In 1967, Carlo Chiti’s Autodelta produced the Tipo 33 with a 1995 cc 90-degree V-8 engine, designed by Alfa Romeo engineers Orazio Satta and Giuseppe Busso. Only 4 were ever constructed.
The engine is of light alloy construction throughout, with twin overhead camshafts per bank of cylinders, Lucas fuel injection and a power output of 260 hp at 9000 rpm, a very competitive figure for the time. The engine is mounted at the rear between two projecting magnesium-alloy members linked by a fabricated sheet-steel metal section that carries the rear suspension. The transmission was by a 6-speed gearbox. Ventilated disc brakes were fitted front and rear, with those at the rear mounted inboard.
The cars were plagued with reliability problems and two drivers were killed while testing. The Tipo 33 ran only a few races during the 1967 season and the only win was at an unimportant Bettojia Trophy race on the Vallelunga circuit at Rome.
By 1968 the 33/2 had been improved and was now a serious contender. A 33/2 finished second a Daytona and took a clean sweep in its class at Le Mans en route to finishing fourth, fifth and sixth overall.
The Tipo 33/2 model was built by Alfa Romeo between 1967 and 1969, and this chassis is the most significant of its type. It achieved class wins at LeMans, Targa Florio, Nurburgring and Imola during the 1968 season, and was part of the three car Autodelta team that placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at Daytona in 1968. The engine is a mid-mounted, two-liter V8 with 260 horsepower at 8800 rpm. The car has the classic LeMans long tail design with vertical fins and downforce stabilizers in the front.
In 1967 Carlo Chiti, working for Alfa Romeo and Autodelta designed the T33/2 to compete with the dominating Porsche 910’s.
Local hero Nino Vaccarella and Udo Schutz ran the Targa Florio and Vaccarella had the car in second place behind Scarfiotti’s Porsche 907 when he handed over to Schutz. That second might have translated into a win because the Porsche was soon to retire, but Vaccarella forgot to warn his co-driver of a patch of loose gravel about eight miles from the pits. It caught Schutz unaware and the car ended up in the wall.
In the Nurburgring 1000 kms it was driven by Schutz and Lucien Bianchi. There it proved stiff opposition to the works Porsches until delayed by a broken alternator belt – it finally finished seventh. A fourth place followed in the Austrian GP and then 1st at Mugello, a World Championship round in 1968, driven by Vaccarella, Bianchi and Ignazio Giunti.
The car raced a further six times in 1969, at Monza, in the Targa Florio, the Spa 1000kms, the Nurburgring 1000kms, in the Austrian GP and at LeMans. By this time the works was usually fielding 3-liter cars, but it finished 6th at Spa and 8th at Monza.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 name was used from 1967 through 1977 for Alfa Romeo sports racing prototypes and even a few road going cars. Alfa Romeo’s history in sports car racing goes back to pre-World War vintage. They legacy continued in 1950 and 1951 as they won the first two Formula 1 World Championships. After this accomplishment, they retired from racing to focus on the production of road-going vehicles. Their absence from racing would be only for a short time, as their Zagato-bodied TZ1 was introduced in 1963. Its light alloy body, tubular frame, disc brakes, and independent suspension gave the vehicle superior handling and performance. The work had been managed by Carlo Chiti of Autodelta, a new competition department formed by Alfa Romeo. The Giulia 1600 GTA soon followed and was the dominant force in Alfa Romeo’s racing efforts.
During the early 1960s, Alfa Romeo began designing a new racer which was given the codename ‘105.33’. The designs were later sent to Autodelta for further development. The ‘105’ was later dropped and the vehicle became known as the ’33’ when it was introduced for the 1967 season. As the iterations of the Tipo 33 evolved, the names of the original cars became known as the ’33/2′, with the ‘2’ representing their two-liter engines. Mounted mid-ship was a quad-cam V8 engine that was highly tuned to produce an impressive 270 horsepower. For its inaugural race at the Belgium hillclimb the Tipo 33/2 proved its potential by emerging victorious. The rest of the season was plagued by mechanical issues which made the racer unreliable.
