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Alfetta chassis numbers


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#1 fines

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 21:34

Knowing that Patrick Italiano will be around again, tomorrow, this might be as good a time as any to inquire about the Alfa Romeo Tipo 158/9 chassis numbers.

To start with, how many cars were actually built? I have Adriano Cimarosti's version of six cars built in 1937/8 and 1940 (sic!) each, and four in 1951. That would make sixteen, but to me that figure seems a bit high. I suppose he's not totally off the mark, so my version goes:

- 6 cars of the original design in 1938 and early 1939

- 6 cars with the new bodywork and improved engines later in 1939 and possibly early 1940, most of them probably rebuilt from earlier chassis

- 4 Tipo 159s in late 1950 and early 1951, three of them rebuilt from earlier chassis

Farina's car at Monza 1950 was probably a new chassis, as opposed to Fangio's 159 which was probably rebuilt from his regular mount that year. Several remarks in books seem to indicate that.

How many cars were destroyed in accidents? Apparently, Marimoni died testing an Alfetta chassis, what about Villoresi? Also, Aldrighetti died at Pescara driving a Tipo 158, when the car also caught fire. Was it destroyed? What about the car Varzi died in?

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#2 Felix Muelas

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 21:51

Michael

If after some time you manage to organize and explain a valid theory about this subject, take for granted that you will become one of my heroes.
If not, don´t worry, I´ll still appreciate your sense of humour :lol:

Un abrazo

Felix

PS : Meanwhile, let´s welcome the undusting of all those subjects so far stamped "impossible". Who knows...;)


#3 David McKinney

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 22:12

I'm with Felix on this one....
Mike Sparken (as was), who helped get the only example out of Portello and into private hands back in the 80s, told me that two batches of four cars were built pre-war. One of them was written off by Aldrighetti and another by Villoresi. The remaining cars were all taken apart, and the parts used to build the postwar cars.
His own car, now owned by Carlos Vögele in Switzerland, is apparently 159.107

#4 oldtimer

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 23:40

Seeing those pictures of Alfettas piling up at Monaco, and Patrick Italiano's contributions on fuel composition for the
158s was going to prompt me to start a thread about the 158/159s, a favourite car of mine. But I have little knowledge about them, The race record , some, anecdotal information, nil, apart from Fangio describing it as a favourite car.

So, what books should I be trying to find? Any good models out there? What made them tick, they put up some very fast lap times all those years ago.

#5 Wolf

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Posted 13 February 2001 - 23:48

I'm already looking forward to learning more about those beautiful cars... And I hope nobody will mind (I don't even know where I picked up this photo, to give credit, where credit is due):

Posted Image

#6 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 14 February 2001 - 12:11

Well, I agree totally that no comprehensive story about chassis numbers will ever be possible to put together. One reason is that Alfa Romeo used to swap around identification plates from car to others when racing outside Italy, for customs reasons. Furthermore, when dealing with sports cars, some examples have been sold as new to customers while we now know that the frames, engine and most components had been used before in racing. Multiple frame numbers on the same car were usual in the late 30s.

Anyway, there are sources aboout the issue, but I have to check at home and then report. You'll have to wait a couple of days.

Among those sources, one recent is David Venables' book 'First among champions', issued last year, which is the most up-to-date on those cars. I recommend it especially for this era of Alfa's GP racing history.


A friend of mine few weeks ago wrote a piece about 158s, but I haven't yet the resulting article, although I provided part of the documentation.

About the destroyed car, Marinoni was for sure, while Varzi's wasn't. A picture shows it almost intact after the accident.

There are lots of miniature models of it. For the glamour, I'll go for the old Dinky toys 23F, not too difficult to find if one doesn't want a MIB example.

http://abacus.sj.ipi...8a26887/i-1.JPG

Brumm has several versions die-cast still to find on shelves.

http://www.collector...92/155258-1.jpg

Mebetoys had a 1/25 die cast very nice, still possible to find. It would be too long to list more. Please contact me directly for more on models, if needed.

To find pics an info on the net:

http://www.fantastic...06camp/0600.htm

I haven't checked the race records for accuracy, so if you find something wrong, don't blame me. :smoking:

I will open a new thread for the fuel questions, since it refers to several open now, i.e. 'Auto-Union photos' and 'Recalling the 1935 German GP '.



