Such is the demand for 8Cs today that even highly compromised examples like this one command whacking great money, as the winning bid demonstrates

For many enthusiasts, no supercharged straight-eight Alfa Romeo has more visual appeal and flair than the short-wheelbase Carozzeria Touring Spider Corsa style, as offered here in chassis 2211080. For many experienced drivers of such cars, this specific sub-group comprises the best handling, most responsive, most nimble and best-braked of all the 8C series cars.

As researched by vintage Alfa authority Simon Moore, it seems likely that this car’s first recorded appearance was as an un-numbered frame, listed within the Figoni coachbuilding files as having been delivered in the late spring/early summer of 1933.

Some features of this car’s chassis suggest significant competition use before the car’s first known road registration in Paris in 1933, including the lightweight chassis frame that still retains period competition stiffening about the front-end dumb-irons.

After being hidden from the Nazis during World War II, this 8C was imported into the U.S. around 1961 wearing Figoni four-seat cabriolet coachwork. The American owner removed the body from the car and traded the chassis and drivetrain for a Volkswagen.

In the late 1960s, the frame was modified to its current short-chassis configuration by British expert David Black, and a new engine was built up using the crankcase from 8C S/N 2211087. By 1971, our subject Alfa had been resurrected as a complete car, with its current replica Touring-style bodywork.

In the late 1980s it was disassembled again, and specialist Paul Grist was entrusted with the car’s reassembly and complete restoration, which included the addition of the signature Touring fin ahead of the spare tires. It competed in the 1997 Mille Miglia, and is absolutely road-ready for any event.

{analysis} This 8C 2300 Corto Corsa sold for $894,375, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Goodwood auction on September 5, 2003.

As SCM senior auction reporter Richard Hudson-Evans remarked in his market comments concerning this car, it has a “complicated history.” That’s British understatement at its best. After reading and re-reading the catalog description for this car several times (a condensed version appears above), I was reaching for some aspirin to relieve the ache between my eyes.

According to the catalog, this car may or may not have had a racing history prior to receiving the elegant and swoopy open four-seater Figoni coachwork mounted upon it in 1933. Furthermore, it may have raced in long-wheelbase form without a chassis number (!?) before being delivered to its alleged second owner, Count Januszkowski, who purchased it with the Figoni body in place. One thing is certain: The chassis and running gear are part of the 1932 production numbers.

The American who brought the car to the States actually got it as part of a package deal with two Type 57 Bugattis. (Those were the days!) As it was just a used-up used car, no one stepped up to buy the Alfa, so after it was traded for a VW Beetle, it was broken up for parts. Then, as the values of 8Cs rose, all of the pieces necessary to make it a car again magically came together, drawn by the magnet of money.

So what do we have here? A well-documented pile of important bits that have somehow amalgamated themselves into a replica of an important car. FrankenAlfa doesn’t seem an inappropriate term. Of course, the fact that the car exists at all is somewhat of a minor miracle in view of its checkered history.

Two things rankle about this restoration/conversion. First, the reverse-rim wheels and oversize tires give the car a somewhat heavy look instead of the litheness of line for which these cars are so admired. It’s rather like wearing combat boots with a tuxedo. They cover your feet but a pair of patent leather pumps would be much more appropriate. Second, the new “Touring” body’s doors don’t have the right sweep and look a bit awkward to the experienced Alfisti’s eye.

Such, though, is the demand for these cars today that even highly compromised examples like this one command whacking great money, as the winning bid demonstrates. Rumor has it that this Corto Corsa was bought by a U.S.-based SCM’er who has already been offered a profit on his deal.

How much more would it be worth if it were a real car? Consider the famous Rimoldi Alfa 8C 2300 that was sold at a Christie’s Pebble Beach auction a few years back. That car was so sublimely original and correct that merely contemplating subjecting it to a restoration, repaint or rebuild would rank as a mortal sin. At the time the successful bidder paid $1.75 million for this gem. Today it could be worth close to twice that.

So on the one hand, the buyer of the 8C here got a bargain, as the car will be accepted to nearly any vintage event in the world, at one-third the price of the real thing. On the other hand, for a sophisticated collector of means, this will always be a car with a monumental set of stories, and never a top-flight example.-Dave Brownell{/analysis}

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