Alfa Romeo była siłą niezwyciężoną w przedwojennych wyścigach koronnej klasy samochodowej, aż do roku 1934 kiedy pojawiły się srebrne strzały Mercedesa oraz Auto Union. Wtedy Alfa wycofała się tymczasowo jako fabryczny team, ale nadal udzielała bezpośredniego wsparcia “prywaciarzom”, takim jak Enzo i jego Scuderia Ferrari. Tipo B konkurować miała z najnowszymi modelami Bugatti i Maserati. Używając dwumiejscowego bolidu P2 Grand Prix jako bazy, Vittorio Jano zaprojektował wyjątkowo lekką konstrukcję, która umiejscawiała kierowcę w ścisłym centrum samochodu, dla idealnego rozkładu masy. Z przodu umiejscowiono niesamowitą jednostkę napędową – rzędowy, doładowany silnik o ośmiu cylindrach 8C-2300, generujący ponad 215 KM. Ważące zaledwie 701 kilogramów Tipo B odniosło natychmiastowy sukces w sezonie 1932, gdy legendarny kierowca Tazio Nuvolari wygrał nim Grand Prix Monzy, a samochody teamu zajęły 1, 2 i 3 miejsca w Grand Prix Francji i Niemiec. Tipo B w specyfikacji zgodnej z przepisami 1932 roku zbudowano jedynie w sześciu egzemplarzach. Okaz wystawiony na aukcji to samochód zespołu Scuderia Ferrari, który odkupiony został z teamu fabrycznego przez Richarda Shuttlewortha. Richard zasiadający za kierownicą Alfa Romeo Tipo B w latach 1935-1936 na podium stawał trzykrotnie. Wyścigówka ta, od niemal 30 lat pozostająca w rękach jednego właściciela, właśnie trafiła na sprzedaż. Dom aukcyjny Bonhams zaprezentuje ten wspaniały okaz podczas prawdziwego święta prędkości: Goodwood Festival of Speed. Oryginalna Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto o numerze 50007, wylicytowana została za 4593500 funtów, czyli prawie 22,5 miliona złotych. Jest to dziesiąty wynik wśród wszystkich samochodów sprzedanych na publicznych aukcjach w 2018 roku.
1932-34 ALFA ROMEO TIPO B GRAND PRIX MONOPOSTO
£ 4,500,000 – 5,000,000
PLN 22,000,000 – 24,000,000
THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED SALE
Collector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia
13 Jul 2018, 14:00 BST
The ex-Scuderia Ferrari, ex-Richard-Shuttleworth, 1935 Donington Grand Prix-winning
1932-34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto
Registration no. MPH 374
Chassis no. ‘50007’ (see text)
*One of the most important designs in Grand Prix racing history
*Purchased from Scuderia Ferrari by Richard Shuttleworth
*Known competition and ownership history
*Formerly owned by Dennis De Ferranti
*Present ownership for circa 30 years
*FIA HTP papers
*Worthy of the closest inspection
Among the myriad great names of British motor racing history, that of Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth is equally well known today within both historic aviation and international motor racing circles. This is thanks largely to the Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft, with its motor vehicles as a subsidiary feature, which commemorates this great enthusiast and sportsman, more than 75 years after his death flying with the Royal Air Force in 1940.
Having learned the motor racing ropes most notably in a Bugatti Type 51, Richard Shuttleworth purchased this particular Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto for the 1935 racing season, directly from the Scuderia Ferrari quasi-works team at Modena, Italy.
Leading Alfa Romeo authority Simon Moore validates this wonderful car most unequivocally in his definitive book, ‘The Magnificent Monopostos’, listing its racing appearances in Richard Shuttleworth’s hands as follows:
March 16 – Brooklands – Mountain Handicap. Retired.
April 13 – Donington Park – 1st in a handicap race. Retired from a second race.
April 22 – Brooklands Mountain Circuit – 1st in Heat, retired from Final
May 6 – Brooklands International Trophy – 4th
May 18 – Shelsley Walsh hill-climb – 1st in class
May 31 – Mannin Moar race, Douglas, Isle of Man – Retired with transmission trouble after leading the first 13 laps of scheduled 50.
