To compete with the German might of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, Alfa Romeo let Vittorio Jano design and build his own V12 Grand Prix car. Called the 12C, it was going to be a successor to the largely successful Tipo B P3.
First prepared in 1936, the twelve liter V12 was impressive in specification, but only drove to two victories at Barcelona and the Vanderbilt cup. For the following season it was upgraded to include twin superchargers and the engine’s displacement was increased.
Unfortunately the upgraded cars didn’t keep pace with the well developed silver arrows and ace driver Tazio Nuvolari disliked the car’s handling. So much so, he defected to the German companies.
While the 12C’s racing career seemed over, Alfa Romeo tried once more, refining the chassis, sometimes using a remarkable 16 cylinder engine derived from twin Alfetta 158 engines. As in the years previous the cars didn’t work, and Alfa later focused on the Alfetta, selling off the four or so V12 cars.