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Alfa 308 - the reality in pictures


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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 August 2002 - 21:08

Ladies and gentlemen of TNF - rather to my surprise (well, totally in fact) I now find myself equipped with some space enabling me to inflict pix upon you without having to bother my always obliging friend Allen Brown.

Bira has given me a complete tutorial absolutely tailored to Thickie McThick, which has suited me down to the ground, as I hope (fingers crossed) the following will demonstrate.

Please don't panic Bira, I'm not going to be using this new toy to this extent right often, but I thought this was an occasion worth celebrating ... so I hope everybody will indulge me a mo...and though I've tried to select v. low res scans and v. small files I also hope that the slow loaders will not be too troubled by the following...

These pix - which I have recently located in an old unmarked, unaccompanied, envelope here and whose origins I wot not - show, I believe, the Oscar Galvez 1938 Alfa Romeo 308 in the Fangio Museum at Balcarce, Argentina.

They demonstrate, I hope, all the characteristics of this type of machine which should appeal to all lovers of fine craftsmanship and of thoroughbred racing cars.

Anyone who relishes engineering and machine work will recognise that Italy produced a bunch of junk if compared to the finest of contemporary Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union work.

BUT that's like comparing apples with pears, because when you really look into...as opposed to merely look at...pictures of Italian artisan work on period cars such as this, you get a real sense that real men, with hairy knuckles, and a sense of pride, and a bellyful of pasta and red wine, really CRAFTED these cars through hundreds of hours of dedication and enthusiasm and commitment. There's an entirely different feel to these things from that which makes the short hairs on the back of the neck prickle when you examine one of the great German cars at close quarters. So let's examine this lovely, largely unspoiled and highly original GP car...at close quarters.

First, the beautifully proportioned and graceful aluminium bodywork:

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Note the well-worn period Pirelli Corsa tyres...

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Open the bonnet and there's the supercharged 3-litre straight eight twin-cam engine. That's the twin-blower tucked behind the lower body panel, one section feeding to each 4-cylinder engine block - you can see the mating flange bolted-through on the side of the engine assembly, where front and rear blocks mate. Behind that joint there's the centre-line gear-train which runs up from the centre of the crankshaft to power the overhead camshafts serving front and rear heads...

At the back of the engine, part submerged into the engine-bay bulkhead, that's the steering box, with the shaft running out towards us which motors the drop-arm fore-and-aft, actuating the long draglink just visible at the top of the body panel, to operate the steering arm and track-rod arangements up at the sharp end. (Sorry techies - but a lot of TNFers are even less technical than I am...)

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Then there's the 'hot' side of the engine, the exhausts - and on the bulkhead to the left you can see the Alfa chassis plate, in black, which we'll take a closer look at next...

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...here it is. Self explanatory, but just savour that patina....ooh, shabby mac time...but this is not the only serial number of interest, oh no...

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...for here is the separate racing department plate which I find fascinating, because it appears to show the large numeral in sequence from the famous Scuderia Ferrari 'SF' individual chassis identity numbers system, of which you've all probably heard.

SF team Alfas through the 1930s all carried stamped serials like this, and here we have a 1938 car - run not by the now defunct Scuderia Ferrari based in Modena but for the first season by the Alfa Corse factory team, based back in Milan, yet still they perpetuated this established system. Unless - of course - the digit hadn't been changed from the frame's earlier existence as 8C-35-12C-36/37??? But in SF numbering, '78' is a very high number. I guess that '78' was simpler to work with in record keeping than '50017' - though both serials indicated the self-same car...

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Meanwhile - down in the basement alongside the engine - the crankcase of the Alfa units extended into big mounting legs like this, and there's a serial plate attached there as well, in this case identifying the engine - matching number - but note the plate is riveted on, and rivets can easily be drilled out and plates changed should such identification become...errr...inconvenient! God bless the Customs ... and some race scrutineers. Yes, even back then...

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Now - settle yourself in the cockpit...relish the view...savour the feel of that polished woodrim steering wheel...Nuvolari for a day? The fuel tank hasn't ignited yet, after all...

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Instrumentation - remember what records what - this will be vital when you just barely have time to glance down at 175mph on the Mellaha...

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And this is what you're sitting in, and what you're sitting ahead of - comfy hide-upholstered chair, grippy tall sides, there's 30-plus gallons of methanol behind your kidneys, look at that hand-crafted, multi-drilled body hoop, the crafted detail, the indifferent welding, perfection and imperfection, you just KNOW this thing was made by real blokes...doing the best they could, working just all hours, and with the simplest of tools. There's the left-hand gearchange - and the fuel cock - and it looks as if a bit of work was done on that radius arm end...and notice the box-section chassis main rail, a folded and welded box section skinned so thin it looks rather like an old Duckhams oil can. This frame would have been an 8C-35 or 12C-36/37 in previous seasons...

