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  Alfa Romeo 33/SC/12 Turbo

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1977
Numbers built:2
Internal name:Tipo 33
Predecessor:Alfa Romeo 33/TT/12
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 08, 2006
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter winning the first two Formula 1 World Championships in 1950 and 1951, Alfa Romeo officially withdrew from motor racing to concentrate on a new line of road cars. Although these cars were not as glamorous as the pre-War Alfas, they were still clearly inspired by the designs of old. At the end of the decade work was started on a new racer, built around the road cars' 1.6 litre four cylinder engine. This slow process eventually resulted in the TZ1 model, launched in 1963, it featured a new tubular chassis and an aerodynamic body designed by Zagato.

To construct the new GT racer, Alfa Romeo created a new competition department and dubbed it Autodelta. Two years later the highly successful Giulia 1600 GTA was constructed specifically for Touring car racing, which the GTA dominated the following years. In the mean time Alfa Romeo and Autodelta worked on a completely new competition car that was intended to restore Alfa's old reputation. Code named '105.33', the new car was designed by Alfa's experimental department and then sent to Autodelta in 1965 to be further developed.

When Autodelta received the first prototype, it was powered by a TZ2 derived four cylinder engine. The engine was installed behind driver's compartment, complying with the latest racing design trends. A completely new V8, displacing just under 2 litres, was designed by Autodelta and mated to a Colotti 6-speed gearbox. The chassis consisted of three large aluminium tubes; two longitudinal side members and one fitted transversely at the rear. Suspension was by double wishbones front and back. It was equipped with the latest vented Girling discs all-round.

Simply dubbed 33, the new racer made its debut in the 1967 season. In later years the cars were known as 33/2 for their 2 litre displacement, to distinguish them from the larger engined evolutions. In competition trim the high revving quad-cam V8 was good for at least 270 bhp. It made a victorious debut at a hill-climb in Belgium, but reliability issues dominated the rest of the season. For 1968 a slightly revised engine and new bodywork improved both performance and reliability. After its debut race the 1968 33/2 is now commonly referred to as Daytona. Alfa Romeo finished third in the World Championship.

Class victories is all what Alfa Romeo could aim for with the two litre engine, with the main contenders for the overall victory using three litre units. In 1968 work was started on a three litre V8 engine, which could also be used in Formula 1. Also adopted for the bigger engine was a four valve per cylinder engine, bringing it up to par with competitors Matra and Ferrari. The unusual tubular chassis was replaced by a state of the art aluminium monocoque type chassis. The wheelbase was decreased by 10 cm to 2240 mm.

Although the 33/3 made brief appearances in 1969, it lacked development time. The works team relied on the 33/2 more than once that season. In 1970 two body styles were used, a short and long tail Spider, the latter is known as the Le Mans Spider. Throughout the season Alfa Romeo struggled, but continued to work on the car's reliability. A five speed gearbox was fitted for 1971, which proved to be a highly successful season with a victory in the Targa Florio as a highlight. In the constructor's world championship Alfa Romeo finished 2nd.

Autodelta continued development of the prototype racer and a third evolution was ready late in 1971; 33 TT3. The monocoque was replaced by a new spaceframe type chassis (TT was short for Tellaio Tubulare or Tubular Chassis). For a perfect weight balance, the gearbox was mounted directly on the engine and in front of the gearbox. The driving position was moved forward to keep the same wheelbase despite the relocated gearbox. For 1973 a brand flat 12 was introduced, which offered a considerable increase in power.

By 1974 the 33 TT12 was winning races and in 1975 it dominated the world championship. With seven victories in eight championship races, the Alfa's dominance was total. Although Alfa Romeo focused on Formula 1 from 1976 onwards, the world championship was won again in 1976 with the final evolution of the 33, the SC 12. It had a similar body as the TT12, but it again featured a monocoque type chassis. A Turbocharged engine was also constructed, displacing just over 2.1 litres, it produced 640 bhp.

While Alfa Romeo concentrated on Formula 1, they reigned supreme in the 1977 World Sportscar Championship with the 33 SC finishing first in every qualifying session and race. It has to be noted that there was not much competition that season. In the final race of the season the Turbocharged car was debuted, but failed to make an impression. This was really the end of the line of the highly successful series of Tipo 33 prototypes that fought on the forefront of endurance racing for a decade

Featured is one of the two 33 SC 12s equipped with the Turbocharged engine. It is seen here in the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications