1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider,2211051
Lot 366
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider,2211051
Sold for £1,409,500 (US$ 2,338,791) inc. premium
Lot Details
1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Spider

Registration no. HSV 972
Chassis no. 2211051
Engine no. 2211111

Footnotes

  • The history of this magnificent Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 has been exhaustively researched by respected marque authority Simon Moore, and is as described in his wonderful three-volume bible, ‘The Legendary 2.3’, Vol. I, pp.248-251, (Parkside Publications, Seattle, 2000). Long familiar with this car during its extensive restoration over several years by the late British Alfista David Black, Mr Moore was able to answer many questions about ‘051’ as offered here.

    When David Black acquired this car in 1975 it was restored not to be traded, but to be kept for his own use. One can imagine that any such dyed-in-the-wool Alfista would utilise the best possible parts available in such a car, lovingly reassembled for such a purpose. And you would be right. Tragically, Mr Black’s health failed him and he passed away in 1990, since when – for 17 years - the car has been retained and lovingly preserved within his family.

    But while these classical 8-cylinder supercharged Alfa Romeos are just about the most evocative – and best-performing - of all vintage and post-vintage sports cars, there is always individual history to be rolled into the equation. Even the greatest of all-time classic designs has to be considered in conjunction with its individual story. What great feats (if any) did it perform in period? What great drivers (if any) went to war in it? Where has it been (if known) all its life?

    The chassis serial associated with this David Black 8C-2300 is ‘2211051’. This serial was the earliest applied to the second-series of 8C-2300s, the model having been the brainchild of Alfa Romeo’s fabled chief engineer, Ing. Vittorio Jano, emerging in 1931. Alfa Romeo 8C-2300s in a variety of forms then achieved no fewer than four consecutive wins in the Le Mans 24-Hour race – plus a close second in 1935 – two wins in the Spa 24-Hours, three consecutive victories in the Targa Florio…and three more in the Mille Miglia. And of course there is still more. The 8C-2300 design also spawned the short-wheelbase ‘Monza’ Grand Prix car followed by the single-seat open-wheeled Tipo B Monoposto – one of the great landmarks of motor racing history at its highest level.

    So, while this is the background pedigree, what of ‘051’ as an individual? There is a possibility – and even Simon Moore has not been able to confirm it – that this 8C-2300 began life as an Alfa Romeo works or Scuderia Ferrari team car as early as 1932. Short-wheelbase chassis ‘051’ in period – and as offered here – is ‘Monza’-length.

    It is worth noting at this stage that the narrow X-type mounting-point configuration for the spare-wheel retaining straps on the Scuderia Ferrari’s four 1933 Mille Miglia cars was unique to them. It did not appear in period on any 8C-2300 cars other than that important quartet. As chronicled in Simon Moore’s book, David Black found that the Alfa Romeo he acquired in 1975 also combined this distinctive feature along with an angled fuel filler neck and low-cut doors, while its scuttle was of the ‘Monza’ type.

    It has been established beyond doubt that on April 4, 1933, car ‘051’ was Modena-registered ‘MO 6313’ and it became one of the Scuderia Ferrari entries in that year’s Mille Miglia round-Italy road race. Indeed, contemporary photographs illustrate that it was Monza chassis length. It was equipped with a Zagato Spider body and in it the great Italian racing driver Mario Umberto ‘Baconin’ Borzacchini actually led the great race, with mechanic Lucchi by his side, before being forced to retire.

    There is a possibility that ‘051’ was the car then driven into fourth place by Mario Tadini – the contemporary ‘King of the Mountains’ – in the important Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill-climb on May 21, 1933. It undoubtedly appeared at other mountain climb events that year before Mr Ferrari found a buyer for what by that time had become quite a well-used racing car – one Gaspare Bona of Turin, to whom it was registered ‘TO 32081’ on November 29, 1933.

    The car then passed through a number of Italian ownerships, including the aristocracy of the Italian racing world – the Milanese Count Luigi Castelbarco on April 2, 1936 (to whom it was registered ‘MI 31673’). Simon Moore’s researches further identified subsequent owners Ferruccio Tarchini (September 29, 1938), Abele Ghisotti of Verona (July 17, 1941), Antonio Rovatti of Bologna (July 8, 1943) and Candido Girasole of Rimini (April 1, 1950).

