Autodelta, Alfa’s official racing division through the 60s, 70s and 80s, was first established by Carlo Chiti and Ludovico Chizzola in 1961 as an independent team working closely with Alfa Romeo. However, by 1963, Alfa Romeo had been so impressed with the team’s development of its first racer, the Giulia TZ, that it decided to make the team an official department of Alfa Romeo, and it’s this event that Alfa’s anniversary commemorates.
In addition to the special logo it's produced (above), the celebration will take the form of a display of five of Autodelta’s best-loved racers, all belonging to Alfa’s Historical Museum: the Giulia TZ that started Autodelta off; the Tipo 33/2 Daytona; the GTA 1300 Junior; the 33 TT 12; and the experimental 179F. They’ll be complemented by a car from Alfa Romeo’s modern range, A diesel Giulietta, actually. How not-at-all in-keeping.
Never mind. Want to hear more about those historic racers? Well, we can oblige.
The car that made Autodelta’s name – quite literally, in fact, as it was here that the blue triangle logo made its debut. Giulia mechanicals were placed inside a bespoke spaceframe chassis, and clothed in a lightweight, aerodynamic body. The result was a surefire winner, taking victories at the FISA Monza Cup, the Coupe des Alpes and the Tour de Course, before going on to achieve great success at Le Mans and on the Targa Florio.
The Giulia had done well for Alfa Romeo, but in 1967 Autodelta had bigger plans. Their eye was on the Prototype class, and this was the car with which they intended to tackle it. And tackle it the Daytona did, with style. Powered by a two-litre V8, it took class victories at the Daytona 24h, the Nurburgring 1,000km, the Imola 500km, and Le Mans, dominating its class.
The legendary GTA 1300 Junior was an evolution of Alfa’s GTA. Based on the boxy Giulia, the Gran Turismo Alleggerita (or ‘Lightweight’) was a sleek two-door coupe that housed a 1,570cc four. In 1968, it was joined by the GTA Junior, which in race form used a shortened-stroke 1,290cc version of the same that kicked out a faintly unbelievable 170hp. And although it didn’t feature some of the lightweight addenda that the GTA was blessed with, it still managed two European Touring Challenge victories, as well as being the first touring car to lap the Nordschleife in under 10 minutes.
The 33TT12, or Telaio Tubolare (tubular chassis) 12-cylinder, was the car that took Alfa Romeo to the 1975 World Championship for Makes. Powered by a 3.0-litre flat-12 that produced 500hp, it dominated the sportscar season, taking seven victories in eight races, with such luminaries as Arturo Merzario, Jacques Laffite, Henri Pescarolo, Derek Bell and Jochen Mass behind the wheel, among many others.
Although never raced, the 179F marked a significant development in Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 history: a fully carbon-fibre version of the company’s 179 racer, which was used from 1979 to 1982. The car was intended to test the viability of a carbon-fibre monocoque, and Chiti was among the first in F1 to do so. And while it was never used in anger, it made a huge contribution to the development of its successors, Alfa’s 182 and 183, the latter of which gave the company its best season of its F1 comeback.
All of these cars will be on Alfa Romeo’s stand – yes, alongside that diesel Giulietta – at the Milano Autoclassica, which will run from February 22-24 at Fiera Milano.
Pictures: Alfa Romeo / Brian Snelson / Tomislav Medak