The Idea of the Montreal

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After the rebuilding of Alfa Romeo, lasting through all the years of the fifties, the managers of the Milanese company began to think seriously of a return in grand style to racing, abandoned officially in 1951 after the second conquest of the Formula 1 World Championship.

Nevertheless Alfa had continued to participate, even if only occasionally alone, to races in the Sport category, among which were also several runnings of the Mille Miglia with the competitive 6C 2500 Competizione and the 6C 3000 CM.

In 1955, with the Giulietta Sprint, managed by independent teams but prepared and assisted officially, Alfa began to draw the crowds in the Touring category.

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The new sporting program

The president of the Portello company, Giuseppe Luraghi, in light of these latest experiences thought that the best way to officially resume competition activity was to rely on an external racing department, as Fiat had done with Abarth or Renault with Alpine.

For this, Alfa contacted ATS of Bologna, a small company building sports and competition cars. At the head of technical management was the engineer Carlo Chiti. The Tuscan designer, in past years at Alfa, had come to appreciate Luraghi: in 1952 he was added to part of the group dedicated to [addetto alle] special projects, the competition department of Alfa Romeo, from there staying until 1957 working particularly on the Disco Volante and the Giulietta Sprint Veloce. It was undoubtably owed to the experience acquired in this period that Enzo Ferrari decided to ask him (to work) closer with himself [chaimarlo presso di se].

The activities of Chiti at Maranello, lasting until 1961, were profitable. He designed the first Ferraris, Sport and Formula 1, with rear engines, (and) for the first time ever [in assoluto], the rear spoiler on a sports car.

During the technical management of Chiti Ferrari won two world constructors championships in F1 and the world championship for Sports cars.

At the end of 1961, Chiti went to the newly-born ATS, where he designed in little time a single seat car for F1 and a GT, equipped with 90 degree V8's of 1500 and 2500 cc respectively.

Nevertheless, in contrast, inside the Bolognese company, in 1964 participation in the World Championship of F1 was suspended. Following this, through financial difficulties the project to construct a modern 2500 GT with mid-engine entered a state of crisis.

Alfa thought at this point [it might] profit from the juicy [ghiotti] opportunity to take over ATS completely. Unfortunately the negotiations with the shareholders of the Bolognese company did not come to a successful conclusion.

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Autodelta

Leaving ATS, Chiti presented himself at the end of 1964 to Luraghi together with his partner in business, the engineer Chizzola, proprietor of Autodelta of Udine, to discuss a possible technical collaboration with the Milanese company.

To the small company [friulana] Alfa had already entrusted in 1963 the assembly of the Giulia TZ1. Now, having completed the assembly of the 100 anticipated cars, Luraghi made an offer to Autodelta to become the official racing department of Alfa Romeo.

In accordance with the plans of the Portello company he would have to act as the springboard for launching a return to the most prestigious events: the World Championship of makes reserved for Sports cars and the World Championship of Formula 1.

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Autodelta would have to carry out a gradual program of participation in competition: at first in the Touring (Car) and Grand Touring championships, then with more important appointments.

Accepting the offer, Autodelta moved itself to the doorstep of Milan, at Settimo Milanese. Its tasks were seen to be the preparation and development of projects for competition cars and assistance to sporting customers.

In June 1966, seeing the successes in the Touring category and the approach of the expiry (of the contract?) very close [ben piu impegnative], Alfa Romeo acquired Autodelta. The engineer Chiti was appointed general manager while Chizzola, selling his quota of shares, returned from there to Udine.

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The 33 Sports Prototype

In the first half of the Seventies Alfa obtained notable sales success in foreign markets with the Giulia model. A decisive incentive to the acquisition was the numerous achievements obtained in the Touring (Car) and Grand Touring categories.

At this time, the principle rival to Alfa was considered to be BMW. The production of the German company aimed at models of 1.6, 1.8 and 2 litres while that of Alfa Romeo was constituted predominantly of cars of 1300 and 1600 cc. There is not much risk in (believing) the hypothesis that Alfa intended to be present on the international market also in the 2000 class.

This hypothesis is reinforced by the fact that Fiat signed an agreement with Ferrari to launch on the market the Dino 2000 grand tourer, a formidable competitor on the national and foreign markets.

In 1964 was born to Alfa Romeo the idea to combat the new Fiat strategy by creating a competition car whose engine would be employed in a new grand tourer.

The definitive solution was set, probably, after the official announcement of the Fiat-Ferrari agreement for the construction of the Dino. This agreement, signed near the middle of 1964, anticipated the construction of two high performance models: the Fiat Dino, spider and coupe, and the Ferrari Dino 206 GT. All the cars would be equipped with a V engine of 6 cylinders, closely derived from the latest sporting project of the Maranello company, the Dino 206 SP.

The Fiat-Ferrari collaboration accelerated, therefore, the re-entry of Alfa Romeo into international automobile competition with a car built specially (for racing) and no longer only with versions derived from production touring models and grand tourers.

