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#1 EvDelft

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 08:59

Hi everyone,

I have got a question about the great Alfa Romeo P3, the big 8-cylinder in line Alfa, built pre-war. Is that car complying to the regulations for F1 set in 1947?

Kind regards,
Erwin.

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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 09:29

Absolutely not. F1 in 1947 specified a maximum capacity of 1,500 cc for supercharged engines. All P3 Alfas were much larger than this. I suppose you could have removed the supercharger, but the resulting machine would not have had much to offer.

#3 Dutchy

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:15

Absolutely not. F1 in 1947 specified a maximum capacity of 1,500 cc for supercharged engines. All P3 Alfas were much larger than this. I suppose you could have removed the supercharger, but the resulting machine would not have had much to offer.


Which is what Freddie Dixon and Tony Rolt did with the Alfa-Aitken (built out of the Austin Dobson Bimotore). I think I am correct in saying that Dixon tuned it to run on 8 Amal carburetters.
It was briefly competitive against pre war opposition before fading from the European scene - it went to NZ.

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 13:07

Which is what Freddie Dixon and Tony Rolt did with the Alfa-Aitken (built out of the Austin Dobson Bimotore). I think I am correct in saying that Dixon tuned it to run on 8 Amal carburetters.
It was briefly competitive against pre war opposition before fading from the European scene - it went to NZ.

It was competitive against postwar F1 cars too (vide Zandvoort 1948)
It has of course long since returned from NZ, and been restored back to original Bimotore spec


#5 EvDelft

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 15:02

Thanks, guys.

#6 zoff2005

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 15:14

A first cousin of my father's, called Maurice de Clermont, ran a P3 on the road after the last War - in Aden I think (we had a photo of him there in the car) - any idea what became of it? Naturally I have no idea of the chassis number!
Marcus

#7 David McKinney

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 15:48

Never heard of one in that region, Marcus, though there was supposedly one in India...

Guess we'll have to wait for the GP Alfa book in preparation as we speak

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 00:24

Indeed Tim is correct...

In the later factory cars the engines were enlarged to over three litres.

There are a couple of earlier threads on this car you might find interesting if you do a search.

#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:40

Which is what Freddie Dixon and Tony Rolt did with the Alfa-Aitken (built out of the Austin Dobson Bimotore). I think I am correct in saying that Dixon tuned it to run on 8 Amal carburetters.
It was briefly competitive against pre war opposition before fading from the European scene - it went to NZ.

Weren't they SU carburetters?

#10 GIGLEUX

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 12:46

From my sources: 8 Amals.

#11 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 13:51

Denis Jenkinson said SUs in Motor Sport April 1980 and in the Directory of Historic Racing Cars as did Doug Nye in History of the Grand Prix Car 1945-65.

In The Racing Car Review 1949, Jenkinson wrote: "On the next occasion on which the car appeared it had undergone radical change, for Freddie Dixon, who was looking after the car, had removed the dual supercharger layout and fitted eight horizontal SU carburetters" However, later in the same article he says:"During the winter (47-48) the car was in the capable hands of Freddie Dixon, and when it appeared for the first English race of 1948, in Jersey, at had been enlarged to 3.4-litres capacity... and the eight SU carburetters had been replaced." They could have been replaced with Amals, I suppose, but late in 1947 it had the supercharger fitted again and I thought the Jersey reference meant that the SUs were refitted.

An article by Sir Anthony Stamer in Motor Sport December 1961 said that car had Amals



#12 GIGLEUX

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 14:23

In Motor sept 06 1969, an article by Dennis May about the Bimotore:

"Postwar, Tony Rolt bought it and recruited the late Fred Dixon, his then business partner, to practise his proverbial go-doctrines on it, junking the twin blowers and substituing eight motorcycle-type Amal carburetters".
There is a picture of the engine: "With just one engine (at the front) Tony Rolt raced the ex-Bimotore with eight Amal carburettors, fitted by Freddy Dixon after the war.".

#13 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 16:26

Does that picture show the carburreters? There's a picture in 1946 and All That - I would say they are SUs but i only know Amals from the bodies used on the Vanwall.

#14 Tim Murray

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 18:21

Here's a detail from the photo referred to by Jean-Maurice. I know very little about Amals, but googling them has thrown up nothing that looks anything like those. I'd say they were SUs.

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#15 EvDelft

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 19:40

I'm just reading and learning... :) :D

And what about the car Stephan Rettenmaier is driving? Is that an original one or without the SUs?

#16 David McKinney

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 21:55

Rettenmaier's car is a P3, so presumably supercharged - the SU/Amal debate is about a different car

#17 EvDelft

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:41

Rettenmaier's car is a P3, so presumably supercharged - the SU/Amal debate is about a different car

Didn't understand that, thanks for the explanation.;)

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:15

Returning to the Alfa-Aitken: theoretically, once it had been converted in mid-1939, it would have been a Formula car, in the same way the Multi-Union was - although by no means as elegant or as well-engineered.

Reggie Tongue's autobiography suggests that some of Aitken's business methods were a little "unorthodox": has anybody seen any suggestion that Aitken might have been planning to run the Alfa in Formula races?

#19 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:09

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the conversion to carbs was done for Rolt by Freddie Dixon after the War. In its original single-engined form therefore the Alfa-Aitken presumably had a supercharged 3.4-litre engine, and would thus not be compliant with the then GP formula

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#20 Vitesse2

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:44

As I understood it, Dobson's car was the ex-Chiron 2 x 2.9 litre, rather than the ex-Nuvolari 2 x 3.2, with the engine capacity not being increased until Rolt and Dixon got hold of it post-war.

#21 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:18

As I understood it, Dobson's car was the ex-Chiron 2 x 2.9 litre, rather than the ex-Nuvolari 2 x 3.2, with the engine capacity not being increased until Rolt and Dixon got hold of it post-war.

That is my understanding too. However, the question is, with what would it have been competitive?

#22 D-Type

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:30

That is my understanding too. However, the question is, with what would it have been competitive?

Presumably the heavier French unsupercharged cars (Delahaye, Delage and Talbot), hopefully the 1.5 litre voiturettes (ERA and Maserati primarily), and anything else from prewar that people were racing (Bugattis, Rileys, BMW specials, etc)

#23 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:52

As I understood it, Dobson's car was the ex-Chiron 2 x 2.9 litre, rather than the ex-Nuvolari 2 x 3.2, with the engine capacity not being increased until Rolt and Dixon got hold of it post-war.

I believe it was actually built by SF for Dobson from parts of both cars.
But to correct what I said earlier, yes, it had two 2.9 engines
Assuming no modifications were made to the engine's dimensions when it was converted to the Alfa-Aitken, it would have complied with the 1939 GP formula in that regard, though I don't recall if there was a minimum weight stipulation in 1938/39

#24 GIGLEUX

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:57

850 kg for 3000cc s/c carss and 4500cc u/s ones.

#25 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:05

I wonder then what the Alfa-Aitken weighed?

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:08

Wasn't it a maximum weight?

It had been from 1934, of course...

#27 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 13:20

I meant maximum :blush:

#28 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 13:28

It was a minimum weight in 1938/39, of course. The much missed Don Capps gave us the scales many years ago.

http://forums.autosp...showtopic=34307

#29 GIGLEUX

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 13:35

Wasn't it a maximum weight?

It had been from 1934, of course...


It was minimum weight and applied for the 1938-1939 or 1946 formula if you prefer, as the 1500/4500 formula started in 1947. 850 kg with wheels and tyres and a minimum body width of 85 cm.

In fact this formula laid down a scale of minimum weights commensurate with engine size for capacities from 666cc to 4500cc with an upper limit of 3000cc for supercharged engines and 4500cc for unsupercharged ones.

