1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12
For 10 years from 1967, Alfa Romeo competed in the Sports Car World Championship for Makes with the Tipo 33. The car started life with a 2.0-litre V8 engine, before being upgraded to a 2.5-litre V8 in the Tipo 33/2 ‘Daytona’ and a 3.0-litre V8 in the Tipo 33/3. But this, the Tipo 33 TT 12, was fitted with a fearsome 3.0-litre flat 12-cylinder engine, capable of producing an enormous 500 bhp at a colossal 11,500 rpm! The weapon that Alfa Romeo needed had arrived, and all that was remaining was to beat the competition and win the Sports Car World Championship!
The Tipo 33 TT 12 earnt its name courtesy of its tubular chassis (telaio tubolare in Italian) and 12-cylinder engine. The lightweight tubular spaceframe chassis was built to accommodate the new, larger engine, with independent suspension all-round and in-board rear brakes. The bodywork was an evolution of the Tipo 33/3, again larger due to engine and chassis evolutions, but this time, it incorporated a ginormous rear wing and large front splitter.
Without doubt, Alfa Romeo was inspired by rival Ferrari’s similar flat-12 engine from the 312PB. The all-new, Carlo Chiti-designed, all-aluminium 2,995cc engine was built to comply with both World Sportscar regulations and Formula One, boasting four overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and over 500 bhp! Mated to the engine was a five-speed manual transaxle with a small but precise wooden gear lever in the cockpit.
The Tipo 33 TT 12 made its competition debut in the 1973 season battling with the Ferrari 312P, with Alfa Romeo using the second half of the season to fine tune and develop the car ahead of the 1974 season. Tasked with building and running these cars in period was Autodelta Spa, Alfa Romeo’s official racing department, which was run by motor racing legend and chief engineer Carlo Chiti.
In period, these Tipo 33 TT 12 cars were juggernauts! Once fine-tuned they were unstoppable, winning no less than seven of the nine rounds of the 1975 World Sports Car Championship, and when you consider that points towards the World Championship for Makes were only awarded to a team’s best seven results, Alfa Romeo took a clean sweep! But, the World Sports Car Championship was not enough, and the team wanted more success, which came in the form of outright victory at the the famed Targa Florio!
This, the Tipo 33 TT 12, is unquestionably one of Alfa Romeo’s most important post-war racing cars. It has everything one looks for in a truly exceptional historic racing car: dominant success, the world’s greatest drivers and a world-famous brand.
Can you imagine hurtling along the Mulsanne Straight at the 2020 Le Mans Classic, going 11,000 rpm as you shift into fifth gear and just listing to the extreme howl that can only be made by this 3.0-litre 12-cylinder monster!? Stop dreaming…call us!
This Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12
The car offered here, chassis AR11512 008, was constructed by Autodelta, the official Alfa Romeo Works race team, in early 1974, making its competition debut at the Monza 1000 KM, held on 25 April. The legendary Arturo Merzario was elected to drive, being partnered with Italian-born American Mario Andretti. During this same season, Merzario was also competing in Formula One with the Williams Grand Prix Team, although sports car racing was where he would experience his greatest success. Mario Andretti, future Formula One World Champion, was busy making waves, driving for Ferrari in sportscar racing, Holman Moody at Le Mans and the NASCAR series and Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing in the USAC Championship and Indianapolis 500.
Wearing race number 3, Merzario and Andretti qualified this Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 on pole position around the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, round one of the 1974 World Championship for Makes. Race day saw Merzario, Andretti and Autodelta continue their dominant debut with a race victory — four laps ahead of the sister TT 12 piloted by Jacky Ickx and Rolf Stommelen, with the third TT 12 crossing the line in 3d! Italy went crazy for the Italian driver winning at an Italian circuit in a red Italian car, which incidentally even had a red steering wheel! Rightly so, the car was even featured on the cover of the weekly Italian motoring bible, AUTOSPRINT magazine.
As the 1974 World Sportscar Championship continued, Merzario shared driving duties of 008 with other legends, including Jacky Ickx, Vittorio Brambilla and Brian Redman. Chassis 008 continued to compete for the Alfa Romeo Works team at the Nürburgring 1000 KM, Imola 1000 KM, Zeltweg 1000 KM, Watkins Glen 1000 KM and the Watkins Glen Can-Am race. At Imola, the car sported a shorter tail for the generally slower yet higher downforce nature of the Italian circuit, but 008 always sported its bodywork in red with a large green rear wing and front splitter; apart from Watkins Glen, when the rear wing was also red.
