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September 10, 2014

Die-cast: CMC 1938 Alfa 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe

by Mark Savage

Art Deco Alfa Romeo 8C delivers museum-quality look, details 

Everything opens and everything is replicated in great detail on the CMC model.

Everything opens and everything is replicated in great detail on the CMC model.

The automotive Art Deco era, where sleek streamlined profiles and styling flare were at their peak left us an astounding number of quirky, yet beautiful cars.

European makers were at the forefront of such styling in the 1930s with the likes of Bugatti, Delahey and Alfa Romeo wowing the wealthy aristocracy of the day. One such beauty was the Alfa Romeo 8C, a sports coupe that seemed hell bent on performance.

Now CMC brings its prestigious moniker and die-cast model skills to the Alfa 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe. It’s a recipe for a deliciously lavish 1:18 scale model.

History:

Vittorio Jano was famous for his engines at Alfa Romeo before Enzo Ferarri lured him away to help create powerplants for the red racers that made Ferraris into an icon. But in the 1920s Jano created his first straight-eight cylinder engine for Alfa Romeo and then the P3 single-seater that was a constant winner in Formula 1 during the 1930s.

alfa1Yet in the 1930s racing was only a part of the Alfa story. The Italian car maker was cranking out beautiful road cars too, their bodies being built by the finest coachbuilders of the day and featuring radical sweeping designs. The 2900B Special Touring Coupe is but one.

The 2900 was designed first and foremost to compete in the Mille Miglia, the most important road race in Italy, winning in 1936 and ’37. In all Alfa won four Mille Miglia. But by the end of the decade the 2900 was also a fine coupe and roadster with a sexy body created by couch builder Carrozzeria Touring.

The coupe ran on a highly advanced chassis with four-wheel independent suspension and an alloy straight eight engine with double overhead cams and twin superchargers. While the 2900B was detuned a bit to improve reliability, it still boasted 200+ horsepower. In all just 32 were built from 1935 through 1938 and a LeMans Special with similar streamlined body work nearly won the famous 24-hour race in 1938, leading much of the way before dropping a valve and failing to finish.

A beautiful interior with glass gauge faces.

A beautiful interior with glass gauge faces.

The Alfa 2.9 that CMC is going to replicate was originally built as a Spyder for Mille Miglia and then re-bodied by Carrozzeria Touring in 1938 as a coupe for LeMans. The new body transformed the already beautiful coupe into one of the most stunning pre-war cars.

The Model:

Where to begin with CMC’s beautiful Alfa?

First, the shape is dead-on with the bulbous roof, including the rounded but steep drop off the back to the 8C’s nearly flat trunk, and at the back of the cockpit’s cover is a clear window, more like a skylight shaped like a piece of bread. Through that you see a bit of the spare tire and cockpit’s rear compartment. This is just a sniff at the detail in this model.

There’s an exceedingly long center-hinged hood with four leather straps that hold it in place, complete with buckles. You’ll need tweezers to undo the straps and pop either side of the hood, which can be held up with a bar on the stiffener wall. When open you see the long lean straight-8 Alfa engine with requisite spark plugs and wires, plus coolant plumbing and a finely detailed engine block and headers.

The engine here is a 1:18 -scale work of art.

The engine here is a 1:18 -scale work of art.

If you want to see more just remove four tiny screws from vented covers on either side of the car’s massive rounded fenders. These panels were there on the original car to provide access to the engine for maintenance, meaning you didn’t have to pull the whole 8-cylinder powerplant to work on it. By the way, the cylinder count is why the car is called 8C.

But wait, there’s more that you can pop off for better internal views. Back out two screws on the rear wheel covers, which feature a distinctive longitudinal slash in them, to remove the wheel covers and change the car’s streamlined look.

On the driver’s side (right vs. our standard left) a hinged fuel filler door swings open easily to reveal a silver metal gas cap that also can be opened … again, impressive detail.

There are real external door hinges too and a metal etched Alfa Romeo logo that rests above three cooling vents that are just behind the removable engine access panel on either side of the car.

The car’s needle nose is exquisite with dual bug-eye headlights with running lights below. The black mesh grille is perfect and includes a silver Alfa Romeo script logo and a chrome accent piece runs down the hood and grille’s center. Inside of the two running lights are small oval grille’s with chrome trim. A round painted Alfa-branded logo and Superleggera (super light) logos rest just above the grille. Superleggera refers to the frame, which was lighter than others, using light metal tubes wrapped in fabric.

The undercarriage is just as intricate as the engine bay.

The undercarriage is just as intricate as the engine bay.

As with most CMC models, the intricate black wire-spoked wheels are removable by loosening the main wheel nut. And as cool as these wheels are to look at, they also include inflation nipples for the large unbranded, but treaded, balloon tires. Note, the locking wheel nuts turn counter clockwise on the left side, but clockwise on the right.

In back is a lockable trunk with two latches that turn 90 degrees. You can only see a spare tire inside the trunk, but it’s removable if you want to bother.

As mentioned, the doors swing forward on silver external hinges and expose an extremely detailed interior. Plus the front vent windows function with the use of a tiny handle once you have the door open.

Inside are brown leather seats and tan carpet-like flooring, which carries over to the trim behind the seats and on the rear window sill, such as it is.

Close inspection reveals a three-spoke black steering wheel with metal hub and beyond it three orange pull knobs on the dash. These look like knobs that would be used for setting the engine’s choke and other tasks that now have been computerized.

Cool tail with working external hinges.

Cool tail with working external hinges.

Two round dash gauges have detailed dials and glass faces and there’s a small round dial below the main dash. Tall floor shifter and parking brake levers stick up from the floor’s drive shaft area and there is a metal T-shaped foot brace on the passenger’s side floor, complete with rubber end pieces. Metal knobs on the windows allow you to slide the side windows open.

Outside there’s finely executed chrome trim around all windows and for the delicate looking windshield wipers. Door handles are a stylish sweep of metal and help open the tight-fitting doors. All other external hinges also are metal.

Overall this latest CMC offering is up to its usual museum-like quality standards that is reflected in the price. It creates a stunning model for any collector’s case or display area.

Purchase this and other CMC models at Racing Heroes.

FAST Stats: 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe

Maker: CMC

Scale: 1:18

Stock No.: M-107

MSRP: $439.95

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