1921 Alfa Romeo G1

1921 Alfa Romeo G1

Whereas the earlier cars featured a large four-cylinder engine, the new G1 boasted a similarly sized straight-six. It was constructed from two cast-iron blocks of three cylinders with integral heads. The overhead valves were actuated by a lateral camshaft through push-rods, and one single-barrel vertical carburettor was fitted. Thanks to a very long stroke of 140 mm, the 'six' displaced well over six litres. It produced around 70 bhp at 2,100 rpm.

Mated to a four-speed gearbox, the big engine was mounted in a ladder frame constructed from sheet steel sections. At the front the suspension consisted of a rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. The rear-end was similar but featured a pair of leaf springs on each side connected to axle on one end and to the chassis on the other. Stopping power was provided only by mechanically operated drum brakes on the rear axle.

The first two G1 prototypes were produced late in 1920 and were fitted with simple racing bodies. In December, they were entered in the Coppa del Garda where they placed a joint first in class. After the successful competition debut of the two prototypes, the G1 entered production in 1921. A further 50 examples were built, sold as rolling chassis and clothed with a variety of body-styles ranging from luxurious Limousines to skimpy Spiders. A surprising large number of these were sold to Australia.

Plans for a second generation G2 were abandoned due to disappointing sales. One of the main reasons for this were the high taxes on big engines, so Alfa Romeo replaced the G1 in 1922 with the RL, powered by a six-cylinder engine less than half the size of the G1's. Although, the very first all-new Alfa Romeo, only one of the 52 G1s built is known to have survived.

Like many of the G1s, chassis 6018 was sold new to Australia. Shortly after taking delivery, the original owner went bankrupt and hid the Alfa Romeo from the creditors. It was not discovered again until 1947 and it was then put into use as a farm vehicle. Several Australian Alfa Romeo enthusiasts recognised the car's importance and rescued it in 1964. It has since been restored several times and remained in Australian ownership until the early 2010s. Fitted with Spider Sport style body, it was shown at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Its subsequent American owner had it restored once more and fitted with a Spider Corsa body similar to those used by the prototypes in their late December 1920 competition debut. The only known G1 to have survived, it was most recently shown in its latest guise at Pebble Beach in 2013.

Descriptions & pictures by ultimatecarpage & ruotevecchie & other

Production Start 1921
Country of origin Italy