Few great classic sports cars can match the intense sensory overload provided by the supreme Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 in raucous action. Add the historic importance and cachet of the Le Mans 24 Hours race, of Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, of Francis, Earl Howe and of Marshal Italo Balbo — and it becomes patently obvious that this is a thoroughbred sports car of great stature.
This particular car was first registered by the Alfa Romeo Company on June 3, 1932. Sixteen days later, it became the third of Alfa Romeo’s 1932 Works-entered Le Mans 24 Hour cars, being co-driven in the French endurance classic by the intensely competitive and capable British aristocrats Sir Henry Birkin and Earl Howe, and carrying the race number 9.
It was fitted with regulation racing bodywork by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan. Among the 25 starters in that Depression-era 24-Hour race, “065” now offered here led for a period before being forced to retire.
The car was taken straight to England for repair. It was then run in that year’s RAC Tourist Trophy at Ards, Ulster, on August 20, being driven by Earl Howe. This Alfa Romeo went particularly well, and Earl Howe was actually the fastest finisher, completing his assigned 30-lap distance, 410 miles, in five hours, nine minutes, 56 seconds.
The ex-Birkin/Howe car was then returned to Alfa Romeo in Italy. On September 27, 1932, it was sold to Giuseppe Campari. Simon Moore believes that it formed part of his remuneration deal as an Alfa Romeo Works-backed driver and Italian celebrity. It appears that Campari consigned the car to the Farina coachbuilding company of Turin to be rebodied from its Carrozzeria Touring-made racing-regulation style, to become a road-usable drophead coupe.