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Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 - Part 1

by

Antonio Eiras

The Alfa Romeo Type 33/2 was introduced in 1967 and represented the official return of the Milan car manufacturer to motor racing after an absence of 16 years. Indeed, since the end of the glorious era with the Alfettas 158 and 159, the brand struggled with serious economic problems, which ended with state intervention and motivated being parted from the tracks.

 

This return began with the creation of a racing department, having been acquired in 1965, Autodelta, a racing company founded two years before by Carlo Chiti.

 

And this former engineer of Alfa Romeo, returned from a period at Ferrari, has been in charge of the engine for the new Type 33/2, while Oracio Satta was responsible for the chassis. It was a two-seater coupe, designed to compete in the 2-liter Sport Prototypes class. The engine, placed in the rear central position, was a V8 90, with 4 camshafts and 2 valves per cylinder, which delivered 270 HP at 9,600 rpm, and the transmission was made with use of a 6-speed gearbox.

 

The tubular chassis had two structures, built in alloy, to support the suspensions. The bodywork was built in fibreglass and had an elegant and original dynamic air intake to the engine. Hence derived the nickname "Periscope" assigned to this model. Its debut, in a mountain race in Belgium, with Theodoro Zeccoli at the wheel, has resulted in a victory and announced a brilliant career, with absolute victories and in 2 liters class in different races, such as the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans, and in the Targa Florio in 1968 and 69. In those years the Type 33/2 also won its class Cup do Alfa Romeo. There were made thirty examples of the 33/2.

 

Strong with the sporting success of the Type 33/2, the brand leaders decided to produce a road version of the car. The Tipo 33 Stradale was introduced in 1967 and remained in production for two years, having been made and sold only 18 examples. It was one of the last road vehicles derived from a competition model, with the wheelbase to be increased by 10 cm, the chassis reinforced aluminium panels and the engine power reduced to 230 hp. Using a beautiful bodywork designed by Franco Scaglione, the Stradale proved to be a very nervous and unstable car, but also very fast and effective. Its too high price has limited its potential commercial success.

 

In 1969 he was presented the Type 33/3, powered with a 3 liters V8 engine, which, with four valves per cylinder, delivered 400 hp at 9,000 rpm in the original version, which evolved into a more competitive, 440 hp in the latest version used in 1971, along with a new 5-speed gearbox. The chassis was a monocoque made of titanium reinforced duralumin and the heat exchangers are recessed from the front position to the sidepods, allowing the design of an aggressive edge shaped front. The original bodywork was open and a closed version was used in higher speeds circuits.

 

Projected to fight for absolute victory, the Type 33/3 remained in competition until 1971, having won, among others, the races of Enna (Sicily) and Zeltweg (Austria) in the debut year and Brands Hatch (England) Watkins Glen (USA) and the Targa Florio, in the last year of its career. Its history was, however, limited by the technical superiority of the Porsche rival, which proved almost unbeatable with its fabulous 917. There were made twenty examples of the type 33/3.

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