July 21 – Dieppe Grand Prix, France – finished 4th behind the two Scuderia Ferrari-entered sister cars and Wimille’s works Type 59 Bugatti, ahead of Farina’s 3.4-litre six-cylinder Maserati 6C-34.
August 13 – Nice Grand Prix, France – Retired 11 laps from the finish after the car boiled dry due to Shuttleworth’s mechanic having left the radiator cap unclipped at the final pit stop…
September 4 – Brighton Speed Trials – fastest car (though beaten by a motorcycle).
October 5 – The Donington Grand Prix – 1st, ahead of the two ex-works Type 59 Bugattis of Lord Howe and Charlie Martin.
October 19 – Brooklands – won the Mountain Championship, again beating Charlie Martin’s Type 59 Bugatti.
November 17 – Brooklands – The Mountain Circuit lap record. This stood as the 2-3 litre class record for all time, faster than various Maseratis.
It is also worth emphasising that Shuttleworth’s Mountain Circuit lap record with the car was set in the face of ferocious opposition from all the other Tipo B Alfas competing at Brooklands up to its closure in 1939, including such very fine drivers as Charlie Martin and Chris Staniland in well prepared cars.
But Richard Shuttleworth’s great road racing victory in the inaugural Donington Grand Prix would become this particular Tipo B Monoposto’s most enduring achievement.
Derby & District Motor Club Secretary Fred Craner had been the practical-minded, no-nonsense promoter and organiser of racing at the Donington Park racing circuit on England’s Derbyshire/Leicestershire border. He had long been unhappy with the kind of short-distance races commonly sanctioned by the extremely conservative Royal Automobile Club, and wanted to run a full Grand Prix-distance race such as those common in Continental Europe. His inaugural Donington Grand Prix followed at the picturesque Park, and following his experience of such “serious” road racing at Dieppe and Nice in France, Richard Shuttleworth was among the British amateur gentleman drivers immensely keen to take part. Here was a challenge into which they could really sink their teeth.
‘Mad Jack’ Shuttleworth – as he was nicknamed after having crashed into the pits at the Isle of Man – certainly made the most of his opportunity in this Alfa Romeo Monoposto. He started the 300-mile race facing such “Continental cracks” as Frenchman Raymond Sommer in a sister Alfa Tipo B and ‘Nino’ Farina in a works-backed Maserati V8-RI. Farina led until a Maserati driveshaft failed, and Sommer then took over until a stop to replace his British-regulation bonnet strap (not required in Continental racing, as Sommer heatedly protested), after which he suffered a terminal drive-shaft failure.
British owner-driver Charlie Martin in his ex-works Bugatti Type 59 then inherited the lead, only to try too hard to hold off Shuttleworth despite fading brakes and slide off the road, leaving victory to ‘Mad Jack’ in his spectacularly-driven Alfa Romeo, which had also spent some time exploring the grass verges of the park rather than staying strictly upon the asphalt.
The contemporary report in ‘Motor Sport’ magazine declared: “At last the ambition of the Donington organisers has been achieved, and a 300 mile race run under Grand Prix rules (has been) run off on England’s only road-circuit. It was a most successful affair from every angle except that of the weather, for which Mr Craner and his staff of helpers could hardly be blamed. Even the wet roads were not without their uses, as they prevented higher speeds being attained, so that there were no less than nine out of fifteen cars still running at the finish.
“Foreign cars and drivers always add to the interest of a race over here, and for once all three whose names appeared on the programme did actually take part in the race. Farina was at the wheel of a 4.5 Maserati, the new V8-cylinder car, his partner Rovere had brought a 6-cylinder 3.7-litre car, the one which Nuvolari drove last year, while Raymond Sommer, twice victor of Le Mans, was seen on the 3-litre Alfa-Romeo which he drove so successfully at Comminges…”
The report continued “It was a splendid sight to see in England…the Union Jack was raised, and the exhaust notes of the cars mounted to a culminating pitch, followed by a headlong rush for the first corner at Old Starkey’s. Farina got there a car’s length ahead, with Shuttleworth and Sommer jostling for second position… Farina’s Maserati in a single lap gained eighty yards on Sommer, while Shuttleworth on the green Alfa was some fifty yards to the rear. Shuttleworth found the French-owned Alfa a little too quick for him, and lost ground each lap.”
