The Alfa Romeo Fleron (1967) painting created by world renowned artist Vladimir Pajevic specially for "Autodelta Golden Years"
Welcome to the "Autodelta Golden Years" History Site
Over 77,500 "page views" since February 1, 2014.
Site last updated with new material October 4, 2017.
Visit our new German language edition prepared and introduced through the courtesy of "Club Klassischer Alfa-Romeo Fahrzeuge e V." www.club-klassischer-Alfa.de member and contributor to its "Alfissimo" magazine ...member of the "Stichting Club van Alfa Romeo Bezitters (SCARB), www.alfaclub.nl and member of the "Alfaclub" Deutschland....... my friend, Alfa Romeo historian, Contributing Editor and our German translator Ulrich Zensen!
Visit our new Italian language edition prepared through the courtesy of "Club Alfa Romeo Duetto",www.clubarduetto.itmember and long time Alfa Romeo historian...participant in dozens of motor sports activities across Italy and Europe including the Mille Miglia four times, great friend, Contributing Editor and Italian TranslatorRenzo Carbonaro!
We are very happy to add a new Contributing Editor, Claudy Schmitz, who brings a wealth of Autodelta information and a vast collection of Alfa Romeo images and materials. Claudy says "It isa wonderful world with Passion, Beauty, Power, Red, Italia, Racing, History, Stories, Technology, Human, Great men… A passion of every moment in my life." He is a member of the "Stichting Club van Alfa Romeo Bezitters (SCARB) since 2010. www.alfaclub.nl
I hope you enjoy this serialized glimpse into"Inside the Walls" and this truly remarkable Autodelta organization, looking inside the tremendous life of Alfa Romeo Director / Engineer Carlo Chiti and his team of highly skilled and dedicated men.
Contributors to this historical collection include Ing. Don Black, Vladimir Pajevic, ToineHezemans, Albert Ponno, Gian Luigi Picchi and many others who were closely associated with Autodelta and Ing. Carlo Chiti as drivers, engineers, associates, personal friends and other historical figures.
This is your Tradition and History to preserve. Pass it along.
Robert Little and "Scuderia Inside the Walls" Team
Contributing Editor and Italian Translator Renzo Carbonaro
Contributing Editor and German Translator Ulrich Zensen
Contributing Editor / Data Historian Claudy Schmitz
...it's actually quite an amazing and true story....
.....one that has not been known to have been repeated in the history of Italian motor racing. Looking back one finds it difficult to believe it actually happened as it did... A high school student from suburban Detroit volunteers for weekend service truck duties at his local sports car motor racing circuit, enters college in the Fall of 1968 and soon becomes co-founder of the Michigan State University Sports Car Club. In the Spring of 1970 he takes a week off from his sophomore year, co-drives 24 hours non-stop in a TZ-1 1600 with a friend and attends the 12 Hours of Sebring race as a Sports Car Club of America Pit Marshal... and asks to be assigned to the Autodelta team pit area.
Another trip to Sebring followed in 1971 tending to the Alfa area once again. By now a true Alfista, in February of 1972 he makes the very same long drive this time in a Fiat 124 Coupe to Daytona Beach, Florida and once again volunteers to be the Pit Marshal at the Alfa Romeo pit for the Daytona 6 Hours of Endurance. Taking a second week off his junior year the following month in 1972 for the 12 Hours of Sebring he volunteers this time to work directly for the Alfa Romeo team, is welcomed, provided informal sleeping quarters in the Autodelta-assigned garage, meals, camaraderie, dinner beverages... and devotes the rest of his time "guarding" T-33/3 cars and team equipment at night and handling vehicle cleaning and other domestic "gofer" duties that would be reasonably asked of a local fellow during practice sessions and the race. It was a dream come true. Before leaving the Sebring circuit that March he asks team driver extraordinaire Andrea de Adamich whether a tour of Autodelta might someday be possible to arrange. Within an hour or so de Adamich returns with an invitation issued by Ing. Chiti to come to Settimo Milanese whenever he chose and plan to stay as long as he liked. While this Autodelta series is clearly not about Robert, he finishes the story by saying that he arrived at Milan's Malpensa Airport a month later, lived inside the walled Autodelta compound infirmary for a short time and travelled parts of the 1972 and 1973 season with the team....working for free and being accorded the Experience of a Lifetime. The rest is history. Alfa Romeo, Inc. USA hired him in 1975 to be Alfa Romeo S.p.A.'s first Owner Relations Representative worldwide, and moved on to other exciting assignments over the next twenty years...Legal Liaison, Regional Sales and later District Service and Parts Manager and other duties including personally handling Autodelta when the team would compete in North America.
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As you enjoy the images please remember that these photos were captured on 35mm Kodacolor film using an excellent quality camera for the time period. They are excellent archival photographs but should not be compared to the digital images of the present day.
Via Enrico Fermi 7, Settimo Milanese
Headquarters of Autodelta, S.p.A.
All stories must inevitably begin somewhere and this one opens with a view of the rural countryside chosen by Alfa Romeo S.p.A. for it’s walled compound located in what was at the time a farming community in Settimo Milanese in 1965...a distant suburb of Milano.
As many as about 200 people at the high point of Autodelta fortunes earned their livelihood engineering, fabricating, assembling, overhauling, testing and modifying engines, transmissions, chassis components for T-33 series, GTA and GTA Juniors, rally GTVs, Alfasud and Alfetta vehicles and Formula One cars in the 1970's and 1980's.
You'll observe Directore Generale Ingegnere Carlo Chiti's office windows on the left and the three white exhaust stacks emanating from his dynamometers just above the walled section. Just out of sight are two iron gates where all incoming and outgoing personnel and materiel would pass inspection, carefully screened by security guards who restricted passage to anyone carrying any type of photographic equipment.
