The Montreal and Competition

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During the introduction of the Montreal at Balacco, in April 1971, there leaked out some unconfirmed reports regarding the use of its engine in competition.

According to the program [programmi], it was anticipated that it would be used in Formula 2 as the only true alternative to the Ford Cosworth. The regulations of the category for 1972 allowed 2 litre engines derived from Group 3 cars (Grand Touring class), a category in which was foreseen the homologation of the Montreal. In September 1971 Autodelta introduced the Montreal engine in a 2-litre version prepared for F2. The only obstacle to its competitiveness was the weight of the car. Single seaters equipped with an 8-cylinder engine had, in fact, a handicap of 50kg with respect to that given to a 4 cylinder like the Ford. The competitiveness of the Montreal engine was therefore discovered [tutta da scoprire].

The minimum production of 1000 cars, necessary for the homologation in Group 3, was achieved in January 1972. In this period the Montreal was also homologated in Group 4 (Grand Touring special).

Unfortunately the V8 reduced to 2 litres was never used in F2, because it was believed to be too penalised with respect to the classic 2 litre Ford.

While it was in the course of preparing the engine for F2, Autodelta was taking care of new tests of the car. At Settimo Milanese, besides managing the sporting activities of Alfa Romeo, it had the task of testing production models for their possible competition use. This was done also for the Montreal, noting a certain potential if the car was modified [elaborata] according to the specifications of Group 4.

The president Luraghi, however, announced in the course of 1972: "For the sporting program it is stated [va detto] that the Montreal will not participate officially in the European GT championship. Nevertheless clients who would participate will be assisted officially by Autodelta".

This enabled one to predict a not very elaborate [esasperato] preparation of the car. The heavy use of Autodelta in the Sport and Touring championships delayed the preparation of a racing version.

Unexpectedly, in January 1973, Autodelta presented at the International Racing Car Show in London the Montreal Group 4. The car, of green colour, was greatly admired for its finish. It was equipped with a V8 engine taken out to 3 litres (2997 cc), supplying 370 HP at 9,000 rpm.

The bodywork was given very large flares [codolini] to accommodate tyres of large dimensions (the same as the racing 33). The front flares were integrated with a large spoiler, extending for all the width of the car. In the interior the only novelties were the anatomical seats, the steering wheel; of smaller diameter and covered in leather, the instrumentation and roll bar. The mechanical components were subjected to special preparation [cura]. We begin with the engine: higher compression ratio, lighter pistons, wilder [piu spinti] camshafts, balanced tailshaft? [albero a gomiti equilibrato], special springs, lightened flywheel, twin-plate clutch, more resonant unsilenced exhaust pipes with side outlets (one per side below the doors). Other mechanical interventions: front disks with aluminium callipers, modified hub carriers [portomozzi], rear axle with a different location (system) by moving block [slitta discovrimente], derived from the Giulia GTA), more rigid suspension and shock absorbers. Moreover, the front roll centre was lowered and that of the rear to reduce the roll [coricamento] of the car in curves.

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Nevertheless the Montreal as homologated, without the possibility of adopting a preparation for lightening the bodywork, was penalised by excessive weight.

The car presented at London was utilised by Autodelta to gain experience in Group 4, then acquired by the German branch [filiale] of Alfa Romeo. It participated in the 1000 kilometres of the Nurburgring on 27th May 1973, a round of the World Championship of Makes, with the Gleich-Weizinger team [equippaggio]. The car appeared with a (now real) enlarged NACA air intake and a roll cage [roll-bar a gabbia]. It qualified in the top [finale] part of the grid [schieramento di partenza] composed in large part of very fast sports cars. Unfortunately, the high weight and accentuated roll rendered the car uncompetitive; its power was modest although, nevertheless, sufficient to qualify.

Another two examples were prepared for an American driver. In one of these the driver and tester [collaudatore] Teodoro Zeccoli participated in the 6 hours of Watkins Glen on 21st July, 1973, another round [prova] of the World Championship of Makes. In the race Zeccoli broke the gearbox and was forced to retire while taking part in a lively and courageous race.

"The car, equipped with a 3 litre engine", remembers Zeccoli, who had conducted the tests at Balacco, "was certainly not suitable for competition. To render it really competitive it would have been necessary to alter it totally. In races it repeated the characteristics of behaviour of the production car, even with the thoroughly modified suspension and anti-roll bars; considerable pitching and rolling and insufficient brakes. Other problems came also in the Spica injection pump. In races it demonstrated even more speed in acceleration than the Ferrari Daytona, demonstrating the considerable power of the motor. The advantage this accumulated was cancelled out, however, at the first taking of a bend!" [staccata in curva]

The Alfetta GT3000

[Note:  see also my Web page containing additional information and photos on this vehicle - Malcolm]

In 1975 Alfa Romeo debuted in international rallies with the Alfetta GT, immediately bringing back notable achievements. This was more than hoped for the debut, looking ahead to the next year, of a car specially produced for rallies, in order to make life really difficult for the Lancia Stratos, then the uncontested ruler [regina] of the category. Notwithstanding the good results achieved, at the end of 1975 the Alfa Romeo-Autodelta rally program was not then well defined [ben definiti]. Nevertheless, towards the end of 1975, a special version of the Alfetta GT, given a V8 engine, was prepared at Settimo Milanese.

