Alfa Romeo 8C

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This article is about 1930s Alfa Romeo 8C. For the current sports coupe, see Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
Alfa Romeo 8C
Alfa romeo 8C.jpg
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A (1936)
Overview
Manufacturer Alfa Romeo
Production 1931–1939
Body and chassis
Class Luxury car, Sports car, Racing car
Layout FR layout
Powertrain
Engine 2.3 L 2336 cc I8
2.6 L 2556 cc I8
2.9 L 2905 cc I8
(road cars)

The Alfa Romeo 8C name was used on road, race and sports cars of the 1930s. The 8C means 8 cylinders, and originally referred to a straight 8-cylinder engine. The Vittorio Jano designed 8C was Alfa Romeo's primary racing engine from its introduction in 1931 to its retirement in 1939. In addition to the two-seater sports cars it was used in the world's first genuine single-seat Grand Prix racing car, the Monoposto 'Tipo B' - P3 from 1932 onwards.[1] In its later development it powered such vehicles as the twin-engined 1935 6.3-litre Bimotore, the 1935 3.8-litre Monoposto 8C 35 Type C, and the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster. It also powered top-of-the-range coach-built production models. In 2004 Alfa Romeo revived the 8C name for a V8-engined concept car which has made it into production for 2007, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.

History[edit]

In 1924, Vittorio Jano created his first straight-eight-cylinder engine for Alfa Romeo, the 1987 cc P2, with common crankcase and four plated-steel two-cylinder blocks, which won the first World Championship ever in 1925. Albeit it was a straight-8, the 8C designation was not used.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Corsa 1932
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Spider 1937 in 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The 8C engine, first entered at the 1931 Mille Miglia road race through Italy,[2] had a common crankcase, now with two alloy four-cylinder blocks, which also incorporated the heads. The bore and stroke (and hence rods, pistons and the like), were the same as the 6C 1750 (bore: 65 mm, stroke: 88 mm 2,336 cc). There was no separate head, and no head gasket to fail, but this made valve maintenance more difficult. A central gear tower drove the overhead camshafts, superchargers and ancillaries. As far as production cars are concerned, the 8C engine powered two models, the 8C 2300 (1931–1935) and the even more rare and expensive 8C 2900 (1936–1941), bore increased to 68 mm and stroke to 100 mm (2,905 cc).

At the same time, since racing cars were no longer required to carry a mechanic, Alfa Romeo built the first single seater race car. As a first attempt, the 1931 Monoposto Tipo A used a pair of 6-cylinder engines fitted side by side in the chassis.[3] As the resulting car was too heavy and complex, Jano designed a more suitable and successful racer called Monoposto Tipo B (aka P3) for the 1932 Grand Prix season. The Tipo B proved itself the winning car of its era, winning straight from its first outing at the 1932 Italian Grand Prix, and was powered with an enlarged version of the 8C engine now at 2,665 cc, fed through a pair of superchargers instead of a single one.

1933 ex-Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Monza in unusual color.
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta, winner of the first race at Watkins Glen in 1948, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance "Best of Show" 2008 and Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este "Best of Show" 2009.[4][5]

Initially, Alfa Romeo announced that the 8C was not to be sold to private owners, but by autumn 1931 Alfa sold it as a rolling chassis in Lungo (long) or Corto (short) form with prices starting at over £1000. The chassis were fitted with bodies from a selection of Italian coach-builders (Carrozzeria) such as Zagato, Carrozzeria Touring, Carrozzeria Castagna, Pininfarina and Brianza, even though Alfa Romeo did make bodies. Some chassis were clothed by coach-builders such as Graber, Worblaufen and Tuscher of Switzerland and Figoni of France. Alfa Romeo also had a practice of rebodying cars for clients, and some racing vehicles were sold rebodied as road vehicles. Some of the famous first owners include Baroness Maud Thyssen of the Thyssen family, the owner of the aircraft and now scooter company Piaggio Andrea Piaggio, Raymond Sommer, and Tazio Nuvolari.