The 1975 Season – Game, Set, Match!
For 1975, Alfa Romeo contracted the Willi Kauhsen Racing Team (W.K.R.T) to run the factory-supported race team. Throughout 1975, chassis 008 continuously impressed, with its results ensuring Alfa Romeo won the 1975 World Championship for Makes! This chassis alone won four of the nine Championship races, whilst also claiming one further important victory, the 1975 Targa Florio! As per the 1974 season, chassis 008 was always assigned to Arturo Merzario, with the co-driver rotating between Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, Jacques Laffite, Nino Vaccarella and Vittorio Brambilla.
Nineteen seventy-five marked the 23rd season of the FIA World Sports Car Championship, the highest level of sportscar racing in the world. Competing manufacturers included Porsche, Ferrari, Lola, Mirage, Alpine-Renault, Chevron and March, but Alfa Romeo was the clear favourite with this Tipo 33 TT 12 beast!
Alfa Romeo chose not to compete at the opening round of the Championship, the Daytona 24 Hours, instead sending chassis 008 to the second round at Mugello, Italy. Partnering Merzario was sportscar racing legend Jacky Ickx, with the pair qualifying on pole position with race number 1. After 150 laps of the Autodromo del Mugello circuit, Merzario and Ickx crossed the line in 2nd.
Round three of the 1975 Championship was the 1000 KM of Dijon, France. Now wearing race number 2, chassis 008 was, as ever, driven by Merzario, but this time he was partnered with Frenchman Jacques Laffite. Yet another strong qualifying saw the pair line up 3rd on the grid, but the race went well, and overall victory was theirs! The next race saw the same driver line up take 008 back to Monza, the home of its debut event and race victory in 1974. Starting 2nd on the grid was promising and the pair delivered, crossing the line in 1st place, taking back-to-back Monza 1000 KM victories and 008’s second consecutive victory of the 1975 Championship!
May saw Ickx once again partner with Merzario in 008 for the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 KM, now wearing race number 1. The sister Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12, driven by Henri Pescarolo and Derek Bell, stole pole position, with the drivers maintaining position throughout the race, seeing chassis 008 cross the line in 2nd place, continuing its 100% podium finish record for the 1975 season!
The Coppa Florio, held at the Autodromo di Pergusa, Enna, Italy, was round six of the 1975 Championship, and saw Jochen Mass join Merzario and 008. Again, Alfa Romeo dominated, with 008 claiming pole position, and chassis 010 lined up 2nd, over two seconds clear of the 3rd-place Porsche 908/3! Once again, 008 held position in the race, crossing the line to take its third race victory from five events — a truly remarkable season, but it wasn’t over yet!
June 1975 saw the travelling circus of the World Sportscar Championship arrive at the fearsome Nürburgring in Germany for round seven, the International ADAC 1000 KM! Again wearing race number 1, 008 and Merzario were joined by Jacques Laffite and claimed pole position around the fearsome 22-kilometre circuit! The race started at 10:30 on 1 June, with 60,000 spectators and 59 starters. Forty-four laps and 5 hours 41 minutes later, this Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 crossed the line to take victory at the 1975 Nürburgring 1000 KM!
The season continued, and four weeks later, the 1000 KM Zeltweg was held at the Österreichring in Austria, round eight of the 1975 FIA Championship. Vittorio Brambilla, March Formula One driver, partnered with Merzario, and the pair qualified chassis 008 in 2nd place. After 103 laps, Merzario and Brambilla finished the race in 2nd place, following by the sister TT 12 of Derek Bell and Henri Pescarolo. As was common in 1975, another dominant display by the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12s!
The 1975 FIA World Sportscar Championship finished in the United States of America at the Watkins Glen circuit with a six-hour endurance race. Although there was no official drivers’ champion for the 1975 season (this was a Manufacturers’ Championship), Merzario would have been crowned champion, having dominated the season! For this final round in the USA, Merzario was joined once again by Mario Andretti, with the pair qualifying 4th on the grid. Twenty-nine starters lined up in front of 50,000 spectators to compete for victory in the final round of the 1975 season; however, it was yet another hugely dominant display of Alfa Romeos, with the marque taking both 1st and 2nd! After 152 laps and over six hours of competition, Merzario and Andretti crossed the line 2nd, less than 20 seconds behind the sister car of Bell and Pescarolo, but over three laps clear of the 3rd-place finisher, the Renault-Alpine of Larrousse and Jarier!