#7 alessandro silva

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Posted 14 February 2001 - 14:17

oldtimer.
I found also Venables' book excellent reading and I tried to recommend it a few times on this Forum. I agree that it is particularly good on the 40s and 50s. I was impressed also by the deep understanding by the Author of the century long intertwining between industry and politics that is peculiar to my Country: a fact that I thought was difficult to grasp correctly by a foreigner. On the other hand I found very annoying the widespread mispellings of Italian names such as "quadrifolio" or "Brilli Perri" throughout all the book. It is quite common in recent Anglosaxon motoring literature and I find it basically unrespectful. I raised this point once months ago and Barry Lake tried to offer me some consolation about it. I recently read Bira's first wife's book of memoirs, "The Prince&I" (which, by the way I also recommend) in a cheap paperback edition. Well, there isn't a single mispelling of French or Italian names! Why the hell a light book by a society lady should be much better edited than a seriously researched one ment for specialist reading is still a mystery to me.

#8 jarama

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Posted 14 February 2001 - 23:26

Wolf,

thankyou for let us share this great picture.



#9 oldtimer

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Posted 15 February 2001 - 05:24

Patrick, thank you for the leads. Only on TNF!.

Alessandro, re your comment about Anglo-Saxon editors. My sister is an editor of school texts of some standing. She was recently told that she had been refused a contract because she was 'too thorough'. Actually, she is Anglo-Saxon, but working in Canada. It sounds as though N.American standards have been washed up on European shores.

#10 Allen Brown

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Posted 15 February 2001 - 15:12

It is curious that standards have definitely gone down in recent years. Look at some of the UK magazines in the 1960's and 1970's you find they even have the accents correct.

You would have thought, with deepening European integration, things would be getting better.

Allen

#11 Felix Muelas

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Posted 15 February 2001 - 22:35

Originally posted by Allen Brown
You would have thought, with deepening European integration, things would be getting better...


:lol: :lol: :lol:
OMG! I´m surrounded by humourists!
Very good one, Allen.

Felix

#12 GT Action Photo

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 14:08

1951 Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 Alfetta
Posted Image
Photo: GT Action Photo

Sorry, I did not see the Serial Number Plate.The real
beauty of the Alfettas is under the skin.Like the foundry
work on the delicately finned manifolds.They are metallurgical works of art.

With kind regards,
Gary Trobaugh


#13 Barry Lake

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 15:33

Originally posted by alessandro silva
oldtimer.
I recently read Bira's first wife's book of memoirs, "The Prince&I"... Well, there isn't a single mispelling of French or Italian names! Why the hell a light book by a society lady should be much better edited than a seriously researched one ment for specialist reading is still a mystery to me.


Alessandro
Yes, the secret is in having the manuscript thoroughly proof-read. All too often, publishers do not allow enough time for this. Another problem is that people who should know - indeed do know - can proof-read something and still miss mistakes. Sometimes it is carelessness, sometimes just that the mind seems to see what should be there rather than what is there.
Proof-reading is a skill usually developed over many years of experience. Still, no matter how good any given proof-reader is, the more "eyes" that see a manuscript, the more chances there are of the mistakes being found.
There is another common problem - new mistakes being added while a sub-editor is correcting the original mistake. You would be surprised how often this happens!
I make no excuses for these things, I just offer explanations. It all comes down to human nature and the old "time is money" edict of modern business.
Any book I write in the future that even remotely approaches the interests and expertise of those on this forum, will be sent to members for thorough checking!
Any volunteers?

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 15:43

I just noticed Oldtimer's post.
A few years ago, I, too, was "sacked" from proof reading a motoring encyclopaedia about a quarter way through the job.
They told me the budget didn't allow for the correction of as many mistakes as I was finding.

So a quarter of the book is very thorough and accurate; the rest is not so good.



#15 Darren Galpin

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 15:44

Yes - I volunteer.

#16 fines

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 19:28

Me too! :)

If only to get some interesting reading stuff for free! :lol:

#17 FLB

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Posted 16 February 2001 - 19:57

May I join you? :)

I always amazes me when I read books from PSL (Court's Grand-Prix Requiem) or Hazelton (Nye's History of the Grand-Prix Car Vol.2, 1992 Ed.) that contain so many factual errors or typos.

