Throughout history, many heads of state have taken an interest in the automobile. After all, despite their unique line of work, and apart from a few peculiar, even obnoxious characters in the bunch, they’re generally "ordinary" folks like everyone else.
Benito Mussolini was anything but ordinary. The man who gave life to Italian fascism in the 1920s and who tied his destiny to that of Adolf Hitler and German Nazism in the 1930s belongs to the category of those historical figures one would rather forget.
However, our duty is one of remembrance. Even if nothing could make Il Duce sympathetic to us today, knowing that he was the owner of a 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, and that he even drove in races, well that makes him almost... human.
Be that as it may, a car he bought new and which was delivered to him on 13 January 1930 is going to benefit from a complete restoration aimed at bringing it back to life. And it will require some kind of reanimation work. The model is in an advanced state of decrepitude, especially because at the time, there was little hesitation in modifying it to make it lighter so it could perform better in races.
And you can imagine that nine decades later, parts are becoming kind of scarce...
Benito Mussolini didn't actually own the car for very long. It changed hands several times in the early 1930s and finally ended up in the possession of a certain Renato Tigillo in 1937. Tigillo eventually moved to Eritrea, an African country that had been under Italian rule since 1936. When the Alfa was no longer in active us, it was not really preserved, as evidenced by the dents, flaking paint and rust we can see in these images. Its trace was later lost, and even today we don’t know the name of the owner, who understandably might not want their name associated with Il Duce.
After decades of neglect, the car will be treated with great care from now on. The refurbishment work has been entrusted to one of the best firms in the field, the UK-based Thornley Kelham. The company has a Herculean task ahead of it, however. The headlights, fenders and spoked wheels are all gone, and the interior is quite worn.
Simon Thornley, co-founder of the car-restoration company, admitted that the 6C 1750 represents probably the biggest challenge he's ever taken on, especially considering that period images of the model’s body, built by Stabilimenti Farina, are rare.
But it's clearly worth it, in his view. "Such an important piece of automotive history must be preserved," he said in a statement. Few would argue with that.