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Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A Mille Miglia Spyder, #412015, 1937

  • Some number of 8C 2900A chassis were prepared for the 1936 Paris Motor Show with aluminum coachwork inspired by the designs of Carrozzeria Touring, and probably guided by the coachbuilder's own talent. Of a total of just six 8C 2900 race cars, these chassis could not be devoted to commercial gain, and all were pressed into competition.
  • Chassis #412015 was prepared for the Mille Miglia, featuring a beautifully stocky racing body with a tapered tail, twin windscreens, and cycle fenders. Cars of this configuration were termed Botticella, or cask cars, for their smooth, barrel-shaped fuselages. Along with mechanic Giuseppe Meazza, Nino Farina drove to second place. The car was retained for works racing through 1937, when Farina again finished second in the Mille Miglia. Carlo Pintacuda won in both years, the race being something of a specialty of his.
  • After the Mille Miglia, the car was retrofitted with Paris Motor Show coachwork, and then sold—hence the 1937 date—and not at all an untoward transaction for the classic era.
  • Unlike the vaunted road-going 8C 2900B, these few 2900A cars lived clandestine lives in the hands of enthusiasts who valued their racing pedigree more than their beautiful bodywork. The story of this particular example is well told at the Simeone Museum site. Even for a car whose internals represent the apogee of Vittorio Jano's pre-War engineering brilliance, whose coachwork takes cues from the best of Milan's automotive design community, and whose racing exploits hinge on the Mille Miglia efforts of a Formula 1 World Champion, chassis #412015 was discovered in disrepair deep in Argentina. The frame and body had been separated from the motor, although the latter had not drifted exceedingly far. Working through intermediaries, Dr. Simeone was able to locate and purchase all of the original components, eventually reconstructing the car in its roadgoing kit.
  • Today, perhaps only one car retains the Botticella coachwork variant. Thus, these roadgoing spyders, beautiful though they may be, are perhaps viewed as suspect contributions to the Alfa Romeo mystique. They are transient pieces of showmanship that belie the world class athleticism they were meant to display—perhaps too pretty for their own good, in this respect. Certainly there are other lovely spyders that produce a similar effect on the eye as these trim fenders and slender nose. But then that is the rub: Often, we in the classic car world want to see all of the variations built onto each historic chassis, and not just one. And as stewards, the owners face a difficult task to choose which path to pursue. No doubt the Nino Farina car presents in the best possible form for the state in which it was found—closest to original, and undoubtedly gorgeous.

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Last Updated: Aug 19, 2017