1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LM Pilots: E. Howe, T. Birkin Team: Lord Howe Race: 1st overall (S3.0 class) at Le Mans in 1931 Spark - 43LM31 (resin)
Alfa Romeo created the 8C originally as a range of road, race and sports cars in the 1930s. The name 8C designates eight cylinders, and the engine, designed by Vittorio Jano, would be Alfa Romeo’s primary racing engine for the 30’s. The engine debuted in the 1931 Mille Miglia, though in the 6 cylinder version. And it worked: 12 Alfa 6C 1750 came in the first 14 positions! With the good results it was then used on all of Alfa’s race cars, though expanded to 8 cylinders for added power.
Shortly after the Mille Miglia came the 24 Heures du Mans. And the 1931 race was a very special race. It was a water divider, because for the first time privateers could go up against works teams. Thus, of the 26 cars in the race, only seven were from factory teams. And for the first time there were Alfas at La Sarthe. Automobili Alfa Romeo had a single works car, the 8C 2300 #14. But since now privateers could race, Earl (Lord) Howe bought an Alfa and went to France. He had the 8C 2300 LM #16, and shared the wheel with Le Mans veteran Tim Birkin. At first, the small Alfas could not keep up with the powerful Bugattis and sole Mercedes. But the lithe 8C was agile and reliable, and by the end the 8C 2300 LM #16 finished in first place.
Being the first Alfa to win at La Sarthe, the 8C 2300 LM #16 was a must buy for me. However, though I can’t say why, these old clunkers are erratic to find. This one is the first I found, and I was fortunate to find the Spark version. As you can see, compared to my other Alfas, Ixo does a good job, but without a doubt Spark is a few notches above. Definitely not a model for everyone, but for the Le Mans nut, an awesome one.