1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B news, pictures, specifications, and information
Chassis Num: 412041
Engine Num: 422042
Sold for $19,800,000 at 2016 RM Auctions
In the 1930s, the 8C 2900 Alfa was not a mere sports car but was the most advanced, modern and compelling sports car money could buy. Approximately 32 of the 2.9 chassis were made and it is believed only 12 are Touring Spiders, seven of which are the long chassis like this car. This car's known history starts in 1949. In February 1949 it was raced in Sao Paulo by amateur driver Mario Tavares Leite who had the car imported from Italy to Brazil. Mario won races with the car in 1949 and 1950 after which the car disappeared. Later it had a Corvette engine installed and the chassis was modified. It is possible this car traveled to Brazil from Argentina in the mid-to-late 1950s, without the Touring body and with the Corvette V8 only to be reunited with the original Touring coachwork years later.
Vittorio Jano was responsible for the design of the magnificent engineering marvel, the 8C 2300. The name was formed by following Alfa Romeo's naming convention; the 8C represented the eight cylinder engine while the 2300 represented the cubic-capacity. The engine is comprised of two four-cylinder engine with the cylinders aligned in a row. Central gearing drives the overhead twin camshafts. A Roots-type supercharger was used to force air to the carburetor aiding in the production of 140 horsepower. Further modifications to the OHV engine increased the horsepower output to nearly 180.
The first 8C 2300 made an appearance in prototype form at the 1931 Mille Miglia. Two Grand Prix 8C 2300 models were later entered in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza where they finished first and second. In honor of this achievement, Alfa Romeo used the name 'Monza' on all their 8C 2300 Grand Prix vehicles. In 1932 the 8C 2300 became a dominant force, winning at Targa Florio followed by three consecutive victories at Le Mans. It was undefeated at the Grand Prix circuit, defeating the powerful Mercedes SSK and SSKL models and brining an end to their dominance. It achieved many prestigious victories such as the Spa 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix and more. Compliments of the vehicles capabilities and durability.
The 8C 2300 was available in a wide variety of body styles including short and long wheel-based chassis. The long wheelbase was dubbed 'Lungo' while the short-wheelbase were 'Corto'. The Lungo models were suitable for traveling on the open roads at high speeds while the Corto models were smaller, lighter, and more agile, suitable for racing, many being prepared by Scuderia Ferrari. The Lungo series produced 140 horsepower with a 4.25 final drive. The Spider Corsas often featured a 165 horsepower engine built specifically to satisfy customer specifications. A 3.76:1 or 4.08:1 final drive was left to the customer to select.
As was customary at the time, many of the automobiles were supplied to custom coachbuilders such as Pininfarina, Figoni, Touring, Castagna, and Zagato. The results were uniquely designed and eloquently outfitted automobiles that were as much works of art as they were high performance machines.
The 8C 2300 was produced from 1931 through 1933. During their production life span only 188 examples were produced. By today's standards, many 8C 2300 models easily sell for over a million dollars.
The Alfa Romeo 8C-35 was a Scuderia Ferrari works car which raced at Monza, Modena, Nurburgring, Lucca, Monaco and more. They were driven by famous drivers such as Dreyfus, Farina, Brivio, and Nuvolari.
One of the most historical races for the 8C-35 was at Coppa Cieno. Nuvolari's Alfa Romeo Tipo C 12C-36 suffered a broken transaxle after only two laps. He ran to the pits and got into an 8C-35. By the time Nuvolari re-entered the race, he was already seven laps down. By the time the race concluded, Nuvolari was in first place.
The 8C 2900 was built in two series, the 2900A and the 2900B. The 8C represented the engine size, a straight eight powerplant while the 2900 represented the size of the engine, 2905 cc. The engine was created by mounting two four-cylinder alloy blocks on a single crankcase. With the twin Roots-type superchargers attached, the 2.9-liter engine could produce between 180 hp for the 8C 2900B and 220 hp for the 8C 2900A. The suspension was all-independent with wishbones in the front and the rear had swing-axles.
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A was a two-seater with Grand Prix style bodywork. They were purpose-built to race and win at Italy's famous Mille Miglia. In 1936, three examples were entered and were able to capture a first through third finish. A year later, they repeated their success again capturing the top three places. The success of the 2900A spawned the decision to create a road-going version that Alfa Romeo could supply to its customers. The 8C 2900B models were built upon two different wheelbases and had bodies that were very aerodynamic. Similar to the 2900A mechanically, the 2900B models were given a de-tuned engine that produced 40 horsepower less than the 2900A but still fast enough to be claimed the fastest production vehicle in the world with a top speed of nearly 110 mph. The Corto were short 2800mm wheelbase version while the Lungo were the long 3000 mm wheelbase versions. As was customary at the time, custom coachbuilders were often tasked with building the bodies. The 2900B had most of its coachwork handled by Touring of Italy. The vehicles could be purchased in Berlinetta, Roadster or Spyder bodies. These supercars were not only fast but they were expensive too. Since they were mechanically capable to match most vehicles on the racing circuit, many of the 2900B models were raced. Alfa Romeo constructed 13 examples of the 8C 2900B but with the 220 hp engine and most with Roadster bodies. In 1938 and in 1947, the 2900B with the 220 hp engine were able to capture the checkered flag at the Mille Miglia.
During its production lifespan, only 41 examples were produced. Three wee type 8C 2900 A with the remaining being the type B.
8C 2900B Spyder
Evolving from the successful 1936 8C 2900A, the 2900B is the highly cultured son of the grand champion athlete. Hidden under the long and graceful hood lives an engine with a racing heritage. The 2900 cc straight eight cylinder supercharged masterpiece features dual camshafts, dual magnetos and dry sump oiling. Despite reduced compression compared to 2900A, it still produces an astounding 180 horsepower, delivered through a four-speed gearbox.
Two of Italy's finest designers provided appropriate coachwork for the 2900B, Carrozzeria Touring and Stabilimenti Farina. Only thirty examples were produced and each is somewhat unique.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2006
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