Alfa Romeo, the 2500 series represented the first of something and the last of something. It was the last Alfa to be offered primarily in chassis form for custom bodywork by specialists, and it was the last 6 cylinder series production model until 1962. In the postwar period, it became the first Alfa to be offered in sizable numbers with standard bodywork made at the Alfa factory in Milano; around 680 of the Freccia D'Oro (Golden Arrow) coupe were sold from 1947 to 1952. Then Alfa shut down production of the 6C cars in favor of the newer and smaller 4 cylinder 1900 model, having concluded that their future lay in mass production. In Switzerland, however, the government aimed to keep their native coach building industry alive by offering to drop the import tariffs on bare chassis imported for installation of bodies designed and built by firms like Graber, Langenthal, Worblaufen and Beutler. The policy was begun before the war and continued afterward, and it resulted in some remarkable bodywork on makes as diverse as Duesenberg, Bugatti, Delahaye, Talbot, Chrysler, Alvis and Studebaker.
Dennis Varni's 6C is quite a specimen beyond its carefully-detailed and unique body work. Like all Alfa 6C 2500s, it features a dual overhead cam engine design with valves inclined to form hemispherical combustion chambers in an aluminum head. The 6C was offered in single or triple-carbureted form; this is the higher performance version. Suspension is independent at the front, and by a De Dion tube at the rear. Most Graber Alfas were built before the war. By the mid-1950s, Graber had become the Swiss agent for the English Alvis, and concentrated most of his coachwork efforts on that chassis.* Hermann Graber built about 800 car bodies from 1925 to 1970, but apparently only one Alfa Romeo in this style.
*Footnote: The Graber Alvis was featured with other Graber designs in our post for 1/22/16.
Photo credits: All photos are by the author, who thanks Dennis Varni for the tour of his garage, and in particular for opening up this unique Alfa for inspection.