Work and testing to evolve the Tipo 33 continued for the 1968 season. The bodywork and engine were slightly improved in an effort to resolve reliability issues and to improve the vehicles performance. Udo Schütz and Nino Vaccarella were able to navigate the 2-liter Tipo 33 at the 24 Hours of Daytona. A few other impressive victories and podium finishes followed throughout the season, but the Porsche rivals with their bigger engines often outpaced the Alfa Romeos. Alfa Romeo team finished third in the World Championship for 1968.
The Tipo 33/2 were able to secure many class victories but it was not powerful enough to contend for overall victories. Work began on a three-liter unit that would be able to contend with the competition. The V8 3-liter unit was given four valves per cylinder and adapted to an aluminum monocoque type chassis which had shrunk in size by 10 cm. At the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1969, Alfa Romeo debuted the 33/3. The racer had 400 horsepower and in the same class as the Ferrari 312P and the Porsche 908. The Alfa Romeo team would have a dismal season and often started the 33/2 in place of the 33/3.
For 1970 there were two bodystyles created, a long and short version. The long tail spider version was known as the Le Mans Spider. Worked continued to improve the vehicles reliability issues. The car was unable to contend with the dominant Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 which had engines with much bigger displacement.
In 1970 an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 was in Steve McQueen’s movie ‘Le Mans’.
In 1971 the Tipo 33/3 was given a five-speed gearbox. Many of the issues had been resolved and the 33/3 had a rather successful season, finishing second in the Constructor’s World Championship. Rolf Stommelen and Nanni Galli had driven their cars to class wins at the 1000km Buenos Aires. At Sebring, the class win victory was repeated. At the 1000km Brands Hatch, De Adamich and Pescarolo were able to outpace the Porsche 917’s and secure an overall victory. Vaccarella and Hezemans won outright victories at the Targa Florio, the vehicles most impressive accomplishment of the season.
Watch the Alfa 33/3 racing in the Targa Florio:
Near the close of the 1971 season, Autodelta introduced a new prototype racer dubbed the 33 TT3. The ‘TT’ meant Tellaio Tubulare – meaning tubular chassis for the vehicles spaceframe type chassis. Much had been learned from the prior racers and adapted to this new vehicle. The weight distribution was greatly improved by moving the driving position forward and relocating the gearbox ontop of the engine.
In 1973 a Carlo Chiti-designed 12-cylinder boxer engine was placed in the vehicle. Alfa Romeo’s fitted with this engine were known as the 33 TT 12. With the increase in power, the Alfa Romeo team won many of the races in 1974 and by 1975 was dominating the competition. The Alfa Romeo team scored seven victories in eight championship races. They repeated their accomplishments in 1976 with the Tipo 33 SC 12.
The Tipo 33 SC 12 had a 2995cc 12-cylinder boxer engine that produced 520 horsepower. Alfa Romeo secured the Sports Car Championship in 1977. The final race of the season had been raced with a turbocharged version of the 12-cylinder engine which increased horsepower to 640.
Part of the reasons for Alfa Romeo’s success with the Tipo 33 models were its continued development, excellent drivers and dwindling competition. Ferrari had left sports car racing in 1974 to compete in Formula One. FIA had added new regulations throughout the early 1970’s which made formidable contenders such as the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 ineligible to compete.