Shuttleworth’s great friend and rival Charlie Martin rushed into contention in his Bugatti Type 59: “Martin took fourth place, but a few laps later braked heavily when in hot pursuit of Shuttleworth, and spun right round at Starkey’s Corner. On the thirty-fourth lap Shuttleworth came roaring down to Starkey’s Corner in company with ‘ Bira ‘ on the ERA. He found, that the latter, whose car bore the legend ‘ Siam ‘ in large letters, had no intention of giving way, and had no option but to charge straight on to the grass, just pulling up in time to avoid hitting the bank. He came into the pits two laps later to enter a protest, but the only result of this was that he lost third place to Charlie Martin on the 3.3 Bugatti.
“Farina was reported as having stopped near McLean’s Corner with a broken half-shaft in the back-axle…Sommer moved into the lead, and at 50 laps C. E. C. Martin (3.3-litre Bugatti) was second, 1 minute 40 seconds behind, and Lord Howe on a similar car was only 10 seconds in the rear. Shuttleworth who was fourth was within four lengths of being lapped by Sommer, but now decided the time had come to make a stand…
“The two Alfas were perfectly matched and after a time the English driver widened the gap to forty yards. This contest was ended by Shuttleworth having a terrific skid at the hairpin corner shooting up the bank, and Sommer was past before he got back on to the road.
“On his fifty-ninth lap Sommer came into the pits, and besides refuelling changed all eight plugs, possibly as a result of his duel with Shuttleworth. This stop cost him over 3 minutes and so Martin passed into the lead, having completed 60 laps at a speed of 66.04 m.p.h. Lord Howe then came in and Shuttleworth jumped up into second place.
“Sommer set off again with renewed speed and at the sixty-fifth lap had pulled up to second place. Shuttleworth refuelled and adjusted his brakes all in the record time of 1 minute 10 seconds, but his stop pulled him back to fourth. Just as Sommer looked like catching Martin, his bonnet strap broke and he was flagged into the pits to remove it, and again four laps later to fit another one in its place. These delays so infuriated Sommer (bonnet straps are not compulsory on the Continent) that he lost all restraint and started to overdrive the Alfa Romeo, and on the seventieth lap came slowly into the pits — another broken halfshaft. Sommer kicked the offending bonnet strap and left the course.
“This left Martin in the lead, while Everitt (Gino Rovere’s Maserati) now lay second. (But) with a hundred laps completed the order was Martin, Shuttleworth, Lord Howe and Everitt. Martin was due to call at his pit for a small quantity of fuel and at lap 104 a mechanic hung out a board marked ‘ In ‘. Next lap the car pulled in and eight gallons of fuel was dumped in, in a twinkling.
“A win for the Bugatti seemed a foregone conclusion but next time round No. 2 failed to appear…he had gone off the road at McLean’s Corner and was unable to re-start. Officials came to his rescue and gave him a push, but with only ten laps to go it was obviously impossible to catch Shuttleworth or Howe.
“Lord Howe made great efforts to catch Shuttleworth, whose brakes were not functioning too well, but the Alfa, managed to get home with less than a minute to spare. It was a splendid finish after three hundred miles of fine driving…”
As the British and European race season had ended, a select group of British racing regulars then shipped their cars to contest the 1936 South African Grand Prix at East London. The 12-mile Prince George Circuit lay some five miles south west of the Indian Ocean port city. Racing driver T. P. Cholmondeley-Tapper recalled: “The race over eighteen laps was to be a handicap event, apart from the orthodox racing cars to be driven by Wimille and our party, which now included Richard Shuttleworth who had arrived by Imperial Airways and was to drive his new Monoposto Alfa Romeo, the entries consisted of hotted-up production cars, many of them American models…”.