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And here's the corresponding view forward - like the clutch cage? The centreline propshaft hardly looks robust, spearing back beneath your seat...and this baby's got a handbrake too, that's it, over on the right...

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And here's the water radiator - oil radiator lower down, front suspension and the drum brakes with cooling air intakes...cowled on the right-front (left in this view) only.

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This shot demonstrates how everything to do with body support was drilled for lightness, everywhere...

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And then - if you're going to park it backwards in the scenery - here are more of our luvverly crushable structures - oil tank at the extreme tail, fuel tank ahead of that.

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Well, I hope you've appreciated this little tour of a real old warrior - there's far more, no doubt, to be discussed and debated about these things - but those of you who quite justifiably regard racing cars themselves as merely a utensil necessary to permit the driver to strut his stuff, please do now appreciate that some of us just love these things for what they are, for the team effort they represent, and for the enduring works of art as which they surely qualify.

While mere paintings and sculptures are almost exclusively the work of just one artist - the great racing cars of history each embody the combined efforts of many...

Sorry to rabbit on...

DCN

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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 17 August 2002 - 21:20

:love: :love: :love:

Dear Santa Claus .....

#3 bira

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Posted 17 August 2002 - 21:26

Amazing stuff Doug :kiss:

#4 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 17 August 2002 - 21:36

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

Thank you very much Doug !!! :up:
nobody invented the words to describe that beauty yet :clap: :clap: :clap:

Arturo

#5 Wolf

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Posted 17 August 2002 - 22:52

I am literally stunned. :love: :love: And to think that sliding ruler sufficed for constructing this beauty...;)

#6 Mark Beckman

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 00:24

Very nice Doug thanks.

Dampening by way of adjustable friction plates at the rear, just turn the handle to put more/less pressure on the 'clutch' plates.

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#7 bira

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 00:29

Sam Hardwick pictures located on your computer can only be seen by you. We only see a red X :)

#8 RSNS

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 00:29

Beautiful!

Bless Bira for her teaching!

#9 Mark Beckman

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 00:32

And the front dampening by way of adjusting this bolt in or out to put pressure on the dogbone shaped springplate to put pressure on the friction plates

Posted Image .

#10 oldtimer

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 02:18

Thank you Doug for discovering the secret and posting the wonderful pictures.

And thanks for pointing out that crude as some of the construction may seem, it was all put together with Italian passion. In the days when the mechanics wore berets and very grubby coveralls, that passion was easier to notice.

I am struck by similarities to the P3 (engine, steering box) and the 158 (body work and instrument panel).

#11 dretceterini

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 04:29

Thanks for the wonderful pictures. I notice that the black chassis number plate has been restamped more than once..

Stu

#12 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 07:14

This is the link to this same car, as it is in the Fangio Museum at Balcarce, Argentina. Alfa Romeo 8C - 308

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Galvez and Fangio in 1947 at Montevideo, Uruguay
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At the Fangio Museum site, it says that this car was an hibrid, an 8C engine in a 308 chassis. Oscar Galvez won with this car on February 6th, 1949, at the Palermo track, Posted Image an amazing race under the rain against some of the best European drivers of those days, like Villoresi, Ascari, Farina, Parnell and Prince Bira.

In the morning of January 28th, 1949, while testing his Simca Gordini T15, died Jean-Pierre Wimille Posted Image . This Simca is now exposed at the Fangio Museum too Posted Image .


The Temporada, as was called, consisted in 4 races and the winners were Ascari, Galvez, Farina and Fangio.

Arturo

#13 Anorak Man

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 09:12

WOW!

You know, this was the first racing car I ever owned.

It was a hard choice parting with it for a Vanwall Special.

But red cars were two-a-penny in the 50's eh?

I wonder if 'Matchbox' will resurrect their 308?

AM

#14 DOHC

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 09:23

Fantastic pictures!

#15 Roger Clark

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 11:13

Thankyou Doug. There are people in your profession (trade?) who would produce books with far less information than you have shared with us for free.

#16 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 11:37

Originally posted by Roger Clark
Thankyou Doug. There are people in your profession (trade?) who would produce books with far less information than you have shared with us for free.


FOR FREE!!!!!!! :eek: :o :mad: - MEIN GOTT, you hef highlighted der fatal flaw!

:blush: Aah well - perhaps it must be a vocation, after all...

