REVIEW: CMC Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe •

REVIEW: CMC Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe

I adore art deco cars.

You know, the smooth and flamboyant ones from the 1920s to the ‘40s. They’re gorgeous, unique, and are like nothing else. I would even argue that art deco cars are the pinnacle of automotive design. And all the while I’ve loved them I’d yet to add a high-quality model to my collection beyond my older, mid-range Cord 812.

Armed with ample funds saved up from my summer job, I set out on a search for a unique art deco 1:18 model and found this stunning thing: a CMC 1:18 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe. I was captivated when I first laid eyes on it and knew I had to get it. The only problem was the price tag.

This CMC model had a price of $400+ which was nearly all of my summer job money so I had to ask myself if this Speciale was special enough to make that large of an investment. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the photos on Diecast Models Wholesale’s website before I spent my money and concluded the detail is beyond amazing. I’m talking about removable panels, leather hood straps, every vent perforated and so on. I had the money; I had a love for the car; I had to get it. I was able to shave some fat off the price tag through a 10 percent discount from DMW that covered tax and some of the shipping, bringing the total down to $420. It was still the biggest single purchase I’ve ever made. It made me wonder if this would turn out to be a grossly overpriced model with AUTOart level of quality or a mirror image of the 1:1? Let’s find out.

Before I even opened this model my expectations were so high that anything less than perfection would be a total waste of money. Then I opened it… wow. I was beyond amazed at first sight. It was like nothing I had ever seen before! The packaging is stellar, similar to what you’d get in a high-end AUTOart Signature model. Once unboxed, I was greeted with an elegant pamphlet providing information on the model — materials used, how to undo or remove certain parts and so on. Also provided were tweezers and a miniature screwdriver to be used for opening or removing panels or body parts. Tweezers?! I could tell this was going to be fun!

As I gazed at this 8C, it was easy to see that the shut lines were perfect, the material quality fantastic and that everything opens. This consists of both doors, the engine cover, trunk, gas cap, rear wheel covers, and the wheels themselves as well as the removable engine side panel. Just unreal. This level of detail far exceeds any other model I own!

There’s so much to unpack with the exterior. EVERYTHING (and I don’t use ALL CAPS lightly) is included: highly realistic headlights, metal windshield wipers, valve stems, the unusual three-light brake lights, and so much more.

Starting from the front, the grille and vents next to the headlights are perforated with rather large holes as you’ll find on the 1:1, with photo-etched Alfa Romeo and Superleggera badges. The drum brakes and wheels are meticulously detailed with a functional chrome center lock nut. Off to the side in relation to the wheels, another large photo-etched Alfa Romeo badge is present, next to the perforated and removable engine inspection panel.

The rear detail is equally fantastic. CMC includes several astounding details such as metal trunk “locks” and a metal license plate frame reading “historical museum” in Italian. Even minuscule details like the rear window demonstrate the immensely high quality that CMC provides – it’s made out of a hard plastic that actually feels glass-like. It’s far beyond what you’d find in a Norev or Kyosho model and, all things considered, the exterior is near-picture perfect.

The interior of the 8C is simply perfect. The seats are upholstered with real leather; leather is also found on the door hinge system if you can believe it. This model also has high-quality carpet, a big plus because I am a big fan of floor coverings in my models. The gauges are labelled far better than models I’ve seen from other high-end manufacturers like Almost Real. Other smaller details like the shifter, various buttons, pedals, and so on are all detailed to a very high degree, not that that should come as a surprise considering the $480 MSRP.

Mmmmm…an inline 8. This bad boy puts out a full 220 horses — a large figure for 83 years ago when the 8C 2900B was around and similarly what you would find in the highest trim Nissan Altima today. Horsepower aside, the detail is magnificent. CMC didn’t miss a thing as far as I can tell as there are visible tubes and hoses plus wires and other mechanical things I’m not familiar enough with to identify! The exhaust manifolds and engine block are well painted well and dozens of non-functioning screws are both present and painted.

You’ll have trouble finding this level of quality in virtually any other model. There are a lot of other things to comment on, but I’ll let the photos do the talking.

I love the model and it’s pristine but there’s a few small things that CMC could have focused on to make this 8C 2900B perfect.

Hood hinges: Unfortunately, the hood won’t stay open on its own. While just getting a paperclip and cutting it so it can act as a strut works fine and only took me a minute, this isn’t something that should happen in a near $500 model. I’d expect that in a ten-year-old Bburago casting.

Hood leather straps: I love how CMC uses real leather just like on the 1:1 but that comes with some challenges on a smaller scale. The prong on the strap would not pierce the leather to keep the strap from moving and having to thread the strap through the belt loop to have it stay in place was a royal pain. This is supposed to act as a belt does. You know, how you put the prong through the hole for the strap to stay in place…but this wouldn’t work on my model. Great to include this level of detail but done with poor execution.

A single stripped wheel cover screw: One single screw holds the wheel cover on and it came stripped. One. Single. Screw. So now I can’t take the wheel cover off. Fantastic. This model looks better with the covers on, but really CMC? Really? Why?

