One of the Racing Pearls of All Time - Alfa Romeo T33
Today, Alfa Romeo is not as dedicated to motorsports as it once used to be, but decades of fantastic success and incredible racing cars cannot be forgotten. So, be prepared to meet one of Alfa’s fastest and most successful racing cars – the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 which raced from 1967-1977.
Making of prototype
The story of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 started in the early ’60s when Alfa had already had much success in the Touring Car championships with Giulia GTA model. However Alfa Romeo wanted more and soon started developing an endurance prototype model for Sports Cars World Championship, Interserie and CanAm series.
Video – Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 at 1968 Le Mans
In co-operation with Autodelta (racing division), the first prototypes were made in the mid-’60s. Even in the pre-production/concept car stage, it was clear that the new car would be a modern and promising model. The basis was a tube chassis with a central positioned high revving 2.0 liters V8 full-aluminium engine.
Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 and Stradale version
Alongside the development of the racing model, there was a street version called the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale which had the same mechanics and was a purebred racing car with a licence plate. It was very expensive and was sold in limited numbers (around 15 samples) but it was a glorious car to look at.
Not so glorious beginning of the racing career for Alfa Romeo Tipo 33
The street “Stradale“ version debuted in 1967 but the same year, the racing Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 (with a different body but almost the same mechanicals) started racing. The first racing version was called “Periscope” because it had a very characteristic air inlet. However, it wasn’t very reliable and in its debut year it didn’t win anything; its best result was 5th place in the 1967 Nürburgring 1000 race.
Improved version was Alfa Romeo 33/2
However in 1968, Autodelta introduced the Alfa Tipo 33/2, a new version with improved aerodynamics and more power from its 2.0 V8 engine. It was a far more successful model than the previous version and it won numerous events such as the 1000km Monza, Targa Florio and Nürburgring class. At the end of the season, Alfa Romeo finished third in 1968 International Championship for Makes. The new Alfa Romeo proved to be very fast and reliable enough but sometimes the Porsche 907 was faster since it had bigger engines.
In the same class with Ferrari and Porsche
So for 1969, Autodelta and Alfa Romeo presented a new version called Tipo 33/3 with an open body, 3.0 V8 engine and over 400 bhp. The Alfa was now in the same class as Porsche 908 and Ferrari 312P. However, the 1969 season was not successful and Alfa did not win at any major event, only small races. The first significant win came in 1971 when T33/3 won 1000km Buenos Aires race and the class win in Sebring and Silverstone. Alfa Romeo finished second overall in the championship but in 1972, change of rules directed Alfa Romeo to other championships like CanAm or Interserie.
The title was finally won in 1977
After few years of modest success, Alfa Romeo returned in 1975 with 33TT12 which proved to be very successful. It had 3.0 flat 12 engine with over 500 bhp and in 1975 World Championship for Makes Alfa has won 7 of 8 races that season. That brought the championship title to Alfa after years of trying.
But that wasn’t the end and in 1977, Alfa Romeo presented final incarnation of their racing car called Alfa Romeo 33SC12. It had a more powerful engine, revised aerodynamic and body. With this car Alfa Romeo won the 1977 World Championship for Sports Cars in full domination after winning all 8 races of the season.