The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 its name was the 2.9 litre, Vittorio Jano designed straight eight engine. It was based on the engine first introduced in the all-conquering 8C 2300 of 1931. Made entirely from lightweight alloys, the 8C engine was way ahead of its time. Basically two blocks of four cylinders is had double overhead camshafts that were driven from the middle of the engine. In this configuration the length of the camshafts was cut in half, making them less prone to flexing. With the help of two superchargers, one for each block of cylinders, the 8C 2900 engine produced 180 bhp in road trim and a hefty 220 bhp in competition specification.
Another advanced feature of the 8C 2900 was the use of a gearbox that was fitted in unit with the rear differential. This ‘transaxle’ helped shift some of the weight towards the rear of the understandably nose heavy car. The competition carsalso used a sizeable petrol tank that was mounted behind the driver’s seat, on top of the rear axle. Like most high performance cars of the period, the 8C 2900 featured hydraulic drum brakes. The rolling chassis of the car weighed in at around 850 kg (1874 pounds). The coach-builder of choice for the 1938 cars was Touring of Milan, who produced light and very slippery bodies.
Read more about the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Le Mans.