#30 David McKinney

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 17:19

I really meant minimum all along.... :)
So the Alfa-Aitken would no doubt comply on that score as well

#31 EvDelft

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:45

And what about the Alfa Romeo 308?

#32 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:00

Not quite sure what you're asking here, Erwin. The 308 was built for the 1938 Formula, with a 2991 cc supercharged engine. It did not therefore comply with the 1947 F1 regulations.

#33 EvDelft

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:10

Not quite sure what you're asking here, Erwin. The 308 was built for the 1938 Formula, with a 2991 cc supercharged engine. It did not therefore comply with the 1947 F1 regulations.

But the Alfa 158 did. Then what is the difference in approach of the 308 and the 158? For you have answered my question.

#34 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:21

The 308 was built for the 1938 Formula ...

... as was the 158, since it complied with both the minimum weight and bodywork regulations. :wave:

#35 uechtel

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:23

Not quite sure what you're asking here, Erwin. The 308 was built for the 1938 Formula, with a 2991 cc supercharged engine. It did not therefore comply with the 1947 F1 regulations.


To be pedantic, it was not yet "F1" in 1947. It was the old name "Grand Prix Formula" until it became "Grand Prix Formula 1 / A / I" for 1948 (when "Grand Prix Formula 2 / B / II" aka "The Second Grand Prix Formula" was introduced).

Of course the 158 was built for use in the pre-war voiturette category, to comply with this with 1500 cc engine capacity. So strictly speaking, it was not designed as a "Grand Prix" or "Formula" car, but "happened" to fall under the new regulations when they were introduced for 1947 as well as it "happened" to fall under the 1938 GP Formula. The 308 had been built for the 1938 formula.

Edited by uechtel, 05 April 2012 - 12:25.


#36 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 13:33

Of course the 158 was built for use in the pre-war voiturette category, to comply with this with 1500 cc engine capacity. So strictly speaking, it was not designed as a "Grand Prix" or "Formula" car, but "happened" to fall under the new regulations when they were introduced for 1947 .

I think I remember that the original thinking behind the 1948 formula was that supercharged 1½ cars, such as the Alfa 158, and unsupercharged 4½ litre cars such as the Talbot had similar circuit performance. So you could make a case that the Formula was designed round the 158 rather than that it "happened to fit".
When cars such as the BRM were designed to that formula all that changed - or would have done had not Ferrari abandoned the supercharged cars and developed the 375.


#37 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 14:00

Of course the 158 was built for use in the pre-war voiturette category, to comply with this with 1500 cc engine capacity. So strictly speaking, it was not designed as a "Grand Prix" or "Formula" car, but "happened" to fall under the new regulations when they were introduced for 1947 as well as it "happened" to fall under the 1938 GP Formula.

Not so much "happened" as "was designed" to fall under the 1938 GP Formula. :) Many people had warned that the 1938 rules were flawed and they were tragically proved correct at Tripoli, when the existing 1500cc cars proved to be sadly inadequate - and dangerous - in the same race. It didn't happen again until August 1939, in very different circumstances, but by that time the fastest 1500cc cars were at least equal to the unblown 4500cc cars - and arguably as good as the Alfa 308s.

All four major new 1500cc cars introduced in 1938 and 1939 - the 158, Maserati 4CL, Mercedes Benz W165 and ERA E-type - fall into this category. All four have 85cm-wide bodies and are above the 561 kilo weight laid down in the sliding scale: the Maserati weighed about 600 kilos, the Alfa 620, the ERA 660 and the Merc 700. The ERA's extra weight is explained by the fact that it had originally been designed to take a 2 litre engine: it was actually bang on target for that, but the fact that neither Italian company was able to reach the requisite weight demonstrates what I consider the fatal flaw in that formula - a standardised body width. The W165 was of course a scaled-down version of the W154, but - even without a lot of time - they had still managed to pare it down by 150 kilos: you have to wonder what they could have managed if they'd really been trying!

Just to make clear: if Alfa Romeo had been able to build a 3 litre V8 which could be slotted into the 158 chassis (probably not an impossible task), they'd probably have had to ballast it, since it would then have had to weigh at least 850 kilos!

