Oakfields' Alfa 33TT12
dailysportscar.comIt began with a conversation at Le Mans. Oakfields’ proprietor Ian Donaldson (right) – racing in the 24 Hours in the Racer’s Group Porsche RSR – mentioned that his company had a rather special Alfa Romeo on its stock list, and that the Ed. should come along one day and have a look.

That opportunity arose yesterday (August 25), and it is indeed a rather special Alfa Romeo. Ian Donaldson explained that he was in Italy, on a tour of rural backwaters looking at tucked away motor cars with pedigree.

“I was actually looking at an RS2000 Escort rally car, which was up on a ramp (visible top right in this image, below). I didn’t instantly notice the Alfa underneath, but once I saw it, I knew I had to have it.”

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As explained below, it’s chassis 008, and it’s even been married up with engine no.8 and gearbox no.8.

dailysportscar.comThe spaceframe construction has links back to the previous V8-powered cars, and typical Alfa, by the time they eventually had the flat-12 engine running well and installed in the latest spaceframe chassis, the World Manufacturers Championship was winding down. That’s not to say that the cars couldn’t have taken on all-comers in 1975 – just that they didn’t have a chance to. Matra had gone, and the Alpine-Renaults were quick but unreliable. The 33TT12 was bullet-proof, exemplified by the record of this chassis in ’75 (four first places and four seconds - see below). Arturo Merzario drove it on all eight occasions, often with Jacques Laffite. ‘Little Art’ wasn’t known for his mechanical sympathy, but the Alfa took everything he could throw at it (or throw it at).

“Gently patinated” is the beautiful description of the condition of this wonderful car. There’s a hint of crazing about the paintwork, with the odd little chip here and there. It’s a racing car, not a museum piece. Ian’s son Mark drove it at this year’s Festival of Speed, at the request of the organisers, and the image below records its appearance at Goodwood.

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dailysportscar.comSitting in the cockpit, one is struck by how exposed the drivers were 30 years ago. Did the Perspex windscreen divert most of the air around a tall driver? How did he cope with such a tiny steering wheel? Of course images of the time showed Merzario buried in the cockpit, sitting lower than anyone else ever did – as he did in every car he drove.

“We started it up here one morning, and that got them awake at the Rest Home next door,” chuckled Ian Donaldson.

“It makes a fabulous noise.”

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The stock list at Oakfields can be studied at www.oakfields.com. There are some very serious cars in stock, the pale blue Lamborghini Miura catching the eye, although for maximum drool effect, perhaps the McLaren F1 GTR should be top of the list. It made for a fascinating contrast with the 33TT12 parked next to it. 20 years apart, and so many differences: both 12 cylinders, but otherwise a world apart in design and construction.

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The McLaren is the no.50 Giroix Racing Team entry (chassis 07R) at Le Mans in 1995, which finished fifth in the hands of Grouillard / Deletraz / Giroix. It has had £175,000 spent on, and is now fully road legal, but still fitted with its Le Mans roll cage. "The fuel for its V12 engine was a synthesis of beetroot-deived alcohol," it states in the '95 Le Mans annual.

Ian Donaldson’s tale of getting hold of a 1997 Mercedes CLK is a good one – and the way he managed to sell it is even better, but that will have to wait for another time.

Donaldson hasn’t finished with is own racing career yet, and he has some very exciting, but still very secret, plans up his (and others’) sleeves for the future.

“When I can tell you, you’ll be the first to know,” he confirmed. He has some very clear views on the way our kind of racing should be run, and is a great admirer of the ALMS for its professionalism and promotion, and of the LMES for its format.

The Alfa’s price is listed as P.O.R., but someone will one day find that life isn’t complete without this fabulous machine.

Let me know next time you’re going to start it up, would you Ian?

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The following is Oakfields’ description of this marvellous machine.

The Ex-Autodelta / W.K.R.T., Monza 1000km, Dijon 1000km, Coppa Florio, Nurburgring 1000km & Targa Florio winning
1974 ALFA ROMEO TIPO 33TT12 SPORTS PROTOTYPE
Chassis No. AR 11512 008
Engine No. 08
Gearbox No. 08

Red racing livery with sponsors’ decals

Engine: 12 cylinder Boxer, 2,993cc, dry sump lubrication, 500bhp at 11,000rpm; Gearbox: 5 speed manual; Suspension: front and rear independent with coil springs and Koni dampers; Brakes: four wheel disc. Right hand drive.

