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Alfa Romeo Tipo B


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#1 Barry Lake

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 16:15

I know this has been discussed here before, but I have searched and searched and can not find it. Maybe I am not holding my tongue the right way or something...

However, I have just received the following letter from a man with whom I have been corresponding since the early 1970s. He originally wrote "Letters to the Editor" to various magazines I have edited.

Les is deaf, so is a prolific letter writer, as this is his way of communicating with the rest of the world. I have begged him to get a computer and modem so he can join The Nostalgia Forum, because I know he would love it.

He has an excellent library that he has amassed since the 1940s, has read "Motor Sport" religiously since that time - and still has them all - and is very knowledgeable on grand prix racing.

I thought if his letter could generate some interesting feedback, I could send it all to him by fax to show him what he has been missing. I might inspire him to get on-line yet.

So, here it is (transcribed from the handwritten original by Loretta, so possible a mistaken word here and there - don't blame Les):

-----------------

This letter is actually to be about the Monoposto Alfa Romeo Type B, more commonly called the P3. I've been interested as to how it came to be called the P3.
Enclosed are two photocopies from Motor Sport 1951. I've always blamed Pomeroy for calling it the P3 as he did in his book "The Grand Prix Car", but seems I am wrong some research has come up with the following
Vittorio Jano designed the Tipo B. In factory literature it is always referred to as the Tipo B, never the P3. Seems back in 1933-34 in race programs in Italy it was called the P3. (This is probably where Pomeroy got the P3 designation from). The factory did nothing to deny this, but then own literature always referred it as a Tipo B. Originally a 2.6 litre engine then enlarged to 2.9 litres. The Tipo B used by Nuvolari to win the 1935 German GP had a 3.8 litre engine, probably from the sc-35 or 308. Some were fitted with 3.2 litre engines but none escaped into private hands with the larger engines.
It was a bad step-up by Pomeroy to call it a P3 in his book without getting information from the factory.
Jano designed it in 1931 ready for the 1932 season. Two blocks of four joined together with the power take-off from the centre of the engine, front supercharger… Something interesting has come up - in 1927 there was an 1100cc Salmson engine, four cylinder. It had two blocks of two cylinders with power take off from the centre of the engine, front supercharger, the same drive for the DOHC as Jano later used. So did Jano get his inspiration for the Tipo B engine from this Salmson? I guess no one will ever know. The Salmson engine gave about 140 bhp @ 8,000 rpm, which was outstanding for an 1100cc engine of that period.
Even Doug Nye, in his book "The Classic Single Seater", refers it as P3 not a Tipo B. But Jenks, in his book "Directory of Historic Racing Cars" always refers it as a Tipo B.
Jano was also responsible for the D 50 Lancia and Lancia Aurelia.
Regards
Les


(Photocopies below of letters in Motor Sport magazine)

Motor Sport January 1951
Rumblings
Motoring historians work under difficulties, for contemporary reports of races and descriptions of cars seldom tally in respect of the less obvious details, and sometimes even major facts are in doubt. All praise, therefore, to such authors for the high standard of accuracy, or should we write veracity, they have achieved. With this desire for accuracy they will no doubt wish to discuss a point raised in an Air Mail letter which Motor Sport has received from the well known motoring artist and journalist, Bob Shepherd, of Sydney, who is at present engaged in presenting Grand Prix cars down the year in pen and picture to readers of "Australian Motor Sports". The point Bob raises is a startling one. He can find no evidence that the famous monoposto Alfa-Romeo racing car of the 1932-35 period was ever officially termed a "P3" but was, in fact, the "Tipo B".
The relevant part of Shepherd's latter reads as follows:-
"During the war someone in your country seems to have decided that the monoposto Alfa-Romeo racing car was a Type P3. All his disciples have apparently accepted this without query.
"Now, Sir, what authentic data have you to claim that the monoposto Alfa-Romeo is a Type P3?
"I have in my collection photographs of all the racing Alfas, factory photographs from Milano, and each one has the model type printed on the photograph. The 1924, 2 litre cars have always got "Tipo P2 Gran Premio" and so on through the types 308-312-316, etc, and on every photograph of the monoposto is "Monoposto Tipo B Gran Premio". Now is it reasonable to suppose that they would not put on "P3" if it were authentic? Also, why miss out the "Monza" when following the P2 with the supposed P3? Was that car just an orphan to be ignored in the supposed train of "P" models? If the theory of the "P3" is correct, then surely the "Monza" should be known as such, as the next model in the line, neglecting, of course, the non series twelve cylinder car of 1931.
"Also, for the information of your readers, the "Tipo 158" when it was altered in design and outline in 1939, was known as the "Tipo 158B" and the later bulbous nosed cars as raced at present as "Tipos 158C" and "158D". Authority for the above data is the official Alfa-Romeo journal Alfa-Corse and also factory information.
"Hoping the above will at least result in some interesting discussion and wishing you and "Motor Sport" all the best for 1951.
I am, Yours, etc
Bob Shepherd


