A Successful Engine on the Road and the Racetrack
In 1924, legendary engine designer Vittorio Jano created his first straight-eight engine. Designated the P2, it featured four small engine blocks of two cylinders each. In 1931, he developed the P3, which had two small engine blocks of four cylinders each. The blocks also incorporated the cylinder heads, which meant there were no cylinder head gaskets to worry about. A central gear tower drove the camshafts and superchargers. With the introduction of the P3 version, Alfa Romeo christened the powerplant the '8C' in reference to its eight cylinders.
Alfa Romeo built lungo (long) and corto (short) versions of the 8C 2300 road cars, and also used the 8C 2300 engine in a single-seat 'monoposto' race car that won the Targa Florio and the Italian Grand Prix.
The 8C grew to 2600 and then 2900cc's, but it was expensive to build, and production ceased in 1939. The 6C version, however, continued to be manufactured until after World War II.
The 8C 2300 displayed, with spider body by Zagato, was originally imported into Switzerland, where it was driven in several competitions. More recently, it was rebuilt to 2.6 liter specifications and successfully ran the Mille Miglia Storica in 1995.