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Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 1932. 1/8 scale. Pocher model.
Multi media kit with metal, plastic, and rubber.

On May 24, 1931, Tazio Nuvolari and Giuseppe Campari shared a car and won the 10-hour Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Vittorio Jano's masterpiece, the Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 'Monza', was born and would become the dominant racing car of it's era.

The 8C-2300 was originally introduced as a sports racing car, and made an inauspicious start in the Mille Miglia, losing the race due to tire problems. In May, however, Nuvolari won the Targa Florio and from that time on the 8C-2300 and its variants, including the P-3, simply steamrolled over the competition. In 1931 alone, the 8C-2300 in sports and Grand Prix guise won LeMans, the Comminges, Dieppe, Italian Grands Prix, the Coppa Ciano, Dauphine, Coppa Acerbo as well as the aforementioned Targa Florio.

Despite its famous Monza victory, the Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 was what might be termed an interim model, fate having slotted it between the championship P-2 and the even more successful P-3. The Monzas were not expected to be competitive in the Grand Prix events scheduled for 1931, when the formula had but one rule that races be at least ten hours in length. The design and construction of the cars were left to the imagination. Vittorio Jano, was Alfa's chief engineer and the designer of the 8C-2300.

Under Jano, Alfa-Romeo experienced a golden age. His earlier design, the Alfa-Romeo P2, had dominated racing, to the point where some of the more nationalistic spectators would begin to heckle the Italian team. One incident has become a part of racing lore. During the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1925 the local favorite Delage team had retired all of their cars and the race became an Alfa-Romeo parade led by Ascari and Campari. The fans began to make their displeasure known and Jano in response ordered his cars to pit. While they were being refueled the cars were cleaned and buffed. During this pitstop he had a table placed in full view whereupon he imperiously ate lunch, deaf to the howls of the spectators. The cars rejoined the race and won with ease.

Jano felt the Monza, with only 165 horsepower in a 920 kilogram chassis, would not be fast enough. Even years later, Jano recalled the chassis as being "too heavy" and "no masterpiece of mine." Jano obviously had little faith in what is now recognised to be his masterpiece. But surprisingly, the Monza, which was in reality a sports car turned Grand Prix machine, not only won at Monza but throughout the season, continued to show its heels to the rest of the field. Jano had probably overrated the competition (primarily the Type 51 Bugatti) and underestimated his own skills, because the Monza won the championship for Alfa in 1931 and continued victorious into 1932, when in was superseded by the P-3.

The 8C-2300 was engineered and hand crafted to perfection with no consideration of cost, an expensive exotic of which only 188 cars were built between 1931 and 1934. Today there are probably less than 20 genuine Monzas still in existence. Monzas utilised the same essentials as the sports models, but were built on a shorter eight feet, eight inch wheelbase, and were graced with very light aluminium bodies. Bolted directly to the frame, the engine provided increased chassis rigidity, similar to today's Formula One cars. A 4-speed transmission was disengaged from the engine via a dry multi-plate clutch. The suspension, aside from being virtually non-existent as a bump absorbing medium, consisted of leaf springs front and rear with adjustable friction disc dampers. The accelerator, like in many of the Italian cars of the thirties, is located where we would normally find the brake. Brakes were excellent for the era, although they could alternately grab and release as the chassis flexed under the load. A series of rods and clevis joints activated cams which expanded brake shoes against huge alloy drums on all four wheels.

A standard 2.3 litre engine for the sports model was rated at nearly 135 bhp at 4900 rpm, while racing versions produced 165 bhp at 5400 rpm and later, with the capacity increased to 2600 cc and suitably modified by Scuderia Ferrari, produced as much as 180 horsepower. The engine was a showpiece of incredible aluminium castings, intricate examples of artistic functionality. Eight cylinders and 2336 cc were obtained by constructing two blocks of four cylinders mated with a common valve drive in the centre of the engine. The reason for mating two fours was not for economics, since new casting had to be produced. Instead, the technique provided a viable and efficient way to decrease crankshaft vibrations and torsional stresses usually associated with a long eight cylinder block. Two crankshafts were machined and bolted together, with two helical cut gears sandwiched between each crank. Drive for the dual overhead camshafts was derived from one gear and the single stage Roots type supercharger was operated via the other. Small coil springs, much like those in clutch discs, were also placed within the gears to provide a crankshaft dampening effect. The crank was laid into a case made of cast aluminium alloy (magnesium was used on the race cars, however) and was a massive unit incorporating ten main bearings. The machine work and castings were so accurate that any one of the bearing caps would fit any one of the main bearing supports, backwards or forwards.