Models[edit]

1931 8C 2300[edit]

The first model was the 1931 '8C 2300', a reference to the car's 2.3 L (2336 cc) engine, initially designed as a racing car, but actually produced in 188 units also for road use. While the racing version of the 8C 2300 Spider, driven by Tazio Nuvolari won the 1931 and 1932 Targa Florio race in Sicily, the 1931 Italian Grand Prix victory at Monza gave the "Monza" name to the twin seater GP car, a shortened version of the Spider. The Alfa Romeo factory often added the name of events won to the name of a car.

1931 8C 2300 Le Mans type[edit]

2300 engine with Roots supercharger.

'8C 2300 tipo Le Mans' was the sport version of the '8C 2300' and it had a successful debut in the 1931 Eireann Cup driven by Henry Birkin. It won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1931 (Howe-Birkin); 1932 (Chinetti-Sommer); 1933 (Nuvolari-Sommer) and 1934 (Chinetti-Etancelin).

The 8C 2300 Le Mans model on display at the Museo Alfa Romeo was bought by Sir Henry Birkin in 1931 for competition use, but it is not the car in which Birkin and Howe won the 1931 Le Mans 24 hours.

1933 8C 2600[edit]

In 1933 the supercharged dual overhead cam straight-8 engine, enlarged (bore: 68 mm, stroke: 88 mm, 2557cc) to 2.6 litres ('8C 2600') for the Tipo B, was fitted to the Scuderia Ferrari 8C Monzas. Scuderia Ferrari had become the "semi-official" racing department of Alfa Romeo, who were no longer entering races as a factory effort due to the poor economic situation of the company. With the initial 215 hp of the 2.6 engine, the Monoposto Tipo B (P3) racer could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 7 seconds and could eventually reach 135 mph (217 km/h). For 1934 the race engines became 2.9 litres.

Tazio Nuvolari won the 1935 German GP at the Nürburgring at the wheel of a 3.2 L[6] Tipo B against the more powerful Silver Arrows from Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union.

1935 Monoposto 8C 35 Type C[edit]

Alfa Romeo Monoposto Type C[7]
Alfa-Romeo-2900-Scuderia-Ferrari-maroon-fa-lr.png
Alfa Romeo 8C-35 Scuderia Ferrari
Overview
Manufacturer Alfa Romeo
Also called Alfa Romeo 8C 35
Production 1935–1939
Assembly Italy
Designer Vittorio Jano
Body and chassis
Class Racing car
Body style Monoposto (single seat) open wheeler
Layout Multi-plate clutch at engine, four-speed Stirnsi rear transaxle.
Platform Light gauge welded box-section frame with all independent suspension
Powertrain
Engine Supercharged 3822 cc straight eight twin overhead cam
Transmission Unsynchronised rear transaxle four-speed with reverse gear
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108.2 inches (2748.28 mm)
Length 169.3 inches (4300 mm) including starting handle
Width 34.0 inches (863.6 mm) cockpit
Height 48.0 inches (1219.2 mm) cowl 52.0 inches (1320.8 mm) windscreen
Curb weight 1646 lb (746.613 kg) unladen
Chronology
Predecessor Alfa Romeo Monoposto 8C Type B
Successor Alfa Romeo Monoposto 12C 37

Eight 3.8-litre versions, sharing no castings with the earlier blocks, were individually built for racing in five months, most being used in the Alfa Romeo Monoposto 8C 35 Type C, as raced by Scuderia Ferrari. (The P3 designation was dropped.) The 3.8 produced 330 bhp (246 kW) at 5500 rpm, and had 320 lb·ft (434 N·m) from 900 rpm to 5500 rpm.[8] It had 15.5-inch drum brakes all round, using Pirelli 5.25 or 5.50 x 19 tyres at the front and 7.00 or 7.50 x 19 tyres at the rear. Though not a match for the big Mercedes and Auto Union on the faster circuits, they came into their own on the tighter circuits and races. In 1936 Tipo Cs fitted with the troublesome V12 did not live up to expectations, and the 3.8 continued to be used. From 1933 Scuderia Ferrari had managed the racing, and the Ferrari prancing horse appeared on the flanks of the Bimotore, but Alfa Corse began to become more active, and Vittorio Jano went at the end of the 1937 season.[7] In 1938 four Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 racers were built for the three-litre class using 8C engines.

