Last Surviving Alfa Romeo Disco Volante to Make its Mark at Hill Climb

Friday 5 June 2015

A fiery-red racing car, which has survived a history as chequered as the flag, hopes to make its presence felt when it competes at this year's Hill Climb.

The last remaining Alfa Romeo 3-litre Disco Volante will take to the start line, cheered on by up to 10,000 spectators at the event on 11 and 12 July.

The Disco Volante was technically advanced for its era, with a top speed of 160mph, but historically suffered with steering problems. During practice for the Monza race in 1954, it crashed, with Italian works driver Consalvo Sanesi at the wheel. The car caught fire and Sanesi was badly burned. As resources at the factory where it was built were stretched, the model was abandoned and disappeared off the radar.

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From there, the remains of the fire-damaged car had a long and dramatic journey to restoration. After many years in a private museum, it was brought to the UK in 1985, where its new owners, Henry Wessells III and Christopher Mann, embarked on a huge restoration project, lasting over 20 years.

All of the original components of the Disco Volante’s 3-litre engine and 5-speed gearbox had survived the fire, with the unique carburettors even bearing traces of the fire extinguisher used at Monza in 1954!

The restoration was completed shortly before Wessells’ death in 2008, at the age of 82.

Today the Disco Volante races regularly at home and abroad, driven by Christopher Mann. As well as regular appearances at the Goodwood Revival, featuring as one of the Goodwood Greats, it’s sometimes used for the Mann family’s weekly trip to the supermarket!

Christopher Mann is looking forward to competing in the Pre-1961 Sports and Sports Racing Cars over 2200cc class at Chateau Impney Hill Climb.

He said: “Despite its dramatic, but undistinguished, period history and its very lengthy rebuild, it really is a special car to own and fantastic to drive. It was designed as a long distance racer, so isn’t ideally suited to sprinting, but I think the Chateau Impney course will make an interesting challenge.”

The Disco Volante is an exciting addition to the Hill Climb and we wish Christopher the best of luck against tough competition in his class.

  • Rare Alfa Romeo Disco Volante at Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
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