#38 uechtel

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 15:02

Not so much "happened" as "was designed" to fall under the 1938 GP Formula. :) Many people had warned that the 1938 rules were flawed and they were tragically proved correct at Tripoli, when the existing 1500cc cars proved to be sadly inadequate - and dangerous - in the same race. It didn't happen again until August 1939, in very different circumstances, but by that time the fastest 1500cc cars were at least equal to the unblown 4500cc cars - and arguably as good as the Alfa 308s.


Certainly the 158 was a great design and had much more potential than was expected and I also agree, that the "sliding scale" itself contains the idea, that somebody might have tried the option for a car of lesser capacity and lesser weight. I also agree that the 1938 formula was flawed, probably in two "dimensions". Neither were 4,5 l unsupercharged cars by any means competitive to the supercharged ones nor was the weight compension of the sliding scale adequate to the increase of engine capacity.

But nevertheless I can still not see that the 158 was designed for use under the Grand Prix formula. If this had been I wonder why it took one and a half season and the failure of the 308 before Alfa Romeo had the idea to enter it in a Grand Prix (and even that may have something to do with the very special format of the Berne race, in which the heat for the 1500 cc cars was at the same time a voiturette event of very high reputation of its own). As you say, in the meantime the 158 had long proven that it was a fantastic and competitive Voiturette (I even regard it much higher than the Mercedes W165 even if it was beaten in this one race), but if Alfa had the intention to race it in the Grand Prix category they should have done that much earlier. Or in other words, if the 158 had been intended as a Grand prix weapon then why should they have developed the 308?

All four major new 1500cc cars introduced in 1938 and 1939 - the 158, Maserati 4CL, Mercedes Benz W165 and ERA E-type - fall into this category. All four have 85cm-wide bodies and are above the 561 kilo weight laid down in the sliding scale: the Maserati weighed about 600 kilos, the Alfa 620, the ERA 660 and the Merc 700. The ERA's extra weight is explained by the fact that it had originally been designed to take a 2 litre engine: it was actually bang on target for that, but the fact that neither Italian company was able to reach the requisite weight demonstrates what I consider the fatal flaw in that formula - a standardised body width. The W165 was of course a scaled-down version of the W154, but - even without a lot of time - they had still managed to pare it down by 150 kilos: you have to wonder what they could have managed if they'd really been trying!

Just to make clear: if Alfa Romeo had been able to build a 3 litre V8 which could be slotted into the 158 chassis (probably not an impossible task), they'd probably have had to ballast it, since it would then have had to weigh at least 850 kilos!


The strange thing is, that from the rules you could have models that were Voiturettes, but no Grand Prix cars (if lighter than the weight limit of the sliding scale) as well as vice versa (cars over 1500 cc engine capacity). And just because it was obviously almost impossible to reach the minimum weight, you can not conclude that a car was designed to fit under that formula only because it happened to do so. And it is of course a welcome additional "option" if a model fits under more than one category. But Mercedes´ Grand Prix car was the W154 and the W165 intention was always only to have a reaction on the Italian decision to switch the Tripoli race to the voiturette formula. Of course in theory it would have also fit under the sliding scale formula, but Mercedes would never have thought of using it in a "proper" Grand Prix.

Edited by uechtel, 05 April 2012 - 15:07.


#39 uechtel

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 15:11

I think I remember that the original thinking behind the 1948 formula was that supercharged 1½ cars, such as the Alfa 158, and unsupercharged 4½ litre cars such as the Talbot had similar circuit performance. So you could make a case that the Formula was designed round the 158 rather than that it "happened to fit".


Agreed. But nevertheless, the 158 was not built for the 1947 formula. In some way you can still say it happened to fit, because nobody could know that in 1938.



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#40 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 16:07

Certainly the 158 was a great design and had much more potential than was expected and I also agree, that the "sliding scale" itself contains the idea, that somebody might have tried the option for a car of lesser capacity and lesser weight.

