The origin of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Touring
In 1925, Vittorio Jano, a former Fiat engineer employed by Enzo Ferrari for Alfa, designed the 1st 8 cylinder Alfa engine for P2, but having a different structure, it wasn’t known as an 8C. Alfa Romeo 8C engines consisted of 2 aluminum alloy 4-cyl blocks with integrated cylinder head, mounted on a single crankcase and aligned in a row forming a straight-8 layout. The 1st car to be formally dubbed 8C was 1931 8C 2300, later followed by some others like Scuderia Ferrari’s 8C 35.
A new variety debuted at 1935 London Motor Show, which was based on 8C 35 Grand Prix chassis but with a new engine, named 8C 2900. The 1st model, badged as 2900A, was a race car which achieved several successes including top 3 positions at 1936 and top 2 at 1937 Mille Miglia, also winning the 24 Hours of Spa in 1936. Alfa decided to build a road version of the 2900 which met the production line in 1937.
It was called 2900B and was intended to be a more comfortable version of the 2900A race car with a detuned engine for more convenience. The car had still kept its race spirit and was agile enough to be raced with a good handling borrowed from its racing brother. Two chassis types were available for the model, with a shorter wheelbase (Corto) and a longer one (Lungo). Presented just before WW2 and being very expensive, only 32 examples were sold during 1937-38 (plus one experimental model in 1941).
Custom coachbuilders were assigned to build proper luxurious bodies for the customers on 3 chassis types: Spider, Roadster & Berlinetta, and they all delivered the cars before the end of 1939. Most Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B chassis were bodied by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, among which just 5 were Berlinettas. Each of the rare aerodynamic Berlinetta bodies by Touring are somehow unique due to the tastes and custom orders of the commissioners , but all so beautifully formed making this model one of the most glamorous cars ever made, which also carries all speed, sport, reliability, comfort and luxury factors. 2 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Berlinettas by Touring have won the “Best of Show” award at 2008 & 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
8C 2900A had a 2905cc engine with a 6.5:1 compression ratio, producing 220bhp @ 5300rpm. 2900B, used a detuned derivative for more reliability with the same displacement, bore/stroke of 68/100mm, and DOHC 2Valves/Cyl valve gear, but a different compression ratio of 5.75:1. It was boosted, like 2900A, with a Twin Roots Supercharger driven by a central gearing along with the camshafts.
The engine, fed by 2 Weber updraft carburetors, was able to produce 180bhp @ 5200rpm, delivered to the rear wheels through a 4-Speed unsynchronized gearbox which could propel the car to a top speed of more than 175km/h. The Lungo chassis had a 3,000mm while the Corto had a 2,799mm wheelbase, which was still longer than 2,718mm of 2900A. The car used drum brakes on all wheels, double Wishbones with Coil Springs over dampers for the front suspension, and Swing axles with Radius arms on transverse semi-elliptical Leaf Springs using hydraulic & friction shock absorbers in the rear.