#0029 - Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Cabriolet Lungo by Figoni, 1933
Photographed: Saint Michaels Concours d'Elegance, 2009. Owner: Gale & Henry Petronis
One Among Few: The 8C 2300 platform was developed by Vittorio Jano for competition both in endurance and Grand Prix events, but in true Alfa Romeo fashion was adapted for touring use. In this sense, the long wheelbase 2300 is the ancestor of those variants of the 8C 2900-B, though largely different by showing little in the way of racing pretentions even while containing the heart of (at the time) the hardest charging motor in Alfa's line. In further comparison to the 2900, this early design shows a dedication to conventional classic era styling, whereas the later Alfa Romeo cars are elegant trend-setters. Thus the 2300 is a starting point and, as we mentioned with the 8C 2300 Monza, this car is part of the platoon representing the first of Jano's great 8-cylinder masterpieces—the 8C 2300, the P3 Monoposto, and the 8C 2900.
Morphology: Lines on the Figoni bodied 8C 2300 are straight, consistent with period efforts from Castagna, and the two are somewhat difficult to tell apart at a glance. The grille shroud is the best marker specific to Alfa Romeo, but the remainder of the car is rather conventional and, dare we admit, commonplace. The skirts, in particular, are remarkable for their complete, heavy aesthetic; this is carried by their flattened off edges and elliptical shapes, all of which wouldn't be uncomfortable on a period American car. In further comment on the shadowing American style, the emphasis up front on the long bonnet is not so much a direct compliment to North American ideas, but rather a natural result of automotive design. A long wheelbase begs for a long bonnet to impress the arrow-like concept of speed while absorbing the breadth of sheet metal, balancing length by placing the cabin further aft of the bulkhead. Most any designer will seize upon this play, but the greats—Figoni included—will go on to do better things with similar materials.
Nevertheless, the flanks on this Figoni car are broad, with a horizontal shoulder line running from the sturdy, rectangular windscreen back to the retractable cabriolet top. The shoulders wrap the back of the car in a manner similar to British sports cars—see the Jaguar SS-100 for comparison—while the size of the vehicle is approaching Alvis territory. (There's a name you don't often hear associated with Alfa Romeo.) In deference to the British nature of the configuration, this car could be labeled a drophead coupe but for its occupancy arrangement. At least one other Figoni bodied 8C 2300 car is trundling around the continent, part of the Blackhawk collection in California, its features nearly identical to the car pictured here apart from wearing a grey and vermillion livery.
High Speed Touring: The concept of a fast touring car is just refining itself early in the thirties. Demarcation between types of touring cars now separates the deity of twenties performance cars—the Bentley and the Bugatti—from a new order. The Italians are writing the book on modern sports cars, starting with the 6C 1500 and 6C 1750 Spyder, and by the end of the decade will reach the absolute zenith.
As mentioned in the 8C 2300 Monza text, the idea of a sports racing car to share Grand Prix and endurance duties is about to exit with this model. And while the idea of a road and race car will live on, (imparting a different sort of dual-purpose), lovely cars like this—fitted with a racing motor but not intended to race—are a relatively new form. Behind and beneath the racing inspired shroud, itself a piece indicative of the latter series 2300, the wheels are filled with large drums while the cabin floor is fitted with the center-throttle pedal arrangement familiar to most Alfa racing cars. But that floppy hood and hefty running gear eschew any wild ideas.
In this sense, the 8C 2300 Cabriolet by Figoni is much like the open touring Ferrari cars of the sixties, those created after the firm established a strong racing presence and had the capacity to humor forays into luxury. Mind, this is not limitless luxury as readied by the likes of dedicated luxury marques, but even this attitude will evolve by the end of the decade when the custom built 8C 2300 will grow into the legendary 8C 2900-B Touring Spyder. Although it should be agreed that Alfa Romeo's brand of luxury was always so colorful and exciting, no matter the competition aspirations beneath the bonnet.
General information from Victory by Design, by Tony Maylam and Alain de Cadenet, not to mention the many years of technical inundation on the subject of Alfa Romeo.Back to Index