Driving the Monza was a brutal experience for the senses. Sitting high - almost on the car rather than in it - the long bonnet reached forward, appearing much longer than it really was. With only two turns from lock to lock, the Alfa was sensitive to any input from the steering wheel, and the long front end twitched with every movement of the wheel, seeking out the direction of the road. It was rough, especially over imperfect tarmac. The only effective springing medium was the seat cushions, which thankfully were comfortable and almost as soft as a sofa. On relatively open roads the 8C-2300 handled better than any other pre-war car, but on twisting mountain roads and the streets of medieval Italian towns, steering around corners took some muscle. Although occasionally prone to transmission failure the 8C-2300 was so reliable that Caracciola nicknamed the car 'Muletto'. What is incomprehensible was not the abilities of the machine, which were indeed incredible, but the stamina, strength and endurance of the drivers who often single-handedly drove 10-hour Grand Prix events in the Monzas.

And what of the 8C-2300's creator Vittorio Jano ? After the death of his son in 1965, and stricken with an illness that would end his life, Jano committed suicide that same year, at the age of 75, rather than face the prospect of failing powers.

Motor: Supercharged in-line 2.3 litre 8 cylinder Clutch: Dry, multiple disc Speed: 225 km/h
Power: 165 hp at 5400 rpm Gearbox: 4 non-synchronized forward and reverse Weight: 920 kg

The start of the 1932 Monaco GP. Nuvolari 4th row in middle column.

Vittorio Jano


Three kilometres from the finish of the Targa Florio, Tazio Nuvolari, while driving in the night sans headlights, caught an unsuspecting Varzi.
Pulling along side, he smiled at his startled team mate, then flicked on his headlights and powered on to victory.

Tazio Nuvolari, a legend in his own lifetime, was known as Il Montavani Volante, the Flying Mantuan. He epitomised courage and daring and for 30 years he amazed the racing world with his exploits on both two and four wheels.

He was born November 18, 1892, in Casteldrio near Mantua. He was still a boy at school when an early aeroplace crashed nearby. Nuvolari salvaged it and rebuilt it; those were the days of struts, wire tensioners, and fabric wings. He managed to get it hoisted on to the roof of his house. He got the motor started, cut the rope that hobbled it to the chimney, took off, and immediately crashed in the garden below, breaking his back.

On November 10th, 1917, Tazio married Carolina Perina (1894-1981) in Milan, in a civil ceremony. On September 4th, 1918, their first child Giorgio was born.

His uncle Giuseppe was a Bianchi dealer and introduced his nephew to motor sports. After serving in the Italian Army as a driver Tazio started racing motorcycles seriously in 1920, when he was 28. He raced Nortons, Saroleas, Garellis, Fongris and Indians. His riding was noticed by the powerful Bianchi team and he became a member and eventually Italian champion. At the Monza Grand Prix for motorcycles he crashed during practice. This resulted in two broken legs. After doctors put plaster casts on both legs he was told that it would be at least one month before he could walk again let alone race motorcycles. The next day he started the race having himself tied to his bike. He required his mechanics to hold him upright at the start of the race and to catch him at the end. The legend of Tazio Nuvolari began that day when he won the race.

