The great projects of the Eighties
Supremacy in Formula 3 racing, the exciting Alfa Boxer but also the shattered dream of the Formula Indy and the dreams that were never even born in the ProCar Championship, Alfa’s return among the Sport Group Cs and even to Formula 1. In the mid-Eighties, Alfa Corse was reborn with spectacular plans and ambitious goals: a story of “shifting fortunes” in which, nonetheless, extraordinary automobiles and cutting-edge projects saw the light. This exhibit by the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo tells the story of some of these, ranging between very different categories and anticipating the successes of the touring cars of the following decade. Till June 2016.
Many facilities, departments, and external companies have managed Alfa Romeo’s racing activity; one of the most important ones was Alfa Corse, which lived “two lives”. The first, between 1938 and 1940, and the second between 1986 and 1995. The first facility, strongly desired by general manager Ugo Gobbato after the controversial Ferrari Stable experience, was located in a dedicated building in the Portello area. Enzo Ferrari was appointed to manage Alfa Corse, although he would keep this position for only nine months. But it was the eve of World War II and, despite the ambitious plans, the first important victories, and the many projects in process, Alfa Corse shut down in 1940.
After the war, the Alfettas, directly managed by the Experimental Department, would win two World Championships. Then came the period of Carlo Chiti’s Autodelta and finally, in 1986, the new Alfa Corse was founded, with the goal of reuniting all the brand’s racing activities within a single department: from the supply of Formula 1, Formula Indy and Formula 3 engines to the one-make championships such as Alfa Boxer or Barchette. However, Alfa Corse was also founded to prepare official and private vehicles for the touring category and for emerging categories, such as the Pro Car championship and the new Group C.
Alfa Corse’s activity was significantly boosted in 1992 with the preparation of the 155s, which would win the 1992 Italian Superturismo Championship (155 GTA) and various D2 championships (BTCC, Spanish Touring Car Championship, Italian Touring Championship). The climax was reached in 1993, when Nicola Larini drove the 155 V6 TI to win the DTM. Alfa’s participation in the DTM (which later became the ITC Championship) and in the D2 touring championships would last until late 1995, when Alfa Corse became part of a new organization: Fiat Auto Corse.
Formula Alfa Boxer – 1988
Thanks to the success of the one-make championship Trofeo Alfasud, in 1987 Alfa Romeo launched the new Formula Alfa Boxer, a single-seater with tailored open wheels.
The tubular frame is covered in aluminum and features wishbone suspensions for a total weight of 505 kg. The engine derives from the 4-cylinder 1712 cc of the 33 and the Sprint, its horsepower increased from 114 to 123. Amato Ferrari would win the debut championship in 1987, followed by Mirko Savoldi in 1988 and by Alessandro Zampedri in 1989.
In 1990, the single overhead camshaft engine was replaced by the powerful 1.7 16V engine of the Quadrifoglio Verde, increased from 133 HP to 150 HP. Marco Ballabio was the first winner, followed by Fabio Aries in 1991.
The last evolution dates back to 1992 when, on the occasion of the launch of the European Championship (Formula Boxer Europe), the choice of chassis was liberalized. At the wheel of an Ermolli, Andrea Boldrini was the first championship winner, followed by Danilo Tomassini, who drove the same vehicle, and by Tony Kanaan driving a Tatuus.
Euroracing-Alfa Romeo 101 – 1982 (Formula 3)
The end of the Seventies was a golden age for Formula 3: packed starting grids, talented drivers, vehicles showing off the same sponsors as their Formula 1 counterparts and a quantitatively remarkable audience. No constructor at the time provided the full vehicle: the chassis were by March, Dallara, Ralt, and many more. Among carmakers, the real battle was fought on the front of engines, and since the Alfetta’s 2-liter twin shaft engine was one of the period’s favorites, in 1979 Alfa became an official team supplier. The engine was prepared by Novamotor, owned by the Pedrazzani brothers, who, despite the vacuum restrictor, were able to reach 165 HP.
In 1987, with its debut on the 75, the new Twin Spark engine became available, maintaining its status until 1993.
Overall, Alfa brought home five European Championships, five European Cups, more than twenty national Championships (Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, etc.) and an inestimable number of racing victories, including eight at the Monaco Grand Prix.
164 Pro Car – 1988
In the Pro Car (Production Car) championship, the bodywork needs to comply in every detail with the shapes of sedans whose production accounted for at least 25,000 units per year, while for the chassis and engine the requirements are practically the same as for F1 races, which allows F1 carmakers to take part in this competition with reduced investments.
Alfa Romeo could count both on the V10, which had been designed shortly before for the F1 Ligier, and on the 164 base. Instead, Brabham designed a chassis composed by a central cell with an aluminum and Nomex honeycomb structure covered in carbon fiber. Two composite “shells” make up the bodywork.
