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Alfa 308, 312 and 316 1938-1939


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#1 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 18 December 2000 - 14:32

Hello you all old-GP-nuts.

I'm new to the forum, and I come here with very precise questions, I've been told it was the right place to get knowledgeable advices.

I'm currently researching on the 1938 Alfa Romeo GP cars.
It all started from a letter sent by Simon Moore to Classic and Sports Cars, november 2000, about the whereabouts of the 12C37/316 car recently restored. (see http://www.symbolicm...c37/12c37.html).

To cut the story details, the point we are discussing with Simon is whether Alfa Corse built new frames for the 316s in 1938 or used the existing 12C37 chassis. The later hypothesis seems to become more probable with the info we managed to gather since the beginning of our research.

However, since we have no evidence of it, some points can be sorted out which could help guessing right.

We know that 4 chassis have been produced in 1937, and some race records could lead to the conclusion that 5 cars existed together during 1938 (summing 312s and 316s). But, a closer observation shows errors in the records.

For instance, in Darren Galpin's Archives, http://www.silhouet....en/archive.html

Taruffi's car (#28) at the 1938 swiss GP is described as a 312, while a picture in Cimarosti's 'Grand Prix Suisse' shows it as a 308, not a 312. 308s have completely different chassis and body, derivated from '35-'36 Tipo C cars.

So we are now thinking that further entries at the italian GP 1938 and belgian GP 1939 are erroneously given as 312s where actually the cars were 308s.

So my questions to you all is:

1. Does somebody have pictures or details about Taruffi's (#2) and Ghersi's (#28) cars at the italian GP 1938? They are listed as 312s, while they might be 308s. A picture in 'When Nuvolari raced' shows a 308, which race number can't be seen, pushed towards the starting line. It should be one of the two quoted cars, but I have no evidence.

2. Sommer finished fourth at the 1939 belgian GP with what is reported as a 312 with #12. I've never seen a picture of it, but it should rather be a 308 as well. Can somebody help?

3. It seems that at the same 1939 GP at Spa, Farina had a spare 316, in the 1938 form. Any confirmation?

4. One 316 might have been used in practice at the 1938 Coppa Ciano, but not raced. Picture would be great, simple confirmation of its existence would help.

5. Anybody knowing of or having little known pictures of Alfas in 1938 -1939 GPs ?

Thanks alot

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#2 fines

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Posted 18 December 2000 - 20:56

I had to dig deep, but here's what I found in Paul Sheldon's Record Vol. 4, William Court's Power and Glory and Peter Higham's Guinness Guide:

1938 Coppa Ciano: Farina in 316 (Court) or 312 (Sheldon); Wimille in 312 (Sheldon and Court), Belmondo in 308 (Sheldon and Court)

1938 Swiss GP: Taruffi in 308 (Sheldon and Higham)

1938 Italian GP: Ghersi in 308 (Sheldon and Higham), Taruffi in 312 (Sheldon)

1939 Belgian GP: Sommer in 312 (Sheldon and Higham)

I have pictures of Farina and Wimille at Berne in 1938, Farina at Livorno in 1938 and Spa in 1939, but as usual you will have to wait for them until I have access to a scanner again.

#3 Felix Muelas

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Posted 18 December 2000 - 22:53

Dear Patrick

Welcome to the Forum! :)

I have to say that the subject you have started is one of those...but let´s see if we can be of any help. With Michael having taken over the browsing of Court, Sheldon and Higham, I will concentrate on a few side comments, mainly generated by curiosity. Then, hopefully, some of the real experts will take over ;)

Originally posted by Patrick Italiano
...whether Alfa Corse built new frames for the 316s in 1938 or used the existing 12C37 chassis. The later hypothesis seems to become more probable with the info we managed to gather since the beginning of our research.

To start off with, I will like to know who maintains that Alfa might have built new frames, and based on what. I don´t think I have ever read that.

...However, since we have no evidence of it, some points can be sorted out which could help guessing right.

Yep, that seems to be the speciality of the House ;)

...We know that 4 chassis have been produced in 1937, and some race records could lead to the conclusion that 5 cars existed together during 1938 (summing 312s and 316s).

Or even 6! At Tripoli, 15 May. Venables claims that, after the previous week testing at Monza, one 308, four 312s and a 316 crossed the Mediterranean. Two of the 312s do not seem to have been used.

...Taruffi's car (#28) at the 1938 swiss GP is described as a 312, while a picture in Cimarosti's 'Grand Prix Suisse' shows it as a 308, not a 312. 308s have completely different chassis and body, derivated from '35-'36 Tipo C cars.

So far, so good. It is a 308 without doubt.

...A picture in 'When Nuvolari raced' shows a 308, which race number can't be seen, pushed towards the starting line. It should be one of the two quoted cars, but I have no evidence.

Blind alley. There´s nothing on that picture that can solve the mistery.

Sommer finished fourth at the 1939 belgian GP with what is reported as a 312 with #12. I've never seen a picture of it, but it should rather be a 308 as well. Can somebody help?.

