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  Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 Monoposto

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1932 - 1935
Numbers built:1932: 6
1934: 9
Designed by:Vittorio Jano for Alfa Romeo
Predecessor:Alfa Romeo Tipo A Monoposto
Successor:Alfa Romeo 8C 35
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionVittorio Jano designed many noteworthy cars but none of them is as famous as the Typo B, unofficially known as the P3. The P3 was designed for the 1932 GP Formula and it embodied many features also found on versatile Monza designed by Jano in 1931. Another name for the P3 was 'Monoposto', Italian for single seater, as it was the first single seater racer in regular GP use.

Even though there was no engine capacity limit Jano opted for a 2.6 litre engine while their closest rivals, Maserati, already deployed a 2.8 litre engine in the 1931 season. The straight 8 cylinder engine was helped by two Roots-Type Superchargers mounted on each side of the drive. The final drive featured Jano's 'bifurcated' drive, which transmitted the power from a differential mounted centrally right behind the gearbox to each rear wheel individually through two propellor shafts in a triangular shape. The two propellor shafts ran on either side of the seat allowing the driver to sit lower in the chassis. The advantages were a lower unsprung weight as there was no need for a heavy differential and easier access to change the final drive ratio.

Nothing could match it in the 1932 season with the two highly talented drivers Nuvolari and Caracciola winning almost everywhere Jano's cars were entered. Internal economic difficulties saw the P3s grounded for the first half of the 1933 season, but they were released to Scuderia Ferrari in time to see Fagioli and Chiron score three victories each.

The 1934 season saw the introduction of the 750kg Formula, this meant Jano had to modify the P3s. The 1934 P3 had a wider body and used a larger (2905cc) engine. Most of the 1932 cars were converted to 1934 spec as well. The modifications resulted in a 1-2-3 finish in the opening round, the French GP. This was to be the last dominating victory for the P3, as the German cars proved far more powerful and found reliability as well. When the German cars were absent the Alfas did manage win, scoring 8 victories in 1934 including a defeat of the Auto Union at Avus with a special streamline bodied P3.

The P3 was further updated for the 1935 season with an even larger engine (3165cc), but the P3 was no match anymore for the Nazi backed Auto Unions and Mercedes-Benz. Except for that unforgettable July afternoon on the Nürburgring, possibly the most famous of all GPs ever. A crowd of almost 300,000 had gathered to see one of the two German cars win and a total of 9 Auto Unions and Mercedes-Benz started the race. Nuvolari however had other plans and found himself in second place in the 14th lap 88 seconds behind the leading Mercedes of Von Brauchitsch. Six laps later he had closed the gap to 35 seconds, it was the final lap. Von Brauchitsch's tires were in very poor condition and finally gave up in the Karousel section of the track, he managed to limp home to finish fifth. This left Nuvolari to score one of the very best victories in his career as he managed to beat 8 German cars in front of a crowd of Nazi officials. It was a suitable climax of the career of one the greatest racing cars ever, Jano's capolavoro (masterpiece).

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  Article Image gallery (114) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (1)