Alfa Romeo 8C
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300
Monza 8c engine
First introduced in the 8C 2300, the
Vittorio Jano designed eight cylinder engine scored at least one victory
in every major race and championship. In its initial 1931 configuration,
the engine displaced 2336 cc, it grew gradually to 2905 cc, primarily by
increasing the stroke. The engine was created by mounting two alloy
blocks of four cylinders on a single crankcase. On top of the two blocks
an alloy head was installed, housing two camshafts. Aspiration was
forced, through two Roots-type superchargers.
Although the engine increased in size throughout its career, its layout
and auxiliaries remained very much similar to Jano's 1931 design. One of
the best known racing cars powered by the 8 cylinder engine
was the Tipo B or P3 of 1932, which is to date considered as one of the
finest Grand Prix racers ever constructed. Run by Enzo Ferrari's
Scuderia Ferrari, the Alfa Romeos were almost unbeatable.
From its 1931 introduction, the 8C 2300 took four straight victories in
the 24 Hours of le Mans, driven by talented drivers like Tazio Nuvolari
and Luigi Chinetti. Tazio Nuvolari's brilliance was even more visible
when driving the P3, the first single seater racer ever. The P3 was
unbeaten in 1933, but eventually succumbed to defeat by the greater
budgets being spent by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union.
With the rise of the German Grand Prix teams, Alfa Romeo
focussed more of its attention on sportscar and road racing. Designed
specifically for Italy's most legendary road race, the Mille Miglia, was
the 8C 2900. Much like the contemporary Grand Prix racers, the 8C 2900
featured all-round independent suspension, with wishbones at the front
and swing-axles at the rear. Installed in the chassis was a 220 bhp
version of the 2.9 litre eight cylinder engine.
A total of six of these road racers, later known as 8C 2900 A, were
constructed. Three of these were entered in the 1936 running of the
Mille Miglia. The new cars were immediately successful and occupied the
first three places at the finish with the Brivio and Ongaro driven 8C on
top. A year later a second victory was scored. With the winning cars as
a base, a road going customer version was constructed. Dubbed 8C 2900 B,
the road car featured a de-tuned engine, but other than that is very
similar to the racer.
Two versions were available, the 2800 mm short wheelbase (Corto) and
3000 mm long wheelbase (Lungo) versions. Most of these were sent to
Touring to be fitted with Berlinetta, Spyder and Roadster bodies. Of
these, the featured Touring Berlinetta on the long chassis is considered
one of the most beautiful cars ever constructed. With its competition
chassis and high top speed it was faster and quicker than anything its
competition had to offer. Due to its high price, only a very few of
these supercars were constructed (10 Lungo and 20 Corto chassis).
Being very similar to the competition 8C 2900 A, it came as no surprise
the 8C 2900 B was used as a racer as well. To suit this purpose Alfa
Romeo constructed a further 13 8C 2900 B chassis fitted with the 220 bhp
engine. Many of these were fitted with roadster bodies and were competed
in road races like the Mille Miglia. After the two 8C 2900 A victories
in 1936 and 1937, another two victories were scored by the 8C 2900 B in
1938 and 1947. No other Alfa Romeo has scored as many 'MM' victories as
the 8C 2900.
They were the
fastest production cars built before the war.
8C 2900 B Lungo Touring
Production volumes were low :
specifications 8C 2300
||1000 kg /
litre / 142.6 cu in
||142 bhp /
105.9 kW @ 5000 rpm
/ 170.0 km/h