All sources tend to mention the car as a 312 but, I agree, might as well be a 308. :(

It seems that at the same 1939 GP at Spa, Farina had a spare 316, in the 1938 form. Any confirmation??.

I have never heard about that!

One 316 might have been used in practice at the 1938 Coppa Ciano, but not raced. Picture would be great, simple confirmation of its existence would help.

Again, first time I hear! In this case it simply does not make a lot of sense but I agree that, due to the "noise" generated by the 158´s the "whisper" of a 316 might have remained pretty unnoticed by researchers...

Anybody knowing of or having little known pictures of Alfas in 1938 -1939 GPs ?

Patrick, it would probably help if you would define "little known" a bit more. Now we know Moretti you have, and we might guess that the "usual stuff" on Alfa is also available to you. But without a doubt, if you tell us what is already available to you, we might be of some help. :)

Good luck !
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Felix

#4 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 18 December 2000 - 23:47

Originally posted by Patrick Italiano
...Sommer finished fourth at the 1939 belgian GP with what is reported as a 312 with #12. I've never seen a picture of it, but it should rather be a 308 as well. Can somebody help?

...It seems that at the same 1939 GP at Spa, Farina had a spare 316, in the 1938 form. Any confirmation?

At the 1939 Belgian GP, Sommer drove his own Alfa Romeo 308. I know of three different pictures showing Sommer in the #12 Tipo 308. I never heard that Alfa Corse dragged an old 316 along for Farina to drive during practice. What would have been the point of that other than a driving chassis for spare parts.

#5 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 12:19

Thanks for your fast replies, I had been told right about this group!

Here are some precisions and reactions to your posts:

to Michael Ferner:

At the Coppa Ciano, Farina's car was undoubtly a 312, I have a picture of it. It may be the same pic you quote. Car#50, side view, under braking, Farina in it's typical driving position.

I have the pics of the swiss GP from Moretti (including Taruffi's 308), plus one showing Farina in countersteering.

I guessed indeed that Ghersi's car was a 308, while I've seen it described as 312. Car#28, any pic to confirm? Taruffi's 312(?)#2 is also an undocumented car so far.

So far, I have a pic of Farina in the Raidillon at Spa 1939, during practice since no race # is to be found. I have as well 2 pics of the start and one side view of the 316 when it retired. Any other is welcome

To Felix Muelas:

The idea of new frames is actually sustained by Simon Moore, but our current discussions seems to lead him to change his mind. The reasons for his guess were of course not stupid. It was based on the count of the chassis. Only 4 12C37 chassis were made. Thus, if somewhere you are up to 5 or more at a certain stage, there must be some nex frame built.

One point still unresolved is a difference in width either of the frame or of the gearbox mountings between the 12C37 and the currently on sale ex-Varzi car. If the difference lies in the chassis, it has to be a later one.

Venables is wrong when describing the cars sent to Tripoli. 3 312s were raced there (I have at least one pic of each), but the first 316 engine was in a prototype with a Tipo C chassis, very different. This point is now certain for several reasons, at least 3 pictures show the car under a 308 body, and some remote features of the suspensions support that conclusion.

The spare 316 at Spa 1939 is quoted by Simon Moore, but he didn't give me full quote of his source for that. I assume it found that from some Alfa internal document. The 316 in practice at Livorno is also quoted by Moore.

I'm aware that my 'little known' expression has little sense. I have as much Alfa specific books as possible, plus Moretti's 'Nuvolari', Radaelli's two books on Tripoli and Monza GPs, Cimarosti's Swiss GP. Also Nixon's Auto Union book.

To Hans Etzrodt:

Thanks for confirming the 308 identity of Sommer's car. Could you please provide either a scan or the source of those pics, if they have ever been published?

Thanks again to all.






#6 Felix Muelas

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 15:27

Patrick

I made two strategic mistakes yesterday, and I apologize for them.

First one was not notice that your link to the symbolicmotors website was wrong -it includes a dot and a ) too many at the end - hence it was not until this morning that I was able to read what you people have assembled. Excellent, congratulations, a real delight !

Second was to think that my C&SC November issue was still at the office, so I wanted to take a look at it today. Well, now I know it was at home...so I'll have to wait again!

One last thing : when you mentioned that Venables was wrong, should I understand that you have the book already or your statement is based on my quote? I ask you this because there's some pictures in that book that, if you have not seen, might be of interest (and I will scan them for you, no problem).

Un abrazo

Felix


#7 Don Capps

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 15:28

I have referred this to a group of Alfa experts I deal with and perhaps they can add something to the information here. I will let you know if I get any feedback.

#8 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 15:42

Felix,

I just realized what you mean with the error in the link. Indeed, it can't work as it appears in my former post here it's right:

http://www.symbolicm...2c37/12c37.html

Note that I have no kind of link with Symbolic Motors, and DON't trust their story about 51204 being 316's proto. It can have been any 312 or 316 during 1938 season, except precisely that one which featured a Tipo C chassis. But it's an invaluable source of infos, both from direct witness of Tony Merrick, who restored the car and is involved in the current discussions, an from the possibility of watching many details of that chassis.

