This car won the World Championship in 1975 and 1977. It is the ultimate evolution of the famous Tipo 33 series.
The first Tipo-33 cars were 2-liter V8’s, and the chassis progressed from a tubular form to the later monocoque configuration. These cars were moderately successful coming in 2nd place in the 1968 and 1969 World Championship races, but in 1973 with a new formula, the 3-liter flat 12-cylinder engine was born.
By February 1975, they decided that Alfa Romeo Autodelta would run a team for the world champion of makes. They could not count on governmental support because racing was so expensive. Fortunately, they could get sponsorship from the Willi Kauhsen team, who competed in the German-based sports car races and already had experience with the Tipo 33. By transferring the racing management to the German racing team, Alfa Romeo could carry the banner for Italy without taxing the already concerned state of international racing in Italian politics. Even though it was a Kauhsen team, Autodelta mechanics and drivers, still under the direction of Carlo Chiti, were responsible for the bread and butter of the program.
In 1975, with Campari sponsorship and the Willi Kauhsen racing organization, they finally won the world championship series in overwhelming fashion. Our car was one of this series piloted by Arturo Merzario and Lafitte. With an even more powerful car, the Tipo-33C12, they again won the World Championship in 1977, their last hurrah with racing sports cars. Championship series regulations changed and Alfa never relived the past glories. It ran in 1975 at the Targa Florio, by then a non-championship event.
Later on, Derek Bell was to comment that Willi Kauhsen did an excellent job, being supported by Autodelta, to organize the somewhat looseness of the Alfa team. Bell himself did well, and led the program with four world-championship races, and the Le Mans.
The season progressed well for the penultimate iteration of the 33. Progressing from the original T33 chassis of 1967, through the T33/2, the T33/3, the T33/TT/3 to the T33TT/12, there was an evolutionary technical advantage in these underrated cars. The final version, the very rare SC model, carried the banner for Alfa into 1977, but the Halcyon year of discovery was 1975.
This car was first seen by me at the August 22, 1993 Christie’s auction in Monterey. It presented with certification from Carlo Chiti himself. He reported it to be the car which Arturo Merzario and Jacques Lafitte and Rolf Stommelen drove during the World Championship season. Ambrosia Motors rebuilt it under the direction of Gambi Marzello and Vittoria Berno, both ex-Autodelta employees, in a no expense spared fashion bringing it to excellent condition, with full mechanical racing specifications.
A notarized letter from Carlo Chiti reads. “The undersigned, Mr. Carlo Chiti, General Director of Motoria Moderni Srl of Novara and from 1964 to 1984 Director General and Administrator of Autodelta SPA of Settimo Milanese, the Association of the Alfa Romeo SPA Group of Milan and the Association of New Development and Construction of Alfa Romeo Sporting Activities. The race car, Type Sport Prototype 33 TT 12 115.12.012 used to belong to Autodelta SPA. This car was specifically for Autodelta SPA which in 1974-1975 took part in Prtotipi del Campionato del Mondo Marche with official drivers from Autodelta SPA.”
Ambrosia Moto officers Marcello Berno certified in writing as well stated they were former Autodelta employees and that they restored the car completely, from chassis up, completing the work on September 26, 1988.
Convinced that this was the original thing, I examined the car and had a nice discussion with Brian Redman who had gone over it and pronounced it in top shape, with a strong recommendation we buy it. Christie’s representative, David Gooding, was there to affirm the car’s quality, and it became clear this car should represent the collection’s post-war homage to Alfa’s sterling sports racing history.