In 1950 Alfa Romeo introduced the 1900, a modern sporting saloon with some unmistakable family traits. At about the same time as the management were firmly directing the company down this new road, they lost all sense of direction so far as competition cars were concerned.

It wasn't that Alfa Romeo shunned competition; it instigated an ambitious sports car program for 1953 which was abandoned after running in only four races. A V12 F1 car was designed for the 2 1/2-liter formula but was not completed. Then came the 1900 Sportiva, which was to be a production sports racer - 100 examples were planned. Only one was made; it ran in a hill climb in 1955 and came in second. Then there was the Tipo 750 Competizione, designed in conjunction with Abarth - two were made and neither raced.

Eventually the company decided to re-enter motor racing and, in late 1964, established Autodelta, a well-funded and autonomous unit some distance from the factory. In charge was Ing. Carlo Chitti, who had made his reputation at Ferrari, where he had dragged the Scuderia into the second half of the Twentieth Century.

At first Autodelta ran modified production cars and special cars, such as the TZ, which were based on production components, and very successfully too. Then, for 1967, Alfa Romeo and Autodelta jointly produced a bespoke sports racer, the Tipo 33. It had a 1995cc V8 engine constructed entirely of light alloys, with DOHC and Lucas fuel injection, and it delivered its very competitive 260 bhp via a six-speed gearbox, an unusual feature at the time.

The chassis was made in the shape of an "H" from three large, cylindrical, alloy main members which doubled as fuel tanks. A magnesium alloy cross member took the coil spring and wishbone front suspension, and a magnesium subframe supported the engine and carried the links and radius arm era suspension.

The car had enormous potential - it was certainly quicker than its chief rival, the Porsche 910 - but it had a poor finishing record, the biggest problem being suspension breakages. On the other hand, the main elements were right and its successor, the Tipo 33/2, retained the original chassis, engine and transmission, but had stronger suspension units, with wider track, hip radiators and a very pretty fiberglass coupe body.

It was duly homologated and made its debut in the 1968 Daytona 24 Hours, where the three cars finished an excellent 5th-6th-7th overall (it was only a two-liter car, remember) and took 1-2-3 in class. After that the T33/2 became known as the "Daytona."

That superb debut was followed by a class win in the Nurburgring 1000kms, 2nd-3rd-6th overall in the Targa Florio, outright wins at Mugello (a Championship event) and in races at Wunsdorf and Imola. At Le Mans, postponed that year until late September, three of the four works cars, each with a long tailed body, survived to take 4th-5th-6th overall and 1-2-3 in class. After that the T33/2 was built for customers and was homologated in Group 4.

The car pictured here was one of the successful 1968 works team, before being sold to Alfa Romeo Frankfurt in April 1969. It ran in several events, including the Trento Bondone, Wunsdorf and Mont Ventoux, where it placed 2nd overall. After this it had two further owners, the first of whom apparently won several events with it, before a complete rebuild was started three years ago. It comes with its original Fahrzeugbrief and ONS Wagenpass, along with a number of photographs depicting the restoration.

{analysis} Alfa competition cars seem to have a hypnotic effect on those who have experienced them. Contributing editor Michael Sheehan, though known for his Ferrari expertise, is constantly seeking another Alfa F1 car, and Contributing Editor Keith Duly, who has established his fame in the pre-war Alfa circles, currently has ownership of at least two T-33s.

S/N 26 was not sold when offered at the 1992 Coys Nurburgring Auction, and according to Simon Kidston of Coys, "was 90% restored (engine not running, no dynamos, exhausts, etc.), I sold it a couple of months later to Italy for $179,400 and the restoration was later completed before it was sold again for a profit.

"I also had the sole 33/2.5-liter on auction last December and, in need of total restoration, sold it for $199,680."

Current market value for fully restored 33s with interesting provenance seems to hover in the $300,000 - $400,000 range. 33s are not casual investments, and should only be purchased by those who are interested in very serious racing and/or collecting. - ED


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