    A machine shop owner named Adriano Carnevali then acquired the car on October 29, 1951, and he exported it for a period to Asmara in Eritrea – on the horn of East Africa – where he ran a branch of his business. His widow, Giovanna Tabanelli, recalled that the car was later impounded by the Italian Customs when her husband tried to ship it back into Italy in 1959.

    At some stage, presumably in the early 1960s it was then sold to America. It seems to have been kept for some years by a rather private Alfa enthusiast named Bill Ferris, of Bethesda, Maryland. He later sold it on to the son of a Mrs Eagle who lived near Arlington, Pennsylvania. By 1975 it survived in partially stripped condition, while Mrs Eagle’s son was beset by unpaid storage bills.

    Dealer-cum-Ferrari and Alfa Romeo historian Stan Nowak located the car in a garage and it was sold within 24 hours by Basil Shadlin to David Black – the English Alfista keen to buy and restore. He paid a reputed £600 for ‘051’ – such a low price being explained by the absence of the original straight-8 cylinder engine, which had been replaced at some stage by a 6C-2300 six-cylinder unit. Furthermore, the car’s original front axle had been replaced by 6C-2300B independent suspension and there was not much in the way of a body. It would appear probably that these modifications were carried out in the car’s earlier life by one of the Italian owners.

    David Black was unfazed by the lack of the original 8-cylinder engine, since he had acquired the residual stock of Alfa Romeo 8C spares from Thomson & Taylor Ltd, the one-time Brooklands-based – postwar Cobham-based - marque distributors.

    From those spares he subsequently built up a replacement straight-8 engine for ‘051’, based upon the original crankcase from engine ‘2211111’. This component is a huge casting, including the engine-mounting legs that bolt into the ladder-type chassis frame. He also amputated the chassis’ modified front end with its independent front suspension and grafted-on original style front dumb-irons to accept an as-original beam axle suspended upon semi-elliptic leaf springs to correct and distinctive Monza specification.

    Hundreds of hours of painstaking work went into restoring the car to useable trim, and David Black’s proportion of original pre-war parts used in the work has been confirmed by several Alfa Romeo specialists, including Jim Stokes of the JSW Group in addition to Simon Moore, to have been commendably high.

    The car was completed and running by the 1980s, and UK-registered ‘HSV 972’ circa 1985. There is a letter on file at that time in which David had corresponded with noted Alfa Romeo historian Angela Cherrett in order to facilitate the registration. He wrote that the chassis number is ‘in the usual place but beneath the bodywork’. We have looked but at the time of writing have been unable to locate it. In 1987 Simon Moore chased David Black and his son Ben in the car in the Mille Miglia Retro, recalling: “…we ran nose to tail for 30 or 40 miles of high speed motoring – an unforgettable evening in fading light!”.

    Just picture that scene in the gathering dusk of a balmy Italian evening. Reflections of the setting sun rippling towards you over that shapely Zagato bonnet, the warm, slightly oil-scented air wafting up from the pedal box around your feet and the gearbox housing beside your knee…and all the time that characteristic, unforgettable, head-turning bark, and strum, and thunder – of the Alfa Romeo 8C engine note…molto fortissimo personified.

    Since David’s death, the car has remained in the family, seeing minimal use, and during the late 1990s the decision was made to rebuild the engine and generally re-commission the car. Between May 1999 to December 2002 ‘HSV 972’ was entrusted to marque expert Jim Stokes for a complete engine rebuild and running gear overhaul. The work was carried out regardless of cost with circa £80,000 being spent. Jim is known to be particularly fond of the car and very proud of the engine, describing it as being particularly strong. The car is offered with bills for the work carried out, V5C registration document and fresh MoT.

    Few great classic sports cars can match the contemporary glamour, style and character of the supreme Alfa Romeo 8C-2300s. David Black had a fine contemporary reputation for being an Alfa man to the core. This splendid 8C-2300 is the car he restored; the car for his own use; the car intended for keeps.

    Estimate upon request

Saleroom notices

  • We are pleased to report that this motor car has just been issued with a FIVA Identity Card by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs - the 'FIVA Passport'.
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