DCN

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 11:41

Originally posted by Roger Clark
Thankyou Doug. There are people in your profession (trade?) who would produce books with far less information than you have shared with us for free.


Yes, the picture books are a bit disappointing, aren't they?

Fine pics... wonder how old they are?

#18 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 21:49

Doug,
Thank you for that; those fascinating pictures with your entertaining words. Truly enjoyable. :D

Could this masterpiece be first of a series with others to follow at a later time?;)

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 August 2002 - 22:48

Originally posted by Anorak Man
WOW!

You know, this was the first racing car I ever owned.


Fantasies are lovely, aren't they?

But there's an expression used in the Paddock Club in these instances... I will quote, because it borders on being outside the realm of my language...

As used by many Paddock Club members
Until pics, BS...


Now get that around your Thai schoolgirls!

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#20 Alfisti

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Posted 19 August 2002 - 15:10

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabbbyyyyy.

#21 Anorak Man

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 03:37

WOW!

You know, this was the first racing car I ever owned.

It was a hard choice parting with it for a Vanwall Special.

But red cars were two-a-penny in the 50's eh?

I wonder if 'Matchbox' will resurrect their 308?

AM



True honest Ray :)

You missed the tag line reference.

I swapped my 'Matchbox' 308 for a Dinky Toy Vanwall Special.

And I assure you that the Thai Business Ladies remark was 100% genuine and quite innocent.

It was only after it provoked chortles in response that I realised it would be misinterpreted.

I'm a Christian Missionary here! :)

Here's proof:

http://www.born-agai...o/testimony.htm

Colin Melbourne (aka. AM)

#22 Anorak Man

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 03:49

Looking at the size of the petrol tank between the rear wheels, imagine the weight of all that fuel.

And how the handling of the mota would alter throughout a race.

In hindsight, isn't it obvious that the logical thing to do was swap places with the engine, to keep a constant weight over the rear axle, and maintain relatively stable handling.

But of course it took a genius to think of it first.

AM

#23 Ade Maritz

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 07:17

Originally posted by Anorak Man
Looking at the size of the petrol tank between the rear wheels, imagine the weight of all that fuel.

And how the handling of the mota would alter throughout a race.

In hindsight, isn't it obvious that the logical thing to do was swap places with the engine, to keep a constant weight over the rear axle, and maintain relatively stable handling.

But of course it took a genius to think of it first.

AM


erm ... which genius? Are we talking the designers of Auto Union, Cooper, or Lotus here? ....;)

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 08:36

Not quite as simple as that - there had been rear-engined Grand Prix cars on and off for 15 years before the Alfawas seen

#25 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 14:10

Thanks alot, Doug, for such detailled pictures and the evocation of a, say, nice car. :blush:
:up:

As an Alfa Miniature collector, I'm afraid Matchbox never issued a 308...

There's virtually no model of it, except for very small runs of hand made "Special models", notably ABC's, at $200 each, and a large, green model (1/10) by an unknown maker in plaster or cast resin.

#26 Don Capps

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 15:16

I thank Doug profusely for this look at the Alfa 308C. It is perhaps this 'feel' for the machinery and the ambiance, if you will, that leads me backward in time to study what is so interesting and fascinating.

Michael T. Lynch has a photo of the Dick Wharton & Tom Dewart 308C at the ARCA World's Fair race of 1940. I just realized -- doh! -- that with the engine cover off, the chassis plate and SF plate are visible. Anyone have an idea as to the information on these plates? Drat, I'm at work and my magnifying glass is at home.....

:confused:

#27 oldtimer

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 17:44

Originally posted by Anorak Man
Looking at the size of the petrol tank between the rear wheels, imagine the weight of all that fuel.

And how the handling of the mota would alter throughout a race.

AM


Guessing at a 50 gallon fuel tank, it would contain about 350lbs. of methanol fuel, and a 10 gallon oil tank about 80-85lbs.

This is in contrast to the 1939 W154 Mercedes which carried 88 gallons of fuel, weighing more than 600lbs. However, the bigger portion of that was carried amidships, in a saddle tank over the driver's knees. In addition, the Mercedes did have cockpit adjustments for the rear torsion bars to deal with the weight change as the fuel load lightened.

The Auto Union was hardly considered a great handler, and remember the Cooper and Lotus came into their own after fuel capacities were reduced by shortening Grand Prix to 300Kms from 500 and changing fuel from alcohol to petrol. Maybe less genius and more regulation change.