Bugatti star driver Jean-Pierre Wimille’s Type 59 started on scratch. Tapper continued: “As I completed my first lap and came in view of the starting straight, I saw Shuttleworth in his new Monoposto Alfa Romeo and Wimille with the Bugatti works entry beginning the race, and they were the only cars I saw for some time, for with the long circuit and wide diversity in the performance of entries, it was a lonely race…”. However, when travelling at high speed on the coastal section, a gale-strength crosswind gusting off the Ocean and blasting through a gap in the flanking vegetation caused Shuttleworth to lose control of his Monoposto, which dashed into the roadside scrub, tripped, and somersaulted, throwing him out to sustain serious head and leg injuries…
Tapper again: “Several days later when he regained consciousness, Shuttleworth told me that he vividly remembered being thrown high into the air and having a long, long way to fall before hitting the ground…”. Tapper and fellow British racing driver Arthur Dobson contacted South Africa’s leading head-injury specialist, 700 miles away in Johannesburg, “…who chartered an aircraft for himself, his assistants and equipment, and we waited anxiously for the early evening when he was due to arrive (but) engine trouble had forced their plane down some miles north of East London and that he had completed the journey by car. He accompanied me straight away to the hospital, and was successful in bringing Shuttleworth round for the first time since his crash…”.
After many months’ recovery, Richard Shuttleworth had his crash-damaged Monoposto returned from South Africa to the Scuderia Ferrari workshops in Modena where he had it rebuilt during the winter of 1938-39.
Some new or low-usage spare parts replaced damaged components, and the car has come down to us today with its frame stamped in the correct rear-end location with the Scuderia Ferrari vehicle number ’49’. It is possible that the team mechanics used an immediately available spare chassis in the repair, or the structure surviving within the car today may well in fact have been the original dating from 1934 and straightened-out. While first-series Tipo B cars were identified by four-digit chassis numbers, second-series cars had five-digit serials applied. Simon Moore explores the car’s early provenance like this in his wonderful book, ‘The Magnificent Monopostos’ –– writing: “In early 1935, Richard Shuttleworth appeared with a Tipo B, painted green. Since it must have been a first series car…I have covered the car here” – as chassis serial ‘5007’ although “…the car has a plate giving ‘50007’ as the chassis number today.
“The car (when acquired by Shuttleworth) had the later 1934-style body (with blowers covered) and twin oil lines…” – and Simon suspects that “…it is possible that this was the car built up by Guidotti in early 1934 from parts at Alfa Romeo and fitted with a streamlined body for AVUS” – the speedway-style AVUS-Rennen race in Berlin, Germany in which the Italian team would confront the newly-introduced state-backed teams from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz.
The Scuderia Ferrari’s new star driver – Algerian Guy Moll – dashingly defeated the Auto Unions and won the AVUS race in that Pallavicino-bodied streamlined Tipo B, which may have come down to us as the car offered right here: ex-Scuderia Ferrari, ex-Richard Shuttleworth. The possibility is that the Pallavicino-bodied chassis was reworked with standard 1934 750kg Formula Grand Prix bodywork, and was then the car driven by Guy Moll when he crashed during that year’s Coppa Acerbo road race at Pescara. The damaged car would then have been rebuilt for sale to one of the several importunate would-be customers queuing up at the Scuderia Ferrari’s front door in Modena, eager to buy… in this case, the wealthy, enthusiastic and capable young Englishman, Richard Shuttleworth.
Simon Moore: “The AVUS streamliner was seemingly rebuilt with a ‘normal’ body and used during the rest of the season — and ‘normal’ by mid-1934 would have meant a wide body, twin oil line, second series type. It…” – referring to the car as purchased by Shuttleworth – “…was also rumoured to have been rebuilt from the car wrecked by Guy Moll at the Coppa Acerbo” (at Pescara, in poor Moll’s fatal accident), which was fitted with a second-series body — which is not inconsistent with it (also) being the AVUS car rebodied…”
But Simon Moore emphasises: “…we will never know for certain”. He also assessed the car’s numerical identity as stamped into the metal today, as follows: “Despite the uncertainty about the original chassis number of this car, it has a long and continuous history and is a lovely Tipo B. Since it must have been a first series car — numbers 5001 to 5006 … — I have covered the car here as chassis serial ‘5007’. He continued “That assumption as to the number may be incorrect and the car has a plate giving 50007 as the chassis number today — incorrectly”. Moore goes onto speculate that the car was re-numbered 50007 either as an in-period customs dodge for bringing it in and out of the UK for the Scuderia Ferrari post-accident rebuild, since 50007 was already in the UK having been imported with duty paid by Lemon Burton in 1938. Or possibly because the mechanics that rebuilt it at Scuderia Ferrari did not understand the first series numbering system, thought the plate on the car saying 5007 was erroneous and fitted a new one with what they believed to be its correct number.