Race Results of Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 cars of the Autodelta team and WKRT Racing
|1967||Rossfeld||Hill climb||de Adamich||2||33/2|
|1968||Targa Florio||Sicilia||Galli / Giunti||2||33/2|
|Gesoni / Bianchi||3||33/2|
|Mugello||Italy||Bianchi / Galli / Vaccarella||1||33/2|
|Shell Cup||Imola||Vaccarella / Zeccoli||1||33/2|
|Galli / Giunti||2||33/2|
|Gasoni / Dini||3||33/2|
|1969||Coupe de Vitesse||Montlhery||de Adamich||2||33/3|
|Gaisberg race||Hill climb||Weber||2||33/3|
|1970||Sebring 12 hours||USA||Gregory / Hezemans||3||33/3|
|1000 km race||Austria||de Adamich||2||33/3|
|1000 km race||Argentina||Courage / de Adamich||1||33/3|
|500 km race Imola||Italy||Galli / de Adamich||2||33/2|
|1971||1000 km race||Argentina||Stommelen / Galli||3||33/3|
|Sebring 12 hours||USA||Stommelen /Galli||2||33/3|
|de Adamich / Pescarolo||3||33/3|
|B.O.A.C. Brands Hatch||UK||de Adamich / Pescarolo||1||33/3|
|1000 km Monza||Italy||de Adamich / Pescarolo||3||33/3|
|1000 km Spa||Belgium||de Adamich||3||33/3|
|Targa Florio||Italy||Vaccarella / Hezemans||1||33/3|
|de Adamich / van Lennep||2||33/3|
|1000 km Zeltweg||Austria||Vaccarella / Hezemans||2||33/3|
|Galli / Stommelen||3||33/3|
|6 hours Watkings Glen||USA||Peterson / de Adamich||1||33/3|
|1972||1000 km race||Argentina||Albert / Facetti / de Adamich||3||33/3|
|6 hours Daytona||USA||Elford / Marko||3||33/3 TT|
|12 hours Sebring||USA||Hezemans / Vaccarella||3||33/3 TT|
|B.O.A.C. Brands Hatch||UK||Stommelen / Revson||3||33/3 TT|
|Targa Florio||Italy||Marko / Galli||2||33/3 TT|
|Hezemans / de Adamich||3||33/3 TT|
|1000 km Nürburgring||Germany||Marko / de Adamich||3||33/3 TT|
|500 km Imola||Italy||de Adamich||3||33/3 TT|
|1974||1000 km Monza||Italy||Merzario / Andretti||1||33 TT 12|
|Ickx / Stommelen||2||33 TT 12|
|Facetti / de Adamich||3||33 TT 12|
|750 km Nürburgring||Germany||Stommelen / Reutemann||2||33 TT 12|
|Facetti / de Adamich||3||33 TT 12|
|1000 km Imola||Italy||Stommelen / Reutemann||2||33 TT 12|
|Facetti / de Adamich||3||33 TT 12|
|1000 km race||Austria||Facetti / de Adamich||2||33 TT 12|
|1975||Mugello||Italy||Merzario / Ickx||2||33 TT 12|
|Dijon Prenois||France||Merzario / Laffite||1||33 TT 12|
|1000 km Monza||Italy||Merzario / Laffite||1||33 TT 12|
|1000 km Spa||Belgium||Pescarolo / Bell||1||33 TT 12|
|Mersario / Ickx||2||33 TT 12|
|Coppa Florio||Italy||Merzario / Mass||1||33 TT 12|
|Pescarolo / Bell||2||33 TT 12|
|1000 km Nürburgring||Germany||Merzario / Laffite||1||33 TT 12|
|600 km race||Austria||Pescarolo / Bell||1||33 TT 12|
|Merzario / Brambilla||2||33 TT 12|
|6 hours Watkins Glen||USA||Pescarolo / Bell||1||33 TT 12|
|Merzario / Andretti||2||33 TT 12|
|Südwestpokal||Germany||Mass||1||33 TT 12|
|Pescarolo||1||33 TT 12|
|Kassel Calden||Germany||Bell||1||33 TT 12|
|Pescarolo||2||33 TT 12|
|Noordzee cup Zandvoort||Holland||Bell||3||33 TT 12|
|1976||500 km Imola||Italy||Brambilla / Merzario||2||33 SC 12|
|1977||ACF 500 km Dijon||France||Merzario / Jarier||1||33 SC 12|
|500 km Monza||Italy||Brambilla||1||33 SC 12|
|400 km Vallelunga Rome||Italy||Brambilla||1||33 SC 12|
|Merzario||2||33 SC 12|
|Coppa Florio||Italy||Merzario||1||33 SC 12|
|Estoril||Portugal||Merzario||1||33 SC 12|
|Brambilla||2||33 SC 12|
|Dini||3||33 SC 12|
|500 km Paul Ricart||France||Merzario / Jerier||1||33 SC 12|
|300 km Salzburgring||Austria||Brambilla||1||33 SC 12|
|Merzario||2||33 SC 12 Turbo|
|Francia / Dini||3||33 SC 12|
|Interserie Hockenheim||Germany||Merzario||1||33 SC 12|