The photographs you are about to see are the only images known to privately or publically exist of the inside of Autodelta taken since 1967 ....not even the factory or the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico has any images inside the high walls of the Autodelta factory.
My completely unfettered open access to photograph was a personal courtesy extended to me by Ing. Chiti for my service to Autodelta.
Feel free to leave your own comments or stories of your personal feelings about the site as presented.
Are you excited? Lets begin !!
The agrarian surroundings of Settimo Milanese as taken from the neighboring village of Baggio.
Via Enrico Fermi served as a busy passageway for local farmers tending their flocks while passing the employee parking lot of Autodelta in the 1960s and 1970s. The formal address of the top secret Autodelta factory was # 7 .
Years of political struggle in Italy between the Communist Party, Socialists, Democratic Libertarians and the strong labor unions movement caused labor strife throughout the country but did not seem to affect the production of Autodelta and it's relatively highly-paid workers...who would see freshly painted political slogans and 'manifesti' on the outer walls.
The Autodelta compound is shown to the right side of the small tubular fabrication shop "Aletti" visible on the extreme left.
Observe the dynomometer exhausts stacks to the center of the photograph and Ing. Chiti's office windows on the extreme left side.
The Main Hall
Notice the Le Mans tail section on #33 behind the new 116.00 series Alfetta Berlina.
Once inside the visitor appreciates the spacious aircraft hanger construction and the variety of chassis and construction years of the various cars. Some are set aside in subassemblies for eventual reconstruction/restoration and sale to museums, racing teams and wealthy patrons of the marque....a practiced industry method over the decades used to recover costs.
You will notice the first Alfetta chassis elaborated by Autodelta and an early aerodynamic 1972 LeMans test design car #33 parked directly behind it. T-33's from 1970 are stored on the lifts, including a 4 litre car that slinked around relatively unnoticed at various American circuits in the early 1970s. Later images to follow will show the ultimate development of those highly finned tail sections necessary for high speed stability on the Mulsanne straight at LeMans.
Behind and to the left of the vehicles is the tool and spare parts shop.
The 1968 "Daytona 2 litre is shown in the foreground undergoing restoration for the eventual sale abroad.
My temporary accommodations in the Infirmaria is shown at the extreme rear left of the scene with the employee cafeteria visible in the rear center. Each workday morning at noon a Colli wagen from Arese would drive in with a mouthwatering selection of fresh hot and cold food made in the central cucina there.
Beverages, breads and desserts were also available for the payment of a mensa coin...purchased at some point by each employee. I benefited from the generosity of the domestic staff who saved meals for my dinner and weekend meals.
Production Vehicles Area
The 'birthplace' of the Autodelta GTA series. Right here on this spot. In the right side over the partition is the cylinder head machining area.
The attentive observer will notice a few interesting GTA parts in the background....such as a 110 litre fuel tank... ;>)
The first elaborated Autodelta Montreal V-8 Spica Injected.
The GTA and GTA Jr. fabrication area was relatively small area with a single lift, a walk-down undercarriage workspace and one flat parking stall...occupied by what you may notice to be the ill-fated Bobcor Montreal being elaborated here for the first time. The chassis on the right has been completely stripped of all subassembies by Autodeltisti working in another area of the building normally reserved for Group 2 road and rally car repair and fabrication prior to the "body in white" being wheeled into the Main Hall.
You will tour that area in my Part Three to follow.
Constructing the World Famous 33TT12
The 33TT12 chassis in 1972...in it's basic form...was fabricated by independent tube-welding and sheet metal fabricator "Aletti" at its factory next door to Autodelta. Sharing a common wall with Autodelta, when a tubular frame was completed several men would merely peal away a large flap on the wall just out of sight on the left and carry the frame to this assembly point where it would stay for a month or more while fiberglass, electrical, hydraulic passages and other components would be installed.
The chassis would be moved once again to the main hall for final assembly of the engine/transmission and suspension.
The paint bake oven is visible in the background and to the far right a fiberglass tail section drying in its mold is in partial view.
These chassis' were to be the very first twelve cylinder cars produced by Autodelta.
The first series of T33 vehicles designed in-house at Portello by Ing. Satta and Ing. Busso in 1965 had employed an unusual "H" shaped tubular thick sheet metal frame designed to house a rubber bladder for the equal weight distribution of fuel. That initial vehicle sported a four cylinder GTZ engine soon to be replaced by a new Autodelta two liter V-8 that won its initial public test at the Fleron Belgian hill climb on March 12, 1967 in the capable hands of test-driver Teodoro Zeccoli.
By the end of the 1968 season Autodelta had built a total of 28 T33 cars, allowing for the homologation of the car as a Group 4 Sports car for the 1969 season...according to M.L. Twite in his book "The World's Racing Cars", 1970.
The tubular "H" frame evolved from that point forward to the design shown above.
Fuel was stored in an "H" - shaped rubber bladder packaged inside this chassis design.
This is the end of Part One of my series on historical "Golden Years of Autodelta".
Part Two and Part Three are open to view with dozens more never before seen or publically released archival quality images "Inside the Walls"...including close-in coverage from the 1972 Targa Florio...perhaps Ing. Carlo Chiti's darkest hour.
You are also cordially invited to select the page "Autodelta Assaults LeMans" for another look at that magical decade of Alfa Romeo racing. Also visit the section entitled "Carlo Chiti Remembered","Autodelta Drivers Speak","Tipo 105.33 Chronology" and "Visitor Comments Page"
Thanks for viewing and please feel free to contact me if you have questions that I might answer... time-permitting.... at Paralegal123@msn.com
Say "hello" to one of Ing. Chiti's little favorites..."Orbina" ...who shared the run of the factory landscape with her 'father' and perhaps 20-30 other animals from time to time over the years.
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