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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

Celebrating 115 years of Carrozzeria Garavini, the brand sees its rediscovery and relaunch in the world of cars, design and elegance.

At Garavini, craftsmanship, manufacture and uniqueness come together to create works of art on wheels that go beyond the concept of a simple means of transport to become symbols of passion and refinement.

115 years after its foundation, the company has decided to start again with the Alfa Romeo 4C, in the 10th anniversary year of the model’s presentation, in collaboration with the IAAD in Turin. This partnership between the historic brand and the design institute represents an opportunity to create a high-end sports car that combines outstanding Italian aesthetics with the best technologies.

Poltu Quatu immediately turned out to be the ideal location for the premiere of the project, thanks to the famous Concours d’Elegance which, as the perfect combination of worldliness, elegance and the joy of living the dolce vita, allows the meeting from all over the world of those enthusiasts who, more than anyone else, can appreciate the value and style of a vision such as Garavini’s.

The project takes its inspiration from the 1930s Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 by Garavini, the star of the Italian Dolce Vita and the birth of the classic car movement in Italy. The Garavini Perenne represents an extraordinary sports car that combines the Italian tradition of elegance and style with innovation and high quality craftsmanship. Garavini’s tribute to the model, the 4C, which, with its debut 10 years ago, decreed the real relaunch of Alfa Romeo, is no coincidence: symbolic value, as happens in all valuable initiatives, has a decisive weight in the conception and realisation of unique products.

The soul of the project is Luca Babbini, a young entrepreneur with experience in research and development for various industries, in particular the automotive industry. Babbini’s path, which started at IAAD and has been refined through subsequent collaborations, has always been linked to a passion for luxury, not so much as a material passion, but derived from the emotion that an object or an experience conveys.

“When I crossed Garavini’s path,” explains Luca Babbini, Garavini Design Director, “with family origins and values that can be traced back to mine, I thought it was a sign: the awareness of this affinity has allowed us to give life to a new chapter, a reality in which passion for craftsmanship, luxury and family heritage come together. The Garavini Perenne will be an opportunity to enhance the Turin area but in an international key, thanks to the freshness and desire to do that only a young team, such as that of Garavini and that of the IAAD master’s degree course in Transportation Design, can guarantee.”

On 8 July on the occasion of the Poltu Quatu Classic, a preview of the concept on which the students of the IAAD master’s course in Transportation Design are working, reasoning and declining the Garavini values of elegance and attention to detail, aimed at creating a modern classic with a first series of 15 examples, which aspires to become a timeless model, a source of inspiration for the present and the future. The lines are classic, inspired by a sporty use that smells of fresh air and speed. Driving pleasure is at the heart of the design with a set-up dedicated to usability on the road as well as on the track.

Again Luca Babbini: ‘The valorisation of young people is a key aspect of the project: it always seems, in the common narrative, that unreachable challenges and moments of continuous crisis await us, but the future is full of opportunities and style and beauty are not a closed chapter. The creation of new classics is the true ambition of a project, which looks to the future aware of its past but with the confidence that it can still make a difference. The Turin area, then, is rich in excellent craft realities with which to create synergies and develop a true pole of high craftsmanship. There is nothing to stop us from looking beyond the automotive field and broadening the declination of our values with incursions into other sectors… in short, there is a lot to build on, and the Garavini lifestyle begins today with Garavini Perenne.

The result of this partnership is a high-end compact sports car with a sculptural aesthetic design. Garavini is committed to satisfying a discerning international audience that appreciates the art of automotive design and Italian craftsmanship. The ability to excite both long-time enthusiasts and new customers is a challenge Garavini sets itself, aiming to create a fascinating and successful future for the brand.

The Garavini Perenne will be released in 2025.