The Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza was one of the great sports cars of all time. Only 189 8C 2300s of all types were built, and Gooding sold one for $11,990,000 at their 2016 Pebble Beach auction.
I wasn’t expecting to see one at the Salem Roadster Show, a gathering of hot rods and customs.
This was the 12th Annual Salem Roadster show, and I had never attended. Salem, the capital of Oregon, is about 45 miles by direct route from Portland.
But why drive in a straight line when there’s a 2003 Porsche 996 in the garage that is crying out to be exercised?
Last weekend I had the pleasure of putting 150 miles on our Giulia Super. This weekend it was the Porsche’s turn. My route took me through the Oregon wine country, with stops at the Erath and Durant wineries, followed by a fab cheeseburger lunch at the Blockhouse in Dayton, Oregon.
Then it was onto Highway 221 for 30 minutes of joyous, curving two-lane back roads to Salem.
When I arrived at the show, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, the first indications that I wasn’t at Pebble Beach were the $4 fee to park directly across from the exposition hall, and the $11 cost of entry (cash only please…).
I was pleasantly surprised when I entered. There were about 200 rods and customs on display. The overall quality was quite high; two cars that stood out were a “GT-51 coupe” and an exquisitely done orange Lincoln Zephyr-based custom that reminded me of “Scrape,” a car that used to be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
A Chevrolet Chevelle labeled as one of the 68 surviving 1965 Z16s was on display. One of these sold at Barrett-Jackson this year for $242,000.
I had a chance to meet the promoter of the event, Greg Roach, who explained the philosophy behind the event (get the best cars possible) and how they scoured the western states to get what they were looking for.
I didn’t see any foreign cars. As I was turning to leave, I noticed a small sign that said, “more cars this way.” I turned the corner and entered the small entryway that held three cars. I saw a red grille with six vents surrounding the radiator. That’s the hallmark of an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza.
I took my medication to slow my speeding heart. There, at the Roadster Show in Salem, Oregon, was what was represented to be a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza.
I don’t claim to be an 8C expert — the closest I’ve come to one was when I was following Peter Giddings and his Monza in a vintage race, and the fumes from his exhaust nearly asphyxiated me.
The Alfa in Salem was delightfully scruffy, as if it had been pulled from a barn a few months ago. I kept walking around it and blinking my eyes, expecting it to disappear.
The owner of the car didn’t have a lot of information about it. Out of respect to him, I didn’t start poking around for engine and chassis numbers. I did ask if it were “real” — and got a non-committal answer. As the car wasn’t being offered for sale, there was no point in giving the owner the third degree.
I took a short video of the car and some pictures.
I then sent the information off to a few trusted friends who are fluent in Monzas, including long-time SCM contributor Keith Duly.
The consensus was this was probably not an original Monza. The frame and bodywork weren’t quite right, and the engine appears similar to those created by Jim Stokes.
The parts alone cost nearly $500,000 in my friend’s opinion.
The owner was interested in bringing the car to the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance this summer, so I put him in touch with organizer Allen Stephens. If the car is properly described, either as authentic (if it is) or as a tribute or replica, I would have no problem seeing it there — especially as Alfa Romeo is the featured marque.
As I left, I felt like Alice crawling out of the rabbit hole. I left the world of Alfa Monzas behind and walked across the Oregon State Fairgrounds to get back into my modern chariot for the drive home.
If there’s a lesson here, it is that taking a couple of hours to visit local car shows can bring unexpected surprises. Seeing the Z16 alone would have made the trip worth it. Stumbling across a purported Alfa Monza was icing on the automotive cake.