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1st Concours d'élégance Paleis Het Loo 1999

Alfa_Romeo_8C_2300_corto_Brandone_1932.jpg (77593 bytes)The famous Italian engineer Vittorio Jano started to work for the Alfa Romeo company in 1923 and lead the Milan based marque into it's first "golden age". One of his masterpieces was this 8C 2300 model, here in short wheel base form with bodywork designed by Erdmann & Rossi from Berlin and built by Brandone in France.
The 8C 2300 was introduced in 1931 as the Monza racing car. It featured a straight 8-cylinder supercharged engine that was divided into two 4-cylinder blocks joined on a common crankcase to reduce crank- and camshaft whip. Only a small and exotic series of luxury versions of this racing car was produced, and nowadays these cars are very rare and valuable.

Alfa_Romeo_8C_2300_lungo_Brianza_1934.jpg (82855 bytes)However rare and valuable, there were two Alfas 8C 2300 present at this concours. On this picture you see the long wheel base, four seater version with bodywork from Brianza.
The thoroughbred 8C 2300 with the remarkable split-engine configuration was powered by a 2336 cc engine that produced 142 hp in luxury car trim and even 178 hp in racing car trim. Top speed for the 142 hp version was about 170 kph; quite a fast mover in its day. By its racing heritage the long wheel base version was also called the "Le Mans" version, where the short wheelbase version was also known as the "Mille Miglia". The 8C 2300 was victorious in the 24 hour race of Le Mans from 1931 till 1934 and in the Mille Miglia road race in 1932, 1933 and 1934. What a pedigree!

Alfa_Romeo_6C_2300_MM_berlinette_Touring_1938.jpg (84464 bytes)Very few people could afford the wonderful 8C 2300 in the recession-stricken early thirties, so Alfa Romeo had to introduce a more affordable model. That's why Jano came up with the 6C 2300 in 1934. This more conventional 6-cylinder model was updated in 1935 to become the 6C 2300 B, which was built up to 1939.
This B-revision featured advanced engineering like independent front wheel suspension and semi-monocoque chassis construction. The engine was a straight 6-cylinder unit of 2309 cc which turned out 76 hp in the short wheel base version (named Corto) and 70 hp in the long wheel base version (Lungo). In the special 6C 2300 B Pescara version the power output was boosted to 95 hp. In 1937 this range of models was supplemented by the 6C 2300 (B) Mille Miglia, the light-weight road racing version depicted here.
Although the 6C 2300 was more affordable than the 8C 2300, it was by no means a bargain and sales remained limited. The version on this picture has "Berlinetta Superleggera" bodywork built by Touring.

Alfa_Romeo_8C_2900_B_lungo_berlinette_Touring_1938.jpg (88917 bytes)One of the last Jano designs for Alfa Romeo was the 8C 2900, which appeared first as a racing car in 1936 and was then followed by a (very limited) line production cars. In 1937 the B-revision of this car was introduced, probably the fasted production sportscar of the 1930s.
It's claimed that the engines of the 8C 2900 B were constructed from remaining parts of the Grand Prix B-engines, which limited production to thirty cars. The chassis featured independent suspension front and rear and a more rigid chassis than that of the 6C 2300. The straight 8-cylinder, 2905 cc twin compressor engine produced 220 hp @ 5500 rpm, good for a top speed of at least 185 kph.
Because the 8C 2900 was already special in its own day, quite a number of them have survived and live their lives in museums and private collections to be still enjoyed today. The beautiful version you see here is Dutch owned and is a long wheel base B-revision with Berlinetta Superleggera bodywork by Touring. Again, a rare and extremely valuable gem at touching distance (but not to be touched of course).

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