Motor Sport February 1951.
Letters from Readers:
The P3 Alfa-Romeo
Sir,
I was particularly interested to see the letter in your issue for January, written by Mr Shepherd, regarding the type number of the Monoposto Alfa-Romeo. I think one should first clear the ground by pointing out that whatever its designation this car existed in two forms. As originally built in 1932 it had an engine of 2,650cc (65 by 100) installed in an 8 foot 7 1/2 inch wheelbase with a 4 foot 5 inch track. On this car the body width was equal to the frame width.
In 1934 it was necessary to enlarge the body width to a minimum of 85 cms, but I believe the frame width was left unchanged so that in its revised form the body overlapped the frame. This was called the Tipo B. Other modifications included enlarging the bore to 69mm giving a capacity of 2.9 litres; reducing the wheel base from 8 foot 7 1/2 inches to 8 foot 6 inches. As far as I can see this car was referred to simply as the Monoposto during the racing seasons of 1932 and 1933. However, as you know, it was described as a P3 in "Motor Sport" in the issue for January, 1934, and this designation became increasingly used during the following five years and was accepted by me as correct for the purposes of "The Grand Prix Car" and the various articles written in The Motor during the war to which I presume Mr Shepherd is referring.
I am, Yours, etc.,
London, E.C.I. Laurence Pomeroy

We do not propose to take sides in this matter, beyond remarking that those books and reports written in times contemporary with the monoposto Alfa-Romeo which we have consulted seem to refer to the car as a "Tipo B" and not as a "P3". On the other hand, when the car was included in a series of articles on 1934 racing cars which "Motor Sport" ran that year the car was described as a "P3". So whether an historian's miscount has resulted in the introduction of a fictitious Alfa-Romeo type which has no official existence, or not, we leave to the historians. Our correspondence columns are open if anyone wishes to confirm or contest this interesting issue.
(Motor Sport editorial)

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#2 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 17:06

About the origin of the improper P3 name, I recall I've read that the italian press was responsible for finding a link between the world champion P2 and the new monoposto, for the way it cleared the concurrence from first appearance. And indeed, this "forgets" the "Monza" (which was incidentally called 8C 2.3 Spider Corsa back in 1931) as another GP car. While the "Monza" was, and is still, a very nice car, it was not a throughout winner as the P2 and the Tipo B.

As far as I recall, the P2 was successor of the P1 :blush:, but this one could have been called so only after the P2 appeared (seems logical). Actually, the "P1" was officially called "GPR" standing for "Gran Premio Romeo". Nicola Romeo was in 1924 very present both at the factory board and on race circuits, and only a cause intended by Merosi in 1919 put the "ALFA" name ahead of "Romeo". The cam covers of the P2 reads only "Romeo". So the P in "P2 stands for "Premio" or "Prix", which doesn't mean anything. :rolleyes:

OTOH, since the Tipo A Monoposto had a very short and not so successful life, it's easy to understand the reference to the P2 rather than to the Tipo A. And since the Spider Corsa was named "Monza" after Monza win, how would you call the Tipo B since it also won at Monza its first race? :drunk:


Now some comments on the letters:

- 1935 German GP Nuvolari's car wasn't a 3.8, but a 3.2
I already discussed that point in:
http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=15769
The 3.8 engine had block castings larger than the 3.2 and, indeed, that version was intended for the 8C35. Actually, the 308 is a 3-litre version of the same car, but from 1938.

- The front supercharger was indeed an 8C2300 feature, while the Tipo B had two, one on each block.

- Indeed Salmson did produce very nice engines, but I always understood that the central gear train was a way to cope with torsional vibration of long crank- and camshafts of an in-line 8. On a four-banger, it seems odd, but modern motorcycle engine may have such a feature.

- As far as I know, the name "158D" was referred to the experimental 158 fitted with a De Dion axle in which Marinoni died against a truck in 1940. My source is an article by Giuseppe Busso on the De Dion axle.

