There are just a few great classic automobiles one expects to find in all the best collections. An Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 is one of those. Created in the 1930s with engineering by legendary Vittorio Jano, they were fast supercharged machines, most graced with glorious bodywork, usually by Carrozzeria Touring.
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Over the course of five years less than 40 “2.9s” were assembled in both A and B series on short- or long-wheelbase chassis. Of that small number, five stand out, all made in 1938. There’s a magnificent coupe meant for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and four special open cars built to race in the Mille Miglia. With its cockpit nestled between an immense bonnet and a very short rear, Touring’s Mille Miglia bodywork possessed perfect symmetry in the lines of the panels, from the teardrop-shaped mudguards to the tapering rear.
Technical specifications included a supercharged 2.9-liter straight-8 said to have 225 bhp, an independent front suspension and a rear swing axle with a transverse leaf spring.
All four Mille Miglia cars survived, three now in original form. The Ralph Lauren collection has the one with the most interesting postwar history. Chassis 412030, it finished 2nd in the Mille Miglia driven by a previous two-time winner, Carlo Pintacuda, Paride Mambelli in the passenger’s seat. Clemente Biondetti piloted another of the Alfas to a Mille Miglia victory in 1938.