The frame also has a five-digit number (52002) stamped at the front…which would also indicate a second series frame, although most of the mechanical parts are stamped with first series Scuderia Ferrari numbers…”
This rebuilt Tipo B was not used again by Richard Shuttleworth before the outbreak of World War 2 and his accidental death while flying in the RAF in 1940. His mother finally sold the car post-war to Geoffrey Barnard, perhaps via Brooklands star Charles Brackenbury. In the late 1940s it was converted in British specialist Vic Derrington’s Kingston-upon-Thames workshop into a two-seat sports car for high-performance road use, as Scuderia Ferrari had done with a Tipo B pre-war to dominate the Mille Miglia. Geoffrey Barnard then used it on the road for several years with the two-seater body fitted, and it featured in several magazine road tests and comments columns.
Bill Boddy of ‘Motor Sport’ magazine was one who experienced the great car, commenting: “As impressive as its urge was its docility, running at 1,200 rpm in top gear, being snatch-free and not seeming to foul the sparking plugs of the straight-eight engine. Another surprise – we were on Pool petrol and ignition advance and retard is automatic, yet no under-bonnet distress signals were evident. This one-time Monoposto is perfectly gentlemanly in English built-up areas!”.
He concluded: “…without closely approaching peak rpm, something like 118-120mph should show up. Whoever acquires this ‘P3’ will have a road car in a category shared by only about half-a-dozen others, all of them built pre-war, cars of which the appeal is as much bound up with perfection of character as with the stupendous performance they possess. Moreover, this Alfa Romeo is an historic car, for with it Shuttleworth gained many successes, including the 1935 Donington GP… It must be the only road-equipped P3 in the country, although in 1935 such a car was driven to victory in the Mille Miglia by Pintacuda and Della Stufa, at 71.3 m.p.h. ‘MPH 374’, for that is how the Alfa is registered” – and is indeed still handily UK road-registered today in 2018 – “… should pass as a sports car at club speed events.
“It should be a very effective car, either for speed events or the sheer exhilaration of driving it on the road. Who, I wonder, will buy it”. As, indeed, we wonder still…
The car’s surviving logbook for the registration number ‘MPH 374’ records that on 28th August 1953, this Tipo B’s ownership passed to the great British enthusiast and renowned car connoisseur, Dennis de Ferranti. Ferranti subsequently had it offered for sale by Jack Bartlett in August 1959 in association with Erwin Goldschmidt in the USA, who advertised it in the August 1959 edition of ‘Road & Track’ magazine.
Another great classic-car connoisseur, the leading American ‘Alfista’ Henry Wessels of Paolo, outside Philadelphia, purchased the car, painted it black, and would retain it for many years. Later repainted red, the Alfa was subsequently converted back into single-seater Grand Prix configuration for the 1980s, and it was then used widely in historic racing by both Henry Wessels himself and British ‘Alfista’, Christopher Mann. After spending a period in the ownership of Jeffrey Pattinson, it passed into the current vendor’s hands as long ago as 1988, and for the past quarter-century it has shared garage space with such other wonderful cars as a Ferrari Dino 246 Grand Prix, Williams-Cosworth FW06, 300S Maserati, and a McLaren F1 amongst others. During this long period it has been very widely campaigned at international and national historic level, always painstakingly race-prepared and tended by respected veteran specialist engineer, George Fowles.
Today the car is offered not only in its historic Grand Prix pure-bred single-seater Tipo B Monoposto form, but is accompanied by the alternative 1940s-built two-seater body, enabling conversion of the car into a road-useable – and friendly – Biposto for which the car’s retained UK road registration of ‘MPH 374’ would enable legal touring and rallying. So very much of the essence of classic car enjoyment and general high-performance motoring, plus the competitive lure of top-end historic Grand Prix car racing, is embodied within ‘5007’/’50007′. George Fowles advises that conversion from Grand Prix single-seater to road-going Biposto (two-seat) configuration should be easily achievable within two or three working days. We can in fact think of few direct parallels amongst the many hundreds of great classic machines that Bonhams has handled over so many years. In addition to the two-seater body, the car comes with FIA HTP papers and a UK V5 registration document.
