1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Berlinetta
Above Images ©Richard Owen
In many ways, the 2900B Lungo Berlinetta was the finest closed car produced in the pre-war era. Built with race-proven engineering and with a style of unsurpassed elegance, these fastback Alfas are among the finest cars in world.
On the track, the 2900 competition cars benefited from a decade of Alfa Romeo progress and became the most successful of their time. A trio of 2900As placed first-second-third at the 1936 Mille Miglia, while three specially built 2900MMs accomplished the same feat at the 1938 edition. The decision to make a road-going variant of these winning designs must have been easy.
Touring of Milan was responsible for almost the entire production of 2900B bodies and their exceptional ‘Coupé Superleggra’ or ‘Coupé Ultraleggro Aeroprofilato’ took advantage of the Lungo chassis and exaggerated it with a huge rear overhang. In total, Touring constructed only around 10 of these masterworks.
The first Berlinetta was built on chassis 412020 in 1937 and shown that year at the Paris Motor Show and at the Milan show. Being the prototype, this car had numerous detail differences such as horns fitted below the headlights, doors that hinged from the front and badging located just behind the hood. It was the first of only five Berlinettas constructed on the 2900B chassis.
The 2900 chassis was outfitted very similar to the competition cars with twin trailing arms up front and a swing-arm suspension in the rear with both friction and hydraulic dampers.
The engine was similar to the Tipo B unit but was made from new castings in aluminum instead of magnesium. They retained a 10-main bearing crankshafts that sat in white metal babbits. The cylinder head was cast integral to the block with hemispherical combustion chambers and domed pistons. The valvetrain and axillary devices were all gear driven.
Our feature car is 412035 which we refer to as a Berlinetta Speciale since it has special badges naming it as such and it is distinctly different from the four other cars. Unique to this car are false louvres on the scuttle which make the hood appear longer and more integrated. Furthermore, the front fenders extend longer towards the door which add to the dramatic effect.
412035 was restored by Dennison International Motorsports LLC in Puyallup, WA for owner Jon Shirley. The result was first shown at the 2008 Pebble Beacn Concours d'Elegance where it won Best in Show. Subsequently the same car has won the 2008 Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza and Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance making it one of the most celebrated cars in our time.
Story by Richard Owen