Toy Alfa-Romeo P2
Can toys be SuperFinds? The answer is clearly yes, absolutely. Take this ultra rare first series Alfa Romeo P2 toy by CIJ for example.
I found this model at exactly the wrong moment. I had no money to spare, was busy financing my recent book project and did not intend to buy another model. But this P2 stayed on my mind for weeks and weeks on end, going to bed and waking up with the same thought of owning it.
A dream of a pressed tinplate body, 21 inches long (53 cm), it had rubber tyres, a powerful clockwork motor and a working steering wheel. The highly detailed model was produced by CIJ (Compagnie Industrielle du Jouet) in Paris and started selling in the late ‘20s. The very first ones were given to renowned drivers like Tazio Nuvolari, Rudolf Caracciola and Antonio Ascari by Alfa Romeo themselves.
I’ve had many of these P2 models in my time, but none like this. It immediately felt more significant. Was this another model I couldn’t live without?
This model Alfa is totally unmolested, it still wears its original tyres (now hard as coal), its provenance is documented and the paint and artwork are untouched.
It was discovered in Mantova, still in its huge wooden box. In the box next to it was an original old postcard letter dated September 1933 from Alfa Romeo Mantova to Barone Franchetti presumably related to the presentation of the model to him. There was also an original postcard showing the Number 2 Alfa-Romeo P2 of Ascari winning the Grand Prix D’Europe at Spa-Francorchamps in 1925. The exact car that the toy was modeled after.
Less than a month after winning in Belgium, Antonio Ascari died from injuries after crashing out in the lead of the French Grand Prix. Inside the cockpit of the model under the steering wheel there was a card commemorating the death of Antonio’s son Alberto. Presumably put there by the owner at a later stage. Clearly this was not a toy; it was (and still is) a shrine to a great motor racing family. Roughly translated the card reads:
He made a gift of his life to the conquests of the future, following the fate of his father who today welcomes him to the goal of the mystery of eternal peace.
This generous and invincible athlete raced on challenging tracks with the admiration of the world, but in his heart he dreamed of his children and his wife who live on to remember him with great sadness and pride.
It would be interesting to find out if Barone Franchetti ever bought an Alfa-Romeo after the model arrived in his castle in Mantova in 1933. Or did he have any significant Alfas already, like an 8C Monza perhaps? Or was he close to the Ascaris in some way? Does anyone know?
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