1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider Corsa
"Corto Mille Miglia"
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History of the car
To continue the success of the 6C 1500 Super Sport and 6C 1750 Grand Sport, Alfa Romeo had Vittorio Jano design an eight cylinder engine with the same features as the 6C models. This 2336 cc engine was mounted on both the short and long wheel-base chassis, including Alfa’a P3 Grand Prix car, to dominate an array of motor sport events. The 8C straight eight was made from two cast blocks that were attached by timing control arranged at the center of the engine. Attached were light alloy heads, twin overheads cams and a roots supercharger producing around 150 bhp. This engine later grew to 2.9 and 3.2 liters to power the 2900B supercars and the P3 Grand Prix car, which would go head-to-head with the talents of Mercedes-Benz. The 2300 was made in three different lengths having wheelbases of 2640, 2740 and 3100mm. The shortest of these, called the Monza was used of Grand Prix racing, while the longest complied with the AIACR regulations for events such as LeMans. After an unsuccessful debut at the Mille Miglia in 1931, the car wons the Targa Florio and went on to upset Bentley’s supremacy at Lemans. From 1931 to 1934 Alfa would claim four victories at LeMans as well as similar serial victories at the Mille Miglia. Of the 188 2300s, each was different. Most featured graceful bodies from styling houses that masked the potent nature that the car’s competition victories indicated. Design masters such as Zagato and Touring Superleggera gave the 2300 thier distinct appearance
8C 2300 Corto (8 cyl, 2336 cc, 142 bhp, 108.3 in)
8C 2300 Lungo (8 cyl, 2336 cc, 142 bhp, 122 in)
8C 2300 Spider Corsa (R8 cyl, 2336 cc, 155 bhp, 108.3 in) - end of production.
8C 2300 Monza (R8 cyl, 2336 cc, 165 bhp, 104.3 in)
8C 2300 Le Mans (R8 cyl, 2336 cc, 155 bhp, 122 in)
Initially, Alfa Romeo announced that the 8C was not to be sold to private owners, but by autumn 1931 Alfa sold it as a rolling chassis in Lungo (long) or Corto (short) form with prices starting at over £1000. The chassis were fitted with bodies from a selection of Italian coach-builders (Carrozzeria) such as Zagato, Carrozzeria Touring, Carrozzeria Castagna, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina ( later Pininfarina ) and Brianza, even though Alfa Romeo did make bodies. Some chassis were clothed by coach-builders such as Graber, Worblaufen and Tuscher of Switzerland and Figoni of France. Alfa Romeo also had a practice of rebodying cars for clients, and some racing vehicles were sold rebodied as road vehicles. Some of the famous first owners include Baroness Maud Thyssen of the Thyssen family, the owner of the aircraft and now scooter company Piaggio Andrea Piaggio, Raymond Sommer, and Tazio Nuvolari.
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Mille Miglia at Salone di Milano 1932 among the 1,750 c.c. Gran Sports and Gran Turismo Alfa Romeos.
1000 Miglia 1932
The hoped for increase in foreign entrants as a result of Caracciola's triumph the previous year did not materialize. In fact the numbers of total entrants continued to decrease and it was left to Alfa Romeo to provide 40% of the cars that did take part. Caracciola himself would be racing an Alfa Romeo this year as Mercedes had quit racing both officially and unofficially. Alfa Romeo's 8C 2300 proved to be the top car on the international scene and for the Mille Miglia the factory had cars for Caracciola, Borzacchini, Campari and Nuvolari. Missing was Luigi Arcangeli who was killed practicing for the Italian Grand Prix. Varzi showed up driving a Bugatti T55.
As the race began Nuvolari was able to open a small lead over Varzi and Caracciola. As they entered the mountains Varzi met a rock he did not like which left a hole in his fuel tank that could not be repaired. In the confusion of Pietro Ghersi's crash Nuvolari also came to woe with a broken nose as his reward. Entering Rome Caracciola now assumed the lead. When they reached the Adriatic coast Campari had worked himself into first only to lose it when his co-driver, Sozzi crashed into a wall while taking a turn at the wheel. Campari was not amused and went after the smaller co-driver but considering the fact that the other leading drivers took sole possession of their steering wheels who had he really to blame?
When Caracciola retired with a cracked chassis the race was left to Borzacchini followed by Trossi and Scarfiotti. Alfa Romeos filled 9 out of the first 10 spots. Englishman Brian Lewis was able to finish the race in 25th driving a Talbot 105 even after driving miles off course when he took a wrong turn. Later the Englishman was able to relate a fantastic story on his Italian adventure. It seems that with one headlight out of action he was unable to see, in time a sharp curve in the road while traveling in access of 90 mph. The car became airborne and landed in a ditch. Miraculously the crew and car survived with a broken water pump and a minor hole to their fuel tank that was patched with some chewing gum. The loud crash got the attention of the local populace who assumed the grim task of retrieving the bodies only to be cajoled by the lucky crew to grab a rope and haul the car back on the road. Amidst shouts of English mixed in with Italian they were able to accomplish this feat and the car was soon to rejoin the race to the cheers of the crowd!
We still stood a fairly good chance, but on the long straight roads around Venice Siena (Co-driver) seemed rather worried. The oil-pressure was flickering, and at the Alfa depot in Padua we stopped and checked the gauge. Nothing wrong with the instrument, so the trouble lay in the engine. There was nothing for it but to retire.
We accepted a lift with a couple of enthusiasts. We should have known better. The driver, carried away by the honour thrust upon him, set out to impress the two "racers". It was terrible. No good asking him to slow down; he was quite drunk with speed. We could only sit tight, hope, and put on our crash hats again. A good idea. Shortly after Desenzano he wrapped the car round a post carrying overhead wires for the tramway, and our drive came to an end in an impressive display of fireworks. We hitched another, and fortunately quieter, lift to Brescia that evening.