On September 14, 2013, a former Scuderia Ferrari 8C 35, in which Tazio Nuvolari had won the 1936 Coppa Ciano, was sold for £5.9 million; a new world record price for any Alfa Romeo. It was sold by the Bonhams auction house in its Goodwood Revival Meeting Sale in England.[9] The car in question was the ex-Hans Ruesch, ex-Dennis Poore car,[10] which had been one of the early stars of racing at the Goodwood Motor Circuit 1948-55.

1935 Bimotore[edit]

1935 Alfa Romeo Bimotore Scuderia Ferrari

In 1935, to compete with Mercedes Benz and Auto Union, Enzo Ferrari (Race team manager) and Luigi Bazzi (Designer) built a racer with two 3.2 (3.165-litre) engines, one in the front and one in the rear, giving 6.3 litres and 540 bhp (403 kW). The drivetrain layout was unusual. The two engines were connected by separate driveshaft to a gearbox with two input shafts, and two angled output shafts, so each of the rear wheels had its own driveshaft. It could never quite succeed against the Mercedes W25 B of Rudolf Caracciola, and was hard on fuel and tyres. The gain in speed was offset by increased pit times. On May 12, 1935, two were entered in the Tripoli Grand Prix driven by Nuvolari and Chiron who finished fourth and fifth. Chiron managed a second at the following 1935 Avus race. On June 16, 1935 Nuvolari drove a specially prepared Bimotore from Florence to Livorno and set a new speed record 364 km/h (226 mph) with an average speed of over 323 km/h (201 mph). After that it was sidelined in favour of the Tipo C.[11] It was the first racer to use the Dubonnet independent trailing arm front suspension. The V12 was under development, but was not race ready. It was noticed that the Bimotore had a traction advantage on rough ground, so a version of the Bimotore chassis with the independent Dubonnet front end, and a new independent rear with swing axles with radius rods and a transverse leaf spring was used for the Tipo C 3.8s.


8C 2900[edit]

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Lungo.jpg
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Lungo with Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera body
Overview
Manufacturer Alfa Romeo
Production 1935–1938
Assembly Italy
Body and chassis
Class Sports car/Racing car
Body style 2-seat roadster
2-seat coupe
Layout Engine-mounted multi-plate clutch, rear transaxle.[12]
Platform Light gauge welded box-section frame with all independent suspension
Related Alfa Romeo 8C 35
Powertrain
Engine Supercharged 2,905 cc (177.3 cu in) DOHC straight-eight engine
Transmission Unsynchronised four-speed rear transaxle with reverse gear
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2900A: 2,718 mm (107.0 in)
2900B Corto: 2,799 mm (110.2 in)
2900B Lungo: 3,000 mm (118.1 in)

The 8C 2900 was designed to compete in sports car races in general and the Mille Miglia in particular. It used the 2.9 L version of the 8C engine and was based on the 8C 35 Grand Prix racing chassis.[12][13][14] As such, it had an inline 8-cylinder 2.9-litre engine using two Roots type superchargers fed by two updraught Weber carburettors[15] and fully independent suspension with Dubonnet-type trailing arm suspension with coil springs at front and swing axles with a transverse leaf spring at the rear.[12][13][16]

1936 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A roadster.

The 8C 2900A was shown to the public at the 1935 London Motor Show and was advertised for sale there. The engine, with a compression ratio of 6.5:1 and a stated power output of 220 bhp (160 kW) at 5300 rpm, was detuned from the Grand Prix racing version. Ten 2900As were built, five in 1935 and five in 1936.[13]

Scuderia Ferrari entered three 8C 2900As in the 1936 Mille Miglia and again in the 1937 Mille Miglia. In 1936 they finished in the top three positions, with Marquis Antonio Brivio winning, Giuseppe Farina finishing second, and Carlo Pintacuda finishing third. In 1937 they finished in the top two positions, with Pintacuda winning and Farina finishing second; the third 2900A, driven by Clemente Biondetti, did not finish. The 8C 2900A also won the 1936 Spa 24 Hours with Raymond Sommer and Francesco Severi.[13]

