A 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring sold for $19,800,000 at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 as the most-expensive prewar car ever. It is also by far the most expensive Alfa Romeo ever sold at public auction and the eighth highest price ever paid for a car at public auction.
Note: The pre-war record was raised by a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, chassis J-563, that sold for $22 million at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2018 classic car sale.
The Most-Expensive Prewar Car Ever
A new marque record was set when a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring sold for $19,800,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 classic car sale in California on August 20, 2016. This was also the highest price ever paid for a pre-Second World War car at public auction.
The previous record for an Alfa Romeo was $9,427,600 paid for a 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35 at Bonhams Goodwood Revival in 2013.
The previous record for a pre-war car was set at $11,770,000 for a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K Spezial Roadster at Gooding Pebble Beach 2012. The only other pre-war car that ever sold for more than $10 million at auction was a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long-Wheelbase Coupe that achieved $10,340,000 at Gooding Pebble Beach 2011.
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 cars of the late 1930s were amongst the most powerful and most prestigious sport cars on the market. Like the Bugatti Atlantics, these large Alfa Romeos were fast and used the latest technology in contrast to the reliable but more conservative Mercedes Benz 540Ks or Duesenbergs from the period.
Only 32 of the 2.9 chassis were ever made of which only 12 were fitted with Touring Spider bodies. The record breaking 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider is one of only seven with bodywork by Carozzeria Touring on the long chassis.
The record-setting car has a slightly problematic history and not all components are original to the specific car but the bidders seemed to have agreed with marque specialist Simon Moore on the origins of the car.
The history of this Alfa Romeo is only known, and also only partly, from 1949. The car was imported then into Brazil and used for racing on a shortened chassis with a different body and a Chevrolet engine. The original Touring body seemed to have ended up in Argentina. It was only during the 1990s that the chassis was again lengthened. The handmade coachwork fitted so precisely that marque experts were convinced that it must have been the original body. A complete and original 8C 2900B engine was sourced to replace the racing Chevrolet engine.
During the past two decades, Sam and Emily Mann drove 12,000 miles in this 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider – significantly more than many of the modern super and hyper cars offered at current auctions.
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