Nuvolari began racing cars at 29 (1921) while still competing in motorcycles. In 1924, Nuvolari had competed in two races against Enzo Ferrari himself. He finished second to Enzo's 3 litre racer both times, in a car with half the engine capacity. Enzo was impressed. In 1925 Nuvolari did not race car at all. These were the years of his rise to become the ace of the two wheelers. However, he summoned for a test drive on Sept. 1st, 1925, at Monza, he was given the triumphant P2 - the dominat Gran prix car of those days - to drive. He drove faster and faster for 5 laps - faster than Campari and Marinoni, and close to Antonio Ascari's best lap of the year before. But at the sixth lap, his test drive ended with a spectacular unplanned exit from the track. Nuvolari could have taken the place of Ascari, who was killed at Monthléry a month before; but Vittorio Jano, the Alfa Romeo director of racing, would not consider him again until 1929. The car was heavily damaged, the driver injured, but 12 days later Tazio, still aching, Nuvolari went to Monza where, with a special bandage, he rode his Bianchi 350 bike and won the Gran Premio delle Nazioni.

In 1927 he started his own team, buying a pair of Bugatti 35Bs which he shared with his partner Achille Varzi who was also a successful motorcycle racer. This partnership would later turn into an intense rivalry. Nuvolari began to win races at the expense of Varzi who left the team. Varzi, the son of a wealthy merchant could afford better equipment and bought an Alfa P2. With this car he had the better of Nuvolari.

In 1930 Nuvolari signed on with Alfa Romeo and was a team mate of his rival Varzi once again. The Mille Miglia of 1930 would go down in history when Nuvolari caught an unsuspecting Varzi while driving in the night sans headlights. Three kilometres from the finish he suddenly pulled along side and, smiling at his startled team mate, he flicked on his headlights and powered on to victory. For the Targa Floria of 1932 he requested of Enzo Ferrari a mechanic who weighed as little or less than he. Nuvolari took the young and inexperienced mechanic that Ferrari had given him and told him that he would shout for him to take cover under the dashboard when they approached a particularly difficult and dangerous corner so as not to unduly frighten the young man. After the race and another victory for Nuvolari, Ferrari asked the mechanic how he had made out. "Nuvolari started shouting at the first bend and finished at the last one," the boy answered. "I was down at the bottom of the car all the time." That was the race in which Nuvolari set up a record that lasted until 1952, twenty years later, one more of his unique achievements.

He had a fine sardonic humour. He once rebuked Ferrari for buying him a return ticket when he was driving in the Targa Florio. "You're supposed to be a businessman. You should know better than to buy a driver a return ticket."

When the Great Little Man became excited he couldn't sit still in his seat but would jump up and down with his head close to the steering wheel and his arms constantly working. In 1933 he scored many victories but fell-out with team manager Enzo Ferrari and left for Maserati. 1933 also saw him travel to Northern Ireland for the Tourist Trophy Race and a drive in a supercharged MG K3 Magnette. After totally dominating the race someone asked him if he liked the MG's brakes. Nuvolari replied he couldn't really tell, he hadn't used them much.

In 1935 he was induced to return to Alfa Romeo, and at the Nurburgring, he scored his greatest victory. Driving an obsolete Alfa against the might of the German nation, he drove at the ragged edge and sometimes over it. By half race distance he had driven from the back of the grid, crushing the mighty Mercedes and Auto Union teams, to lead the race. On lap 12 everybody stopped for fuel, most getting in and out in under a minute. But Nuvolari's fueling system failed and the Alfa had to be filled by hand. The stop took over two minutes and he rejoined the race in sixth place. Over the next 10 laps he performed miracles behind the wheel, forcing his old Alfa past Stuck, Caracciola, Rosmeyer and Fagioli and with one lap to go was closing on the leader Brauchitsch in a Mercedes. His relentless pursuit caused Brauchitsch to cane his tyres mercilessly and halfway around the last lap the Mercedes rear tyre exploded. Nuvolari roared by to victory in front of a hushed crowd of stunned Nazi party officials. It has rightly been considered as the greatest race performance ever. Anticipating nothing but a home success the organizers had no copy of the Italian national anthem. "No problem," said Nuvolari, producing a copy of the music, "I always carry it, just in case!"