#28 marhal

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 21:04

Thank you Doug for that amazing photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :clap:



The ex- Galvez car, it´s still very original, except for two minor details: A pair of air intakes, I guess to get more air to the cockpit, and the dashboard, that originally was polished with a pattern of little circles, but this car was cared a lot for their owners, and after his racing career was stored for many years in Fangio´s workshop, until the 70´s. I saw a photo with the car using the blue and yellow livery (Argentina´s racing colors), as Galvez drove it in 1949. I guess it´s a recent photograph, because in 1998 I visited the Fangio Museum and the car was red. Probably Arturo could help us............................

#29 dretceterini

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 21:40

Can anyone read the chassis numbers on the black firewall plate?

It seems that the number 50017 is an "overstamp". It's hard to make out, but it looks like the chassis number was 50014 at one time.

The 50017 for the motor number was obviously written with a marker of some kind, and I can't make out what the stamped number below it is..

Stu

#30 VAR1016

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 22:01

Yes and I'd like to add my thanks too - Patina is indeed the word.

At Goodwood Festival of Speed one year I saw the successor - the rear engined V12 - there cannot be many cars where the driver is closer to the accident!

VAR1016 :smoking:

#31 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 22:24

Originally posted by marhal
Thank you Doug for that amazing photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :clap:



The ex- Galvez car, it´s still very original, except for two minor details: A pair of air intakes, I guess to get more air to the cockpit, and the dashboard, that originally was polished with a pattern of little circles, but this car was cared a lot for their owners, and after his racing career was stored for many years in Fangio´s workshop, until the 70´s. I saw a photo with the car using the blue and yellow livery (Argentina´s racing colors), as Galvez drove it in 1949. I guess it´s a recent photograph, because in 1998 I visited the Fangio Museum and the car was red. Probably Arturo could help us............................


The original car is the one with the #6 (second picture) in my post, and it was painted with those colors then. The car finally was bought by Fangio and it is now at the Fangio Museum. I do not know why it was repainted, but in the Fangio Museum the data available seems to indicate that the 8C-308 was an hibrid, since the original 308 did not have the 8C engine. The engine was dated in 1935 and the chassis in 1938.

I am still looking for the real cause of the repainting :blush:

#32 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 22:26

Originally posted by dretceterini
Can anyone read the chassis numbers on the black firewall plate?

It seems that the number 50017 is an "overstamp". It's hard to make out, but it looks like the chassis number was 50014 at one time.

The 50017 for the motor number was obviously written with a marker of some kind, and I can't make out what the stamped number below it is..

Stu


Maybe it is due to what I said in my last post. THe original chassis did not have that 8C engine, afaik.

Arturo

#33 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 22:30

marhal,

you were talking about this colors :)

Posted Image

#34 marhal

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Posted 20 August 2002 - 23:03

Thank you Arturo................I was searching that photo.......................


I think that the repainting is a homage to Oscar Galvez and his greatest race........................ :)


P.S.: Arturo, did you travel to Fangio Museum last month, as you told us????????????.

#35 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 00:03

Originally posted by marhal
Thank you Arturo................I was searching that photo.......................


I think that the repainting is a homage to Oscar Galvez and his greatest race........................ :)


P.S.: Arturo, did you travel to Fangio Museum last month, as you told us????????????.


No Sir :blush:

As you should know by now, some economic incidents in my country had made some movements a little difficult. If everything goes well, I will visit the Museum again in 11 days :)

#36 Anorak Man

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 05:15

Not to draw attention away from the Alfa to Auto Union, but according to 'Anorak Man's Bumper Book of Motor Racing Terms', ferlick...flick...yes...

You need to define yer terms, 'rear engine' broadly means the mota is behind the driver, mid- engine, it's between the driver and the rear-axle, and then there's the real rear engine where the C of G of the lump is over the rear axle or behind it. I suspect that was when the advantage of the said juxtapostion began to surface.


So, over to you lot, who got there first? I dunno.

I like the look of the AU, but I prefer the Alfa aesthetics by a mile.

AM

#37 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 06:58

Front engine, rear engine, mid engine - I have got myself in a rare muddle over the years with all this.

Then a great - and extremely knowledgeable friend of mine who restored his own fine cars as a hobby ,snorted one day and growled "most cars are mid-engined - the engine's within the wheelbase. Overhung outboard ahead of the front axle line is one extreme - overhung outboard behind the back axle is another - everything else (within the wheelbase) is in reality mid engined, so why don't you blokes take the cockpit as your datum and if the engine's in front of the bloke, it's front-engined, if it's behind the bloke, it's rear-engined...".

As far as I'm concerned - he made a worthwhile, supportable, simple, point...

DCN

Re VAR1016's recollection of the 308's REAR-engined successor, the 512, as seen at Goodwood - it had a flat-12 engine....V12, flat-12, mid-engine, rear-engine.....nobody's perfect...

