The Last Testa Fissa

Powered by a very special 1,500cc engine, this Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo has twice finished on the Mille Miglia podium—76 years apart.

October 11, 2010
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This year, one of the earliest Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos returned to the Mille Miglia, where it had won its class in 1934. The car is a 1933 Alfa 6C Gran Sport 1500 Testa Fissa Zagato, a special competition version of one of the most successful forebears of the modern sports car.

A.L.F.A. (Amonima Lombarda Fabrica Automobile) didn’t really shake the automotive world until after Nicola Romeo, a young engineer, took over the company in about 1918. In the early 1920s, Alfa Romeo began making history on road circuits throughout Europe with its famous P2 Grand Prix cars. Powered by a supercharged 2-liter DOHC straight-8 engine, the P2s carried Alfa to the 1925 World Championship.

Vittorio Jano, the father of the P2, also designed a supercharged 1,500cc DOHC straight-6, the 6C, which powered an entire generation of sports cars which dominated the European racing scene in the 1920s and ’30s. The 6C was enlarged to 1750cc in 1928, and built in both forms through 1934.

In 1929, Alfa produced a small batch of six specialized 6C 1500cc race engines with a fixed head, or Testa Fissa, designed to eliminate the head-gasket failures which often plagued long-distance racing. Later that year and in 1930, a second batch of 12 more Testa Fissa engines was built. These were only provided to the top racers of the day, such as Tazio Nuvolari, Giuseppe Campari and Achille Varzi.

They were also supplied to Enzo Ferrari, who had helped Alfa claim important victories in the 1929 Mille Miglia, the Brooklands Double Twelve and scores of other events. When Scuderia Ferrari became operational in 1930, it started with six 6C Alfa Romeos, several of which were Testa Fissa competition models.

This particular 6C Gran Sport 1500 Testa Fissa (s/n 10811406) was purchased new several years later, in 1933, around the time Alfa was disbanding its factory racing effort. It was the very last original 6C Gran Sport model built, and in addition to its rare engine, it featured special competition features and aggressive, one-off coachwork by Zagato.

THE TESTA FISSA’S FIRST OWNER was Anna Maria Peduzzi, the young daughter of a wealthy family from Olgiate, near Como. Known within racing circles as “Marocchina” (the Moroccan) due to her dark complexion, she was out to beat men at their own game—and, in the Alfa, she finished third in class in the grueling Targa Abruzzo and fourth in class at the Stelvio Hillclimb against her male competitors.

Also from Issue 106

  • 599 GTO first drive
  • Jason Castriota interview
  • F1 race report
  • 308 GTS with throttle-body injection
  • ALMS race report
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