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Ligier Alfa Romeo

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#1 Megatron

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Posted 24 November 2001 - 08:21

Heres an interesting photo of the Ligier testing the Alfa engine they were supposed to use in 1987. This looks like a works project, going by the decals on the nose (and another on the side).


My question: Was this engine any different than the one Osella were using? If not, I can see why Arnoux said it was no good and they dumped it. How much support was there from the Alfa Romeo factory? Did they intend to be a real competitor or were they just supplying engines like they did for Osella for so many years?


#2 Zawed

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Posted 24 November 2001 - 08:45

Judging from the way Alfa so quickly dropped the project once Arnoux slandered the engine, I would say the Alfa management were'nt too interested in serious competition and were only suppliers. Maybe the management was looking for a way out of F1 without losing too much face, and this provided a convient excuse.

#3 Geza Sury

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Posted 24 November 2001 - 15:55


Ligier intended to use a four cylinder turbo engine in 1987, a brand new one. Osella had bought all of Alfa Romeo's engines when they left the sport at the end of the 1985 season. (It was a V8.) They were using and modifying this engine between 1986 and 1988. As far As I know they received no support from the factory.

Alfa Romeo had decided to re-ented F1 and they had built a new staight four engine but it proved to be underpowered and extremely unreliable in testing. So they pulled out before the season started...

#4 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 25 November 2001 - 15:25

The engine in the 1987 Ligier-Alfa was indeed a new 4-cylinder owing nothing to the previous V8. Actually, all the racing engines had been designed by Carlo Chiti from the late 60s to 1985, including the 3.0 V12s and the 1.5 V8. The V8 had not been initially conceived for turbocharging, but could have been an aspirated 3.0 (in 1980). Chiti and Autodelta never had the ressources to properly develop that engine which had its best season in 1983.

Alfa Romeo management decided in late 1985 to reorganize the racing department, leaving the historic name "Autodelta" to revive the older "Alfa Corse" banner. Chiti was offered a honorific title of President without operational duties anymore, and promptly dismissed. Alfa had hired since late 1984 the ex-Lancia engineer Gianni Tonti, former responsible for the Lancia endurance cars. He first revised the Chiti V8, to Chiti's rage who claimed Tonti only applied the steps he had already in program, and then Chiti left Alfa to create Motori Moderni.

Tonti thought that the V8 was a dead end, and choose the shortest way to design a new engine. Actually, the choice of a 4-cyl was the result of the most possible simplicity, with most investment done in the electronics department with a special contract with Bosch, as far as I recall. The management then thought they had to build some new racing program for 1987, and so 1986 passed in trying to put the 4 cyl together. Many versions were tried with either one or two turbos, and double exhaust pipes per cylinder to drive the two turbos from all the 4 cylinders. The engine tested by Ligier had certainly to be a crude one, lacking response and reliability.

But the 4-cyl program had another importance: Alfa Romeo was then for sale, and a F1 involvement tied well in with Alfa's tradition. But the actual buyer was eventually FIAT, on january 1st, 1987, already struggling to support Ferrari. So a second F1 project inside the FIAT group was a nonsense, and FIAT's new management quickly found the excuse of Armoux' declaration to drop an unwanted involvement.

Tonti then designed another F1-compliant engine, the 3500cc V10, which could well have been a F1 (that was the first thought), then powered the stillborn Alfa 164 "Procar" (thanks Bernie, who invented that championship and even got the contract to design the Alfa chassis, by Brabham, only to drop everything when no other constructor had built such a car). The plans were then to use it in a new Group C project which never came out.

Then I never heard again about Gianni Tonti. Does somebody know where he went working after those Alfa aborted projects?

#5 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 25 November 2001 - 15:44

Seems like he is a director for the Vairano circuit, according to the following link:

Here is the twin-turbo four from Alfa Romeo :
Posted Image

#6 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 25 November 2001 - 17:37

Seems like he is a director for the Vairano circuit, according to the following link:

Thank you Rayner. But is it actually the same Gianni Tonti?

#7 Alfisti

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Posted 25 November 2001 - 23:53

The PROCAR engine was a factor in the decision to build the 4 CYL turbo. As far as I have read there was factory involvement in the project but it wa san uncertain time at Alfa Romeo and when FIAT took over all was lost on the F1 front woth PROCAR suddenly becoming a priority. Shame it never got off the ground, those things flew.

#8 Jorge Cadete

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 17:08

Just a little more information on the Alfa Romeu four cylinder engine:

Bore: 92.0 mm
Stroke: 56.4 mm
Displacement: 1499.7 cc
Firing sequence: 1-3-4-2
Comp. ratio: 7.5:1
900 hp @10500 rpm ( given for the 195 l fuel tank )
65 Kgm @ 8500 rpm ( given for the 195 l fuel tank )
Maximum rpm: 11500
Weight: 135 Kg with turbochargers
Total number of components: 1364

#9 dretceterini

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 18:46

A number of years ago, the Alfa 4 cylinder turbo F1 engine was actually sitting on display at Alfa Ricambi in southern california. I have no idea how many of these engines were built.

Tom Zat, in Aniwa, Wisconsin claimed to have some of the stuff from the stillborn procar project, but I don't know this to be "fact".

#10 petefenelon

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Posted 22 January 2003 - 21:12

Originally posted by Rainer Nyberg
Seems like he is a director for the Vairano circuit, according to the following link:

Here is the twin-turbo four from Alfa Romeo :
Posted Image

By 'eck that looks like "an engine man's engine" - some intriguing packaging going on there, not sure it would've fit too nicely in any form of narrow chassis!

Love the exhausts - they must be tiny! - the whole exhaust/turbo side of it looks like something from one of H R Giger's nightmare sci-fi/horror illustrations.


#11 TODave2

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Posted 23 January 2003 - 21:27

Great looking car though :)