MOTORSPORT NEWS ARCHIVE
Autodelta - a history
On March 5 1963, a collective enterprise named Auto-Delta was set up by partners Carlo Chiti and Lodovico Chizzola and registered at the Udine Chamber of Commerce. Chiti had gained his experience with Ferrari, while Chizzola was an Alfa Romeo dealer from Udine. Auto-Delta became Autodelta S.p.A. in November 1964 with the self-avowed aim of helping Alfa Romeo return to racing after the company's disappearance from motorsport at the beginning of the Fifties.
Autodelta was set up in Feletto Umberto (Udine) because Chizzola's Alfa Romeo dealership was located in this town in Friuli. This was the setting for the first TZ (Tubolare Zagato) cars with truncated rear ends to help them slice more smoothly through the air. The Giulia TZ, designed in 1959 to replace the Giulietta SZ, was introduced in June 1962. At least 100 cars had to be built to qualify for Gran Turismo homologation. A total of 124 were built. The engine was a 112 bhp 1.6 unit. The car's dry weight was just 660 kg. Its top speed was 215 km/h.
The car made its racing debut in Monza in November 1963
at the Coppa Fisa, when four Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ cars took the first
four places in the prototypes category, driven by Lorenzo Bandini, Roberto
Bussinello, Giancarlo Baghetti and Consalvo Sanesi. The car was homologated
in the Gran Turismo category at the beginning of 1964 and scored a success
in its category in the Sebring 24 hour race in Florida (the following
year, it drove off with the first three places in its category) with Stoddard-Kaser,
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super (Jolly Club) immediately
revealed itself as a force to be reckoned with in rallies: De Adamich-Scarambone
were successful in the Rally dei Fiori, with Cavallari-Munari at the first
1965 was another bumper year and culminated in outright wins by the Giulia TZ at the Melbourne 6 Hour race with Roberto Bussinello and at the Giro d'Italia with Andrea De Adamich and Franco Lini.
The same year, the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA was introduced
at the Amsterdam Motor Show and then at the Geneva Motor Show. This was
a converted, mainly racing version of the Alfa Romeo Giulia GT launched
two years earlier. The letter A stands for alleggerita (lightened) because
205 kg was shaved off
This 1600 cc model won the European Makes Challenge for three years running, from 1966 to 1968, and the Drivers' Challenge with Andrea De Adamich (1966 and 1967) and with Spartaco Dini (1968).
Ignazio Giunti won the European Mountain championship in 1967. The GTA won innumerable successes during this three-year period, including wins abroad, in the US and in South America. The GTA's most prestigious accolades included 1st, 2nd and 4th places overall at the Nurburgring Six Hour race in 1967, and 1st and 2nd places overall in the Castle Rock-Colorado 250 Mile race.
In 1966, the Giulia GTA won a major rally title: Arnaldo Cavallari and Dante Salvay went home with the Mitropa Cup. Again in 1966, Autodelta became an associate company of Alfa Romeo and Carlo Chiti became its director. From then on, Autodelta became Alfa Romeo's competitive wing for racing and the development of new technologies.
In 1967, a turbocharged GTA prototype was built to compete in Group 5 races. The engine, developed by Autodelta, combined two coaxial centrifugal compressors, each with one oil-driven turbine pressurised by an axial pump connected to the engine by a chain. One other distinctive feature of the engine was the fact that it was water-cooled directly into the fuel ports to reduce the temperature of the mixture in the combustion chamber. The car's power output was 220 bhp and during tests at Balocco, this GTA identified by the initials SA (sovraalimentata - supercharged) exceeded 240 km/h. The car won the Hockenheim 100 mile race driven by the German driver Dau.
A 1300 cc aspirated version of the car was produced in 1968 to meet the needs of private drivers. The car, known as the GTA 1300 Junior Autodelta, was a no-holds-barred racing car that dominated its cylinder category for four years. Due to a specific points award system, the model succeeded in winning the outright European title in 1971 and 1972. The production run of the GTA 1300 Junior ran to 447 units. Racing versions prepared by Autodelta delivered a power output of 160 bhp at 8000 rpm.
In 1970, the Dutchman Toine Hezemans won the title in an Alfa 1750 GT Am (Am stands for America), derived from the American version of the GT 1750 with Spica injection. The body came with broader wings to accommodate 13 inch wheels with a size 9 front channel and rear channel of up to 11. This car took on opposition such as BMW and Ford with significantly higher capacities but often managed to overcome its disadvantage to take the lead. The following year saw the arrival of the 2000 GT Am, a leading light in all races and often an outright winner. In 1970, the car surprised everyone to take the title at the Spa Francorchamps 24 Hour race, when it also won the Coupe du Roi for the best team. It went on to repeat its success for seven consecutive years to 1976.
Some 40 units of the GT Am were built.
Autodelta also built cars for the Sport Prototype category as well as for the Touring category.
