Eight-cylinder in-line engine, double overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder, supercharged, 2905 cc, 180 bhp at 5200 rpm.
1938 Alfa Romeo
About the 1938 Alfa Romeo Tipo 8C 2900B Berlinetta
No sports car in the world of the thirties was faster than the immortal Two-Nine. That it was also the most elegant high performance automobile of its era is widely believed. Indeed, Alfisti would say the most elegant of all time.
The 8C 2900B was built because Alfa Romeo wanted to continue dominating Italy’s Mille Miglia race and also needed a production car to replace the 8C 2300. Never was dual-purpose practicality more exquisitely wrought.
The 2900 chassis was that of Alfa’s most recent Grand Prix car, the supercharged engine GP derived as well. Three cars were entered in the 1936 Mille Miglia and finished in order.
A handful more than thirty of the road-going 2900Bs were produced from 1937-1939 in two versions: the 112-inch wheelbase Corto and the eight-inch-longer Lungo. Several of the long-wheelbase models were produced in 1938, including the display car which was exhibited on the Alfa stand at the Paris Automobile Salon that fall. Its first owner is not known; its second, Angelo Biemmi, hid the car on his estate in Iseo during the war.
In 1947 Alfa dealer Emilio Romano acquired the car to race in the Mille Miglia. Supercharging was disallowed that year, so Romano changed to normal aspiration through four Weber carburetors. This modification dropped the power of the nine-year-old car from 180 bhp to 137. And the competition was stiff: a fresh car from Maserati, an equally fresh design from Enzo Ferrari, the former Alfa team manager who was now building and racing his own car, and the exciting new Cisitalia, its team of drivers led by the legendary Tazio Nuvolari. A sometime racer, Romano signed on Alfa veteran and Mille Miglia ace Clemente Biondetti as co-driver.
Though it started 149th out of 153 contestants, the only real competition the display car had among the field of racers was the Cisitalia of the 55-year-old Nuvolari, who drove like a man possessed through the race’s torrential rains to finish second. This car’s Mille Miglia victory represented the fourth for the Two- Nine, the eleventh and last for Alfa Romeo. Alfa’s former manager would now take over for a long run himself.