I doubt whether you now recall it, but I was one of those young lads fortunate enough to possess a CIJ P2 Alfa. It was shortly before Christmas 1932 that as a 10 year old I was taken to the West End to see the lights and to be dragged around many shops in which I had not the slightest interest. Until, that is, we reached Selfridge’s toy department where I gazed transfixed at these marvellous models, the like of which I had not hitherto seen. Thoughts of possessing one, however, quickly faded when I saw the price — 25 shillings, prohibitively expensive at that time. I was near to tears when we departed without one but a glimmer of hope emerged when, on the bus on the way home, this very tired small boy began to wonder why his mother had dragged him away from the counter without his father, who re-appeared clutching a largish parcel which he did not previously have. But, during the remaining days up to Christmas, despite diligent searches of all accessible cupboards when my mother was out, I could find no trace of it. Deep despondency returned; perhaps I was wrong after all. Leaving home at Christmas time when you are 10 has its disadvantages, so to preserve sanity I renewed interest in my aged toy Panhard Levassor. . . . just in case.
I managed to hold out until Christmas morning — about 5 o’clock I think it was when all doubts were dispelled and there it was! The other presents were alright but received short shrift. Breakfast and subsequent meals (except, perhaps, the Christmas pudding) were no more than necessary intrusions into my time with this new pride and joy.
Throughout its life it has been well looked after but, inevitably, with a tinplate toy, time has taken its toll and although nothing on it was broken, it began to look pretty tatty and two of the original tyres went missing, whilst the other two became badly perished and distorted. At one stage I had replaced them with Meccano tyres which, with their larger section, looked better! During the war I also contemplated installing an engine and running it as a control-line model but, unfortunately, that never materialized and the basic parts remain unaltered.
After further ideas I began, about a year ago, to restore the car to its original condition with new tyres in silicone rubber moulded identically to the originals in both tread pattern and sidewall details. (These, among several other features, differ on some versions of the toy.) The body was dismantled, including unsoldering as necessary, and all components removed to allow, after anti-rust treatment, a total repaint, in paint mixed to the original colour, together with nickel replating of all relevant parts. The seats, which were painted by a special process to simulate worn leather, are still causing me a headache, but in the interests of historical accuracy, these too will be exactly as they were.
This is the only item now preventing completion, I don’t want to sell it.
I too craved one of these P2 Alfa Romeos, but it was too expensive. My war-widowed mother settled for a 10/6d clockwork 7.5hp Citroën. And now we see such an Alfa Romeo advertised for £3750. Times have changed! WB.