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1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Berlinetta by Touring Superleggera

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.

Technical specifications

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.

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Carlo Pinin
Carlo Pinin
2 years ago

would love to see how a modern interpretation could have looked like

2 years ago
Reply to  Carlo Pinin

Ever heard of the Touring Aero3 ?

2 years ago

Stunning car! A monument on wheels

Tribute to Marcello Gandini with the Prototype Unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show: A Unique Model Exuding Elegance and Personality

From May 24 to 26, the BMW Group Classic and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este will host the legendary Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The most spectacular cars from different eras and around the world will compete in various categories to win prestigious awards. Among these are the coveted BMW Group Trophy awarded by the Jury, the traditional Coppa d’Oro based on public votes, the Design Award for concept cars and prototypes, and the special ASI Trophy for the best-preserved post-war vehicle.

The presence of the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) at this unmissable international event is highlighted by the display of the Citroën GS Camargue prototype from the ASI Bertone Collection. This car enriches the theme dedicated to Marcello Gandini – the recently deceased master of car design – set up in the park of Villa Erba on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Also at Villa Erba, as part of the “Amici & Automobili” event, the ASI-affiliated Veteran Car Club of Como will accompany the Camargue with a precious selection of historical cars from its members.

The Citroën Camargue was first presented at the Bertone stand at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show, where it was met with great enthusiasm from both the public and the press. Built on the innovative Citroën GS platform, which was launched in 1970, the Bertone coupé, styled by Marcello Gandini with the assistance of Marc Deschamps, retains the compact sedan’s layout and dimensions. The car features distinctive front and rear overhangs – the front being much more pronounced to enhance the car’s dynamic look. Lower and wider than the GS, the Camargue boasts a wedge-shaped front typical of Gandini’s style, contrasting with a truncated rear end supporting a broad, panoramic canopy with amber-tinted glass, paired with a chic metallic champagne-colored body. Despite its striking and original design, the Bertone proposal did not reach commercial production due to Citroën’s economic crisis during those years, which led to its merger with Peugeot in 1974.

The format of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este includes a double location in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. On Saturday, May 25, the exclusive Hotel Villa d’Este’s park will host the display of all competing cars, the jury inspection, voting, parade, and the awarding of the Coppa d’Oro and special prizes. Simultaneously, Villa Erba will host the “Amici & Automobili” meeting with an exhibition of historical cars from clubs and enthusiasts.

On Sunday, May 26, the event will continue at Villa Erba with a festival celebrating automotive passion: all cars in the competition will be displayed in the park until the concluding parade, where the Design Award, class prizes, and honorable mentions will be awarded.