Its first designs date back to 1964 and the first car was built in 1965. The first prototype was built at Alfa Romeo and then sent to Autodelta for development and additional changes required by the manufacturer. The car was fitted with the TZ2's four cylinder engine. This was a major step for Autodelta that went on to develop a 1998 cc V8 engine. This was the first Alfa Romeo to be fitted with a rear engine integral with the gearbox and jointed rear axle. The chassis was inspired by aeronautical engineering and consisted of three aluminium pipes measuring 200 mm in diameter in the shape of an asymmetrical H designed to contain a rubber fuel tank. The result was the 33/2, a car that weighed just 580 kg and packed a power output of 270 bhp that propelled the long-reared version to a speed of 298 km/h.
The car made its debut on 12 March 1967 and went on to win the Fléron timed trial. Later, in 1968, it was used in the International Makes Championship and made its mark at the Daytona 24 Hour race - when Vaccarella and Schutz took first and second place in the 2 litre category - and the Targa Florio. In 1968, the 33/2 won 15 outright victories and 6 category races. Memorable outright wins were notched up at Vallelunga, Mugello and Imola, not to mention the first three category places in the Le Mans 24 h race. In Australia, the Alfa Tasmania-una Brabham with a 33 engine tuned to 2.5 litres- took four outright wins due to the 315 bhp developed by its 8800 rpm engine. The following year, i.e. 1969, the 33/2 litre took 14 overall first places, 2 overall second places and also notched up 13 class wins.
Thirty racing units were produced, complemented by an additional 18 units of an on-road Coupé version designed by Franco Scaglione of Turin and built from November 1967 to March 1969. This car was the fastest on-road Alfa Romeo in history because the eight cylinders of the two litre 230 bhp 33 could speed it to more than 260 km/h. The high price (ITL 9,750,000) limited its spread and ensured it remained a true dream car for the chosen few. The body was in 1 mm thick Peraluman that restricted the weight to just 700 kg.
Back on the racetrack, the 33/3 allowed Alfa Romeo to return to the struggle for overall leadership in the Sport category. The number three after the slash indicates a cylinder capacity of 3.0 litres. The chassis differs from that of the 33/2 due to an Avional box section structure with titanium elements. The car's new engine developed 400 bhp at 9000 rpm. The six speed gearbox hung over the rear wheels and the body was open. The car made its first appearance in Spring 1969 and during the same year was overall winner at Zeltweg (Austria) and Enna (Sicily). In 1970, the 33/3 came in 2nd overall at the Imola 500 km race and the Zeltweg 1000 kilometre race. The engine was upgraded to 420 bhp in 1971. The gearbox, judged to be the car's weak point, was rebuilt with five frontal gears. The front tyres were reduced to 13" and the weight from 700 kg to 650 kg.
The results were soon felt. In 1971, the 33/3 took the Brands Hatch 1000 km race with De Adamich-Pescarolo at the wheel, the Targa Florio with Vaccarella-Hezemans, and the Watkins Glen 6 Hour race with De Adamich-Pescarolo. These successes and other great placings won Alfa second place in the World Makes table.
The Autodelta design department did not rest on its laurels and by the end of 1970 they had a new version ready with a tubular aluminium alloy frame known as the 33/3 TT. This car featured a driving position set far forward. In 1972, after a long test period, it took second place in the Makes Championship.
But the 33 did not really come into its own until 1975. A now-perfect chassis and the felicitous arrival of the 500 bhp 12 cylinder boxer engine developed by Autodelta created ideal conditions for almost total domination. The car bagged the World Championship with seven wins in the eight races entered: at Dijon, Monza, Nurburgring, with Arturo Merzario and Jacques Laffite; at Spa, Zeltweg and Watkins Glen with Henry Pescarolo and Derek Bell; at Pergusa again with Merzario - this time paired with Jochen Mass. Only six units of the 33 TT 12 were ever built.
Alfa Romeo's main adversaries fought back after it swept the board, but Alfa made a comeback to take the 1977 title again with the 33 SC 12 that won all eight scheduled races with Arturo Merzario and Vittorio Brambilla at the wheel. Apart from taking the Championship, the 33 SC 12 set numerous records over all the major European circuits: an average speed of 144.225 km/h on the short Paul Ricard circuit, an average speed of 203.820 km/h over the winding Salzburg circuit in Austria.
The very first Alfa Romeo V12 Turbo engine made its appearance on this car: during the same period, Renault introduced its Formula 1 Turbo 1.5 engine. Renault's turbo engine was fed from both cylinder rows while the Alfa V12 Turbo adopted the approach of dividing the engine in two with one turbo per row. This engineering feature was copied by many manufacturers the following year. The 33 SC 12 engine developed 520 bhp at 12,000 rpm. The engine of the 33 SC 12 biturbo KKK that won on its first ever outing at Salzburg developed 640 bhp at 11,000 rpm.
Alfa Romeo turned its back on Formula 1 after wins by Farina and Fangio in 1950 and 1951 respectively. It made a low-key comeback in 1976. The Martini-Brabham BT 45 with an Alfa Romeo engine was introduced to the press at the Balocco track on 26 October 1975). Alfa's collaboration with Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team took place through Autodelta that supplied the 12 cylinder boxer power unit fitted to the 33 TT12. The Anglo-Italian team's BT 46 won the Swedish and Italian Grands Prix in 1978 with Niki Lauda at the wheel.
