Before you delve into this article you might want to consider reading my other article called the “Hidden Number.” (click to link) This will explain why there is another number stamped into the shell of the cars that were produced outside of Alfa Romeo. These second numbers were for “in-house” tracking of what parts went with which cars as some parts were specifically created for that car to fit as exacting as possible. There were many small companies in Turin with in blocks of each other that were “sub” shops to do small work runs, other body makers, and large body companies like Bertone/Farina. If you were a small company it would be easy to keep track of a handful of cars, but the larger companies had to have a in house system to keep track of parts that were subbed out to the small shops in town. So when the parts came back they knew which part went with which car.
We do not have the Bertone numbers from the company to know what day each body was made, or any other details (unless someone knows of a source I do not have). We can only go on the facts in front of us to work with. Just know that some of the Bertone numbers went on other companies bodies like Ferrari, Maserati, etc.
To see if you have the correct parts that came with your car or a donor car, just look for the number stamping on the bumpers or other trim parts as it will have the 3 numbers of the last numbers from the Bertone number (ie. 003 0r 082). This not only applied to the SS, but the Sprint/Sprint Veloce cars as well since they were also a Bertone number.
I am not going to write a complete history or story of the Sprint Speciale car in this article, reserving that idea for a series of future articles that I will be pulling from a large number of sources. What I am going to concentrate on is the Bertone numbers as applied to the Sprint Speciale and in-house numbering.
The Sprint Speciale (Sprint Special) was a design concept to see how low of a coefficient of drag (CD) could be produced in a car. The well known B.A.T 1900 cc cars were the prototypes along with several other design concepts like the Superflow helped develop the idea for the Sprint Speciale. The concept was so good it got the CD down to .30 giving the car a top speed of 125 mph compared to the spider veloce of only 112 mph using the same running gear. From personal experience, the car is so efficient through the wind that even with the windows rolled down you get very little to no wind inside the car. To quote Luigi Fusi from Alfa Romeo tutte le vetture dal 1910 page 550, “The Sprint Speciale. the perfect streamlined car resulted from the cooperation of Alfa Romeo and Carrozzeria Bertone, gathered in itself the features of the various Giulietta models (i.e., road holding, maneuverability, effective brakes, excellent pickup, comfort of the ride). The high output of the engine at low rpm granted the car an easy driving in the town traffic and difficult roads, favored also by the five gear transmission.“
The car was produced from 1957 to 1965 with records showing that 1366 1300 cc Giulietta and 1400 Giulia Sprint Speciale cars were made for a total of 2766 chassis. There were two prototypes created.
Accounting for the two prototypes these would be Bertone *87 001* and *87 002*. Henceforth all of the remaining Sprint Speciales would be off by 2 numbers. Alfa Romeo chassis AR00001 would have Bertone number *87 003* etc. What I would love to know is if the two prototypes (prototipo) have a AR chassis number. Anyone know the answer to this question? More importantly, where are the two prototypes ? AR10120.00001 was sold in San Diego a couple years back and has since disappeared.
Now if we run the numbers up through the last of the first run of cars…10120.01729 Then this car should have a Bertone number of *87 731* using the formula I mentioned previously. I have no way to know this until someone provides me with this number confirmation.
Here is where the numbers get interesting, right after .01729 the chassis numbers change to 177001. This should have a chassis number of *87 732*. It doesn’t…it is chassis number *87 753*. Anyone care to venture a guess what the other 29 cars were that got these numbers? Could they be Ferrari, Maserati or some other exotic car? Again, referring to my first paragraph, these numbers were “in-house” tracking numbers for not only chassis, but for chrome parts and other various specialty items for the cars as they went through the factory.
There is at least one SS that has a 3 number gap in sequence, so to venture a guess, some thing got slipped in from another company that wanted a chassis built by Bertone. I just received an email to a recent SS that has a 5 number gap. I am going to see if I can get a photo of this number. To see if the numbering system was kept in sequence or it managed to “catch up” in the system is to find as many of the Bertone numbers as we can collect and list them in the SS register. Then we will know if there are gaps or not.
So are you with me so far? Have you been pondering the question, “How do they keep track of all these chassis and in-house numbers?” It must have been very interesting to say the least.
Lets see if we can see if the 2766 cars lines up with the last car built as far as Bertone numbers go. Now all we have to go on is the last Bertone number I have listed and project that to the last car known from the AR archives (Thank you Marco). The last SS chassis known is AR10120.381401. Where this car is is any ones guess. The last Bertone number I have listed is for AR10120.381377 with Bertone $ *872536*. Do the math and you should come up with *872560* as the last Bertone number for the last SS built. Ok, now figure this out…2766 cars built but only 2560 Bertone numbers.
Think of a Gordian Knot when trying to decipher these numbers.
I have left a comment box below that if anyone can make sense of any of this, I will post the answers. You can also submit your chassis number and Bertone number as well.