That was exactly the intention of the (typically over-ambitious) ERA project :) Everybody else thought better of it and plumped for 3 or 4.5 litres.

But nevertheless I can still not see that the 158 was designed for use under the Grand Prix formula. If this had been I wonder why it took one and a half season and the failure of the 308 before Alfa Romeo had the idea to enter it in a Grand Prix (and even that may have something to do with the very special format of the Berne race, in which the heat for the 1500 cc cars was at the same time a voiturette event of very high reputation of its own). As you say, in the meantime the 158 had long proven that it was a fantastic and competitive Voiturette (I even regard it much higher than the Mercedes W165 even if it was beaten in this one race), but if Alfa had the intention to race it in the Grand Prix category they should have done that much earlier. Or in other words, if the 158 had been intended as a Grand prix weapon then why should they have developed the 308?

Not necessarily designed for use, but designed to fit. There's no other reason why Colombo should have designed the car to be 85cm wide. You also have to consider the complicated Alfa Romeo politics of the time: the departure of Jano, the rise of Ricart, Colombo designing the 158 at Scuderia Ferrari not Portello, Enzo being less and less enamoured of Gobbato (and vice versa) ...

The 308 was in any case a stop-gap, although you have to wonder why they persisted with the 312 and 316 for so long.

The early 158s - the 1938 model with the sloping 308-esque radiator - were fast but not all that reliable: Thomson & Taylor were actually negotiating to buy them at the and of the year but Alfa eventually decided not to sell. It wasn't until they ran at Tripoli in 1939 that they were anywhere close to sorted. They got better as the season wore on.

Alfa really lost interest in GP racing in 1939: once it became clear that the works 3 litre cars would only be able to race in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, while the 158s could win more or less as they pleased in Italy (or anywhere else except France), there really wasn't a lot of point, was there?

The strange thing is, that from the rules you could have models that were Voiturettes, but no Grand Prix cars (if lighter than the weight limit of the sliding scale) as well as vice versa (cars over 1500 cc engine capacity). And just because it was obviously almost impossible to reach the minimum weight, you can not conclude that a car was designed to fit under that formula only because it happened to do so. And it is of course a welcome additional "option" if a model fits under more than one category.

We'll have to agree to disagree on that  ;)

But Mercedes´ Grand Prix car was the W154 and the W165 intention was always only to have a reaction on the Italian decision to switch the Tripoli race to the voiturette formula. Of course in theory it would have also fit under the sliding scale formula, but Mercedes would never have thought of using it in a "proper" Grand Prix.

I did say "you have to wonder what they could have managed if they'd really been trying!"

Agreed. But nevertheless, the 158 was not built for the 1947 formula. In some way you can still say it happened to fit, because nobody could know that in 1938.

However, even before the 1938 formula was introduced - and certainly by the autumn of 1938 - it was pretty much accepted that the 1941 formula would be for 1500cc cars. And funnily enough, that 85cm cockpit width had been carried over from the 1934 formula ...

#41 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 16:33

All four major new 1500cc cars introduced in 1938 and 1939 - the 158, Maserati 4CL, Mercedes Benz W165 and ERA E-type - fall into this category. All four have 85cm-wide bodies and are above the 561 kilo weight laid down in the sliding scale: the Maserati weighed about 600 kilos, the Alfa 620, the ERA 660 and the Merc 700. The ERA's extra weight is explained by the fact that it had originally been designed to take a 2 litre engine: it was actually bang on target for that, but the fact that neither Italian company was able to reach the requisite weight demonstrates what I consider the fatal flaw in that formula - a standardised body width. The W165 was of course a scaled-down version of the W154, but - even without a lot of time - they had still managed to pare it down by 150 kilos: you have to wonder what they could have managed if they'd really been trying!

Just to make clear: if Alfa Romeo had been able to build a 3 litre V8 which could be slotted into the 158 chassis (probably not an impossible task), they'd probably have had to ballast it, since it would then have had to weigh at least 850 kilos!

