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Alfa Romeo – 8C 2900B Le Mans Speciale


Vehicle Overview

The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B was commissioned in 1938 at Touring Superleggera in Milan by Alfa Corse, the company’s newborn racing team. The main aim was to build a berlinetta to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Initially it was thought to run with an open version like in the Mille Miglia of that year but in the end it was decided to opt for a coupé version because more aerodynamically valid than the racing spiders, it is one of the first times that this happens. The car was built starting from the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B chassis No. 412.033, on which the engine No. 422022 was mounted. The bodywork designed by Touring uses a “thick wing” profile in the lower part and a “Kamm type” trunk fairing to cover the riders’ heads. The lightweight aluminum panels that form the body are applied to a chromium-molybdenum steel reticular frame according to the patented “Superleggera” method for a final declared weight of only 180 kg. The interior is bare, as on any racing car, with the side windows and rear window in plexiglass. The mechanics were borrowed from the 8C-35 with independent 4-wheel suspension, transaxle gearbox, hydraulically controlled drum brakes and an 8-cylinder in-line engine of 2,926 cm³ supercharged by two lobe compressors boosted up to 220 HP at 5500 rpm.


At the French race held between 18 and 19 June 1938 the car was entrusted to Raymond Sommer and Clemente Biondetti to aim for victory. At the start, the car with the number 19 did not immediately take the lead but left the task of “pulling” the race to others. After 5 hours Biondetti makes the overtaking that takes him to the top of the race. At the 16th hour the car gained an 11-lap lead over the first pursuer when the first unexpected event occurred, a tire burst while Raymond Sommer was behind the wheel. With mastery he managed not to lose control of the car and to return to the pits where he changed the tire and set off again. In the following round Biondetti managed to increase the advantage up to 14 laps, but then the triumphal ride was abruptly interrupted on the 219th lap due to a mechanical failure. Biondetti gets out and starts to push the car up to the pits for a good 4 km. There the withdrawal of the car is decreed because the engine cannot be restarted. Perhaps a valve fails due to Sommer’s runaway during the emergency slowdown from the blown tire.

It set the best lap time and, while he remained in the race, inflicted on the car in second position, the Delahaye 135S of Jean Trémoulet and Eugene Chaboud which he then won, a gap of 189 km, or 14 laps.

Photo courtesy of Fritz Fiedler
Photo courtesy of Fritz Fiedler

After the Mille Miglia, BMW commissioned Touring Superleggera a similar body for the 328 Berlinetta which won the Le Mans and the following Mille Miglia.

In 2020, Touring Superleggera presented the Aero3, inspired by the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B.

aero3 touring

Technical Specifications

  • Body
  • Year
  • Make
    Alfa Romeo
  • Model
    8C 2900 Berlinetta
  • Coachbuilder
  • Length (mm)
  • Width (mm)
  • Height (mm)
  • Photo credits
  • Engine Type
  • Designer

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