The traditional policy of Alfa Romeo to exploit as far as possible the sports program to technical and promotional ends determined the selection of category and class: Sports Prototype of 2 litre capacity. The phase that preceded the realisation of the project of the new car was characterised by lively discussions as to the direction of Alfa. For the configuration of the engine some executives proposed right away 12 cylinders, but, given the capacity selected, this was not certain to be the most suitable solution. In the end, the engineer Satta, assisted as always by Giuseppe Busso, succeeded in imposing his own ideas.

It was decided to produce a car with avant-garde characteristics. Busso remembers: "The car would have to have technical characteristics of a high level to aim for the absolute in its own category. For this (reason) an engine of 8 cylinders with rear mounting was chosen."

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The project of the 105.33 [1] began with these premises towards the end of 1964, not many months after the launch of the Dino projects.

[Note 1: 105.33 was the internal code of Alfa Romeo with which the project of the new competition car, named later with the abbreviation 33, was identified].

We hear, on this subject, the opinions of Carlo Chiti. "The design of all the 33's was the result of collaboration between Alfa Romeo and Autodelta. All the preliminary studies, the strategy, the calculations, were carried out jointly by the technical management [direzione] of Alfa Romeo and Autodelta".

"For the 33", declares also Busso, "a 90 degree V8 motor was planned. Such a configuration allowed high speed of rotation and limited size. This solution was typical and obligatory [obbligatoria] for rear-engined cars. It allowed the location of the driving position in an ideal position. If it had been moved forward, because of the dimensions of the motor, it would have compromised good visibility."

Chiti was also favourable to the idea. During his stay at Ferrari he had designed a 90 degree twin-cam V8 of 2458 cc, for the first sports car with rear engine of the Maranello company: the 248P. The selected solution of the Alfa designer's company, besides, gave the opportunity for Chiti to revisit a few technical solutions dating back to the ATS period.

"The selection of an 8 cylinder motor for the 33", maintains Chiti, "was influenced by the fact that at ATS I had planned and produced two engines with similar characteristics, both for Formula 1 and for Grand Touring."

He remembered that the only experience with this type (of engine) in Alfa Romeo was back in 1936. Jano, at that time, had set up a study for a 90 degree V8, a solution already adopted by the American automobile companies.

Alfa would improve on these technically. In the production of the engine, occuring in 1938, a block in light alloy with cast iron sleeves was adopted. The sports version was given twin overhead camshafts. The engine, of 2260 cc and 135 HP, was to have equipped the S11 SS, a car designed in order to replaced the more sporting versions of the 6C2300B. Unfortunately, because of the events of the war it was possible to build only the prototype of the engine.

But returning to the 33. While the designers were creating the innovative engineering in every detail, the bodywork was defined. In Alfa Romeo Centro Style a model was produced in plaster and creation? [creata] having an aggressive form, streamlined [filante], with pronounced convexity in the mudguards and two front air inlets a very long distance from them.

The prototype of the car was then produced nearby the workshops of Portello and delivered to Autodelta on the 1st of January 1966, the period in which began the first tests on the track of Balocco [2].

[Notes 2. The private track Alfa Romeo used for the testing of new cars. The track reproduces a few sections of famous circuits, such as Zandvoort and Monza. It is well adapted to the development of racing and production cars]

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The V8 not being yet ready, on the 33 a four cylinder engine from a Giulia TZ2 was installed. "The definitive engine", maintains Busso, "designed and built by Alfa Romeo, began to run on the bench in February 1966 in the cars of Autodelta, from which followed, then, both its development and use on the track." In June 1966, the 33 was equipped with the 8-cylinder engine. Then began the final tuning of the car.

After several months, in March 1967, after intense testing on the tracks of Balocco and Monza, the first 33, dubbed "Periscopa" for the obvious aerodynamic air intake, was presented officially to the press. It was the first rear engined Alfa Romeo produced to regulations for use in competition.

It was characterised by a new chassis inspired by aeronautical engineering, on which were inserted the engine and transmission assemblies. The engine of 1995 cc supplied 260 HP DIN at 9600 rpm. The induction was by four overhead camshafts with two valves per cylinder; the fuel system had indirect Lucas injection; the gearbox had six speeds and a limited-slip differential.

In the technical characteristics of the 33, one notes the great contribution of Chiti to the design. Many solutions, both in the suspension and the motor, reflected his past experience. Chiti himself maintains, "The 8 cylinder Alfa Romeo engine recalled in design some characteristics from ATS."

In a comparison between the two numerous similarities [analogia] stood out: the position of the valves, the conformation of the combustion chambers, the inlet and exhaust ports and the ancillary drives [distribuzione].

Nevertheless, the expectations [previsione] of an eventual development of the Alfa V8 towards still higher rpm brought about the decision to design an oversquare motor (with a greater bore) with respect to the ATS engine.

On the occasion of the presentation of the 33 Alfa Romeo officially declared: "Since 1910 Alfa Romeo has always believed in sporting competition and has always raced. All its cars are born to be driven fast and for racing. The 33 is not an exception to this golden rule. Daughter of the racing cars which have preceded it, the newborn will influence its (ie Alfa's) new directions in series production."

