One-off, 1:43-Scale, Scratch-built Model of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Coupe, Le Mans 1938
The 1:43-scale model of this unique Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Coupe was finished in January 2015. I presented the completed model for the first time at Retromobile 2015. As can be seen in the photos of the finished model, the bodywork fits exactly over the chassis and 'bodybuck' model. There is then the option to display the model with the bodywork over the chassis, or to one side.
It took me a number of years to reach this stage, and you may have seen some of the initial parts of the chassis on display at various exhibitions including Retromobile during that time. However it was during 2012 that I was able to start work in earnest on the model.
The delay in making progress with the model was largely due to the difficulties in acquiring the right documentary evidence to make a one-off, super-detailed model. As I was not been able to find enough of the right documents, I began working on a new idea of a one-off, 2-model display of a closed model accompanied by a 'bodybuck' chassis model with engine and frame detail. The 2-model display of the prototype as shown in photo number 27 was exhibited at Retromobile 2013.
When I came up with the idea for the 2-model display my initial plan was for the bodywork for the closed model to be cast in resin with further detail being added using the specially-manufactured photo-etched parts in brass. With this version it would then be possible to see some engine detail through the brass, louvered vents. The photos of the prototype for the resin bodywork were taken prior to casting.
However in early December 2013 I began looking at another idea using a brass body. I started to scratch-build a new body in brass which fitted exactly over the top of both the resin body and over the ’bodybuck’. Photos 68 to 73 show this new brass body and how it fits over the resin body & the ’bodybuck’.
But in late December I decided I wasn’t very happy with the first body in brass, so I remade it using a mixture of brass and copper (photos 74 to 77). I’ve used copper because it is easily shaped but becomes very rigid when hardened. The last two photos show one of the doors. Both doors have a small air-intake which has an opening and closing hinged cover.
Photos 80 to 85 show the the test 'bodybuck' and chassis model and how the new copper and brass body, with hinged opening and closing doors and lids, fits over them.
The next three photos show the test build of the resin version of the Alfa, which is the third model option in addition to the ’bodybuck’ and chassis model in brass, and the copper and brass bodywork.
The 'works-in-progress' of the 'bodybuck', chassis, copper and brass models, plus the test of the resin model, were exhibited at Retromobile 2014.
Work on the model then continued during 2014 and the remaining photos show the various stages of the build of the chassis & 'bodybuck' model, the engine and the copper and brass body.
Photos 1 to 27 show the prototype. The parts of the prototype chassis frame, which have been used to make the photo-etched parts, have been made from various sizes of brass tubing soldered together, using techniques already used in various other models. The prototype engine has also been made from brass and is entirely scratch-built, and this will be used to cast the engines. The wire ’bodybuck’ will be individually made using both brass wire and cast resin.
Photos 28 to 67 are from October & November 2013 after I received my new photo-etched parts. They show the first tests of the bonnet and the louvered wings made from these new, brass parts, plus the firewall, the chassis frame and front & rear suspension of the 'bodybuck' model. The vast majority of the photos show some of the construction using the photo-etched parts and the specially-made, turned parts in brass. The wheels have been positioned merely as a guide.
To give you a little background to the car; Alfa Corse entered five 8C 2900Bs for the 1938 Le Mans but only one with a coupe body. Car number #19 had been prepared specifically for Le Mans by Carrozzeria Touring to be very quick, particularly on the straights, and to achieve this they gave it a revolutionary aerodynamic coupe body at a time when most cars were still open. Even now it is still considered one of the most beautiful cars ever built for Le Mans.
It was driven by Raymond Sommer and Clemente Biondetti and it outclassed the competition with its speed, achieving a fastest lap time of 154.78 km/h. The pair seemed to be well on they way to victory when in the 21st hour a puncture on the Mulsanne straight forced them into the pits. The car managed to return to the track still in the lead and looked set to win when an hour before the finish their luck ran out when a broken valve meant the end of their race.