RAC Cars News


The £6 Million Alfa Romeo

By raccars Published

An Alfa Romeo commissioned by Mussolini, has just made automotive sales history, after being bought at Chichester's Goodwood Revival Sale for £5,937,500. This is the second highest price ever paid for a car in Europe – the most expensive ever was a Mercedes W196 for £19 million. It is also the most expensive Alfa Romeo in the world, beating the previous record of £4,245,118 from 2010.

The Alfa Romeo 8C-35 was created in 1935 at Mussolini's behest by Scuderia Ferrari, which hadn't yet got around to making cars under its own badge. Mercedes-Benz and Audi, having been liberally funded by Hitler, were at that point all but unbeatable at the racetrack and the ultra-competitive Mussolini set out to redress the balance.

The 8C-35 debuted at the Italian Grand Prix with a big splash, leaving all rivals quaking in its wake. Its performance was more rocket ship than motor car, able to come roaring up from behind to first place within two minutes on the track. In 1936 it was bought by a young Swiss driver, Hans Ruesch, who gave it an extensive track campaign with aid of British co-driver, Richard Seaman.

Its Grand Prix racing career over, Mussolini's 8C-35 was sold after World War II to a wealthy businessman, Dennis Poore. He drove it enthusiastically both on the road and at track events, notably winning the first post-war Gransden Trophy in 1947 and the British Hillclimb Championship of 1950. However by 1955, the novelty had worn off. The car went into storage in a barn at Poore's Taplow, Buckinghamshire home, sitting there untouched until 1987, when Poore died.

Since then it has been restored to full working order, albeit retaining the majority of its original features, including the mirror and gearstick. Furthermore, it can allegedly still reach its top speed of 165mph. Its sale at auction at Goodwood not only celebrates a zenith of racing achievement but also commemorates the historic rivalry between Hitler and Mussolini.

The 8C designation was applied to a number of eight cylinder vehicles by Alfa Romeo in the 1930s. The 1935 racing version features a supercharged 3.8 litre engine developing 330bhp driving four forward and one reverse gear and, while unable to catch the German cars on a straight, was unbeatable around tighter, twistier tracks. It helped to cement Alfa Romeo's reputation as THE car for petrolheads. Despite a reputation for unreliability, getting behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo is considered one of the ultimate driving experiences.

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