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Seldom has there been a more convincing claimant to the title of the complete car than Vittorio Jano’s masterpiece, the Alfa Romeo 8C. The epitome of the spirit of racing in the glamorous 1930s era, with victories in Grand Prix racing, at Le Mans four years in succession, and in no less than seven editions of the Mille Miglia, its competition credentials are beyond reproach and, yet, only tell part of the 8C story. The chassis, available in both long chassis Lungo and short chassis Corto form, underpinned some of the finest and most elegant touring cars of its day, featuring timeless coachwork from contemporary Carrozzerie including Zagato, Touring, Castagna, and Brianza.
This said, it is in its renowned ‘Monza’ form that the 8C is perhaps most admired. In 1931, Alfa Romeo added two additional cylinders to the 6C 1750, creating the 8C 2300, before preparing a stripped down, short-wheelbase version of the chassis—complete with tapered racing tail and full-length side exhaust—to be driven by Tazio Nuvolari and Giuseppe Campari in their home Grand Prix in Monza. A dominant victory in Alfa Romeo’s back yard would lead to the moniker by which it would forever be known.
Victories followed repeatedly for the Monza, including three consecutive Targa Florio wins (1931-1933), the domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for four uninterrupted years (1931-1934) and numerous Grand Prix successes across Europe, parading the fact that the 8C had become practically invincible. The 8C became inescapably linked with the legendary Italian racing driver Tazio Nuvolari who won many competitions behind the wheel, including the 1931 Coppa Ciano, two instances of the Targa Florio (those 1931 and 1932 victories), the 1932 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1933 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1933 Mille Miglia to add to that prestigious Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The 8C enjoyed an excellent power-to-weight ratio and the 1932 variant no doubt benefited from an enlarged 2665cc version of the engine, fed through not one but two superchargers. In 1933, Alfa Romeo retired the Monza from works racing, but a brigade of successful privateers carried the 8C mantle. The supremacy of the 8C meant that it continued to perform well on track well into the middle of the decade and its undoubted character and style made it an icon of the age. It remains one of the most sought-after cars of all time; in 2016, a Monza sold at sold for just short of $12 million.
This fine 1:8 scale model is of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 as raced to victory by Tazio Nuvolari at the 1932 Monaco Grand Prix on the 17th of April 1932. It was the fourth running of the event, which had already gained international fame, and Alfa Romeo’s first appearance as a works team in Monaco, where they faced the teams from Bugatti and Maserati. Racing for the outfit from Portello, all in red Monzas, were the Italian trio of Nuvolari, Giuseppe Campari and Mario Umberto Borzacchini. There was a fourth car, a white Monza, for the German Rudolf Caracciola, who was not yet part of the official factory team.
The entry list was by invitation only and just 17 cars appeared on the grid, after two of the original 19 failed to start. Even though all the cars had been timed throughout practice, the order of the starting grid was still determined by ballot, Nuvolari being handed eleventh on the grid. The Italian started fantastically, passing seven cars within the first five laps, and settling into second position after ten laps. Despite Nuvolari's speed, he set a new fastest time of two minutes and four seconds on lap 12, he was unable to gain ground on the fast-starting Bugatti of Louis Chiron. The leading trio, including the Bugatti of Achille Varzi only five seconds behind the Alfa, began to pull away from the rest of the field, the followers matching the front-runner’s pace. After thirty laps, Nuvolari started to apply the pressure and gained ground on the leading Bugatti. Chiron rushed to pass one of the backmarkers and grazed the sandbags on the corner at the Quai de Plaisance, propelling the car into the air and turning it over, throwing Chiron into the road. Fortunately, Chiron was uninjured by the fall from his vehicle, except for some cuts and bruises, and recovered quickly, but this had wrecked Bugatti’s best chance for the win and handed the lead over to Alfa Romeo. It was a lead Nuvolari would not relinquish. Caracciola followed behind in the privateer Alfa Romeo, for the last forty laps, slowly closing the distance lap by lap, but declined to win when presented with the opportunity to overtake, as Nuvolari had almost dealt with the challenge of Bugatti singlehandedly and was now suffering from interruptions to his fuel supply. The duo crossed the line just 2.8 seconds apart. From the 17 cars at the start only ten finished after three and a half hours of racing.
The Alfa Romeo 2300 8C is limited to only 199 pieces.
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