Nuvolari's Alfa beater

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Current page

189

Current page

190

Current page

191

Current page

192

Current page

193

Current page

194

Current page

195

Current page

196

Current page

197

Current page

198

Current page

199

Current page

200

Current page

201

Current page

202

Current page

203

Current page

204

Current page

205

Current page

206

Current page

207

Current page

208

Current page

209

Current page

210

Current page

211

Current page

212

Current page

213

Current page

214

Current page

215

Current page

216

Current page

217

Current page

218

Current page

219

Current page

220

Current page

221

Current page

222

Current page

223

Current page

224

Current page

225

Current page

226

Current page

227

Current page

228

Current page

229

Current page

230

Current page

231

Current page

232

Current page

233

Current page

234

Current page

235

Current page

236

Current page

237

Current page

238

Current page

239

Current page

240

Current page

241

Current page

242

Current page

243

Current page

244

Current page

245

Current page

246

Current page

247

Current page

248

Current page

249

Current page

250

Current page

251

Current page

252

Current page

253

Current page

254

Current page

255

Current page

256

Current page

257

Current page

258

Current page

259

Current page

260

Current page

261

Current page

262

Maserati had little inkling of the racing revolution fomenting in Germany when it became embroiled in a very public Italian spat, as Paul Fearnley explains

The 1934 Circuit of Modena was a second division affair crucial only in that its two-mile, L-shaped street circuit was on Enzo Ferrari’s doorstep. To lose here would be a serious loss of face for his Scuderia, and to this end he put forward a belt-and-braces six-car entry, five of which were single-seat Tipo Bs.

The only man capable of beating them was Tazio Nuvolari. But boy, oh boy, did he want to beat them. For the two most famous names in Italian motor racing were at daggers drawn.Their lawyers were talking, but Enzo and Tazio weren’t. They had fallen out midway though 1933. Nuvolari was furious that Alfa Romeo, now in state ownership, had locked its Tipo Bs away in a Portello workshop, forcing him to drive Ferrari’s boredout but outdated 8C Monzas instead. He was also annoyed by Enzo’s point-blank refusal to give him more say in the running of the team. So he got himself one of the new Maseratis.

The Bologna firm was in transition. Alfieri, the leading light of this racing fraternity, had died, finally succumbing to injuries sustained in a crash at Messina, Sicily, way back in 1927 — but only after a much-agonized-over kidney op. Younger brother Emesto was now in charge of design matters. He shelved Alfieri’s front-wheel-drive 8C 2500TA, having portentously crashed it through a cemetery wall while testing on the open road, and replaced it with the more conventional 8CM (m for monoposto). But it too, was a disaster, the 200bhp from its 3-litre supercharged straight-eight far too much for a chassis taken from the half-as-powerful 4CM.

Even so, Nuvolari wanted one. He’d been impressed by the performance of Giuseppe Campari and Count Goffredo Zehender in the Mame GP at Reims in July — they qualified their 8CMs second and third — and he struck a deal with the brothers that night. Enzo was livid; Tazio was bullish. A compromise was reached — Ferrari would run the car in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa the following weekend — but this would not last long. When Nuvolari ostentatiously chose the 8CM over an Alfa Monza for the Coppa Ciano at Montenero two weeks later — and won by over 8min an — impasse had been reached. This was war.

Nuvolari had won at Spa, too, but only after an all-nighter for mechanics Decimo Campagnoni and Luigi Parenti. Tazio had instantly put his finger on the 8CM’s weakness, and the car — chassis 3007 — was taken to the nearby Imperia works to have its front end boxed and braced. It was transformed. He told the Alfa drivers to keep out of his way and, from the back of the grid, was in front by the end of the first lap.

He won at Nice in early August, too. Something had to be done: Alfa loaned its Tipo Bs to Enzo — that’ll be 1,676,000 lire, please — and battle was recommenced at Pescara’s Coppa Acerbo the following weekend. Nuvolari and Campari, who had just returned to Alfa Romeo, diced thrillingly from the off, but it was the Alfa that wilted first and the Maser looked set for a famous win until Nuvolari rushed into the pits on the penultimate lap with a cooked transmission joint. Water was tipped over it and he rejoined in a fury. Victory had slipped away, however, Luigi Fagioli prevailing in a Tipo B.

It was a similar story at Miramas for the Marseilles GP: victory lost to an overheated rear axle. At Monza for the Italian GP, it was a puncture with two laps to go that cost Nuvolari a win. But at San Sebastian in late September, the last big race of the season, it was driver error that led to his DNF. Pushing too hard rather than nursing a big lead when rain began to fall, he rolled. His injuries were light given the violence of the crash.

He wasn’t so lucky when ‘hostilities’ continued at the start of the 1934 season. Having been put in his place by the Tipo Bs of Louis Chiron and Mario Tadini in the first heat of the Circuit of Alessandria in late April, Nuvolari again found himself outnumbered by a Scuderia Ferrari phalanx in the final. And he reckoned that they did a number on him. Achille Varzi, he said, put him on the grass, and then Felice Trossi brake-tested him. The 8CM skated off the wet road and struck a tree. Nuvolari was thrown out, his left leg badly broken and he lapsed into a coma.

Five weeks later he was back, leg in splints, working all three pedals with his one good peg, at Avus, in his new 8CM, the car you see here: chassis 3018. Nuvolari somehow made it home fifth. The Nürburgring’s Eifelrennen a week later was a much tougher proposition and he withdrew in pain after seven laps. He led the Penya Rhin GP at Montjuich Park before retiring; the rear axle failed at Reims; and he was fourth in the German GP, third and second in the Coppas Ciano and Acerbo. Three retirements followed — at Nice, Bremgarten and Biella — before the car re-emerged in a new form.

At some time the car had been fitted with a Wilson preselector gearbox — Nuvolari had been impressed by a similar item on his 1933 TT-wiruting MG K3. Now, in a bid for more power and less weight, Maserati built a straight-six engine (3300cc initially, but soon increased to 3700) and slotted it into 3018. It was still no match for the German machines, but Nuvolari used it to finish third at San Sebastian and Brno — and win at Modena and then Posillipo Park, on the western edge of Naples.

His Modena victory was a real bravura performance, sliding around the war memorial lap after lap because he knew that a fuming Enzo was in the crowd. Aftewards, he apparently sent his old boss some bales of hay, “for your horses”.

In their hearts, of course, they knew they needed each other. If Italy was to stand any chance against the Germans, Nuvolari had to be at the wheel of a Vittorio Jano-designed Alfa. Indeed, it was Jano who brokered the peace between them for 1935.

Nuvolari would not race a Maserati again until after WWII.

You may also like

Related products