The 8C (for eight-cylinder) engine was designed by Vittorio Jano and introduced by Alfa Romeo in 1931. In various forms this brilliant power plant with its finned aluminum casing was destined to propel the company’s sought-after cars throughout the 1930s and become synonymous with triumph on the racetrack and prestige on the street.
The 8C’s first incarnation was in the 8C 2300, which came in long (lungo) or short (corto) versions, plus a shorter-still Spider Corsa racing chassis. Road cars were mostly created by outside coachbuilders who added bodywork to a rolling chassis. However, Alfa did build their own bodies – occasionally even converting redundant race cars for road use.
This meant that – like many vehicles produced in the 1930s – the 8C 2300 Series road cars ended up with a plethora of body styles. Indeed, there were no two the same in the production run of 188 cars, with an assortment created by talented design-and-build companies such as Zagato, Farina, Figoni, Brianza, Carlton, Castagna and Touring. But they all had one thing in common – graceful lines that make these exclusive vehicles as sought after today as they were in the 1930s. The lungo chassis was used for elegant fourseater bodies and the corto chassis for sportier open-top or coupe coachwork.
In fact, racing remained the name of the game and the three versions of the 8C 2300 are generally known by their competition designations – Le Mans for long-chassis versions (as the 24-hour race specified a four-seater), Mille Miglia for the short-chassis cars and Monza for the racing version. The reason behind the enduring success of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 was both simple and complex – it simply had the best build quality and was the most technically advanced, competitive car of its era.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1931 (until 1935)
2,336 cc Straight Eight
The boat-tailed Monza racing version was capable of 140 mph (225 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
If you can’t find one to drive, at least try to listen to one – the throaty roar of Jano’s 8C engine is unmistakable, having been described by one over-enthusiastic fan as ‘a symphony in which each gear tooth and roll bearing plays a note’.