The 8C 2900B began production in 1937. The 2900B design made some concessions to comfort and reliability. The engine was detuned further, having a compression ratio of 5.75:1 and a stated power output of 180 bhp (130 kW) at 5200 rpm. The 2900B chassis was available in two wheelbases:[13] the Corto (short) at 2,799 mm (110.2 in),[12][16] which was longer than the 2900A's 2,718 mm (107.0 in) wheelbase,[16] and the Lungo (long) at 3,000 mm (118.1 in).[12][16] The wheels of the 2900B had 19-inch rims[16] fitted with 17-inch (432 mm) hydraulic drum brakes.[12] Thirty-two 2900Bs were built in regular production, ten in 1937, and twenty-two in 1938. Another 2900B was assembled from parts in 1941. Most of these cars were bodied by Carrozzeria Touring, although a few were bodied by Pininfarina[13]

A 8C 2900 with Pininfarina cabriolet bodywork was auctioned for US$4,072,000 by Christie's at Pebble Beach, California. This was the tenth highest price ever paid for a car at auction at the time.[17]

1938 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster[edit]

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia 34 3.jpg
Category Sports car racing
Constructor Alfa Romeo
Designer(s) Engine: Vittorio Jano
Body: Carrozzeria Touring
Predecessor Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A
Technical specifications[12]
Chassis Light gauge welded box-section frame
Suspension (front) Trailing arms, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers in oil-filled cylinders
Suspension (rear) Swing axles located by radius arms and tranverse leaf spring, telescopic shock absorbers
Length 176.4 in (448.1 cm)
Height 42.2 in (107.2 cm) at cowl,
48.0 in (121.9 cm) at windscreen
Axle track 53.1 in (134.9 cm) front and rear
Wheelbase 110.2 in (279.9 cm)
Engine Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 2,905 cc (177.3 cu in) Straight-8 Twin Roots superchargers front-mounted, behind rear axle
Transmission four-speed + reverse unsynchronised manual rear transaxle
Weight 1,250 kg (2,755.8 lb)[18]
Tyres 5.5-inch (140 mm) Pirelli Corsa front and rear
Competition history
Notable entrants Alfa Corse
Notable drivers Clemente Biondetti
Carlo Maria Pintacuda
Giuseppe Farina
Eugenio Siena
Francesco Severi
Debut 1938 Mille Miglia
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B MM that won the 1938 Mille Miglia driven by Clemente Biondetti. Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Philadelphia,PA, USA

In 1938, Alfa Corse, an in-house racing team for Alfa Romeo, took over the activities of Scuderia Ferrari, along with many of their personnel, including Enzo Ferrari. Alfa Corse prepared four 8C 2900B Corto cars for the 1938 Mille Miglia.[13] These used Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera roadster bodies.[13][16] Three of these cars had their engines tuned to give 225 bhp (168 kW),[16] while the fourth, assigned to Biondetti, had an engine from an Alfa Romeo Tipo 308 Grand Prix car, which delivered 295 bhp (220 kW)[13][19] The cars finished the in the top two positions, with Biondetti winning and Pintacuda finishing second[13] after leading the race from Piacenza to Terni where his brakes locked up.[20] The other two 8C 2900B Mille Miglia roadsters did not finish; Farina crashed and Eugenio Siena had a blown engine. Piero Dusio finished third in a privately entered 8C 2900A. One of the 2800B Mille Miglia roadsters later won the 1938 Spa 24 Hours with Pintacuda and Severi driving.[13]

Phil Hill competed in several west coast United States races in Pintacuda's car in 1951 before driving for Ferrari.[12]

1938 8C 2900B Le Mans Speciale[edit]

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Le Mans

Alfa Corse also prepared and entered a single 8C 2900B, chassis number 412033, for the 1938 Le Mans. The car featured a streamlined coupé body at a time when Le Mans racers were almost always open cars. The aerodynamic coupé was built by Carrozzeria Touring.[13] In 1987, an Italian magazine had the car tested at the Pininfarina wind tunnel, where a Cx of 0.42 was measured, down to 0.38 with air intakes closed.[21] The coupé, driven by Sommer and Biondetti, led for most of the race, but tyre trouble was then followed by a dropped valve. The car was driven to the pits, but had to retire there. At the time the valve dropped, the coupé had a 160 km lead over the next car.[13]