Venables Racing Voiturettes quotes 630kg for the Maserati, 814 for the Alfa, 660 for the ERA and 719 for the Mercedes. Karl Ludvigsen quotes 720 for the Mercedes.

I'm not sure whether removing the body width restriction would have made much difference to the relative performance of the 3- and 1.5-litre cars. The bigger cars had double the power and only 50% more weight. It seems unlikely that any designer of a 1.5-litre car could have reduced frontal area enough to make up for that. Not for another 24 years anyway.

What do you mean by Mercedes paring down the weight of the W154 by 150kg? Compared with what?

Alfa Romeo could, of course, have fitted two 158 engines into a Grand Pri car without much danger of not complying with the minimum weight limit...

Edited by Roger Clark, 05 April 2012 - 16:34.


#42 D-Type

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 21:12

I'd never realised that the E-Type ERA was originally conceived as a 2-litre grand prix car. That explains the chassis designations "GP1" and "GP2" rather than "R1E" and "R2E". Or would it have been "R15E" and "R16E"?

Roger, I think what Vitesse 2 meant was that the W165 was 150kg lighter than the W154.

What was the reason for the 85cm minimum width? Was it originally supposed to make a GP car notionally a 2 seater? I wonder if anbody other than Ellie Rosemeyer was ever taken for a riide in one. i mean an Auto Union or Mercedes as the T59 Bugatti was a two seater and some of the GP Alfas ran in the Mille Miglia with mudguards (and very slim riding mechanics!).

Two 158 engines in 1 chassis. Wasn't that the 316?

#43 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 21:21

Roger, I think what Vitesse 2 meant was that the W165 was 150kg lighter than the W154.

I don't think so. The W154 weighed a lot more than 850kg.



#44 EvDelft

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 03:11

To be pedantic, it was not yet "F1" in 1947. It was the old name "Grand Prix Formula" until it became "Grand Prix Formula 1 / A / I" for 1948 (when "Grand Prix Formula 2 / B / II" aka "The Second Grand Prix Formula" was introduced).

I did know that, but it is rather confusing because some sites do start in 1945 (!) or 1946 with Formula 1 results. I know that after season 1947 the Formula 1 was established, but because the rules didn't actually change (correct me if I'm wrong...) I suspect the races of 1947 and even 1946 can be counted as equals to F1. Although officially not F1, of course...

#45 David McKinney

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 06:04

I think I'm right in saying that although the new F1 didn't officially come into force until 1948, following its announcement in 1946 a number of 1947 races were indeed organised in compliance with the new formula

#46 Tim Murray

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:56

I thought we put this one to bed years ago:

When started the idea of Formula 1?

See especially Alessandro Silva’s post 27.

(As Uechtel posted earlier) the findings were that the International Formula restricting cars to 1500 cc supercharged/4500cc unsupercharged officially came into force for 1947. Some races were run unofficially to these rules in late 1946. The term Formula 1 (Formule Internationale I) only started being used in late 1947, after Formula 2 (Formule Internationale II) was announced for 1948.


#47 uechtel

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:10

Yes, but it is only a few threads in which you can read the real facts, while in a lot more places you find the statement that Formula 1 was introduced in 1948, implying that this was the start of a new "age". Therefore I thought it was necessary to place a remark, that in fact it was rather continuity back into 1938, 1934 or even to the very early days. The only new was the name, and even this needed some time to develop in its current wording.

I did know that, but it is rather confusing because some sites do start in 1945 (!) or 1946 with Formula 1 results. I know that after season 1947 the Formula 1 was established, but because the rules didn't actually change (correct me if I'm wrong...) I suspect the races of 1947 and even 1946 can be counted as equals to F1. Although officially not F1, of course...