#18 oldtimer

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Posted 17 February 2001 - 19:35

Gary, I think that low, chunky look of the 159 is also a piece of artistry. So right, so :up:

#19 Paul Medici

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Posted 18 February 2001 - 17:59

Wolf
Found what appears to be the same photo you posted above in "RACING CARS IN COLOR" by Richard Bensted-Smith. He gives credit for the photo to George C. Monkhouse (Royal Silverstone - 1950.)
I bought the book in 1962 and what initally attracted me to it was the incredible photo on the dust jacket taken by Geoffrey Goddard; three tipo 156s being pushed to their starting positions at Monaco in 1961.
Unfortunately when I got the book home I did the unthinkable! Cut up the dust jacket and framed Goddard's photo. Suppose the good news is I didn't cut any more photos out of the book.

PS - if the reverse side of your photo is numbered page 28 and has a description of the Maserati 4CLT, someone else did exactly that.

Regards,PM

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#20 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 19 February 2001 - 18:54

As promised, I come back to the original subject of this thread, i.e. Tipo 158/159 chassis numbers, etc.


Originally posted by fines

To start with, how many cars were actually built? I have Adriano Cimarosti's version of six cars built in 1937/8 and 1940 (sic!) each, and four in 1951. That would make sixteen, but to me that figure seems a bit high. I suppose he's not totally off the mark, so my version goes:

- 6 cars of the original design in 1938 and early 1939

- 6 cars with the new bodywork and improved engines later in 1939 and possibly early 1940, most of them probably rebuilt from earlier chassis

- 4 Tipo 159s in late 1950 and early 1951, three of them rebuilt from earlier chassis


Take it from the beginning: the Scuderia Ferrari had been founded in 1929, and at that time, Enzo owned 25% of the shares (50 000 Liras out of a 200 000 Liras capital) but, probably, in 1937 his shares must have been reduced to 20% by input of capital from Count Trossi. In march 1937, Alfa, already part of the capital, bought 80 %, leaving Ferrari with his 20. So, at that point, the Scuderia at Modena was under total control of Alfa, when Gioacchino Colombo, who had been Jano's 'right arm', was sent to Modena to build a 'voiturette'. Dates on drawings show that Colombo had already started work as early as 1935. A document dated January, 25th, 1936, gives the specification for a 1500cc racing car, but, since the Formula for 1938 would be 3-litre supercharged or 4.5 unsupercharged, the project had to wait some more.
The decision to make the 158 has been taken in late april or early may 1937. Colombo took his earlier designs to Modena to work there with Luigi Bazzi (engine), Alberto Massimino (transmission) and Angelo Nasi (chassis and front suspension).
On january 1st, 1938, Gobbato decided to move the Scuderia Ferrari from Modenba to Portello to have it under total control, renamed Alfa Corse, with Ferrari manager. Al tha material, including the 158s partially built and all their tools were moved by lorries from Modena to Milan. Note that castings were made at Portello anyway. At that moment, al the design work on the 158 was done. Jano having left in october 1937, Colombo, when he came back to Milan was entrusted the transformation of the 1937 cars to the 3-litre formula, which ended in 3 models, namely 308, 312 and 316 discussed in another thread. The latter did use two 158 heads and cylinders on a common crankcase, with 2 crankshafts.
At the first appearance of the 158s, on august 7th, 1938, six cars had been built (source: Fusi, Guidotti), and three entered in the race. In later events, a maximum of 4 cars were entered simultaneously in 1938. However, at Tripoli 1939 all six cars appeared.
Villoresi's death happened during an 'hospitality day' at Monza, on June 20th, 1939. It is said that Ferrari asked him to have a drive to please the visitors while Emilio had drunk enough wine at lunch... The car overturned, but I have not seen any picture showing its conditions after the crash. Venables writes it was written off.
On 30th july, the cars (4) appeared with their definitive coachwork, with the typical radiator cowl. Aldrighetti also overturned at Pescara on August, 15th, and the car caught fire, causing the second death in this model in less than two months. The fifth car remaining, still with earlier coachwork, was then entered for Pintacuda in replacement of Aldrighetti.
Now, at that point, several major events occured. The main one was obviously the war, even if Italy didn't engage in it for now. Second related event: Ferrari resigned from Alfa Corse and went back to Modena with Massimino, but without Bazzi nd Colombo. Third important decision, a calendar of races was drawn for 1500cc Grand Prix for 1940.
Then, strangely enough, decision was taken to build six more cars - i.e. during the winter 1939-1940. The cars were identical to the late-1939 configuration, and should have incorporated parts from the remaining 4 cars from the previous batch. Thus, in 1940, we have 6 cars again, not 12.
4 were entered at the Tripoli GP, on May 12th, 1940. That was their last race before the war (Italy declared war to France on June 10th). But Marinoni died in a collision with a truck during testing on the autostrada, on june 18th, 1940. The car was burnt, and the 512's components then tested can be seen on a picture of the remains. The 512 itself had its first test run on september 12th at Monza.
The story now goes that "the six 158s were stored in the garages in the Monza paddocks"after the first bombing on Milan in october 1942.
Six? How about Marinoni's destroyed car??
After Italy negociated armistice with Allied forces, and German troops occupied northern Italy, the Monza storage was retained unsafe, and the six (!) cars, plus at least one 512, went to a cheese factory in the villahge of Melzo near Lago d'Orta (where the design team was moved). The cars were reassembled at Portello after the end of the war, two of them being fitted with two-stage superchargers from the 512 in july 1946. Five cars appeared then on september 1st at Turin. That is the maximum of entries I've found, repeated after Varzi's death in a rather little damaged car at Berne, 1948.
However, the story still gives six cars overhauled to later specifications for the 1950 race season, still from the 1940 batch.
Here's Guidotti witness about chassis numbers:
When the first batch of six cars was completed in 1938, they were given factory chassis numbers. However, the cars were dismantled and stripped after each race, and the major components were switched from car to car, so the individual identities were soon lost. When the second batch of six cars was built in the winter of 1939/1940, NO CHASSIS NUMBERS WERE ALLOCATED, though components were numbered. If the 158s raced outside Italy a plate was affixed to the bulkhead of each to satisfy customs and border controls, stamped with a number '158/...', the number after the oblique being the race number given to the car for the event in which it was competing [...] and was removed when the car returned to Portello.