- I wish I could have a look in Shepherd's archive since he mentions 312 and 316 pictures in his possession in 1951. If anybody has a clue, I'm still researching on those cars.
;)

#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 17:41

THere was a brief discussioon about this some months ago.

http://www.atlasf1.c...&highlight=tipo

#4 fines

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 19:54

I have also seen the designations "158B" (Coppa Ciano 1939), "158C" (Nations GP 1946), "158D" (Italian GP 1947) and "158M" (Italian GP 1950). Wasn't there a designation for the earlier 1950 races as well?

#5 David McKinney

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 20:12

This is one of those "grrrr!!" situations.
Somewhere, some time, I read that the factory - or maybe Scuderia Ferrari - did use the P3 designation back then - in 1933 if not 1932. But I've no idea where I read it. I hope someone can back me up!

#6 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 21:16

Posted Image
Sorry, no credits can be given to the artist, unknown to me.

#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 31 July 2001 - 21:42

The article on Alfa Romeo in Georgano's Encyclopaedia of Motor Sport includes the following (my italics):

"... in 1932 he [Jano] produced a true GP car in the immortal Tipo B Monoposto which almost immediately became known as the P3. "

This article is credited to Albert R Bochroch.:)

#8 Barry Lake

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Posted 01 August 2001 - 01:14

Regarding Bob Shepherd (known to his family and close friends as Rob Shepherd), I went to visit him once, in the late 1970s. He had some amazing material there, not so much in bulk, but in specialised areas. He had two great passions: Maroubra Speedway (near which his family lived) and grand prix racing cars.

He wasn't all that old then, no more than early-60s, I would guess and he looked OK. But he seemed to have lost interest in most things in life, which I thought was a tragedy. He died not all that long afterwards. His widow told me they discovered he had been addicted to APC powders (aspirin, paracetemol, c...??) for many years - decades in fact, which he had managed to keep secret from his family and most of the people he worked with. It hardened the main artery to his brain, which progressively suffered from lack of blood and oxygen supply, accounting for his "too tired to care" attitude when I met him.

I have forgotten for the moment what his job was, but it was something relatively mundane as I remember, and I think he worked at the one job for all or most of his working life. Outside of work, though, he was a sheer genius. He told me he had been to every Maroubra Speedway race meeting (as a young boy) and he had detailed results of the races, meticulously hand-written.

During my visit to his home, he told me he had "lost interest in grand prix racing when they went to independent front suspension on the cars". They were no longer, he said, 'real men's cars". I said, "That was in the early 1930s!" And he said, "Yes, that's right."

His drawings of grand prix cars were absolutely accurate, down to the exact number of rivets in each body panel. Yet he had never had an art lesson in his life; it was all self taught. He used many photographs from overseas magazines as his reference and cross-checked details from photo to photo, car to car before he did the drawings.

They ran as a series, monthly, in Australian Motor Sports magazine for many years through the 1950s, perhaps overlapping into the 1940s and 1960s, I don't quite remember off hand.

When he died, his collection was sold. I don't know what happened to his hand written results etc, nor his books, but I do know that Diana Davison, widow of four-times Australian GP winner Lex Davison, now married to Tony Gaze, bought the artwork and had it published in a book in 1993. Text is minimal, but accurate, by noted Australian motor racing historian Graham Howard.

They overestimated its potential and printed too many, which is good news for TNF members who might be interested, because it still is available.

I can't think why I never have recommended it before, particularly to Hans Etzrodt, because its title, "Racing Cars through the Years" does not suggest how good, nor how important a work it is.

If anyone wishes to buy it and can't find a copy, I think www.pitstop.net.au still has copies. Also Motor Books Australia at Cremorne in Sydney probably still has some. If all else fails, tell me, because Diana Gaze might also still has some spare copies.

#9 marion5drsn

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Posted 01 August 2001 - 15:31

The book Alfa Romeo Motori, a factory publication lists on page 40, TIPO B and then in parentheses (P3). Year of construction 1932-1935. 8 cylinders in line. Bore and stroke 65mm x 100mm. 2654 cubic centimeters. 215 HP at 5600 rpm. Yours, M. L. Anderson

#10 leegle

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Posted 02 August 2001 - 04:09

A friend of mine is a Bugatti nut and he showed me that the first of R. Shepherd's drawings in a 1946 issue of AMS was the Bill Thompson Bugatti. He showed me a couple of the drawings and they really were impressive and the second one was Phil Garlik's Alvis which was famous for its crash at Maroubra. I remember him telling me that there was an ad for the original drawings too in a recent magazine he subscribed to. Diana Gaze was trying to sell them. APC was Aspirin Phenacitin and Caffiene Barry.

