One of only two Alfa Romeo-engined 2700 Class powerboats.
Estimate (€): 50,000 - 70,000.
•Built in Argentina in the late 1940s
•Raced with some success in the early 1950s
•Shown at Autoclàsica in Argentina in 2017
With their Grand Prix and sports car racing heritage, Alfa Romeo's advanced and powerful twin-cam straight-six and straight-eight engines inevitably came to be highly regarded within the powerboat racing community, though one of the earliest of such uses was of military origin. During the 1930s, Italy was one of the most innovative nations in the development of naval warfare, pioneering the use of midget submarines and high-speed motor launches. Known as Motoscafo Turismo Modificato (MTM), the latter concept employed a lightweight streamlined wooden hull and was powered by the best available engine: the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500, whose 90 horsepower was transmitted via an Isotta Fraschini-developed 'Z' drive with twin contra-rotating propellers. A high-explosive charge weighing around 300kg was carried towards the bow, with the single crewman seated at the stern. Known as the 'Barchino', the vessel would be driven at high speed towards the target, the operator bailing out when some 50-100 metres distant. Barchinos enjoyed some successes against Royal Navy and French warships during WW2, and there is no question that the design provided the template for successful racing powerboats when peace returned.
Built in Argentina, a country with close links to Italy, the vessel offered here - 'Marea' (tide) – is one such. Marea is powered by an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 marine engine brought back from Italy to Argentina by Miguel Lattes in the late 1940s. Did Lattes get the chance to examine one of the surviving Barchinos while in Italy? It seems quite likely given Marea's similarity to its military forebear, a likeness shared with another Argentine-built Alfa Romeo-powered 2700 Class craft: 'Jhape'. Miguel Latttes was a wealthy businessman and industrialist with an interest in, among others, Cuareta SA Volcán, a company that produced stoves and kitchen equipment.
'Marea' and 'Jhape' were built in the Astilleros Regnicoli shipyard on the Luján River, which flows into the River Plate north of Buenos Aires. Lattes kept Marea at his house on the River Plate Delta at the confluence of the Capitán and San Antonio rivers. He competed with 'Marea' in the Turismo Carretera series, entering a select few races between 1949 and 1952 (see copies of race reports on file).
Marea's subsequent history is not known, though it remained in Argentina. Rediscovered many years ago, Marea has belonged to the current vendor for more than 15 years. While in his care, the engine has been rebuilt by Martucci of Buenos Aires, and the hull restored by a specialist boatyard in the Tigre area of Buenos Aires. Since its restoration, Marea has been tested on the water, being found to perform beautifully, and in 2017 was displayed at Autoclàsica in Argentina to much acclaim. Sublimely beautiful – the very epitome of form following function – this rare Argentinian powerboat would surely be welcome at any prestigious event for classic vessels, including those held on Lake Como and Lake Maggiore.