Felix, does this deserve 'un abrazo'? :lol:

Now the 159s.
Four new cars were built for the 1951 season, one of them fitted with De Dion rear suspension. Increased output from the engines, extra fuel tanks everywhere around the driver.
"The four new cars were called the Tipo 159, but to avoid customs and frontier problems all the cars, including the six veterans, were now called Tipo 159s, and when outside Italy carried '159/...' plates on the bulkhead.

Are you confused enough? :lol:

Thus, to me the 159/107 plate on the Vögele car makes little sense to identify it.
There were never 16 cars, but 10; although 16 have been built.
There's a bit of mistery about Marinoni's car, which could have been rebuilt from parts belonging to another, former car.
After the end of 1951, some were butchered. A picture from 1952 shows a 159 cut up in the middle :(
One was modified in 1952 to test the rearwards moved driving position. What did happen to it? No picture even exists, the only known one is a fake (albeit an official one!).
Three cars are now at the Alfa museum, one at the Biscaretti in Turin (a 158), and one privately owned.

#21 fines

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Posted 27 February 2001 - 19:03

Just me flogging a dead horse again...

Does anyone know where Paul Sheldon has the Alfetta chassis numbers for the British GP in '51 from? Maybe his son?????;)

Anyway, they don't match Patrick's theory about starting numbers, as shown:

#1 Farina 159-9
#2 Fangio 159-7
#3 Sanesi 159-8
#4 Bonetto 159-1

Come to think of it, I have also seen a picture of an Alfetta cut into halves, but that was in a magazine of the late fourties IIRC, maybe, just maybe 1950/1! Will have to check that one again!

#22 stevew01

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Posted 27 February 2001 - 20:58

I seem to recall that the Alfetta numbers for the 1951 British GP are given in the race report in Motor Sport.
I would have to look it up to confirm this.


#23 fines

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Posted 27 February 2001 - 21:48

Another new member is welcomed! :)

BTW stevew01, your profile is funny reading! I've never heard of this favourite driver of yours, 'Industrial Chemist'...;) Also, being an F1, CART and Tennis professional all at the same time must be a tough occupation!??? :D

#24 stevew01

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Posted 28 February 2001 - 21:05

fines,

My memory did serve me correctly. Better than my ability to fill out forms (I had to change my username and did not check all the boxes again - that's my excuse anyway!).

The following is from the Motor Sport, August 1951 report of the British GP:

"Pre-race Notes.

Alfa Romeo fielded four cars. Bonetto's was No. 1 Type 159 with a single cylindrical extra cockpit tank on the off side, 5.50-17 front and 7.00-18 Pirelli rear tyres. The others were 159B's, with a fuel tank each side of the seat, another under the exhaust manifold, 5.50-17 front and 7.50-16 rear Pirellis, Fangio having car no. 7 with yellow cowl, Sanesi car no. 8 with all-white cowl, blanked off, and Farina car no. 9 with blue and white fan on its cowl, and a simple tin "cubby" on the off side of the facia to hold a rag and its starting handle stowed by the seat."

etc

The chassis numbers match those in the Black Books. I have not seen any reference to Alfetta chassis numbers anywhere else.


