One of Alfa Romeo’s most controversial race cars is getting treated to a full, concours-level restoration. Modified, worn-out, and incomplete, this 1930 6C 1750 was purchased new and raced by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Wearing chassis number 6C312898, the 6C 1750 was delivered new to Mussolini on January 13, 1930, and there are several images (one pictured) showing him behind the wheel. He paid 60,000 Lire for it. He entered it in several races across Italy during the early 1930s but didn’t keep it long — his well-known love of Fascism and international invasions seemingly muted the gearhead in him. It then went through several owners before ending up in the hands of a man named Renato Tigillo in 1937. He took the 6C with him when he moved to Eritrea, a country that joined Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia in the Italian East Africa administrative territory in 1936.
The 6C was far less significant in the 1930s than in the 2020s, so the different pilots who owned it didn’t think twice about stripping it to shed weight. Dozens of parts were removed and likely thrown away to prepare it for a strenuous new career racing under the scorching African sun. Dents, flaking paint, and a little bit of rust suggest life was tough. Precisely when it retired from racing, and what happened to it during the subsequent decades, remains unknown. There’s no word on who owns it, either. All we know is that it’s about to get completely torn down and painstakingly rebuilt by one of the best names in the business.
United Kingdom-based restoration shop Thornley Kelham will return the 6C 1750 to the configuration it was in when Mussolini raced it during the early 1930s. That’s a Herculean task considering the list of parts missing from the car is long. The original headlights, fenders, and wire wheels are no longer on it. Simon Thornley, the garage’s co-founder, admitted the 6C 1750 is likely the most challenging restoration he’s ever taken on, especially considering period images of the Stabilimenti Farina-built body are few and far between. It’s worth it, though.
“Automotive history like this has to be preserved,” he said in a statement.
Mussolini wasn’t the only dictator that loved cars. Adolf Hitler was an enthusiast, too, and several of his cars — including a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770k — have been sold at auction in recent years.