The name of Alfa Romeo has always been held in great respect in the sporting world and it is reckoned that when Alfa Romeo go racing they make a proper job of it. One of the classic racing cars of all time was the 158 Alfa Romeo, and when the Grand Prix team finally withdrew at the end of 1952 it was a sad day for racing. Although the Milan firm never went back into Grand Prix racing they still kept an interest in competition, having a go at sports-car events with the Disco Volante coupés and later being very active in GT events with the 1900C and the Giuliettas. The compact little Giulietta coupé was the beginning of a long line of racing development that was closely tied up with production and led to the Giulia series in GT and Touring car categories, culminating in today’s very effective GTA saloon. A few years ago Alfa Romeo consolidated their racing activities in the Autodelta firm who undertook all the official works racing activities under the command of Engineer Chiti, who came from Ferrari and the abortive A.T.S. effort. The very purposeful looking and extremely noisy Autodelta team of racing Giulia TZ coupés enlivened the European scene and the long-distance races, and were good class winners. Alfa Romeo, through Autodelta, have now started off on a much more serious racing project with a pure racing prototype 2-litre car for Group 6 racing; a direct to Porsche and the Dino Ferrari.
Known as the “33” this new Alfa Romeo has already appeared in open competition and looks to be a worthy bearer of the famous Alfa Romeo badge. It is an open two-seater, with independent suspension to all wheels and a mid-engine position and rear-mounted gearbox, bearing no resemblance to anything in production. However, Alfa Romeo made it very clear that it is their intention to use much of the knowledge gained with these prototype racing cars in a future production car and already they have built “exhibition models” using the same 2-litre V8 engine. The chassis is most unusual in that it is formed of two side-members which are in the shape of long cylindrical fuel tanks, made of light alloy, which are joined together by a third cylindrical member, also a fuel tank. This “cross-member” is at the rear of the cockpit area, the other two members running along the sides, forward to a magnesium-alloy casting that forms a front bulkhead to which steering and suspension are attached. Two legs cast from similar material stick out the back, from the main structure, and are joined by a sheet metal fabricated “saddle” carrying the rear suspension. In the space between these rear legs sits the 2-litre V8 engine, with its four overhead camshafts, and it is coupled to a 6-speed gearbox. Disc brakes are used, with ventilated discs, the rear ones being “inboard” close to the differential housing, and bolt-on alloy wheel’s of 13 inches diameter, suspension being by wishbones and links, with radius rods at the rear, and coil-spring/damper units all round. The bodywork appears to make few concessions to aerodynamics, such as they are, and the fuel injection system in the vee of the engine is fed by an enormous duct sticking up high above the cockpit, facing forwards, and looking like an old-fashioned head-rest. A left-hand driving position is used, and air from the radiator comes out through two large openings on the nose of the car in front of the very curved windscreen.
Testing and final preparation was well under way last winter and in March one of the Alfa Romeo 33 cars took part in a hill-climb in Belgium, driven by Zeccoli, and he made fastest time of the day, ahead of Zweifel with his 4.4-litre McLaren V8 single-seater and Vogele with his 2.7-litre Climax-engined Brabham. Autodelta were also down in Sicily, testing on the Targa Florio circuit, and went to Sebring for the 2-hour race; where they made a good impression while they were going. They returned from there to Le Mans for the test weekend, where they tried out a new tail, formed in fibre-glass like the rest of the body, which did not have the high air intake and was altogether smoother.
Alfa Romeos are returning to serious racing in a big way with the “33” and they should enliven the racing scene this season, especially in the 2-litre class. – D. S. J.
Engine: 90-degree V8, 78 x 52.2 mm. bore and stroke, 1,995 c.c. capacity, hemispherical combustion chambers and four overhead camshafts. Fuel injection into the ports and 10-mm. sparking plugs, 12-volt coil and distributor with alternator.
Wheelbase: 2,250 mm.
Front track: 1,325 mm.
Rear track: 1,380 mm.
Overall length: 3,600 mm.
Overall Width: 1,690 mm.
Tyres: 5.25 x 13 front, 6.00 x 13 rear.