The 1975 FIA World Sportscar Championship was dominated by Alfa Romeo, who claimed victory in seven of the nine rounds. This car, chassis 008, claimed four victories and four 2nd places, making it the undoubted star of the 1975 Alfa Romeo squad, with a 100% finishing record and placing never lower than 2nd overall!
The 1975 Targa Florio
Although the 1975 World Championship had been won, chassis 008 had not finished competing. There was one event left, the 1975 Targa Florio, held over eight laps of the 72-kilometre Piccolo Circuito della Madonie in Italy. Here, Merzario shared driving duties with fellow Italian Nino Vaccarella, with the pair claiming pole position and setting a time of 36 minutes 7 seconds — a colossal 52 seconds faster than the 2nd-place car.
Unlike any other event in the 1970s, the Targa Florio was an open road endurance race, held on closed public roads around the mountains of Sicily, near the island’s capital of Palermo. This was the ultimate open road endurance race of the era, with both drivers, Merzario and Vaccarella, previous winners!
Chassis 008, driven by Arturo Merzario and Nino Vaccarella, dominated, claiming pole position, the fastest lap and outright race victory!
Post Factory Competition Life
After victory at the 1975 Targa Florio, Alfa Romeo chose to retire chassis 008, although maintained ownership of the car until October 1984, at which point it was sold to Switzerland. Amazingly, a copy of this sales invoice is included in the car’s impressive history file, confirming the sale price as 65,000,000 Italian lire! Two-and-a-half years later, in May 1987, Matteo Carrabba of Turin bought the car for 85,000,000 Italian lire, again a copy of this sales invoice also accompanies 008 today.
The car remained in the ownership of Turinese collector Matteo Carrabba until Ian Donaldson stumbled across it in Italy in the late 1990s whilst inspecting a Ford Escort RS2000 rally car! At the time of discovery, the paintwork still showed signs of the original W.K.R.T (Willi Kauhsen Racing Team) decals, along with those of Alfa Romeo and Autodelta on the air intake!
Having been recommissioned and demonstrated at the Goodwood Festival of Speed several times in the hands of his sons, Mark and Andrew, Ian chose to retain ownership through until 2012, when it was bought by its current owner. During both its current and previous ownership, this 33 TT 12 has been fastidiously maintained and prepared by historic competition specialist and Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 expert Tim Samways Sporting & Historic Car Engineers Ltd.
Through sheer passion, dedication and knowledge, the current owner has built a sizeable collection of significant competition cars, including a 1968 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/2 ‘Daytona’ and 1972 Tipo 33 TT 3. In October 2017, these three famous cars returned to the Autodelta test track Centro Sperimentale Balocco in Italy. When you have three of the most important post-war Alfa Romeo competition cars and the Autodelta test track to yourself, you need to take some friends, and in this case, that meant Derek Bell, Arturo Merzario and Nanni Galli! Can you imagine being at the Autodelta test track with three of its most important creations and three of the most successful World Sportscar Championship drivers of their era? We think the pictures speak for themselves!
Throughout his ownership, the current custodian has employed racing driver and coach Sam Hancock to share the driving duties, including appearing at the world-renowned Le Mans Classic. In 2017, Hancock was partnered with none other than five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell to race the car at the Dix Mille Tours at Paul Ricard. Chassis 008’s most recent competition outing was the 2018 Le Mans Classic, before which the crown wheel and pinion were rebuilt. Since then, it has been thoroughly inspected and maintained by Sporting & Historic Car Engineers, with copies of invoices contained within the car’s history file.
By now, you’re probably already on the phone and talking to us, but just in case you have no phone signal, here’s a gentle reminder: this is Alfa Romeo’s 3.0-litre, 12-cylinder, 48-valve leviathan. This car won its competition debut, going on to score a staggering five outright victories in the World Sports Car Championship, including the Monza 1000 KM twice, the Nürburgring 1000 KM and the Dijon 1000 KM! However, just in case being the car responsible for Alfa Romeo winning the 1975 World Sports Car Championship was not enough, this car also dominated the 1975 Targa Florio, with the fastest lap and outright victory!
A six-time race winner, driven by the greatest sports car drivers and built by one of the most celebrated and admired marques, this car is simply unrepeatable.
Price Upon Request
Price Upon Request
Modern photography courtesy of Tim Scott / Fluid Images
Modern photography courtesy of Tim Scott / Fluid Images