My first drive Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

My father’s passion for Alfa Romeo started when he was a boy going to school in Paris. My grandmother used to winter there before the war. She would close her house in Radnor pack her bags and load her Packard on the ship in New York and sail for Le Havre, France. My dad and his sister, as well as the chauffeur and his wife (both were French), also embarked for France with granny. My father and his sister were then enrolled in a local French school for the winter and spring terms.

The Parisian dentist that they went to was a passionate car lover and subscribed to all the car magazines that were available. The magazines were left in the waiting room on a table. Dad told me that this was where his love for Alfa Romeo began. Alfas were winning many races in this period and the magazines were full of news and photos of their victories.

In 1936 dad was able to buy his first Alfa Romeo, a beautiful 8C 2300 Zagato Spider that was originally owned by Giuseppe Farina, the famous Italian driver who in 1950 became the first ever World Champion for Alfa Romeo. Dad used this car for his honeymoon with my mother and afterward the car was shipped back to the states in 1937. This car was the first of a few 8Cs that would frequent our home garage at Radnor Pennsylvania. The Next Alfa Romeo 8C that arrived was after the War and was a lovely Touring Spider that he found in Italy.

The car was hardly used and in fantastic condition. I had already learned to drive in my Austin 7 so I really wanted to have a drive in the Alfa Romeo 8C. I finally convinced dad that I was up to the task. He cautioned me to use only first gear and to park it in front of the small workshop where the Alfa Romeo P3 was kept. I agreed and off I went. I did exactly what he told me and slowly drove down our driveway to the workshop. I felt so grownup driving this splendid car. I was only 11 years old at the time. I thought how impressed my friends at school would be!



I should have paid attention to my father, but kids always know better! I did what dad said and parked the Alfa Romeo 8C in front of the workshop and shut off the engine. I noticed the sky was very gray and a thunderstorm was forming. The car was open without a top and I knew that dad would have been furious to leave it out in the rain so I made a decision to help out and park it in the garage.

The Alfa Romeo 8C was parked at an angle to the garage door opening. I engaged first gear and slowly drove into the garage until I felt resistance and the car seemed to stop. Oh dear!! I quickly disengaged the clutch but it was already too late. I had miscalculated the width of the car and the running board had collided with the garage door support. I reversed the Alfa Romeo 8C out of the garage to survey the damage. There was a big dent. Thoughts rushed through my mind how to explain to dad. Then I had a bright idea. I went into his workshop and got a hammer and tried to straighten out the running board. It was not a good job, but I thought it was. I parked the Alfa Romeo 8C inside the garage, correctly this time, and walked to the house.

For 2 months I never said a word until, one day, dad announced that a friend was coming to buy the Alfa. When the buyer arrived I had to confess my crime. Dad was furious and when the buyer left he took me to his workshop and made me lie face down on the workbench and he took a piece of rubber radiator hose and gave me a spanking I will never forget!

Today the Alfa Romeo 8C is with a good friend in the UK still wearing its original paint. I told him the story and he went and looked at the right side running board. Sure enough, the hammer marks are still there just like the memory of the spanking of my life.