We recommend this ex-Scuderia Ferrari, ex-Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth Alfa Romeo Tipo B as worthy of the keenest consideration by the most discerning of connoisseur collectors, and also the most enthusiastic of great car user/drivers…
Richard Ormonde ‘Mad Jack’ Shuttleworth 1909-1940
The winner of the inaugural Donington Grand Prix in the Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto now offered here was born on July 16,1909, at the Old Warden country estate in Bedfordshire. Old Warden Manor House was built in 1872, and the Shuttleworth family wealth came from the long-established firm of Clayton & Shuttleworth, agricultural engineers and steam-wagon makers based at the Stamp End Works in Lincoln.
Richard Shuttleworth was an only child, and when he had been born his father – Colonel Frank Shuttleworth – was already in his sixties. The Colonel – who in his in time had been a British Army career officer, a daring steeplechase jockey, horse breeder and industrialist – died when Richard was just four years old. Upon his 23rd birthday, the boy inherited a considerable fortune that he promptly deployed to indulge his triple passions for motor racing, aviation, and historic engineering.
A keen and capable horseman, Richard Shuttleworth was one of the first great enthusiasts to appreciate early horseless carriage motor vehicles. He bought his first veteran car, an 1898 Panhard Levassor, which had previously competed in the Paris-Amsterdam city-to-city race, and drove it enthusiastically in the London-to-Brighton Run. He also bought his first aircraft, the De Havilland DH60X Moth (registered ‘G-EBWD’), and both car and aeroplane are still preserved today within the enduring Shuttleworth Collection that commemorates his name.
Educated at Eton, and after service as an officer in the British Army, the young man concentrated upon running his family’s Old Warden Park estate, while his newly-released wealth also allowed him to indulge his growing passions for flying and motor racing.
He raced a Bugatti Type 51 at Brooklands for the first time in 1932, finishing third in the Mountain Championship and winning the Hereford Lightning Long Handicap. He was a popular and competitive driver and his often lurid cornering style earned him the, albeit somewhat exaggerated, nickname ‘Mad Jack’.
Richard Shuttleworth became a regular upon the British road-racing scene, often flying himself to events in his DH Moth or in one or other of his two Desoutter monoplanes. He was particularly active in the Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto, which he bought for the 1935 season direct from the Scuderia Ferrari quasi-works team in Modena, Italy, and he achieved his greatest success in this car by winning the first full-distance ‘British Grand Prix’ race of the period, the 1935 Donington Grand Prix at Donington Park in Derbyshire.
He then shipped the winning car south for a Christmas-tide trip to compete in the International South African Grand Prix at East London, overlooking the Indian Ocean. However, he lost control of this very fast Alfa Romeo while near maximum speed along the seaside straight. Shuttleworth did not return to England until April that year, some four months after the accident, and he would not race again.
Richard Shuttleworth was a fit and rugged young man, and he recovered impressively well, concentrating his interest upon aeronautics and upon what – even in the late 1930s – were historic aircraft. He assiduously hunted out abandoned early aeroplanes, and had them restored to pristine flying condition.
When World War 2 erupted in September 1939, Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth quickly joined the Royal Air Force and was posted to RAF Benson. In the early hours of 2nd August 1940, he had just taken off on a cross-country training exercise in a Fairey Battle single-engined bomber when it crashed into a hill at nearby Ewelme, Oxfordshire, and he was killed.
His widowed mother, Dorothy, kept the Shuttleworth Collection alive in his memory. Despite his early and untimely death, the legacy of Shuttleworth’s passion and enthusiasm for restoring marvellous old vehicles and aircraft to their former glory, to be enjoyed by later generations, lives on today at Old Warden – and within the fabric of his Donington Grand Prix-winning Alfa Romeo.
THE ALFA ROMEO TIPO B MONOPOSTO’S PLACE IN GRAND PRIX HISTORY
It can justifiably be claimed that there is no more significant Grand Prix car in the history of international road racing at the highest level than the Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto.
While, apart from within American speedway racing from 1923, there were very few preceding racing car designs featuring a centreline driving position and single seat for unaccompanied driver, plus exposed wheels unprotected by mudguards or wings – it was the Tipo B in its debut season of 1932 that became the first successful centre-seat monoposto Grand Prix car.