Official F1 - in the sense of a "series", "product" or "brand" - started in 1979 (if I remember the date right). Before that it was the formula officially announced by the AIACR / FIA
that Grand Prix races were run to. There was no major difference between say 1938 or 1951, only that in the meantime there had been announced an official second minor formula, so they needed the numbers 1 and 2 to make a difference. On personal websites one is free to do whatever he wants, but that does not mean that it is correct. But to me it is not the question when did F1 start but whether it makes sense at all to make a difference between F1 and the previous International Grand Prix Formula, as in my opinion it was always one and the same thing.

Edited by uechtel, 06 April 2012 - 08:17.


#48 uechtel

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:48

Not necessarily designed for use, but designed to fit. There's no other reason why Colombo should have designed the car to be 85cm wide. You also have to consider the complicated Alfa Romeo politics of the time: the departure of Jano, the rise of Ricart, Colombo designing the 158 at Scuderia Ferrari not Portello, Enzo being less and less enamoured of Gobbato (and vice versa) ...


Ok, this is one point I had not in mind so far. But maybe Ferrari simply had a more pragmatic attitude to let Mercedes, Auto Union and maybe also the Alfa works department fight each other at Grand Prix level and searchfor a new stage for his stable where he could achieve better success? Wasn´t that much in the same spirit as of Italian officials and race organizers, when more and more races were run to the Voiturette category? It makes much more sense to me that with the development of the 158 the factory or maybe only Ferrari tried to prepare a sharp weapon for this category, which was clearly on the rise?

And I have also still problems with the term "designed to fit". Wouldn´t it have been more suitable to concentrate on the design of a 1500 cc voiturette and then produce some "adaption kit" in form of ballast and some side panels to bring it up to "formula" specification? Maybe it wasn´t simply possible to get under the 85 cm width? What about the previous Maserati voiturette models, the 6CM, the 4CL, didn´t they also comply with that 85 cm rule? At least some of them appeared in GP events, but at least in case of the 6CM I can not imagine they were sepcified to anything else as the voiturette category.

The early 158s - the 1938 model with the sloping 308-esque radiator - were fast but not all that reliable: Thomson & Taylor were actually negotiating to buy them at the and of the year but Alfa eventually decided not to sell. It wasn't until they ran at Tripoli in 1939 that they were anywhere close to sorted. They got better as the season wore on.

Alfa really lost interest in GP racing in 1939: once it became clear that the works 3 litre cars would only be able to race in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, while the 158s could win more or less as they pleased in Italy (or anywhere else except France), there really wasn't a lot of point, was there?


Yes, but this exactly my argumentation line ;) . If I understand you right you say the 158 was intended as GP car, but not so much by Alfa themselves, but rather by Ferrari, and that after the failure of the 308, 312 and 316 Alfa lost interest, so the 158 did not come into proper use at GP level. So isn´t the essence of that, that for the Alfa factory the 158 wasn´t regarded as a "GP" model (otherwise they wouldn´t have needed the 312 and 316) and that Ferrari wasn´t really interested in "GP" racing when he built the 158, as he saw better success in voiturette races?

We'll have to agree to disagree on that ;)


No problem, but it is always very fruitful to have to think deeper into the argumentation.

However, even before the 1938 formula was introduced - and certainly by the autumn of 1938 - it was pretty much accepted that the 1941 formula would be for 1500cc cars. And funnily enough, that 85cm cockpit width had been carried over from the 1934 formula ...


Was that really already before 1938? When did development of the 158 start?

Edited by uechtel, 06 April 2012 - 08:53.


#49 EvDelft

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:44

There was no major difference between say 1938 or 1951, only that in the meantime there had been announced an official second minor formula, so they needed the numbers 1 and 2 to make a difference. On personal websites one is free to do whatever he wants, but that does not mean that it is correct. But to me it is not the question when did F1 start but whether it makes sense at all to make a difference between F1 and the previous International Grand Prix Formula, as in my opinion it was always one and the same thing.

