Chassis #: 412035
The 8C 2900B was Alfa Romeo's most prestigious grand touring car of the 1930s. Only 33 examples were ever completed for road use, and most were bodied by Carrozzeria Touring. The body on this car was unique; one of six privately commissioned Berlinettas, it was used in several advertisements by Alfa during the period. Based on the successful motor sports engineering of the 2900A, this road version of the 2900B featured a 180 bhp 8-cylinder engine with dual superchargers and twin overhead camshafts installed on a box-type chassis with all-around independent suspension. This car won the first Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1948, when it was owned and drive by Frank Griswold. It was more recently owned by David Cohen for 25 years; he used it in local rallies in East London, South Africa, before moving it to Vancouver, Canada.
The Alfa Romeo 8C2900B was an elegant blend of advanced styling and engineering. It was the most technically advanced and sophisticated sports car of its era. The men responsible for this model were engineer Vittorio Jano (designer of Alfa Romeo's P-Series Grand Prix racers and road-going sporting models) and body stylist Felice Bianchi Anderloni (founder of the coachbuilding firm Carrozzeria Touring in Milan). With the help of chief designer Aquino Gilardi, Anderloni helped pioneer Superleggera (super light) body construction. Instead of using heavy frames and rigid axles like so many other competitors, Alfa Romeo employed an intricate latticework of lightweight but rigid steel tubes that formed the framework for the elegant, hand-fashioned aluminum body shell. Shapes were tested by attaching felt strips to the body and the car was photographed while moving to record how wind flowed over and around it.
This Berlinetta (Italian for 'sports coupe') has a sharply raked windscreen, fastback roof, and teardrop-shaped rear fenders. In total, Alfa Romeo built just thirty 8C2900s on two wheelbase sizes. This car sits on the longer-wheelbase version (the long were known as 'lungo' while the short were 'corto') and has unusual bonnet-side louvers that extend into the cowl scuttle, extended front fenders, and distinctive slotted rear spots (fender skirts).
Powering this car is a slightly detuned 2.9-liter Alfa Romeo competition powerplant that has 16-valves, dual overhead cams, and a supercharged inline-8. It produces 180 horsepower in this form, while the competition motors were rated at 220 horsepower. The wheelbase measures 118 inches, top speed is achieved at around 115 mph, and there is a four-speed manual transaxle.
This Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B with its Superleggera (super lightweight) body first appeared in several Alfa ads. It is one of six similar couples but is subtly different from the other five. Moreover, the car holds an important place in racing in the United States; it won the very first race at Watkins Glen in 1948 - a full decade after its creation. The car was first registered to the Societa Anonima Montecatini in Milan, then passed through the hands of M. Wehrli, M. Berchtold, Adolf Scherz, Frank Griswold (who brought it to the United States from Switzerland and piloted it to the win at Watkins Glen), David Park, Paul Hatmon, Donald Vershley, and David Cohen before being purchased by Jon Shirley in 2005, who restored it and brought it to Pebble Beach, taking the top prize in 2008.