Jacky Ickx's 'bargain' Alfa Romeo sports car: 'It's a symphony of sound'

Sports Car News

A 1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12, formerly owned by Jacky Ickx, is now up for sale – and you can buy it for a lot less than other cars of the era...

Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Ickx's old Alfa comes in pristine condition

Motor Classic & Competition Corp

When you think of all-conquering classic sports car prototypes, a few obvious cars instantly come to mind.

The Ford GT40, Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 are all stunning machines, their good looks and smooth lines superseded only by devastating speed – with price tags to match when they go up for auction.

Now, a car with a comparative track record and provenance is going up for sale. It was one that dominated the 1975 World Endurance Championship in an almost complete whitewash – but you can buy it for a fraction of the cost compared to its contemporaries.

A pristine 1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 (chassis 007), formerly owned by racing legend Jacky Ickx and raced by Carlos Reutemann, is now available with the US-based Motor Classic & Competition Corp – and it could be yours if have a spare $1.45m (£1.15m) lying around.

4 1974 Imola Carlos Reutemann Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Stommelen racing chassis 007 during the Imola round of the 1974 WEC campaign

For contrast, a Gulf-liveried 1970 Porsche 917K driven by Mike Hailwood and David Hobbs was proffered with an estimate of between $16m-$18.5m (£11.3m-£13m) in 2021 while one of the three Ford GT40s to cross the line at Le Mans ’66 (the No5 car of Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson) sold for $9.8m (£7.8m in 2018).

Nick Soprano, the New York dealer selling the car, emphasised to Motor Sport the virtues of what is a relative bargain – a model which ruled the 1975 World Endurance Championship, winning seven of its nine rounds that year with Arturo Merzario being crowned champion.

“At 11,000rpm it produces a symphony of sound,” he says of the 500bhp 3-litre flat 12. “It releases from within yourself so much adrenaline, it’s just captivating.”

From the archive

In the midst of its failing F1 team in the early ’70s, Ferrari withdrew from top-level sports car racing for 1974, leaving the door open for other makes to step in.

Alfa Romeo, Matra and Ford were some of the brands that moved in with eyes on endurance glory. The Tipo 33 12 won on debut with Merzario and Mario Andretti at the wheel in the 1974 Monza 1000kms, with Ickx sharing chassis 007 with Rolf Stommelen in the runner-up spot.

007 would race just twice more that season, at the Nürburgring and Imola (Stommelen sharing the car with Reutemann at both events), claiming two more second-place finishes before being tucked away in Ickx’s garage – likely in lieu of payment.

The Tipo 33 12s went on to dominate WEC in ’75:  “We didn’t win races; we absorbed them,” said Derek Bell of that year. “The Alfa was a bloody good car. Sounded wonderful.”

However, 1974’s chassis 007 stayed with Ickx before being sold to collector Jacques Setton in the mid-’80s.

The car has recently undergone a full restoration, but is remarkably authentic for a competition prototype of its vintage. It still has all of its original parts including the engine, body panels, transmission, brakes and suspension.

2 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Tipo 33 doesn’t fetch the high prices that other sports cars of the era do

Motor Classic & Competition Corp

“What’s remarkable about this machine is firstly its competition history,” says Soprano. “Three second places with Ickx, Stommelen and Reutemann – all ‘name-brand’ drivers at ‘name-brand’ circuits – and the fact that it’s intact.

“Everything is original – that’s almost unheard of in competition cars. So many of them have been run hard, put away wet, burned, crashed, whatever. This one has a very ‘clean’ provenance.”

From the archive

Soprano also expands on the visceral experience of driving such a monster as the Alfa – when the car’s fired up, you certainly know about it.

“It’s like being shot out of a cannon, or riding a bullet down the highway” he laughs. “When it comes into its power band, right around 6000rpm, it’s awesome. There are really very few words to express the sensation.”

The 3-litre, 500bhp power unit is also something to behold in itself, an example of the no-holds-barred approach to powerful sports car racing in the early to mid-’70s.

“Being an Italian flat 12, especially when you’re up around 11,000rpm, the noise is a combination of a shriek and a scream,” Soprano enthuses.

“Just standing next to it when it’s fired up makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck. The sound is not something you’ll duplicate with with a 917 or many other cars of that era.”

But why is such a charismatic machine passed over when compared to its rivals?

The state of sports car racing in the mid-’70s could shed light on the matter. The Tipo 33 was dominant towards the end of a glorious sports car era that went out with a bit of a whimper, rather than one in full flourish. After Matra withdrew prior to the ’75 championship, only the Porsche 908/3 and slightly calamitous Alpine A442-Renaults stood in Alfa’s way.

3 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

500bhp engine is something to behold

Motor Classic & Competition Corp

Following that year, engine capacities were limited with the Group 5 category in what would be a muted discipline. It wasn’t until 1982’s Group C dawn that sports car racing would truly roar again.

The lack of a relative rivalry might go some to explaining a limited clamour for the 007, one of 12 Alfa Tipo 33 examples.

Soprano says the only reason he can muster for the muted interest in it is a lack of knowledge regarding a brilliant sports car beast.

“I don’t think the market truly understands or appreciates what they are, and what they have done – that’s the best way of putting it.”

For more information on the 1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 007 currently for sale with Motor Classic & Competition Corp, click here.