The dream of Busso to see this engine installed in a grand tourer given the De Dion rear suspension was on the point of being realised.

The mechanicals of the Alfetta GT V8, apart from the engine, were substantially unchanged compared with those of the production car. The engine was the usual V8 taken out the 3 litre capacity, with induction by four overhead camshafts and Spica indirect injection. Lubrication was still by dry sump, with the oil tank moved rearwards to the luggage compartment. It was fitted with, in practice [in pratica], the Montreal engine which Autodelta prepared for speedboat racing. The power was very high, 320 HP DIN at 8,000 rpm, about 70 HP more than the Lancia Stratos!

The gearbox, with clutch at the front, was of five speeds and in unit with [in blocco con] the De Dion rear axle.

The bodywork, all in aluminium, had the bonnet and doors (made) in plastic material. The bonnet was given a NACA air intake at the centre and expanded upwards to hold the intake trumpets, while a spoiler was fixed on the rear hatch [portellone posteriore].

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The mudguards were heavily enlarged to permit the mounting of 15 inch rims with racing tyres. Correspondingly the rear mudguards received a large air intake for cooling the brakes. At the front a large spoiler was integrated with the mudguards. The total weight of 950 kg made the weight/power ratio particularly low: less than 3kg/HP DIN.

The automobile, presented in the classic colour of Alfa red with the bonnet matt black, threatened to reveal itself as the most potent and fierce [aggueritta] car that had ever appeared up to that time in rallying. The official team of Ballestrieri-Maiga carried the Alfetta GT3000 to its debut at the Rally of Piancenza in December 1975.

The car appeared immediately competitive, even if because of ground made slippery by bad weather it was not possible to use all the available power. Nevertheless it scored fastest times [tempi di rilievo] in special stages, before retiring with problems in the transmission.

Though having already debuted in racing, to be able to participate in the international championship races the Alfetta GT3000 had to be given homologation in Group 4. For this Alfa would have had to complete the construction of a small series of at least 400 examples. The program was not very demanding on the financial side because it involved the assembly of components (engine, suspension and body) already existing in production Alfa Romeos. Moreover it would not have been difficult to find at least 400 buyers for a car given such exceptional characteristics.

Unfortunately, the indecision of the company management once again brought about a certain confusion in the sporting activities of Alfa Romeo. We hear, on the subject, the engineer Carlo Chiti: "For the car, in effect, all the planning for production had been set up. Unfortunately it was then suspended because the cost would have become excessive. Alfa Romeo had in fact demobilised the transfer lines [transfer] (that is to say the machine tools) which were acquired for the Montreal engine. Because of this the costs became enormous for the construction of 400 engines anticipated for the new car". In this way the dream of Busso ended by fading out again [sfumare di nuovo].

The Alfa Romeo Montreal Marine Engine

Alfa Romeo boasted a glorious register of gold [albo d'oro] also in the field of speedboat racing. Up to the middle of the Fifties it participated officially in international competition obtaining flattering successes. At the end of the Sixties it again greatly concentrated its own efforts in this activity, using its best engines.

In 1972, Autodelta prepared for this purpose another derivative of the Montreal engine. The Alfa Romeo Montreal 2500-Autodelta marine engine was available in a normal version or one developed for use in the Racers 2500 class.

The enhanced version supplied 270 hp at 8,300 rpm with maximum torque of 25 kgm at 5,500 rpm. It became immediately the engine to beat in its class. A version of 3000 cc supplying 350 hp was also homologated. This was also developed from the Montreal engine by means of increasing the stroke.

Autodelta with the new engine aimed also for the offshore championships. Offshore was, and still is, the most prestigious category of the sport of speedboat racing. The temptation to achieve the conquest, also on the sea, of an international title was very long-lived at Alfa. But the undertaking required a powerful, light, compact and above all tough engine. The Montreal engine answered these requirements.

The speedboat-racing season of 1973 registered in offshore races notable achievements for the Montreal engine, which culminated in 1975 with victory in the European championships. Besides which, still in 1973, the Montreal marine engine conquered the world championship closed circuit [entrobordo] races of the 2500 class with the driver Leopoldo Casanova and the Frigerio-Lucino hull.


p.88: In 1972, the sporting program of Alfa Romeo anticipated the use of the Montreal V8 in Formula 2 and for this it was first necessary to obtain homologation in Group 3 for the car. Above, the record of homologation by the CSAI for the Montreal.

p.89: In 1972, Alfa Romeo homologated the Montreal also in Group 4: some tests carried out by Autodelta had revealed a definite competition potential of the car. Nevertheless, the heavy sporting commitments of the Milanese company did not allow adequate work on its preparation. As homologated, without particular lightening of the bodywork, the Montreal revealed itself nevertheless not very competitive.

p. 90: The Montreal Group 4 of the Germans Gleich-Weizinger used in 1973 fon the Nurburgring circuit (Germany) for the 1000 Kilometer, a qualifying [valevole] race [gara] for the World Championship of marques. Note the (true) NACA air intake, enlarged with respect to the preceding photo. In this race, with few others participating, the Montreal obtained modest results. To render it competitive it would have been necessary to alter it radically.