Connectivity. It’s a very 2016 word. But slide behind the wheel of a 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 SS, and the tyrannous 4G wifi matrix that enslaves the entire planet these days instantly dissipates in a cloud of meaningless ones and zeros.
Rather than marshalling a set of software signals and algorithms, which is what driving a modern car is increasingly about, the 6C demands not just wrists, forearms or even shoulders’ worth of physical input, it wants your whole body to be involved. The huge, four-spoke steering wheel makes your hands tingle and smell of metal. There’s no synchromesh in the gearbox, so guiding the spindly lever across the open gate is a process that requires maximum mental and physical dexterity. You can’t help but picture those spinning cogs and serrated teeth every time you press the clutch. Great when you get it right, like shaking hands with a vaudevillian comic with one of those palm buzzers when you get it wrong. You’re the clown, though.
Photography: Alex Tapley
This feature was originally published in Issue 284 of Top Gear magazine.