Birth of an Alfetta: the Alfa Romeo 158 made from spare parts

by Doug Nye on 30th October 2019

When a vast collection of Alfa 158 spare parts became available in Italy, the chance to build a new, authentic car from scratch proved irresistible for a British engineer

A jaw-dropping insight into Alfa Romeo’s motor racing commitment 1938-51 is provided by studying merely a fraction of the company’s 158/159 Alfetta project’s 3,000 surviving works drawings.

They were provided by their enthusiastic owner to British engineer Jim Stokes – of Alfa 8C and Lancia D50 fame - for the 158 his company built up from a trove of original works team parts for the late enthusiast collector Peter Giddings.

The painstaking detail captured on every drawing, the recorded radius of every curve from aero-screen glass to cam profile, becomes even more impressive when one finds a 1938 design, later marked with myriad modifications, right through until 1950-51…

I was one of two people to tip off Jim that many ex-works 158 parts were being offered for sale in Italy. Since in the 1990s he had restored and prepared former ’50s racing driver Mike ‘Sparken’ Poberejsky’s near-complete 158, he was the ideal candidate.

He rose to the task and Peter Giddings readily agreed to fund the project. Here is a taste of how the work progressed at JSWL, Waterlooville…

Read Doug Nye's history of the Alfa 158/159 in the December issue of Motor Sport Magazine



 

1.

Bits, bits and more bits as cleared from Alfa’s former Portello factory upon its closure – cylinder head, carburettor, blowers, gearchange, suspension parts, chassis bracketry, brake shoes, clutch casing – and that radiator retaining the original underbody pale blue paint…

 

2.

Alfa 150 chassis bracketry

Sparse, light and strong enough (for ten years) – the Italian cache of original 158 chassis bracketry was built into the new JSWL-made (to original drawings) twin-tube chassis frame.

 

3.

Alfa 158 transaxle

Combined gearbox and final-drive – transaxle – assembly with swing-axle rear suspension.

 

4.

Alfa 158 engine block

The original straight-8 engine cylinder head with new-made liners screwed into each combustion chamber to resist 40-plus lbs/square inch supercharger boost pressure…

 

5.

Alfa 158 in bare aluminium

Freshly panelled in aluminium, on new-made Borrani wire wheels – everything made to the original drawings – a recognisable 158 Alfetta is reborn…

 

6.

Induction side of Alfa 158's straight 8 engine

Impressive induction side of the 158’s 1.5-litre straight-8 engine, shaft-drive to the side-mounted twin superchargers, the Alfetta’s famous ‘elephant trunk’ intake horn topping the carburettor…

 

7.

Almost completely restored Alfa 158 in the workshop

The 158 is almost complete…body now painted…trailing-arm independent front suspension and new brake drums, all exquisitely crafted.

 

8.

Alfa 158 testing at Goodwood

The reborn 158 pictured during initial testing at Goodwood

 

9.

Jim Stokes and James Holloway with their restored Alfa 158

Jim Stokes and James Holloway of JSWL with their gleaming baby – rebuilt from that treasure trove of long-neglected original bits and pieces…

 

10.

Restored Alfa 158 testing at Sonoma in April 2019

The Alfetta being demonstrated at Sonoma on April 11, 2019, in memory of project backer and owner, the late Peter Giddings.

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