#11 Barry Lake

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Posted 02 August 2001 - 04:33

Originally posted by leegle
APC was Aspirin Phenacitin and Caffiene Barry.


Thanks for the chemistry lesson. I never have been very knowledgeable about drugs - maybe I should get out more...

#12 leegle

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Posted 02 August 2001 - 05:07

Cast your mind back to the radio ads of the fifties if you are old enough.;)

#13 marion5drsn

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Posted 02 August 2001 - 21:41

OK I'm casting my mind back to ,"The Shadow', during the 1930s, but Why?

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 02 August 2001 - 22:06

Marion

Leegle was talking about APC in that post, not Tipo B.

#15 leegle

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 00:39

Marion you must be older than Barry.;)

#16 Barry Lake

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 02:57

Personally, I thought the Shadow raced in the 1970s... Must get Marion to tell us about the 1930s version. Was this a radio adaptation of The Phantom?

Here is a sample of Rob Shepherd's work, a GP Sunbeam:

Posted Image

#17 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 05:30

Is this picture the first ever posted by Barry?

#18 Barry Lake

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 06:30

Roger

No, it's a trick!

Some fellow by the name of Ron Ball or something similar sent me a URL to include in my post and, bingo! There it was.

Since you seem to have it sussed now, how about telling me how to do it. The method I was taught seemed too involved to be worthwhile. I don't have time for things that aren't straight forward.

#19 desmo

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 06:31

That's a stunning illustration.

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#20 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 13:26

Nice, but how about posting Shepherd's illustration of a Tipo B, just to keep on the topic?
;)

#21 marion5drsn

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Posted 03 August 2001 - 20:15

THE SHADOW LIVES! Marion L. Anderson born August 12 1926. The Shadow was first aired on radio in 1929 the first year of the Great Depression made popular in about 1937 when Orson Welles played the part for about a year. I don’t believe he advertised APC.

#22 leegle

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 16:13

Just a week shy of 75 years and Marion still remembers the radios shows of her childhood! Are you the oldest person posting on this forum Marion?;)

#23 marion5drsn

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Posted 04 August 2001 - 20:14

leegle ; thats what my wife tells me too. M.L. Anderson

#24 Barry Lake

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Posted 05 August 2001 - 02:01

While I still am trying to find the Rob Shepherd drawing of the Alfa Romeo Tipo B, can I say that my extensive "historical notes on anything and everything that I might some day need to know" tell me that The Shadow last aired on radio on 26 December 1954. Sorry, I can't tell you the exact date that it first aired.

Marion
I see that your name continues to confuse people, including "Ron Ball", who insists you are female. I seem to remember having read a very interesting profile on you. I thought it was in the Introductions thread, but haven't been able to find it.

Would you mind telling us again, something of your background. While you're at it, you might try to give us a reasonable excuse why you seem to have been inactive on TNF for some months until this recent return.

In the circumstances, we will not demand a note from your mother.

#25 Darren

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Posted 05 August 2001 - 03:29

I think Marion's erudition in advancing deliberations in the Technical Forum should be excuse enough, Barry. Let's try to weld nostalgia to the technical and ask Marion the following perennial Tipo B mysteries (other answers notwithstanding): why did Jano make the engine two blocks of four cylinders? Why did Jano adopt that peculiar split drive arrangment from the gearbox back? Was the Dubonnet front end really that good a solution in the later cars?

#26 marion5drsn

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Posted 05 August 2001 - 17:13

Darren: Dubonnet system; The arrangement was used I believe by one or more of the GM cars in the early 1930s. It was a miserable failure. If I remember correctly it was of the leading arm type and used on the front end. It a was a little infamous for its laided down position when it became a little old and the unsprung weight was in the ridiculous class. Leading arms in any mechanical application are not very successful. I have read somewhere that the splitting of the straight eight into a double four was to do two things to allow the engine power take off to put the gearbox and all to a more appropriate position. Remember this was at a time when the straight eight ruled! In spite of Cadillac and the Ford V-8.Also some people believed that this would get rid of some of the “moment problem” which is inherent in the firing orders of some straight eights. I may be wrong on this as I am going only on memory. Didn’t the 1954 Mercedes use a similar split eight? As I stated I am only going by memory on this, as my old books are in the shed outside and not easily researched! You may also want to read Nixon’s “Rivals about the Mercedes on page 26 about their reason for the power take off and it’s effect on the torsional vibrations in a straight eight. A fine book and one I can recommend. Yours M. L. Anderson

#27 desmo

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Posted 05 August 2001 - 20:22

I know, I know it's not a "P3"- but a fabulous drawing nevertheless. All due credit to "Ron."