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Six days after the presentation, resoundingly, occurred its debut in competition: first place outright and course record in the hill climb at Fleron, in Belgium. At the wheel was the test driver Teodoro Zeccoli, whom Chiti had brought with him from ATS.

The 1967 program for the 33 project was directed to testing in racing and to finalise [messa a punto] the car for the following seasons, also hoping to bring back several victories. The objective was moreover that of finalising the specifications of a car directly derived from the 33 Prototype, for construction in limited production.

After a first pre-series of about seven cars in a spider form [edizione], designed for the official drivers of the company and on which were carried out all the final development testing, the development of a 33 in a coupe version for production in 50 examples was planned.

The 33 Stradale, as the new car came to be called, was destined both for demanding and sporting drivers, and to private drivers and teams for competition in the Sport category.

"The role of the 33 Stradale", maintains the engineer Chiti, "was wanted strategically [strategicamente voluto] by the president of Alfa Romeo. He wanted to build a car which in the sphere of sporting cars would follow closely the role of the Ferrari Dino."

"The 33 Stradale", maintains Busso, "was built also to demonstrate that Alfa Romeo, when building a racing car, thought of the possibility of making this car accessible, as a model directly derived from it to the normal clientele. The 33 Stradale could in fact be bought through the normal sales network of Alfa".

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Autodelta was given responsibility to build the car, just as in 1963 had occurred with the TZ.

The new 33 was introduced in the autumn of 1967. It had the same engine as the 2 litre (version), naturally with less powerful characteristics (230 HP at 8,800 rpm) for requirements of durability and greater smoothness of operation. The specific power of the engine was the highest among cars destined to drive on the road (115 HP/litre). The maximum speed of 260 km/hr was not the least reduced [dimeno].

The chassis, with longer wheelbase, was identical to that of the racing 33. The body, in aluminium, was designed by Franco Scaglione, then an independent designer. The weight of the car was low (700 kg) and its price high (9,750,000 lire). At the hands of [in cura di] Autodelta, the car was able to undergo special preparation for use in racing.

Unfortunately, for reasons connected [legati] to frequent changes of the upper management of Alfa Romeo, the 33 Stradale program was reorganised, and only 18 cars were constructed.

Meanwhile in the competition field, things went better. The 33, given new coupe bodywork, made itself known [si affermo] in 1968 as the best 2 litre car of the time, bringing back a series of important and prestigious victories: the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Targa Florio, Nurburgring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mugello, Imola and the conquest of the Italian Drivers' Championship.

But meanwhile Alfa Romeo prepared an ambitious program for its 8 cylinder engine which already, in 1967, had been experimentally placed in a Giulia Sprint GTA.

For careful observers of the time, therefore, it was easy to forecast that in the course of a few years there would be born a new thoroughbred GT given this magnificent engine.

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Captions

p. 20 Born in Pistoia in 1924, at 26 years Carlo Chiti graduated in aeronautical engineering. In 1952 he was appointed to Alfa Romeo in the department of special projects. In 1957 he went to Ferrari, where he stayed for four years, as director of planning. At Maranello he developed the rear-engined car which won the Formula One World Championship in 1961 with Phil Hill. After the ATS digression, in 1963 he founded Autodelta at Udine.

p.21 The Giulia Sprint GTA of Zeccoli during the victorious race of 4 hours of Monza in 1966 which saw seven GTAs in the first seven outright places. Alfa Romeo succeeded in 1966 in breaking up the many years' domination of Ford in the European Touring Car Challenge, defeating the Lotus Cortina, and was awarded the continental title. The victory of the GTA over the car-symbol [vettura-simbole] of technology Lotus confirmed that the company of Portello was by then ready for more ambitious sporting programs.

p. 22 The first version of the 33 at the time of presentation to the press. The journalists were struck by the style of the bodywork. The authoritative magazine Auto Style wrote: "The bodywork of the 33 evidences notable aesthetic worth and a rather refined stylistic personality. The car reveals the elegant grace of a grand touring convertible done up for a few races [elaborata per qualche gara] among sporting gentlemen, rather than the brutal aggression of a competition prototype destined not only to fight with weapons equal to the official squadrons of Ferrari and Porsche, but also to win in its class the world championship of makes". The bodywork, built in fibreglass, was given a ram [dinamica] air intake to remedy the problems of feeding the intake trumpets. By this it came to be identified also with the nickname "Periscopa".

p.23 Above: the innovative chassis of the 33; note the central part made of double tubular elements in light alloy of large diameter which also acted as a fuel tank. Below, a close-up of the engine assembly [propulsore gruppo].

p. 24 The 33 began its competition career winning a race and beating a record that seemed unbeatable, occurring on the 12th March 1967 in the Fleron-Liege hill climb. At the wheel, Teodoro Zeccoli, who did not know the course, beating the previous record held by a very powerful McLaren-Oldsmobile.

p. 25 The 33 Stradale was introduced at the exhibition of sports cars at Monza in September 1967. The car was destined to clients both for sporting activities and use on the street. The bodywork, designed by Scaglione, was in aluminium. The chassis and the engine were those of the racing 33 adapted to street use.

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