#38 VAR1016

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 09:49

Originally posted by Doug Nye

Re VAR1016's recollection of the 308's REAR-engined successor, the 512, as seen at Goodwood - it had a flat-12 engine....V12, flat-12, mid-engine, rear-engine.....nobody's perfect...


Blimey! did it? I really thought that it was a V-12. - dated from 1940?

Gosh, I wish I had looked even closer; a flat-12 at that time was radical indeed was it not?

VAR1016 :smoking:

#39 Alfisti

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 14:06

Originally posted by Patrick Italiano
Thanks alot, Doug, for such detailled pictures and the evocation of a, say, nice car. :blush:
:up:

As an Alfa Miniature collector, I'm afraid Matchbox never issued a 308...

There's virtually no model of it, except for very small runs of hand made "Special models", notably ABC's, at $200 each, and a large, green model (1/10) by an unknown maker in plaster or cast resin.


Eh who's this bloke?? I'm the official Alfa freak here, find your own marque ;);)

Go to my website ... you'll either love me or hate me ... depending on how open minded you are about modifyiong classic Alfas.

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#40 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 16:20

Originally posted by Alfisti
Go to my website ... you'll either love me or hate me ... depending on how open minded you are about modifyiong classic Alfas.


I certainly would - but meet me halfway - what's the address? :confused:

DCN

#41 FredF1

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 16:38

Doug...


Click on the little 'WWW' button 4th from the left of Alfisiti's profile bar and that will take you to Alfisti's website.

#42 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 16:54

Originally posted by Alfisti


Eh who's this bloke?? I'm the official Alfa freak here, find your own marque ;);)

Go to my website ... you'll either love me or hate me ... depending on how open minded you are about modifying classic Alfas.


I can't see your page now due to geocities, er, shortcomings? :rolleyes:

The idea of modifying classic Alfas is not my cup of expresso, anyway. : ):

But I had noticed you use a modern Alfa emblem, while I choose a classic one.
You know, I'm talking about Alfa Romeo, not rebadged Fiat :p

Ooops, I'm on the way to get some more enemies here... :p :rolleyes:

#43 dretceterini

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 19:47

To all the fellow official Alfa and Lancia fans...for all intents and purposes, both are gone..

GM now owns 20% of FIAT Auto, and soon both Lancia and Alfa be out of business, or will be owned totally by GM..

Sad but true..

Stu

#44 VAR1016

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 20:00

Originally posted by dretceterini
To all the fellow official Alfa and Lancia fans...for all intents and purposes, both are gone..

GM now owns 20% of FIAT Auto, and soon both Lancia and Alfa be out of business, or will be owned totally by GM..

Sad but true..

Stu


Boo! Hiss!

What next? A souped-up Astra badged "Fulvia"? Please God NO!! :mad:

Remember, they did it with the Wyvern. - I suspect that the VSCC are probably still annoyed about that one.

VAR1016 :smoking:

#45 Anorak Man

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Posted 23 August 2002 - 03:42

What's this?
"Matchbox didn't make an Alfa 308"?

Oh no!
Yer trying to tell me that my Dad bought me a knock-off Taiwanese made 'Matchbox' Alfa 308?

I'll have to have a lie down.

Next you'll be telling me my precious Fodak camera and Honba 750 motorbike are knock-offs too.

At least my Dinkey Toy Vanwall Special is genuine. (That IS how y'spell Dinkey isn't it?)

AM

#46 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 03 September 2002 - 16:51

Originally posted by Arturo Pereira


No Sir :blush:

As you should know by now, some economic incidents in my country had made some movements a little difficult. If everything goes well, I will visit the Museum again in 11 days :)


I've visited the Museum and I have some pictures I can upload, but I since I am not a member of AtlasF1 I can not do it. I will send them to a member that is a good friend of mine so maybe we can watch some of them :)

Arturo

#47 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 04 September 2002 - 22:20

The Alfa Romeo 8C 308 as it is nowadays at the Fangio Museum

http://forum.m4drivi...=&postid=210378

http://forum.m4drivi...=&postid=210380

http://forum.m4drivi...=&postid=210383

#48 VAR1016

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Posted 04 September 2002 - 22:28

Arturo,

that is a ravishing shade of blue!

Thanks for the pictures

PdeRL :smoking:

#49 Anorak Man

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Posted 21 September 2002 - 05:15

Is it just coincidence that most those 'lightening holes' have precisely the dimensions of, Uncle Fangio's Patented Speed Balls'?

AM

#50 Kvadrat

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Posted 31 May 2005 - 08:51

What kind of rear suspension did Alfa Romeo 308 have?