The famous Alfa Romeo marque has been synonymous with motor racing success since Giuseppe Campari took an Alfa Romeo 40/60HP to victory at Mugello in 1920. To the present day, the Milanese company continues to produce some of the most successful vehicles ever to grace the World’s racing circuits and thus the history of Alfa Romeo swells with passion and inspiration.

In the mid-sixties Alfa Romeo relocated the race tuning company Autodelta to Settimo Milanese in order to focus factory support and become the official racing arm of Alfa Romeo. Headed by Carlo Chiti, the dedicated workforce achieved great success with the TZ1 and TZ2 sportscars before producing the GTA that, in various guises, dominated the touring car racing scene of the mid/late 1960s. Raising the stakes further, Alfa Romeo wanted to return to the forefront of racing thus Autodelta set about constructing an advanced prototype to compete in Sportscar racing. The result was the Tipo 33/2 of 1967, a beautiful and sleek car based around an asymmetrical aluminium chassis with a 2 litre V8 engine. Significant immediate success was not achieved but by 1968 the 33/2 had become a serious contender; finishing second overall at Daytona and taking a clean sweep in its class at Le Mans, en route to finishing fourth, fifth and sixth overall. In the spring of 1969, the all new Tipo 33/3 made its debut, now with a 3 litre engine and roadster bodywork; the shape of things to come had begun. In 1971, with the chassis now made of a totally different design and constructed using aluminium tubing, the all-new Tipo 33/3 was to prove a serious contender and even took Alfa Romeo to second place in the World Manufacturers Championship.

For 1973, Alfa Romeo fielded the all-new Tipo 33TT12. Elegantly clothed in a fibreglass body with a light alloy tubular chassis, it was blessed with a 12 cylinder boxer engine capable of producing 500bhp, but despite this the 33TT12 was still in its infancy and was not a match for the likes of Matra and Ferrari. 1974 started well for the Autodelta Alfa Romeo outfit with 33TT12s finishing a formidable 1-2-3 at Monza but the Matras remained the car to beat and again the Championship laurels would elude Alfa Romeo: disconsolately the Autodelta-run factory team decided to retire from Sportscar racing along with Ferrari and Matra. With the obvious competition for the Tipo 33TT12 absent, wealthy German private entrant Willy Kauhsen went to Carlo Chiti with the concept of running the redundant 33TT12s in the 1975 World Manufacturers Championship. A deal was thus structured by which Autodelta would professionally run a variety of top level professional drivers in at least two (sometimes three) 33TT12s as a non factory supported team under the W.K.R.T. (Willibert Kauhsen Racing Team) banner. During the winter of 1974/1975, Autodelta modified the suspension in order to use superior Goodyear tyres, upgraded the brakes and incredibly managed to further lighten the car thus bringing weight down to just 670kgs. Success was almost a pre-requisite and the Alfa Romeos fended off an early challenge from Alpine-Renault and Porsche to dominantly romp home with seven victories from the eight races entered, taking the World Manufactures Championship and the Drivers’ crown.

The car we offer here, chassis number 008, boasts a rich tapestry of race results and played an instrumental part in the successful campaign of the 33TT12. As indicated by Alfa Romeo author and expert, Sergio Puttini, the 1974 results are as follows. The first race it competed was at the Monza 1000km in 1974 where, driven by Carlo Facetti and Andrea de Adamich, it filled the final spot on the podium to provide a clean sweep for the Alfa Romeo team. It next went to the Nurburgring where driven by Arturo Merzario and Brian Redman it managed to qualify a respectable third, but finished ninth overall as a non-running finisher. The final outing in 1974 for 008 was at Imola when piloted by Rolf Strommelen and Carlos Reuteman it achieved second overall behind the winning Matra of Gerard Larousse and Henri Pescarolo.

When Willy Kauhsen entered the car in 1975, the results for 008 were second to none. As documented in Time and Two Seats by Janos L. Wimpffen of the Motorsport Research Group, it is this car that can be attributed to securing the driver’s crown for Merzario that year.