Posted Image

#28 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 10:13

Desmo,
Thanks for the nice drawing of the P2 Alfa Romeo.

In regards of the origin of the term P3 I read the accounts of the following historians, all renowned Alfa experts, who explained the origin of the name ‘P3’.

Peter Hull in Cars in Profile, Profile Publ.,1973, states: “…and by 1933 it was being referred to as the P3 in a race program in Italy, and convenience and common usage soon conferred the name P3 upon it.”

Luigi Fusi in Alfa Romeo, All Cars From 1910, by emmeti gragica, 1978

Luigi Orsini and Franco Zagari in The Scuderia Ferrari, by Osprey Publ. 1981, wrote: “Although officially the new car was dubbed the Tipo B, logical successor to the Tipo A, the press came to call it the “P3”, as it rapidly achieved such immense success that they saw it as a successor to the great World Championship-winning P2 of 1924/25. This nickname was used more and more frequently, and it is interesting that this attitude of mind suggests that neither of the 8C Monza nor the Tipo A had been regarded as true Grand Prix cars….”

Peter Hull & Roy Slater in Alfa Romeo, a History, by Transport Bookman Publ., 1982 (1964) ..... (See Roger Clark's post, the third in this thread, with reference to a related thread and there you find Leif Snellman's answer.)

Griffith Borgeson in The Alfa Romeo Tradition, Haynes Publ. 1990, wrote: ….”From its victorious first appearance in the Italian GP at Monza in June 1932 the Tipo b was called the P3, in recognition of it being a worthy successor to the immortal P2.”

#29 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 17:18

Thanks Hans for your references, since I have been too busy to check those books myself.

Note that Borgeson is somewhat unlogical: from the first victory in Monza, the Tipo B should have been called... Monza2.:rolleyes:

And the P2 should have been "Lyon" :lol: , or better "Cremona" :lol: :lol: (see: http://www.fantastic...romeo/01033.htm )

:cool:

#30 karlcars

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Posted 12 August 2001 - 14:39

Just have to correct that remark about the Dubonnet suspension -- that its unsprung weight was in the 'ridiculous class'. It was ridiculous, all right -- ridiculously low. It had the absolute minimum of moving parts between the wheel and the chassis. It did, to be sure, have a substantial bulk mounted outboard of the kingpins, but this was sprung weight. I'm not saying that it was a great suspension for a racing car but high unsprung weight was not one of its defects.

#31 leegle

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Posted 13 August 2001 - 00:52

Does anyone have a diagram of this suspension? :confused: I used to have a Vauxhall with this type of front suspension and it caused me to want to know about how it worked on the Alfa but no photos I can find show it clearly.

#32 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 August 2001 - 05:12

leegle,
I received notification of a private message from you, but for unknown reasons it did not work out and I cannot read it. Try sending me an e-mail.

#33 Don Capps

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Posted 06 March 2002 - 14:06

Bringing this one back to the top for DCN.

#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 21:51

Here's the picture of the Sunbeam, which it seems was in temporary hosting:

Posted Image

#35 sandy

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 09:55

The probable reason why Barry Lake can't find a Bob Shepherd drawing of a Tipo B is that apparently Shepherd never produced one. I have a copy of a collection of his drawings "Racing Cars Through the Years", published by Turton & Armstrong in 1993 and although 100 racing cars are included, from a 1902 Panhard et Levassor up to a 1939 Mercedes Benz W163 there is no Tipo B (or P3). This is very odd, because he has drawings of other significant Alfa Romeos - the 1924 P2, the 1931 "dual engine" (as he puts it), the 1931 Monza, the 3.8 litre of 1936 and the 1938/39 Type 158.

Yet from the correspondence as above it appears that he was querying aspects of the Tipo B, so it was on his mind apparently. Was there a drawing in AMS that did not make it into the book? If so is there an original somewhere?

I have one of his original drawings of the 1906 Renault. What is the copyright position with this drawing? Can I make prints from my original to sell?

#36 Tony Matthews

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 10:09

Originally posted by sandy
What is the copyright position with this drawing? Can I make prints from my original to sell?


If you don't mind the risk of being hunted down and killed, Sandy!;)

#37 sandy

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 10:53

Blimey, that's off the agenda then.