In 1923, Alfa Romeo hired the brilliant Vittorio Jano, formerly head of design at Fiat, to design its new race car, the P2. The car was a success, winning its first race in 1924 and continuing to win for years after. But Jano wasn’t content to rest on his laurels – he took what he’d learned from the P2 and set out to make a better, faster car – the P3.
The first single-seat Grand Prix race car, the P3 Monoposto (open wheel car) was powered by an 8-cylinder engine made up of two four-cylinder engine blocks, each with its own supercharger. It had a top speed of at least 140 mph.
The P3’s proudest moment came in the 1935 German Grand Prix, held at the legendary Nurburgring racing circuit. In a race devised by the Nazi Party for the purpose of demonstrating German dominance, an Italian driver (Tazio Nuvolari) in the Italian-made P3 (by this point considered old and underpowered compared to the other cars on the track) somehow managed to snatch the victory away from no fewer than nine state-of-the-art German race cars — five Mercedes and four Auto Unions (the precursor to Audi) — not to mention several other Alfas, multiple Maseratis, and a Bugatti. The Germans had been so confident that they would win that they didn’t even have a copy of the Italian national anthem available to play on the podium. Awkward!