This was the only time the coupé was raced by Alfa Corse. After the war, it was entered in minor races under private ownership, was then displayed at the Donington museum from the 1960s before being added in 1987 to the Alfa Romeo museum, which now runs it at many events.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alfa Romeo P3". ddavid.com. Archived from the original on 13 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  2. ^ Moore, Simon: The Legendary 2.3, Parkside Publication, Seattle, 2000 ISBN 0-9617266-0-3
  3. ^ Fusi, Luigi: Alfa Romeo Tipo A Monoposto, Emmeti Grafica, Milano, 1982
  4. ^ "Best of the Best: 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B wins Pebble Beach "Best of Show"". wot.motortrend.com. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  5. ^ "2009 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este". sportscardigest.com. 2009. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  6. ^ See article by Simon Moore in MotorSport (UK) May 2008 p94
  7. ^ a b [1] VsrnOnline MCT Scale Plan Series Number Five, 1935-37 8C 35, 12C 36 and 12C 37 Alfa Romeos, Pages 6 & 7(retrieved January 1, 2007)
  8. ^ Title:"Classic and Sportscar" magazine, Published: March 1997, Article: "Alfa 8C 35", Page 75, ISSN 0263-3183
  9. ^ Reyburn, Scott (Sep 14, 2013). "Ferrari-Team Alfa Races to Auction Record $9.37 Million". Bloomberg. Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  10. ^ "Bonhams Goodwood Revival 2013 – Auction Results". Sports Car Digest. September 14, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-09-15. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  11. ^ [2] AtlasF1.autosport.com Bimotore (retrieved January 1, 2007)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Thompson, Jonathan (February 1965). "Scale Plan Series – The 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster – Number Nine". Model Car & Track 2 (2): 34–35, 73. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hull, Peter; Moore, Simon (Second Quarter, 1973). "The Immortal Alfa Romeo "Two-Nine"". In Vorderman, Don. Automobile Quarterly (New York, NY USA: Automobile Quarterly) XI (2): 178–187. LCCN 62-4005. 
  14. ^ Moore, Simon: The Immortal 2.9, Parkside Publication, Seattle, 1986 ISBN 978-0-9617266-0-7
  15. ^ ConceptCarz.com Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B (retrieved January 1, 2007)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Hill, Phil (May 1989). "Salon: 1937 Alfa Romeo 82 2900B Touring Spider". In Bryant, Thos L. Road & Track (Newport Beach CA USA: Diamandis Communications) 40 (9): 170–176. ISSN 0035-7189. 
  17. ^ Lombard, Stefan (2006-07-28). "Most Expensive Collectible Cars – No. 10: 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900". Connoisseur's Guide – Most Expensive Collectible Cars. Forbes.com deadurl =yes. Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  18. ^ "Five decades of speed". Thoroughbred and Classic Cars: 44. December 1996. ISSN 0143-7267. 
  19. ^ Title:"Classic and Sportscar" magazine, Published: April 2007, Article: "Alfa 8C-2900B MM", Page 192, ISSN 0263-3183
  20. ^ Vorderman, Don, ed. (Second Quarter, 1973). "Living Legends: Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 BMille Miglia Spider". Automobile Quarterly (New York, NY USA: Automobile Quarterly) XI (2): 188–195. LCCN 62-4005. 
  21. ^ Ruoteclassiche N°1, November 1987

Sources[edit]

  • Sujatha Menon, ed. (2004). Super Cars, Classics of Their Time. Quintet Publishing. ISBN 0-7607-6228-7. 

External links[edit]

  • Alfa Romeo 8C-35. Information on Alfa Romeo 8C-35 #50013 (post-war);
  • vsronline.com Page 3. A modellers plan website; featuring Jonathon Thompson's plans for the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster, front, rear, and RH side views, as used in Simon Moore's book, "The Immortal 2.9"
  • vsronline.com Page 4. The LH side and above views of the above mentioned plans. The other pages not linked here are readable .jpg s of an article on the Mille Miglia Roadster.