A Close-up Look at Classic Alfa Romeo

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    SEE ALSO: Alpha Romeo @ 2014 Mille Miglia +VIDEO

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

From the late 1920s through the 1930s, Alfa Romeo was the preeminent sports car in the world. Alfas won Le Mans four consecutive years from 1931-34 and the Mille Miglia an astounding ten times in eleven years from 1928-38!

At the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia we took a look at three Alfas that ran in the Mille Miglia and heard why they were successful. On a bright spring day we saw only red cars; a 1933 Alfa Romeo Monza 8C 2300,
1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900A, and 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B…the actual winner of the 1939 Mille Miglia.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Mille Miglia means “Thousand Miles” and the race first ran in 1927 and was one of the most popular races in Europe. “The most exciting road race event historically ever” said Dr. Fred Simeone as he gave some insight into why Alfa was so dominant.

A large number of cars were entered in the road race, sometimes several hundred, and it could take up to half a day for all to depart Brescia, equally spaced. The cars departed from Brescia on the “partenza,” and raced down the east coast of Italy to Rome, making a circle back to where they started, a distance of about a thousand miles.

The prestige of the event and large number of entrants spurred companies like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and others to make special models specifically to compete in the Mille Miglia. The race was a test of driver’s skills as well as the endurance and power of the cars.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

In a recent Best of Italy exhibit at the Simeone Museum we saw Tim O’Riordan’s 1959 Alfa Romeo 2000 Touring Spider that he bought in 1995 for $2500. Another favorite was the 1966 Alfa Romeo GTV of David Raab.

Alfa Romeo is about to return to the U.S. market after being absent since 1995. The 2015 Alfa Rome 4C, recently on display at the New York Auto Show, will be the first to hit our shores. For “Alfisti” in North America, a special 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition will be made available this June. Limited to five hundred serialized units the "Launch Edition" 4Cs feature unique appointments and will arrive at select Maserati and Fiat dealers/studios priced around $70,000. Later in the year a less appointed Alfa 4C will arrive priced around $54,000.

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See the next classic Alpha

© Larry Nutson

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