Four hundred dollars is a lot of money, especially for a single 1:18 model. Under normal circumstances, the price would almost be impossible to justify. However, for what CMC provides, it’s hard not to be amazed. There were some minor imperfections, but even with them you really can’t find any other diecast metal models at this price point with this level of detail. All in all, this is an amazing model and my main showpiece. I highly recommend checking it out on sale at Diecast Models Wholesale for $420. Unsurprisingly, it’s now my favourite model.

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11 Responses to "REVIEW: CMC Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Touring Coupe"

  1. DS Team says:

    Thanks for the review! It now seems you got your feet quite wet with an array of models from every level. What do you feel about it in general?

    CMC is considered the best or at level one of… That still doesn’t excuse them from providing a perfect model, even at this price. Though, one can clearly see the level of detailing and commitment is far better than many competitors, though the range of their specimens is limited, the quality and level of detail cannot be disputed.

    • Mason Bloom says:

      This CMC model is by far the best in my collection; while my Aa models are fantastic, I feel that once I’ve experienced the good stuff (this), even with its imperfections it’s still hard to go back to “regular” AUTOarts 😅

  2. Terrence says:

    Very nice review Mason – well written and photographed. Congratulations on your purchase. Like you, acquiring a model at this price level is a carefully made decision. I’m glad that you took the plunge and years from now you will still be enjoying your car long after you have forgotten the price.

  3. George K says:

    Save your sales receipts. It’s a lot of fun (and quite satisfying) to check the price you paid in a few years, when the price has appreciated quite a bit.

    • jazzy426 says:

      I think i still have the invoice somewhere which shows I paid slightly less than 200EUR (after discounts and VAT deduction) for a CMC 250 Cali. And eBay invoices showing around 200AUD for CMC Porsche 901.. $500 AUD for a pair of Testa Rossa and 250GT.. sigh.. if only I could travel back in time eh

  4. Steven Weiner says:

    A magnificent car, despite the imperfections in the model that you pointed out. It’s nice to see that someone else appreciates vintage cars. Another great review, Mason!

  5. Zack says:

    Excellent review, well written!
    I’ve had a similar experience with my first or second CMC regarding the leather hood straps. Great idea, I appreciate the effort, but they are so difficult to fasten and unfasten, ultimately it becomes a decision to either leave them undone, so I can open the hood and admire the detail, or leave them fastened so the straps look “correct” tightened at the right length, etc…
    What I would love is a leather strap, with buckle in the center like the real car, but the the buckle isn’t where you loosen the strap on the model, but it’s one piece with a magnet located in one of the original car’s hood strap mounting brackets. This way the strap can be removed and replaced with no possible stretching or destroying the buckle and leather.
    I have enough problems with the 1/1 belt holding my pants up… I don’t need to fight a 1/18th scale belt trying to get a 1/18th prong through a 1/18th belthole! ;)

  6. Marco says:

    I think CMC will release this same model in 1/12 scale soon. Of course, the price will be far beyond 1,000 dollars. Still CMC prices are fair and accesible, considering these facts: they are cheaper and much better in terms of quality and beauty than all the Amalgam 1/18 models. Exoto models may have, in some cases, more pieces, but its range is very limited: mostly racing cars, generally ugly. The company that is closest to CMC, in terms or precision and quality, may be Bauer.

  7. MRM says:

    Great review. Very well written without the logorrhea that plagues so many reviews on the internet ourdays.
    It is worth noting that CMC models are pretty much not diecast, as the process of creation of their parts, at least the metal ones, is more like stamping and they are not cast in a die. This is actually what gives them their superior quality, as they are able to achieve very thin panels with intricate openings. It’s also amazing the variety of materials used on their models. Can you imagine the time it takes to cut out a photoetched part clean it up, fold it multiple times and then fit a rubber fin in it, to create a windshield wiper?! It’s truly impressive. It absolutely blows my mind when people justify models like the AR’s Zonda for a full hundred dollars more than this work of art.

    It is really unfortunate about the stripped screw on your model, but you can’t really hold this against CMC as it is not by design. When you are dealing with such small details, especially when they are used on a mass produced item, some hiccups are inevitable.

    I have leather belts to deal with on few different models and getting them buckled is nothing short of PITA. They do however buckle properly, like a real belt. That is if you have not lost your insanity, trying to do it. I personally have some some miniature drill bits that I use for building models, that I have reopened the holes in the leather belts with. it makes things a little easier, but still makes me wanna pull my hairs out.

    About the prop to hold the hood open, many cars in the ’30s did not have such things. Specially racing machines. CMC are not a company known to cut such corners and they do provide the prop for the rear. Besides I have seen several pictures of the CMC model in its racing livery with a prop present on the left side of the model. I am pretty confident that the real example CMC used for their model did not have the prop.

    Either way, wether the car has the prop or not is splitting hairs and it does not change the fact that this is a masterpiece of a model, worth to be the centerpiece of any collection.

    I don’t have a single Alfa Rome in my collection, from any manufacturer. And your review is making me think very seriously about making this my first Alfa. Comparatively speaking, when I look at the prices of some models that are popping up on the market, this model is a bargain.

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