In 1979, Brabham-Alfa introduced a BT 48 fitted with a new engine with 12 cylinders in a 60° V. The only success was gained by Niki Lauda, who won at Imola in a race that was not valid for the world title. A Formula 1 single-seater powered by Alfa Romeo appeared on 13 May 1979 in Zolder on the occasion of the Belgian Grand Prix with Bruno Giacomelli at the wheel. The single-seater, known as the 177, competed only in this race and was followed by the 179 (from the Canadian Grand Prix 1979 to 1981) and the 182 (1982). The best placings were the two third places achieved in 1981 at Las Vegas by Giacomelli and Monte Carlo in 1982 by Andrea De Cesaris.
In 1982, Formula 1 went turbo and the following year Autodelta introduced a 1497 cc engine with 8 cylinders in a 90° V , powered by two turbochargers. The single-seater turbo, known as the 183, was managed on the track by the Euroracing stable that achieved an outstanding second place in the German and South American Grand Prix with De Cesaris at the wheel. In 1984, Riccardo Patrese took third place in the Italian Grand Prix. Alfa Romeo's foray into Formula 1 concluded in 1985 with the 185T. The engines are still used, however, by Osella single-seaters.
In 1976, Alfa Romeo organised single-make championships between Alfasud Ti cars with a conversion kit specially developed by Autodelta. The car was such a hit that single-make championships were organised in various European countries and in 1977 an Alfasud European Cup was introduced for the championship that saw the then unknown Gerard Berger drive to victory. In 1981, the Alfasud Ti was replaced by the Sprint.
Autodelta also played a role in Formula 3 with Alfa Romeo 2000 cc engines that immediately sped various single-seaters to major victories. Among the drivers who used this power unit, derived from the Alfa Romeo Alfetta engine, was Michele Alboreto.
As mentioned earlier, when Autodelta was first set up, many drivers who bought the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super (Jolly Club) and the TZ achieved considerable success in international rallies. The most prestigious international result was a win in the Mitropa Cup in 1966 with a team consisting of Arnaldo Cavallari and Dante Salvay driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA
At the end of the Sixties, rally racing was discontinued
only to begin again more directly in 1974 with the Alfa Romeo Alfetta
saloon. Luciano Trombotto won the Group 2 (prepared Touring car) at the
car's first outing, the San Martino di Castrozza Rally, valid for the
European Championship. The following year, the baton passed to the Alfetta
GT, that scored a significant overall win in the Elba Rally with Amilcare
Ballestrieri at the wheel. In 1978, Mauro Pregliasco and Vittorio Reisoli
won the Group 2 Italian national title driving an Alfetta GT. Further
class wins were achieved by Leo Pittoni and the Frenchman Jean Claude
Andruet, placed second overall at the Tour de Corse, valid for the World
Standard production Touring and Prepared versions of the Alfasud also achieved impressive results. A major victory was scored by the Frenchman Beltrand Balas in the strictly standard production Touring car category (Group N) in the 1982 Monte Carlo Rally.
Lorenzo Bandini, Roberto Buzzinello, Giancarlo Baghetti, Consalvo Sanesi, Andrea De Adamich, Franco Lini, Roberto Bussinello, Spartaco Dini, Armando Cavallari, Dante Salvay, Jacques Laffite, Jean Claude Andreut, Jean Todt, Mario Andretti, Van Lennep, Toine Hezemans, Jackie Icks, Vick Eldfor, Emerson Fittipaldi, Helmut Marko, Peter Revson, Jackie Oliver (founder of the Arrows team), Nanni Galli, Hans Stuck, John Watson, Niki Lauda, Carlo Faccetti, Teodoro Zeccoli, Gianluigi Picchi, Ninni Vaccarella, Massimo Larini, Luigi Rinaldi, Patrick Depailler, Umberto Grano, Vincenzo Gazzago, Henry Pescarolo, Rolf Stommelen, Jean Pierre Jarier, Arturo Merzario, Vittorio Brambilla, Derek Bell, Ignazio Giunti, Bruno Giacomelli, Giorgio Francia, Ertl, Jochen Rindt, Udo Schutz, Andrea De Cesaris, Riccardo Patrese, Gerard Berger, Michele Alboreto, Luciano Trombotto, Amilcare Ballestreri, Jochen Mass, Mario Casoni, Lucien Bianchi, Sandro Munari, Ada Pace, Mauro Pregliasco, Vittorio Reisoli, Maurizio Verini, Leo Pittoni, Amilcare Ballestrieri, Beltrand Balas, Federico Ormezzano, Claudio Berro.
Alfa Romeo GTA cars have won many times during their racing career. It would be impossible to list all their triumphs. We will simply list the main racing successes achieved between 1966 and 1971.
Sport Prototype up to 2000 cc World Makes Championship
World Makes Championship
1966 Mitropa Cup - Cavallari-Salvay - AR Giulia GTA
1978 Sweden - Niki Lauda (Brabham Alfa BT 46) - 1st