And that is what I mean... I understood from Mattijs (yes, him...;)) that the name Formula 1 (or series) were just a new name to an existing formula. So, that is what I am trying to find out (and since the most knowledge is on this site... :up: ) for I am not really working F1 (World Championship) but all the secondary series that more or less comply to F1 as well (Tasman 1965-1969, Aurora, South African F1 (thanks to Quinten) and so on). That means - in my opion any way - that I follow the regulations that were used to form F1 back to the days were they were implemented. So, to put it in different words: when did the regulations on which the F1 was based start and what kind of cars am I looking at from what year on?

I will read the thread as posted above, thanks for that.

I hope you guys understand what I am trying to say, for it is quite difficult to put it correctly in English... :confused:

:blush:

#50 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:31

Ok, this is one point I had not in mind so far. But maybe Ferrari simply had a more pragmatic attitude to let Mercedes, Auto Union and maybe also the Alfa works department fight each other at Grand Prix level and searchfor a new stage for his stable where he could achieve better success? Wasn´t that much in the same spirit as of Italian officials and race organizers, when more and more races were run to the Voiturette category? It makes much more sense to me that with the development of the 158 the factory or maybe only Ferrari tried to prepare a sharp weapon for this category, which was clearly on the rise?

Ferrari claimed credit for the idea of the 158, but according to Borgeson Colombo had started work on the engine as a more or less speculative project in early 1936: it was then shelved and revived after Alfas gave the go-ahead in early 1937.

And I have also still problems with the term "designed to fit". Wouldn´t it have been more suitable to concentrate on the design of a 1500 cc voiturette and then produce some "adaption kit" in form of ballast and some side panels to bring it up to "formula" specification? Maybe it wasn´t simply possible to get under the 85 cm width? What about the previous Maserati voiturette models, the 6CM, the 4CL, didn´t they also comply with that 85 cm rule? At least some of them appeared in GP events, but at least in case of the 6CM I can not imagine they were sepcified to anything else as the voiturette category.

Okay - look at it the other way. Between 1934 and 1937 any voiturette owner who wanted to run his car in a Formula race could do so as long as:
1 It was at least 85cm wide at the cockpit.
2 It didn't weigh more than 750 kilos.

As long as he didn't exceed those parameters, he could bore out the engine or fit a bigger one - ERA and Maserati both had 2 litre units for example.

The 1938 formula turned this around to a minimum weight, but effectively mandated the construction of smaller-engined cars which still had to be 85cm wide. However, boring out or increasing engine size was no longer an attractive option since the fixed capacity to weight ratio turned out to be biased in favour of the largest possible engines - a point which Mercedes, Auto Union, Maserati and Alfa Romeo immediately appreciated, but which ERA apparently didn't, despite a long article in Motor Sport in 1936 which set out the problems of the formula and argued that the larger the engine the bigger the weight penalty per cc should be! Maybe Peter Berthon didn't understand it ...

As for body width, the 1933 narrow-chassis version of the Maserati 8CM-3000 was just 62cm at the cockpit ...

Yes, but this exactly my argumentation line ;) . If I understand you right you say the 158 was intended as GP car, but not so much by Alfa themselves, but rather by Ferrari, and that after the failure of the 308, 312 and 316 Alfa lost interest, so the 158 did not come into proper use at GP level. So isn´t the essence of that, that for the Alfa factory the 158 wasn´t regarded as a "GP" model (otherwise they wouldn´t have needed the 312 and 316) and that Ferrari wasn´t really interested in "GP" racing when he built the 158, as he saw better success in voiturette races?

I don't think Alfa Romeo originally intended the 158 as a GP car per se, but the design parameters did dictate the width of the cockpit, in case they ever decided to run it in Formula races, perhaps bored out to a 178 or 208 or even with a 6C2500 installed? Ferrari may have been thinking ahead to 1941 when he allegedly proposed it though.

Equally, after Farina's run at Bremgarten, it is possible that Alfa might have considered (and we're entering fantasy land here) using the 158s in some Formula races in 1940: Monaco and Spain (if held at Montjuic) would be the obvious ones.

Edited by Vitesse2, 06 April 2012 - 11:33.