Mega Nostalgia - honest john
Here is a real treat for any of you guys and girls who are seriously into old cars. To see the picture of this one, either rescue Saturday's Telegraph from the chip wrapper bin or go to Latest IDs at

Bill Roberts of London W11 sent us this photo of an Alfa Romeo taken at Donington Park in 1939, asking which Alfa Romeo, and does 'JML 1' still exist? After the photo appeared in the paper on 6th October 2001 I got the full story. This is the top supercar of the 1930s, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Corto (short wheelbase), which had a twin-supercharged 180bhp or 220bhp 2,905cc straight eight engine in two blocks of four with the superchargers in between and fully independent suspension front and rear. They were all easily capable of 125mph. The 2900A first appeared in 1936 when three finished first, second and third in the 1936 Mille Miglia. A 2900A won the race again in 1937. And three 2900Bs finished first, second and third in the 1938 Mille Miglia, the lead driver Clemente Biondetti averaging a then incredible 83.13mph over the thousand miles of fairly dodgy roads and no less than 110mph on the leg from Brescia to Bologna. Nearly ten years later, in 1947, Biondetti won the Mille Miglia yet again in a 2900B Lungo (long wheelbase) coupe. Only twenty Cortos and ten Lungos were built and survivors routinely make well over £2,000,000 at auction.
Between them, Nicholas Lancaster, Simon Moore D.C. Orgles, Michael Hall and Tony Crook filled in the history of 'JML 1' in the picture. This is one of the 1938 Mille Miglia team cars and is thought by all its owners to be the actual 220bhp 8C 2900B, chassis number 412031, engine number 422025 which won the race driven by Biondetti. Because the race was run in daylight, the car ran on its normal pair of headlights (the two lower lights were added for the 1938 Spa 24 hour race). The car was displayed on the Thompson and Taylor stand at the 1938 Motor Show, apparently not for sale. Nevertheless, Hugh Hunter managed to buy it, part-exchanging his English Alta single seater. He won a lot of races in it, leading John Dugdale of 'The Autocar' to write an article about it in which he dubbed the Alfa "the world's fastest road car." His article sparked a debate over which really was the fastest road car. This led to a competition at Brooklands on Whit Monday 1939 involving Arthur Dobson driving Rob Walker's 3.5 litre Delahaye, A.F.P. Fane in a works 2.0 litre BMW 328, Ian Connell in a 4.0 litre Darracq, P. Aitken in a 3.0 litre Delage, Dorndof in a 2.0 litre Peugeot, Cowell in a 2.0 litre supercharged Alta and Templar in a 2.5 litre supercharged Alfa Romeo. Hunter won the first race: three and a half laps of the shorter Campbell circuit but didn't complete a lap of the second race on the high speed outer circuit due to transmission failure. The overall winner was Dobson in the Delahaye.
Meanwhile, Tony Crook, then still a schoolboy, part-exchanged his MG Magnette team car 'BLL 492' with car dealer Robert Arbuthnott for an ex-works 1936 8C 2900A, UK registered 'DLY 163' (now owned by Simon Moore). He later proposed a wartime race with Hugh Hunter, but this never happened, and he ended up purchasing JML 1 in 1943 or 1944 for the then enormous sum of £4,000. He was clocked in JML 1 on Fosse Way by RAF timing equipment at an incredible 138.8mph over the flying kilometre.
After the war, Tony Crook broke records at the Brighton Speed Trials in the car and also won one of the first races held at Silverstone in 1949. In 1950, he decided to concentrate on Bristol Cars and sold JML 1 for £2,750 to Major Thompson, the founder of the Ecurie Ecosse racing team, whose Jaguar D Types won Le Mans in 1956 and 1957. Major Thompson rose to the rank of Brigadier and on his death in 1970 JML 1 was bequeathed to the RNLI which sold it by Sothebys auction to Bill Serri in the USA for £7,000. It was later re-sold to neurosurgeon Fred Simeone of Philadelphia who still owns JML 1 and has attended Mille Miglia retrospectives with it. In the 63 years since it left the hands of Alfa Romeo the car has only had five owners.
The history of JML 1 is covered over 13 pages in Simon Moore's book, 'The Immortal 2.9' which is out of print but can sometimes be found at specialist bookshops. His other Alfa Romeo book, 'The Legendary 2.3' is still available from Chater's Motoring Bookshop in Isleworth.

This is the sort of response that makes the whole thing worthwhile even if it doesn't make any money.

Re: Mega Nostalgia - Tomo
Well agreed, the Alfas were gorgeous even if you had never seen one, and at an early age I was going to have one - woe is me!

But at Earls Court 1948 I saw the XK120, which had much the same performance without a blower, far cheaper, and was it not beautiful? I was going to have one of these too, of course, l but never got nearer than a rather knocked about XK150 3.4 fixed head, for which I got £250.......

I sometimes think, the more you want something, the less likely you are to get it!
Re: Veteran Car Run - Dave N
Is on next Sunday, running from London to Brighton. You can get real close to the action anywhere along the way. It's good to see they even had electric cars in those days.

Good viewing places are Crawley town centre, and Clayton Hill, just before they rejoin the A23 for the final hurlong into Brighton. I'll be with the All Wheel Drive Club on Clayton Hill to give the old timers a tow if they need it.

Value my car