A prime example of a very successful race car

While there may have been 188 units of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 built for road use, it was initially designed as a race car. The “2300” in the car’s name was a reference to the 2.3-liter straight-eight engine that was hidden under its long hood. The 8C was built in several different series’ in its first few years of production, with some (the 188 road cars) serving as luxury vehicles and the rest serving as dedicated race cars. By now, you’ve probably noticed that the model here also sports the “Monza” name. This name was given to the shortened, two-seater GP cars after an early model emerged victorious during the 1931 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Throughout the car’s production, it was rather successful on the track, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the consecutive wins at Mille Miglia and Targa Florio, and back-to-back wins at the 24 Hours of Spa. On top of that, the car also led to the development and introduction of the Monoposto Tipo B, which, as you may or may not know, dominated Grand Prix racing with 46 wins between 1932 and 1935.

The model you see here has had several owners, but was raced quite a bit between 1934 and 1948, securing 7th in Class at the Klausen Hillclimb in 1934, 3rd Overall at the Circuito di San Remo in 1947, 2nd Overall and 1st in Class at the Sassi-Superga Hillclimb in 194, and 1st in Class at the Cantania-Etna Hillclimb in 1948, among others. It is Chassis No. 2311218 and was sold new in Italy back in the 1930s. And while it changed hands on a somewhat regular basis, it’s racing DNA kept in on the track even recently as the owner prior to this auction used it to participate in Euro and US. Tours – this isn’t a car you just lock away in a dark garage.

This Monza recently went up for auction at the Gooding & Company Auction during Monterey Car Week, exchanging hands for more than $10 million. It’s only fitting that we do a full review of such an amazing car, so keep reading to take a closer look at it.

Updated 08/24/2017: We added a series of images taken during the 2017 Monterey Car Week.

Note: Official images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Photos by Brian Henniker.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza.

Exterior

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Exterior High Resolution
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The exterior is quite similar to other race cars of the 1930s. It’s an elegant, but simple design and not exactly aerodynamic. For the most part, the car is a big metal tub with massive fender flares on each corner. Up front, you’ve got your traditional radiator grille with air passages all the way around. Ahead of the radiator grille is a flat area that leads to those long and perfectly smooth front fenders. As you can see, the area in front of the wheels are unobstructed with the flares covering just the top of the wheel. The swooping design behind the front wheels provided for air passage around the front wheels. The long hood is a double hinged unit that opened from the side. It could be folded together and laid to one side for access to that long, inline eight-cylinder engine.

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Exterior High Resolution
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It’s an elegant, but simple design and not exactly aerodynamic.

Moving back from the hood, you’ll notice that the firewall is actually pushed forward to provide legroom for the driver and passengers. This is where the car’s racing number is prominently displayed on each side. The windshield is actually a two-piece unit, with the driver and passenger side getting their own top-curved piece of glass. On the driver’s side of the car, there was a spare tire strapped into place. On the passenger side, you’ll find the long exhaust pipe running from the engine all the way back to the rear quarter. The rear fenders weren’t nearly as elegant as the fronts, but they were open in the rear to improve airflow .

The rear of this thing is excessively simple. There was a small, circular taillight on each side of the rear end, and this specific model has a license plate mount on the left side. The rear end itself was rather smooth and came to a rounded point at the very rear. All told, it’s a beautiful design and despite its simplicity, you can almost feel the racing DNA bleeding off of it when you’re in its presence.

Interior

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Interior High Resolution
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Inside, this racing beauty is all about business. To start off, you’ve got a simple, four-spoke steering wheel, and an “oh shit” handle attached to the dash (if that’s what you would call it) for the passenger when things get a little wonky on the track. Ahead of these, there are a number of gauges that provide pertinent information while driving. Down below there is a very thin tunnel that provides a home for the shifter and the handbrake. The floor is lined with a rubber mat while the sides have been left as painted metal. The seats are wrapped in leather with white stitching. Simple, but effective.

Drivetrain

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza High Resolution Drivetrain
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As I said before, the “2300” in this 8C’s name refers to the 2.3-liter, straight-eight under the hood. This engine used a dual-overhead cam system and had two valves per cylinder. It’s actually displacement was rated at 2336 cc, and it delivered 165 horsepower at 5,400 rpm. A roots-type supercharger forced air through a single Memini carburetor. Power was sent to the rear wheels through the manual transmission. Braking duties were handled by mechanical drums in the front and rear – nothing easy about these – and suspension duties were handled by semi-elliptical leaf springs and friction shock absorbers in the front and rear. By today’s standards there is nothing special about the horsepower or performance, but in its day, it had a top speed of about 140 mph, which is pretty damn good for a car with an aluminum body and a steel frame.

Prices

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Exterior High Resolution
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An attempt to research original pricing for the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 has failed to yield any reliable or verifiable results, but since this model just went under the hammer during a Gooding & Company auction during Monterey Car Week 2016, we have a good idea of what the car is worth now. Originally estimated to go for between $12 million and $15 million, this baby went for a cool $11,990,000.

Competition

Mercedes-Benz W125

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Exterior
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Photo Credit: John Chapman (Pyrope) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There are a whole handful of Grand Prix cars from the 1930s that I could talk about here, but my favorite out of them all is the Mercedes W125. Like the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, this baby used a supercharged, inline eight-cylinder. Being introduced for the 1937 Grand Prix season, however, this had significantly more power. Sources indicate that the car could deliver up to 595 horsepower in race trim, with the highest test bed power being measured at 637 horsepower. The car was driven by Rudolf Caracciola in its first year, winning the 1937 European Championship. It is considered the most powerful race car of the era and could hit speeds in excess of 190 mph. The W125 was even fitted with a DAB V-12 at one point to make a land speed record run. It hit 268.9 mph but weight over the maximum weight limit allowed for Grand Prix racing at the time, so it was never entered into racing competition.

Conclusion

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Exterior High Resolution
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To be honest, I love old racing cars like this, but I’ve never been one to really keep up on them. The designs were simple and elegant at the same time, while purposeful. The model we’ve talked about here today is a fine example of history and it actually has a rather lengthy and document history – probably why it pulled so much when it went under the hammer. If you’re interesting in learning more about this 8C 2,300s long history, you can check it all out on the auction listing page over at Gooding & Company. With that said, I’ll go ahead and sign off. Check out the pictures we took at the auction preview in the Photos tab at the top of the page.

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