Every once in a while a motoring book comes along which quite plainly has to be added to the collection, no matter what the cost. Simon Moore’s weighty work on the Alfa Romeo 2.9, the fastest of all pre-war sportcars, is one of these.
Books about a single model can be repetitive, but when the model in question is one of the very greatest automobiles ever assembled, and when every one of the 39 or so built has its own surprising story, and when the author has spent over 20 years following up those histories and examining almost every car, becoming in the process the world’s leading authority on them, it is inevitable that the result will be a tour de force.
Years ahead of its time in performance and sophistication, marrying a twin-supercharged, twin-cam racing power-unit to an all-independent chassis, the 8C 2900 Alfa Romeo in two-seater sports form carried some of the most beautiful bodies to be sculpted before or since the war, and Moore’s book illustrates all of them without stinting, in original form, in any later incarnations, and as they are today — almost all are accounted for, one way or another.
The special bodies are all of interest, but the “standard” touring shapes, long or short-chassised , spider or berlinetta, are in themselves so gorgeous that every page is an indulgence. The many photographs (360 duotones, 18 colour) are accompanied by some priceless illustrations of contemporary sales brochures, and by detailed line drawings of every car.
Written in a very personal manner, as befits the owner of one of these fabulous cars, the text is not merely historical. but enthusiastically describes Moore’s journeys of research and his meetings with those connected at any time with the cars. with chapters on the gestation of the 2.9 and its racing triumphs. It is a work of passion. overflowing with the excitement of tracing each car’s story, and intensely scholarly over the evidence — undoubtedly my book of the year.
Available from MotoBooks, St Martin’s Court, London, or from the author at 50 Winchendon Road, London SW6. GC