The first race entered by the W.K.R.T. team in 1975 was Mugello, the second round of the championship. Merzario was partnered with Jacky Ickx in 008 and had it not have been for overworking the brakes and necessitating a change of pads late in the proceedings, the pairing would have tasted victory instead of claiming the runners up spot. The next round at Dijon saw Merzario paired with Jaques Laffite and thanks to consistent pace and the misfortune of others, 008 took a commanding victory by seven laps (Merzario setting the fastest lap of the race). Merzario and Laffite continued their winning streak in 008 at the Monza 1000km a fortnight later, indeed the near faultless run was only temporarily interrupted by the need to bleed the brakes thanks to an aggressive middle stint by Merzario. At Spa-Francorchamps, Merzario was again paired with local ace Ickx in 008. Shortly after the start of the race the heavens opened and Ickx was in a class of his own, building up a commanding lead over Derek Bell and Henri Pescarolo (in the sister car). Unfortunately Merzario was not as confident in such conditions and thus the duo were outpaced by their teammates into second place by the finish. The next round was the Coppa Florio at Enna Pergusa in Sicily and Sergio Puttini acknowledges that it was 008 that took Merzario and Jochen Mass to victory, Merzario was simply untouchable all weekend setting pole position and fastest lap en route. On the first of June 1975 the N\uurburgring 1000kms was contested by Merzario and Laffite at the wheel of 008. The packed grid of 59 starters produced the closest fight the Alfas had been subjected to all year but an inspired final stint by Laffite saw yet another victory for 008, clinching the honours from the hard charging Mirage driven by Howden Ganley and Tim Schenken. Watkins Glen hosted the final round of the World Manufacturers Championship and now partnered by Mario Andretti (Merzario’s fifth co-driver), 008 finished second in the temporarily-stopped, rain-sodden event, enough to secure Merzario as the World Driver’s Champion of 1975.

At the close of the season the now unofficial Targa Florio was then entered by 008. Mechanics from the Autodelta team ran the car and again it was Merzario, now partnered with Nino Vaccarella, who took the laurels, ending an incredible year for both car and driver. The car was then retired from competition, but it did perform a demonstration run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1999.

008 remained the property of Autodelta until 1984. Just prior to the closure of the company, 008 was sold direct (in October 1984) to Siebenthal Automobiles in Switzerland. Just over two and a half years later (in May 1987) Siebenthal sold 008 back to an Italian private collector Matteo Carraba and it remained in his possession until recently.

Condition throughout is gently patinated although there are equally noticeable signs of maintenance and light use. Though removed since the Goodwood event in 1999, the trace of the W.R.K.T. decals can be clearly seen along with the remnants of the Alfa Romeo and Autodelta decals on the highly pronounced air intake. As opposed to the Goodyear tires it was shod with in 1975, the Campagnolo wheels currently sport Avon rubber. Accommodation for the driver is purposefully comfortable, the switches are clearly laid out and the reclined driving position is very commanding. Though largely obscured by the steering wheel the gauges are visible within the operating ranges, with the rev counter forming the centrepiece; the visible operating range being from 6,000rpm to the ground shaking maximum power level of 11,000 rpm.

In June of 2003 the engine was rebuilt and the suspension components checked over, but in light of the capability of this projectile, a thorough inspection would be highly recommended prior to track use. The engine and gearbox components are stamped and match with that of the chassis number, which can be seen on the top of the `passenger’ side suspension upright as well as on the plate mounted within the driver’s side wheel arch. Accompanying the car is the verification report from Sergio Puttini, invoices noting the change of ownership from Autodelta to Siebenthal and then to the Italian collector along with various photos depicting the engine rebuild. There is also a declaration letter from Carlo Chiti and detailed maintenance and starting procedures.

The historic potential for this car is ever growing, in addition to the Le Mans Classic event and the Group 4 Racing Championship, next year there are plans to run retrospective historic events alongside the FIA GT Championship to echo the glorious 1000km races of the 1970s. A proven winner in period, Alfa Romeo Tipo 33TT12 chassis 008 would be a force to reckon with and thus this desirable Sports Prototype is worthy of close inspection.

ALFA ROMEO 33TT12 CHASSIS AR11512008 RACING HISTORY

1974
Monza 1000kms 3rd Facetti/de Adamich
Nurburgring 750kms 9th Merzario/Redman
Imola 1000kms 2nd Stormmelen/Reutemann

1975
Mugello 2nd Merzario/Ickx
Dijon 800kms 1st Merzario/Laffite
Monza 1000kms 1st Merzario/Laffite
Spa 750kms 2nd Merzario/Ickx
Enna 1000kms 1st Merzario/Mass
Nurburgring 1000kms 1st Merzario/Laffite
Watkins Glen 6hrs 2nd Merzario/Andretti
Targa Florio 1st Merzario/Vaccarella

 

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