1988 Best of Show Winner
April 21, 2021
1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Spider shown by John Mozart
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B, introduced in 1937, is said to be the progenitor of the postwar Grand Touring coupé. A luxury passenger car with superior speed and handling, it certainly marks “the pinnacle of Alfadom,” as one writer has aptly stated.
The engine is essentially the 2.9-litre eight-cylinder supercharged Tipo B that made the marque Alfa Romeo unbeatable in key races of the 1930s. The chassis is a boxed frame with a wheelbase of 2.75 meters, independent suspension, and huge hydraulic brakes. This fabulous first example of the model has chassis 412014, engine 422014, and a body by Touring.
McClure Halley of Brooklyn, New York, placed the initial order for this car, requesting special instruments, chrome wheels, and details like engraved moldings. Not content simply to wait for his order to be filled, Halley went to Bologna and stayed in a hotel near the factory for two months, making certain that the car was built exactly to his specifications.
An early photograph records the car’s debut at the Milan Motor Show, and it already has its New York license plates in place.
Richard Paine of Bar Harbor, Maine, acquired the car in the late 1960s, and John Mozart acquired the car from him in the early 1980s.
Mozart undertook the car’s restoration with the help of Mike Hemus, and it was perhaps the car’s intricately engraved moldings that caused the two men the most angst. The process and the instruments used by the factory to do the original engravings could not be determined. Hemus had to use gun engraving tools and techniques to reproduce them and it was more than a struggle to attain a correct and consistent width and depth.
The restored car was named Best of Show at the 1988 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and it has won a number of additional awards, including Best of Show at the Meadow Brook Hall Concours d’Elegance. Mozart has also driven the car over 10,000 miles—“through rain, snow, ice, everything.”
Dave Holls, former Director of Design at General Motors who served for years as Chief Honorary Judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, once said of this Alfa, “If I could have only one car in the world, that would be the car I’d want to have.”