Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini wreaked havoc in Italy during the 1930s and into the wreckage of World War II. His reign of death and destruction left the country in ruins.
Yet, he also left behind something beautiful, and here it is: The 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Berlinetta by Touring that he gave to his famous paramour, Claretta Petacci, just as the drums of war began to roll. His mistress used the coachbuilt masterpiece during the European conflict, driven by chauffeur Franz Spögler, who years later confirmed the identity of the evocative automobile, according to auction house RM, which will offer the car in February at its Retromobile sale in Paris.
Spögler also said that this is the very car in which Petacci and members of her family drove in a desperate bid to escape Italy in 1945, only to be stopped by partisans as they approached the border near Lake Como. She and Mussolini later were executed by an angry citizenry, their bodies hung together on public display.
Now restored, the historic and stunningly aerodynamic coupe would be an A-list collector car even without its provenance. However, its connection with the notorious Mussolini should boost its value considerably.
After World War II, the car was shipped to the United States by a U.S. Army officer. It was rediscovered in the 1970s stored on a New York farm, after which it was brought back to original condition by renowned Alfa Romeo expert Francesco Bonfanti.
“Few cars that have passed through our hands have had quite the important historical context that this Alfa Romeo can boast,” Augustin Sabatié-Garat, car specialist for RM Auctions Europe, said in a news release. “That it is also one of the most desirable of all pre-war grand touring cars and beautifully restored by the world’s leading marque expert, makes it an unbelievable prize for any serious collector.”
One piece of irony: The Alfa Romeo returned to Lake Como in 2007, where it won best in class at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.
The RM Auction is scheduled February 3-4 at Place Vauban during the Retromobile celebration of great old cars.