#25 David McKinney

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Posted 28 February 2001 - 21:14

Have you checked Autocourse?

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 February 2001 - 21:57

In a carefully researched and thoroughly explained description of the progress of the model, here in Patrick's writing we find an almost inexplicable statement (boldface mine):
_______________________________________________

Then, strangely enough, decision was taken to build six more cars - i.e. during the winter 1939-1940. The cars were identical to the late-1939 configuration, and should have incorporated parts from the remaining 4 cars from the previous batch. Thus, in 1940, we have 6 cars again, not 12.
_______________________________________________

Yet later he questions why there is an unexplained car in existence, when the six were stowed for the war...

Is it possible that not all the parts were consumed in the rebuilding process?

If so, were there perhaps more in existence and only six were stored because that was a suitable number?


#27 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 01 March 2001 - 17:28

Originally posted by Ray Bell

Yet later he questions why there is an unexplained car in existence, when the six were stowed for the war...

Is it possible that not all the parts were consumed in the rebuilding process?

If so, were there perhaps more in existence and only six were stored because that was a suitable number?


I can only assume that Marinoni's destroyed car was an experimental one, I mean not one raced, and thus not counted in the 'six news incoporating parts form the first batch'.

But actually how many frames were built, I can't say.

Simon Moore's work on the 8C 2.3 shows that some cars retained their chassis number while the frame was replaced. Chassis#002 went on a long wheelbase car while the second produced car had a short one and was later, probably, given #011. Just a sample...

So, when they build new cars with old parts, an educated guess would assume they put - partly - old mechanical parts in new frames, but that can be actually far from the truth, hence my 'should have' expression.

The picture of the 159 cut in two halves is in Venables' book and in a 1989 Classic and Sportscars. This doesn't give any certitude about its date. I would be happy if you can find the original article, because if you are right about the date, it means that the picture isn't referred to the end of the cars after the withdrawal from the races.

#28 Don Capps

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 14:10

While we are thinking about Alfa Romeo...

#29 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 15:59

Interesting to read this thread for the first time. and to find one of my babies maligned in it for reasons unspecified. But I'm surprised that nobody tried to specify what really constituted modello 158 and 159 and/or 159A.

I would commend you to study the standard Alfetta cutaway drawings offered by Alfa Romeo and published in several places, and to ponder what happened to the frame design during the final season of 1951. See the extra braing superstructure tubes of the final '51 model as preserved by Alfa today - compare it to David's sawn-up car pic in his book - or to the early-season 1951 cars, or to those earlier still. Different beast.

Regarding chassis numbers - don't necessarily take them as reflecting numbers of actual - fully-assembled - individual running cars existing in parallel at the same time.

Alfa Romeo's in-house racing has left a trail of notoriously inadequate documentation - and when Autodelta became the quasi-works team it gets even worse.

In the Alfa archives I have found Scuderia Ferrari reports identifying individual cars by race number rather than chassis serial - which leaves the team itself with no follow-through on progressive chassis history (or component lifing?) unless the engineers kept separate records now un-accessible.

In Autodelta 'records' the same lack of proper practise prevails - again cars are referred to by race number (which in European and British style changed every race meeting, unlike US practise) - the T33 sports car period is especially shambolic - until you penetrate the late-70s/80s F1 programmes when the record-keeping re chassis identities progresses beyond the shambolic into the indescribable.... Numbers noted from chassis plates and tags on site at race venues satisfied customs requirements - little more...and should in my experience be treated as 'advisory' only.

DCN

#30 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 16:23

Well, this thread is already one year old! I'm afraid we're getting old without noticing...

What are the 158 / 159? One year ago (when still young?) I would probably have jumped on it and tried to explain. Now, incidentally, when researching on other models, I went across documents and watched closely remains in different Italian museums, and I feel more comfortable to refrain.

I've seen intake manifolds differents on almost each car/engine surviving, there's even a steel-block engine on display at Arese (from the first, Modena built, "batch" back in 1937).

I've seen a 158 (no doubt) with a 159xxx. chassis number (at the Biscaretti museum), 159 engines with 158xxx numbers and so on.

I also discovered from varous sources that many more racing cars were hidden and salvaged during WWII than just the six (?) 158s, sometimes to be eventually scrapped short after.