Arturo Keller's uniquely beautiful Alfa is one-of-a-kind

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Some cars have a presence that is larger than life. Arturo Keller’s 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 coupe, with its one-of-a-kind Viotti body, is one.

 Its streamlined body looks as if it were shaped by the wind itself. It hovers low to the ground and glides down the road with scant inches between the pavement and its handformed bodywork. If Batman drove a car in the 1930s, this would be it.

 Alfa Romeo was the featured marque at last weekend’s 10th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and Keller’s coupe was one of the finest Alfas there. About 280 cars and motorcycles were displayed outside the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

 Alfa Romeo was founded in 1910 as A.L.F.A., or Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica di Automobili, and it became Alfa Romeo when Nicola Romeo took over the company in 1915. The 8C 2300 gained renown as a racer and road car. The dual-overhead-cam, eight-cylinder engine, designed by Vittorio Jano, is essentially two cylinder blocks joined in the middle. Variations of this supercharged engine carried Alfas to multiple victories at the 24 Hours of LeMans in ‘31, ’32, ’33 and ’34.

 Keller’s 2300 was originally built as a LeMans racer in 1932, and it took third place in 1933. In the 1930s, it was not unusual for coachbuilders to fashion one-of-a-kind bodies. In 1934, Vittorini Viotti crafted this lovely coupe to replace the racing body. The Viotti coupe then spent many years in Africa before making its way back to England.   

 Keller and his wife, Deborah, of Petaluma, Calif., bought the car about six years ago. Mike Fennel Restorations in Saugus, Calif., did a flawless restoration. Last August it received the Strother McMinn Most Elegant Sports Car Trophy at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours in Pebble Beach, Calif.

 The only thing better than seeing the Viotti at rest is seeing it in action. On the Friday before last Sunday’s show, the Kellers participated in Amelia Island’s traditional road tour. With its eight-cylinder engine barking in Italian, Keller’s coupe prowled the road like a vision on wheels.