In September 1988, in Balocco, Giorgio Francia took one of the two models out on the track. From a standing start, it took 9,7” to cover 400 meters and 17,5” to cover 1 km, with a maximum recorded speed of 340 kmh.
A few days later, in a worldwide broadcast, Patrese would make the results public with a lap in Monza right before the Italian Grand Prix. However the Championship had been launched on the sly, so it ended up being suspended a little later due to lack of participants.
SE 048 SP – 1989
The project of a new Group C (program Alfa Romeo SP) saw the light thanks to a collaboration between Alfa Corse, for the engine, and Abarth for the chassis and transmission.
The V10 was designed by Pino D’Agostino for the F1 Ligier and it was tested on a Lancia LC2. It has 620 HP at 13330 rpm with a 39 kgm torque output at 9500 rpm. The chassis was developed by Giuseppe Petrotta and Ignazio Lunetta, while Giorgio Comaschella was in charge of aerodynamics. It is a carbon fiber monocoque made by Monfrini, with an Abarth-originated transmission, which, however, was never finished.
Later, due to internal group-related issues, the management decided to develop only one 3.5 liter engine both for the Sports and the Formula 1 cars: the Ferrari V12. The V12 would then be taken up again by D’Agostino’s team and adapted to meet the new Group C regulations, while the monocoque was edited to host the new engine. However, already in September 1990, the project was suspended, also due to the FIA’s lack of interest in the Championship.
Osella-Alfa Romeo PA16 – 1991
In 1984, the so-called Sport Nazionale saw the light as a spin-off of the “old” Sport Prototipi. Sport Nazionale was reserved for Sports two-seater “barchettas” equipped with standard tires and a unified engine: the 2.5i V6 was derived from the one of the GTV6, with an improved horsepower of 180 compared to 158. The horsepower would reach 190 in 1990. The most popular chassis were the Lucchini and the Osella. The performance was high, and the races were extremely exciting. The debut season saw Adriano Gozzi winning the title, followed by Arturo Merzario, Bruno Corradi, Roberto del Castello, and Stefano Sanesi, who would win also in 1989 and in 1990. 1990 was also the debut year of the new 3.0i V6 derived from the engine of the 164 and empowered by 230 HP. Giorgio Francia won the title in 1991, followed by Fabio Mancini and Ermanno Martinello. The Italian Prototypes Championship kept going under the auspices of ACI-CSAI, and the “barchettas” with V6 Alfa Romeo engines gave birth to a specific category, the CN4. The chassis and the engines had then evolved to 24 valves and, once again in 2014, Alfa Romeo was leader in the series.
V8 Indy – 1989
In 1989 Alfa Romeo debuted in the Formula Indy: the engine was developed based on the Ferrari turbocharged V8. Equipped with a cylinder block and light-alloy heads, each bank has a 90° angle and the distribution is regulated by a twin overhead camshaft commanded by gear trains, 4 valves per cylinder. Other features include a 2648 cc displacement (89 x 53,20 mm) and, thanks to the turbocharger and intercooler (methanol feeding), it can reach 680-700 HP at 12200 rpm.
Roberto Guerrero debuted in Detroit with a March 89 CE chassis, when the championship had already started. In 1990, the vehicle was assigned to a new team, the reigning champion at the time, which initially used a March chassis, but then ventured towards the Lola T9000.
In 1991 Guerrero was replaced by the 1988 champion Danny Sullivan. The vehicle was the improved version of the Lola-Alfa Romeo T9100 and, at the end of the season, it bagged points in 10 races out of 17. Among the remarkable results achieved was the fourth place at Surfers Paradise.
At the end of the season, Alfa Corse decided to withdraw from the championship to focus on the European championships.
V1035 – 1988
For 1987, F1 regulations allowed aspirated engines of up to 3500 cc. However, already since 1985, Alfa Corse technical director Gianni Tonti had entrusted the design team, headed by Pino D’Agostino, to conceive a yet unseen V10 engine – a type of engine considered as a taboo at the time - to be mounted on a Ligier chassis. The agreement was later terminated, but the development of the engine continued, and the V10 was mounted on a 164 Pro Car and on an SE 048 SP.
The use of ignition distributors made it mandatory to implement a 72° angle between the banks. Bed and head were made in aluminum-silicon alloy, the pistons in aluminum and the valves in titanium, just like the flywheel.
The distribution was tested first with 4 and then with 5 valves per cylinder, guided by four camshafts with phasing units. Cascade gear command. After the first bench tests, with horsepower values exceeding 580, the horsepower was brought up to 620 at 13300 rpm with a 39 kgm torque output at 9500 rpm, exploitable already at 7500 rpm.