Alfa Romeo Tipo 33
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.
Article by António Eiras - 03/03/2016
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.
In 1972 Alfa Romeo entered the new 33/3TT (TT of Telaio Tubolare or tubular chassis), with the V8 engine of 3 liters to be temporarily used in a new light alloy chassis. The evolution was, however, insufficient to counter the dominance of Ferrari that year and, in the following year, despite the use of a new 12 cylinders boxer engine with 4 valves per cylinder, which delivered 500 hp at 11,000 rpm, designed once again, by Carlo Chiti, its drivers they could do little more than watch the duel between the rival Italian and the French Matra.
It was clear that Alfa Romeo had to evolve and Autodelta presented during the season of 73, the new type 33TT12. This model used the same chassis as its predecessor, powered by the same boxer engine. The bodywork had a fabulous look with the shaped edge front, huge vertical rear fins, and with a prominent dynamic air intake to the engine, to be introduced in the next year.
With the missing Ferrari, the 1974 Manufacturers World Championship started in the best way for Alfa Romeo, that won the first three places in the 1000 km of Monza, but throughout the remaining championship, the Italian brand could not resist the supremacy of Matra.
In 1975, after the retirement of the French team, the 33TT12 were entered by the Willi Kausen Racing Team and, under the guidance of Domingos Piedade, as Team Manager, it won seven of the eight races of the Championship and the World title for Alfa Romeo. There were made six examples of the Type 33TT12.
After a 1976 Year where Autodelta concentrated its efforts on preparing the engines for the Brabham Formula 1 Team, the Italian Team return to Sport-Prototypes in 1977 with a new model, the 33SC12 Type, which used a new lighter chassis, mix of monocoque and tubular. The boxer engine was developed and delivered about 520 hp at 12,000 rpm.
Without opposition, the mark of the Four Leaf Clover won the 8 races of the Championship and one more World title. In Salzburgring it was inscribed a 33SC12 powered with an 2.1 liter engine, with two turbochargers, one per cylinder bank, which delivered 640 hp at 11,000 rpm and that, droved by Arturo Merzario, proved very fast and reliable, finishing the race in 2nd place. There were made six examples of the Type 33SC12 and two of the supercharged version.
Disheartened by the lack of opponents and with the aim of strengthening its presence in Formula 1, Alfa Romeo finished at the end of this year, its official participation in the Sport-Prototypes Championship, ending thus one of the most beautiful chapters of the Motor Sport History.
Over the ten-year saga, the different models of the Type 33 were drived by major talents of his time, such as Jacky Ickx, Peter Revson, Mario Andretti, Derek Bell, Ronnie Peterson, Jacques Laffite, Henri Pescarolo, Carlos Reutmann, Lucien Bianchi, Piers Courage, Nanni Galli, Rolf Stommelen, Ignazio Giunti and Nino Vaccarella, among many others. It was a time when many Formula One drivers shared his time between Formula One and Sports-Prototypes to the big joy of spectators, who flocked en masse to the circuits, for the benefit of the teams, which were paid for participation in the races and has contributed greatly to the promotion of Motor Sport.
This work was carried out in 1993, in close collaboration with my friend Manolo Domenech, having been published in Gran Auto 16 magazine which was Director. The drawing of the Alfa Romeo Carabo, prototype based on the Stradale, designed by Marcello Gandini, while working at Bertone, was made for Manolo, a great enthusiast of this prototype, of Alfa Romeo and of all sports cars.