Written by Simon Haldy
Italian temperament is famous and Alfisti Mussolini was a great driver who looked for extremities. Sadly he also had a very evil mind and the combination made him one of the most atrocious fascists there ever was. Nevertheless his car is a marvel!
The Italian dictator surely was much less powerful than his fearsome German allies, but when it came to cars, Mussolini was not afraid to look for the boundaries and go for the extreme. He is reported as having been a keen driver and faithful supporter of Alfa Romeo. He even saved the Arese brand from going into liquidation in the early 30’s. Alfa Romeos and Lancias were his favorites. He owned several examples of both, and loved to parade with them. Especially a lengthened version of the Lancia Astura, bodied by Pinin Farina, a kind of Italian counterpart of the Mercedes 770K. Lancia made several examples of this car, calling it the Ministeriale.
in 1935 a special Alfa 2300 Touring Spider was built for Mussolini. Some think it was a gift from Alfa to thank their rescuer. Il Duce, as you surely know, was a big fan of automotive racing as well, such a fan that he commanded 80.000 of his soldiers to help the Mille Miglia’s organizers with marshaling the road. The race then became the showcase of the Italian dictator’s regime, of course with Italian cars winning the great Italian race. Mercedes, and to a lesser extent BMW, were the sole foreign brands. Mercedes had won this wonderful race in 1931 and BMW in 1940.
Mussolini entered his beloved Alfa 6C 2300 Pescara Spider by Touring for the 1936 edition of the Mille Miglia, driven by his chauffeur who finished a credible 13th overall. The car was claimed having run the entire 1000 miles on Italian produced alcohol, an alternative fuel and a necessity since Italy was under international sanctions after their attack on Abyssinia. Racing the MM on Italian alcohol fuel was yet another of the dictator’s publicity stunts! In reality though the car ran on regular gasoline, just like all other entrants.
When Mussolini fled from Italy with his mistress to seek refuge in Switzerland, they used an Alfa 2500 SS. However, just before trying to hide themselves from the partisans in a German truck, they were recognized and sentenced to death and within a day they were executed. This Alfa Romeo trip to Switzerland was their very last.
To be continued…