#0095 - Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Mille Miglia Spyder by Zagato, 1932
Photographed: Saint Michaels Concours d'Elegance, 2011. Owner: Nancy & John Kendall
Lost in the Numbers: At this point, if you've scrolled through the list of vintage Alfas, you will have probably encountered a problem. Automobiles titled by motor designations are notoriously tricky to sort, particularly when platforms overlap in years of production. With Alfa Romeo, one can uncover chassis after chassis, each with its own little distinction that makes it special.
The Alfisti will certainly claim that every chassis is special, no different than might the adherents of Bugatti, and in the main I tend to agree. This is a somewhat biased project, and the dedication to pre-War Alfa should be evident in the lists provided. But more to the point, what we're looking at here is the birth of the modern sports car—lower, lighter, smaller capacity, infinitely tunable, upgradable, versatile, supplied to racing teams, privateers, and sporting enthusiasts alike. It's an Alfa Romeo, really the first car to do so many things so well, things the BMW 328 will prepare beautifully for the modern era, that Ferrari will convert into unequalled passion, and that Porsche will engineer into oblivion.
The Mille Miglia: The history of the 1932 race reads as a Who's Who of classic motorsport. But, whether focusing on the top finishers—Baconin Borzacchini, Count Trossi, and Ludovico Scarfiotti—or those who failed to finish this year—Caracciola, Nuvolari, and Taruffi—most were dressed in an 8C 2300 Alfa. Eventually, nine out of the top ten spots went to this model, Borzacchini winning with mechanic Amedeo Bignamini alongside.
As to our example here, G.B. Santinelli drove home in seventh place, then bettered that performance by one position in the 1933 edition before finally wrapping up participation in 1934 with a twenty-fifth place spot. So, three consecutive Mille Miglia runs at the beginning of the decade along with the greatest racers of the classic era—that certainly spells something special in terms of where this car has been, and what it has witnessed.
As to its physical attributes, this car is the lone Zagato Spyder of the five prepared for the 1932 Mille Miglia, the remainder having been clothed by Touring. Particular differences between this and other period Spyder bodies include the footwell vent, which in this case is a rectangular plate rather than a set of louvres, and the rather simple grille, which does without the stylized shroud and lovely kidney shaped vents. The running gear remains on the hefty side, while a bit of black lining drops over the lip on the door sills.
Lastly, it's good to look at the underside and note the wear on the exhaust system and undercarriage. After a restoration in 2004, this car has traveled back to Brescia to complete the modern iteration of the 1,000 mile event. So, like a good pre-War Alfa, it's well driven and therefore well appreciated.
Photo Notes: I've tried to present a good comparison between this relatively straight Zagato Spyder and some of the other sporting Alfas that surround it in age and purpose. We have comparative views of the fascia—always a nice shot to get in—and of the tail section, which displays a bare, lightweight simplicity that was subsequently erased by the Paris Motor Show coachwork on the 1936-37 Mille Miglia Spyder. In any case, I'm happy with the shots, and hope you like them.
Zagato-Cars.com: Always worth a browse to check on dates and data.
UltimateCarPage: With a brief feature on an earlier 1931 8C 2300 also built for competition in the Mille Miglia.
Dennis David: With historical pieces on most of the classic era's great races, including the 1932 Mille Miglia.
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