The classical Italian design thereby established the classical form of the Grand Prix car, and latterly the Formula 1 racing car, which has come down to us today – not merely within the premier class but also within minor Formulae upon which the world’s budding racing drivers have cut their teeth and have learned their craft.
Alfa Romeo technical director, Vittorio Jano, first produced a centreline single-seater for Grand Prix racing with his Tipo A Monoposto design of 1931. But that model proved a demanding beast, powered as it was by two parallel 6C-1750 6-cylinder inline engines, each one driving via a separate gearbox to a single rear wheel via an individual propeller shaft. The cars won the Coppa Acerbo road race at Pescara, but that was a long way from establishing Grand Prix domination, as Jano’s smaller, lighter, more svelte – and single-engined – Tipo B replacement would achieve come 1932.
New regulations dropped the old insistence upon two-seat-wide bodywork for Grand Prix racing cars, and Jano was free to perfect his Tipo B as a true Monoposto, initially built as narrow as could be within the constraint of accommodating a full-size grown man and all normal mechanical assemblies within its chassis and body panelling. Jano developed a full-house Grand Prix racing version of his already very-successful, straight-8, twin-overhead-camshaft supercharged 8C-2300 engine. He retained the 65mm bore size of the 2300 unit but stretched the stroke dimension from 88mm to 100mm for a swept volume of 2,654cc. With around 10.6lbs per square inch boost, Alfa Romeo claimed 215bhp at 5,600rpm.
This engine drove via a gearbox mounted in unit with the engine, while the output end of the gearbox carried a differential mechanism from which a vee-drive splayed rearwards to an individual bevel box driving each rear wheel. The two rear hubs were linked by a lightweight axle tube, and the vee-drive system minimised un-sprung weight and removed the tendency a live-axle with centreline crown wheel-and-pinion has of lifting the inside rear-wheel while cornering under power. This improved tyre adhesion and traction, and proved most effective in service. The left-side bevel-drive housing on the Tipo B offered here bears the stamped inscription ‘Nurburg’ denoting what was once the installed gear ratio.
The Tipo B Monoposto cars were manufactured originally by Alfa Romeo at Portello, Milan, in two batches in 1932-33, each of six individual cars, while the Scuderia Ferrari in Modena in combination with Portello produced one extra car – ostensibly the individual now offered here – from available parts, making 13 in all. Engine size was enlarged progressively to 2.9 litres for 1934, and to 3,165cc or ‘3.2’ litres.
When new in 1932, the original slimline Tipo B Monoposto weighed only 700kg – 1,543lbs – and Tazio Nuvolari promptly won the Italian and French Grand Prix races, plus the Coppa Principe di Piemonte, the Coppa Acerbo and Coppa Ciano races, while works Alfa Romeo team-mate Rudi Caracciola won both the German and Monza Autodrome GPs. When the Alfa Romeo company was taken into Government administration in 1933, and was forced to abandon direct involvement with racing, Scuderia Ferrari was entrusted with the Tipo B armoury. The cars promptly won no fewer than six of seven major races that late-season as Luigi Fagioli drove to victory in the Coppa Acerbo, and Italian and Comminges GPs, and Louis Chiron in the Marseilles, Masaryk and Spanish GPs, while Count Carlo Felice Trossi won the frontline Susa-Monteceneri mountain climb.
Into 1934 the Tipo B Monoposto cars were up-rated for the new 750 kilogramme – 1,650lbs – maximum-weight Grand Prix formula, one of whose subsidiary requirements was for minimum 85cm – 33.5-inch – wide bodywork at the cockpit. This is the form in which ‘5007/50007′ is now offered here.
Into the Tipo B Monoposto cars’ final frontline season of 1935, at least another 16 victories were achieved by the cars – mostly at secondary level – although Count Antonio Brivio won the Targa Florio, Carlo Pintacuda/Marchese Della Stufa won the Mille Miglia in a Biposto conversion of a Tipo B, and Tazio Nuvolari most famously defeated the massively-capable new German teams of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz in their own national Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.
Indeed, over four tumultuous frontline racing seasons, Alfa Romeo’s Tipo B had established itself as the standard-setting design to beat – fully justifying the reverent respect which the surviving cars have commanded amongst enthusiasts ever since.