In 1936 he had a serious accident during practice for the Tripoli GP but escaped from the hospital and took a taxi to the race where he finished seventh in a spare car. After the death of German driver Bernd Rosemeyer in 1938, Auto Union was desperate for a driver who could master their mid-engine race car. At the insistence of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche they turned to an Italian - Nuvolari. He showed his incredible technical mastery in his handling of the Auto Union. This was admittedly the most difficult racing-car in the world to drive. With its unorthodox construction, strange handling, rear engine, and forward position for the driver, it reduced the worlds best drivers to the level of beginners. The better the driver, the more difficulty he had in adapting himself. But not Nuvolari. The first time he ever raced an Auto Union he won - Monza in 1938. The second time he won - Donington, also in 1938. And the third and last time - the Jugoslavian Grand Prix in 1939.

Only World War II could stop Nuvolari, but after the fighting stopped, he returned to racing at the age of 53. In a minor race he had the steering wheel come off his car yet managed to return to the pits holding the wheel in one hand and the steering column with the other. Nuvolari was now seriously ill with acute asthma, the result of years of inhaling exhaust fumes. He continued to win, but both his sons had tragically succumbed to illness in their late teens (Giorgio 1937 and Alberto 1946) and with few friends left, he raced like a man possessed, possibly seeking the end on the track. If so, then the reflexes proved to be faster than the mind.

His last Mille Miglia, in 1948, was what many considered to have been his last great drive and a defining moment in his illustrious career. Driving once more for Enzo Ferrari, he was now in poor physical condition and low morale. It was 15 years since his last win at the Mille Miglia and he had not driven for eight months. He took off from the start as if he was 20 years old, rather than 56. In Pescara he was leading, at Rome he was 12 minutes ahead, in Livorno 20 minutes, at Florence half an hour. His drive was irresistible, but the car was breaking up. First it lost a mud guard, then the bonnet, then the bolts holding the seats in. Ferrari was waiting in Maranello and seeing him so debilitated, physically wrecked, he tried to convince him to retire. "You'll have other opportunities," he said. Sadly, Nuvolari responded, "Dear Ferrari, at our age there aren't going to be many more opportunities." He restarted, still driving on the limit. Finally, in Reggio Emilia a broken leaf spring pivot dashed any hopes of a happy ending to the last of Nuvolari's epic drives. Coasting to a stop, the exhausted Nuvolari was lifted from the cockpit by a priest.

In 1949 he only raced once, almost symbolically, at Marseilles where he completed just one lap before handing the Maserati A6GCS to Piero Carini. He was back behind the wheel in 1950, for his final races. He was at the Giro di Sicilia/Targa Florio (1.080KM long!) but had to retire due to the broken gear box after a few kilometers. On April 10th, he raced at Palermo-Montepellegrino hill climb, arriving 5th overall and first in his class. Although he never announced his retirement from racing, this was to be his last win and his last drive, too.

His racing career lasted from 1921 to 1950. In those 29 years he won every important race, many of them several times over - the Mille Miglia twice, the Targa Florio twice. He drove every sort of car from the simple sports two-seaters to the most difficult formula monoposto monsters. He drove on every sort of circuit - tracks like Monza, round-the-houses like Monte Carlo, typical Grand Prix circuits like Pescara, long-distance races like Le Mans, straight record attempts on the autostrade. He won them all. He finished in 130 races and of these he won 64 outright. In his whole life he was second only 17 times. His determination was absolute.

On August 11th, 1953, 9 months after suffering a paralysing stroke, the man who had broken innumerable bones, who had seven major crashes, who had jumped from a burning car at a hundred miles an hour, would die in his bed. He was 60 years old. As was his wish he was buried in his uniform - the yellow jersey, blue trousers and leather helmet. More than 50,000 people attended his funeral. Enzo Ferrari arriving in Mantua stopped at a plumber's shop to ask for directions. Seeing the Modena license plates and unaware of the identity of the driver, the workman murmured, "Thank you for coming. A man like that won't be born again."


By 1932, motor racing was a case of Nuvolari against the rest.
To see Nuvolari, as he made his blood-red Alfa perform seemingly impossible antics, not once but corner after corner, lap after lap, the tyres screaming and the crowd yelling themselves hoarse, was quite fantastic

The Grand Prix de Monaco as usual opened the European season. The starting grid was made up of three columns of cars being Bugatti on the right, Alfa Romeo centre and a mix of Maserati and Bugatti on the left. Team strategy had Nuvolari start fourth in the Alfa column.

At first Chiron in a Bugatti set a furious pace bent on repeating his 1931 victory, but soon Nuvolari had carved his way through the field to settle on Chiron's heels. Chiron then overdid things while attempting to lap another car and pump up fuel pressure at the same time. The car hit the pavement rolled over and turned around in Nuvolari's path, who, characteristically, avoided the accident.

Achille Varzi then pressed Nuvolari with his Bugatti T51, taking fastest lap with a 2m02.0s, but to no avail. Finally Nuvolari's team mate Caracciola, driving his first race for Alfa Romeo and probably the only man that could out-drive Nuvolari, mounted a challenge. He led for some time, before waving the little Italian through to save his face and friendship. W.F .Bradley wrote: 'Nuvolari and Caracciola are less than three seconds apart and driving in entirely different manners. Nuvolari gives the impression of a jockey whipping a tired horse, and Caracciola a man making a fast run for the pleasure of the thing...' Diminishing fuel levels gave Nuvolari some unpleasant moments in the closing laps, when he was seen perhaps beseeching the Madonna that it might last to the end. It did, but his margin over Caracciola, was a very narrow one of 2.7 secs after 3h32m25.3s and 197.600 miles of racing. Nuvolari's average speed over 100 laps of the twisting Monaco track was 55.814mph. Luigi Fagioli in a Maserati 26M was third 2m17s further back.

George Monkhouse wrote: 'The very sight of Nuvolari has for some reason which I cannot explain always sent "tingles down my spine," perhaps it was just his dynamic personality but I know that I was not alone in this feeling.... To see Nuvolari in his heyday chin out sitting well back in the driving seat his outstretched hairy arms flashing in the sun as he made his blood-red Alfa perform seemingly impossible antics not once but corner after corner, lap after lap, the tyres screaming and the crowd yelling themselves hoarse was quite fantastic. There was something soul stirring about Tazio Nuvolari for, wherever he drove, thousands of spectators, whatever their nationality, "squeezed" for him, hoping against hope that he would achieve the impossible, nor did he often disappoint them.'

The start of the 1932 Monaco GP. Nuvolari 4th row in middle column.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza 1:8 by Pocher.
At the 2008 Australian GP, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Giddings, who was there to drive his P3 Alfa. Peter is an expert on Alfa's from this era (and I suspect many other cars from many other era's). Peter kindly spent time with me and answered many questions regarding details of Nuvolari's number 28 Alfa. For those modelers who wish to build this model as Nuvolari's car, below is a list of information Peter was kind enough to provide. Thankyou Peter.

[a] BODY - The body colour was called 'Ox Blood Red' and was applied with a brush. It was a Flat (matt) finish and was kept clean with an oily rag. Peter also mentioned that there is a Fiat colour from the 50's that is called 'Aramath' that is a very close match to the original colour.
[b] YELLOW STRIPE - The yellow stripe along the sides was a dark egg yoke yellow. It finishes at the rear on each side with a tapered point in the same style as it does at the front. The front detail can be clearly seen in the large photo at the top of this page.

2. NUMBERS (28)
The rear had 28 on both sides, as did the bonnet. The wire radiator screen also displayed the number. (Note that there was no Alfa Romeo badge attached to the wire radiator screen).

Upholstery was Black Leather. The seat squab was made up of a separate right and left cushion with a divider between the two cushions. See photo HERE. You will need to do a bit of scratch building on the model to replicate this. To be totally authentic you would only include the backrest and cushion for the driver as seen in THIS photo. You will also need to modify the body behind the seat to incorporate two curves that end in a point behind the drivers left shoulder, as can be clearly seen in this photo. This is the seat configuration that the Alfa's ran at Monaco in 1932.

Flat or Satin Black.

Outer - Aluminium. Inner - Body colour.

Body colour.

If you have any other information regarding the Nuvolari car, that could be useful to modelers, you can contact me at

Every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyright and we apologise to any we have been unable to contact

Jon Crooke

15 November 2004 (last modified 17 March 2008)

Paint guide.

The correct seat configuration.

Divider in the above photo was higher at the front in the #28 car. See photo's above.