The other point is that I have Venables' book. Very good work overall, but not quite precise enough on the 1938 -1939 seasons. Among his pictures, one is noteworthy for our purposes, and not previously published: the 316 with Marinoni before Italian GP at Monza 1938. Nice shot.

Venables hasn't digged deep in the 308/312/316 entries, but is still much more accurate than the only serious history so far by Hull and Slater, who 'invented' a tubular frame for the 316 (!), error of course reported in later books, as usual.

#9 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 16:47

Originally posted by Patrick Italiano
...Could you please provide either a scan or the source of those pics...

[*]One picture in: 60 Ans de Competition Automobile en Belgique * 1896-1956 by Yvette et Jaques Kupelian - Jaques Sirtaine

Two pictures in: 50 Grands Prix de Belgique 1925-1992 by Jean-Paul Delsaux

Let me know if you want the pictures. However, I need to fix my scanner problems first.

#10 Felix Muelas

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 19:59

Originally posted by Patrick Italiano
the 316 with Marinoni before Italian GP at Monza 1938


;)
That´s the one that I was thinking about...

Felix


#11 Don Capps

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 00:47

Here is an answer I received this evening:

Hi Don,
My records show 1938 Swiss GP:

#22 Minozzi 8C2900 B
#24 Romano 8C2900 B
#28 Taruffi 308
#40 Farina 312
#42Wimille 312

1938 Italian GP:

#2 Taruffi 312
#6 Biondetti 316
#28 Ghersi 308
#30 Farina 312
#32 Belmondo 308
#34 Wimille 312


Regards,

David



#12 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 11:55


1938 Swiss GP:

#22 Minozzi 8C2900 B
#24 Romano 8C2900 B

Those raced in the Bern GP (amateur), not the Swiss GP, as far as I recall (I haven't Cimarosti at hand)
#28 Taruffi 308
#40 Farina 312
#42Wimille 312

That's right

1938 Italian GP:

#2 Taruffi 312
I would like to find a pic, but it's possible. A 308 is as much probable (he bought one 8 cyl at the beginning of the year

#6 Biondetti 316
That's right

#28 Ghersi 308
That's my guess too, other sources say 312, but 308 is far more probable

#30 Farina 312
No it's a 316, I have several pics

#32 Belmondo 308
There's a pic in Moretti, thus OK

#34 Wimille 312
I would like to see it too, but I believe it

2 316s at Monza is certain, there are pics of both, even the 2 cars on the same shot, for the most skeptic.

Never seen pics of the 312s there, but they surely were. I would like to watch if any mods had been made to them after the swiss GP.

Taruffi had raced his 308 (Scuderia Torino entered, as Ghersi's) in all the other races that year, even when some sources report 312. Would he have got a factory 312 for Monza?

Anyway it doesn't matter for the total number of chassis made, since 2 312s and 2 316s still sum up to 4, which is consistent with the 4 frames built in 1937.

But Siena's car at Tripoli, in whch he died, was badly damaged. From the remains, it could have been beyond repair, but that's not documented.

#13 Don Capps

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 22:45

Hi Don,
Thanks for the information.

I agree with four 312/316 total.

David



#14 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 17:18

Since in the Varzi thread, aldo identified himself as author of the 12C article in Ruoteclassiche, I reopen this old thread to further discuss some issues.


Originally posted by aldo

You all surely know that the last Varzi car, the Alfa Romeo 12C 1937 rebuilt for 1948 Temporada, has been fully restored and it's going around the top historic car racing events in Europe and US.
I wrote a story on it in one of the latest issues of the Italian magazine Ruoteclassiche.


Aldo, I've bought that issue of Ruoteclassiche and jumped on your article, because I have published a comprehensive article on Alfa 12C37, 312 and 316s last year.

When I was preparing it, I opened this thread.

I would be interested you to look through it and see if you have anything to add or correct on what is told there.

I would like to raise the issue of the 51204 frame width. There is something wrong with it when you compare the car as it is now with 1937 pictures: the gearbox mounts are ON the rails in 1937 and INSIDE them now. The point is whether such an important modification can have been carried over in Argentina.That would tie with the transformation into a sports cars by Bucci, but why hasn't it been retored to original width? I have never seen the car myself, nor know enough of welding techniques to certainly assert that the cross members are in their original place.

#15 dretceterini

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 17:50

Aren't the 308 frames very similar to the 12c37, 312 and 316 frames? I would tend to think 4 "real" 12c37 frames, with more made (312 or 308) mde in 1938 and/or 1939.

#16 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 18:02

No, 308s are one thing while 12C37s, 312s and 316s are another.
Except for the first prototype of 316 built on a 308 chassis. Julian Majzub claims it's his very one.