An Aston, an Alfa 8C and an SSK at Mille Miglia 2018
We start the second posting in our mini-series about Mille Miglia participants and their cars with two real stars of the classic car scene: Evert Louwman with his outstanding SSK. We also feature British collector Andrew Pisker and Alberto Gnutti from Italy.
Evert V.N. Louwman (NL) and his 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK
Famous classic car collector Evert Louwman returns to Brescia with his daughter Quirina, who is also known as an excellent driver of classic cars. The Louwman team will race the Mille in a 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK. The short version of the SS model, with its inline six-cylinder compressor engine, was the last Mercedes-Benz constructed by Ferdinand Porsche, and it became the foundation of the brand’s future motorsport successes.
The Louwman’s SSK is usually on display at the family’s museum. It was delivered new to Britain and raced in period in the Spanish, Argentinian and German GPs. In 1931 it participated in the Mille Miglia. This is an advantage for the car’s current owner: When deciding who can participate in the modern race, the organizers always favors cars who actually took part in the original.
Later on, the SSK came into the possession of a British farmer named Milligan who used, and raced, the car for four decades. He became an important and well-known figure on the classic car scene after the Second World War, and his SSK developed a brand identity of its own: the Milligan SSK. The Louwmans bought the car at a Bonhams auction at Goodwood in 2004 for 6 Million euros, and then meticulously researched the car’s provenance. It turned out to be in exceptionally original condition. This even impressed the experts at the renowned Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Center.
In fact, there seems to be no other SSK in the world that gives such a clear impression of how cars were built during this period. The car is a racer, and it was always being modified in period, so this quality is exceptional. It’s vehicles like this that justify the Mille Miglia’s reputation as a rolling museum. Most collectors would hesitate to bring such an important piece of automotive history to such a demanding race like the Mille Miglia. But the Louwmans clearly know their cars and how to handle them. They already drove it in the 2010 edition without suffering any technical problems.
Andrew Pisker (GB) and his 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Touring
Another Ferrari owner taking a pre-war Alfa Romeo to this year’s Mille Miglia is British driver Andrew Pisker. One of the highlights of his collection is a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT LWB TdF Berlinetta Scaglietti (one of nine surviving 250 TdFs). The car won an award for the most elegant Ferrari body at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza 2007. Two years later, Andrew Pisker went to the same event with an exceptional Auburn 852 SC. In 2010, he received a people’s choice award for a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Spyder California Scaglietti Convertible at Pebble Beach’s Concours d’Elegance.
For the Mille Miglia, the British car enthusiast has chosen a 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 with a Touring body. In contrast to the venerable Castagna company presented in an earlier posting, Touring was the new coachbuilder on the block back then. Just a few years before, in 1927, it had provided the first evidence of its expertise with the Isotta Fraschini “Flying Star”. Works like Pisker’s Alfa Romeo followed, but it took until 1937 before Touring was recognized as one of the leading coachbuilders. This is when the company presented the first car to use its distinct Superleggera technology, which allowed the manufacture of extremely light alloy bodies. Although Pisker’s Alfa has a Touring body based on more traditional techniques, it should be a great car for the Mille Miglia.
The 8C sports a massive 8-cylinder, 2300 ccm engine. Like the 6C it was designed Vittorio Jano. The new engine, which premiered at the 1931 Mille Miglia, offered substantially more power than the 6C, allowing it to compete against Mercedes-Benz’ SSKs. The model was rarer than its smaller sibling. Although defeated by Mercedes-Benz in 1931, the car soon earned its accolades, including at Le Mans. Alongside racing, the 8C had an additional career: some historians describe these 8Cs, with their luxurious Coupé bodies, as the world’s first supercars. With breathtaking performance and stunning looks, they attracted the wealthiest owners from all over the world in the 1930s. Nevertheless, Pisker’s Touring-bodied car is a racing machine.
Alberto Gnutti (I) and his 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans
Italian Mille Miglia participant Alberto Gnutti is coming to Brescia with a very British car: a 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans. In the 1932 edition of the legendary Le Mans race, Aston Martin cars were quite successful, with cars coming in 5th, 7th and 15th. All Le Mans cars were equipped with a small inline four-cylinder engine and Gnutti’s Aston from 1933 seems to be based on the same successful engine. Back in 1933, the testers at British Motorsports Magazine hailed the car’s perfect handling, facilitated by great weight distribution, strong brakes and good suspension. They also praised the roomy interior, which offered surprising comfort for a sports car.
Before going pre-war with the Aston Martin, Alberto Gnutti participated in previous Mille Miglias in two interesting cars from 1952: a 1952 SIATA Daina Sport Coupé in 2012, and a 1952 Jaguar XK 120 OTS Roadster in 2015. He has also been overseas with a Porsche 911 to compete in the 1000 Millas in Argentina.
For more information please visit the website of the organizer 1000 Miglia and our news postings on the Mille Miglia classic car rally.
Picture of Mercedes-Benz SSK courtesy of Daimler.