The very heart of race car fabrication are the artisans who mold and shape raw materials with their bare hands ...transforming metal into valuable and highly unique works of art. All in a days work for these exceptionally skilled individuals.
Part Two of "Inside the Walls" goes to the very core of Autodelta...featuring those men I choose to term... "...the true Descendants of the Italian Renaissance"..." creating some of the most emotionally captivating and fastest moving pieces of art we as mere mortals have ever seen.
The photographs you are about to see are among my most highly treasured.... recapturing the hours, days and weeks spent on the shop floor with these men, entrusted by Ing. Chiti to execute with exactitude his highest aspirations.
And that they did.
In fact this entire website series "Inside the Walls" has been dedicated to those men and their legacy.
Beginning the process of constructing the T-33 is the physical transfer of the tubular chassis fabricated by next door neighbor Aletti and parting a leather curtain between the wall of the two adjoining firms and carrying the chassis through the wall to the Autodelta carrozzeria area. I had only seen it done once and was not in a position at that moment to get my camera and record the actual birth of the 105.33 chassis...much like, perhaps the fumbling that goes on in advance of the birth of a child.
I simply wasn't ready. I missed it.
Everything else you will see was captured exactly as it occurred about 46 years ago.
Let's continue our stroll through theheritage, tradition and competition history of Alfa Rome
....."Racing Since 1911"......
Several early T-33/TT 12 cylinder chassis are being given their secret in-house designed, fabricated and wind tunnel tested body panels, electrical wiring and hydraulic circuits. The tubular sections were used to convey engine oil and coolant the entire length of the chassis in addition to providing optimum strength, the highest torsional rigidity and accident protection possible for the driver.
During later testing at the Alfa Romeo test track at Balocco of the new ‘dodici’ cylinder, Teodoro Zeccoli, an early test driver for Ing. Chiti hired away from Zeccoli’s ATS and Abarth days in 1963...lost braking force at the long straight in one of these chassis' and survived a head-on impact with an earthen wall at an estimated 100 MPH... suffering 'only' the loss of his front teeth and leg and ankle injuries.
Autodelta and Carlo Chiti continued over the years to use this tubular design solution in spite of a severe weight penalty…. particularly to reduce the loss of lives that had tragically and emotionally affected him as a designer and later as the Directore Generale of Autodelta.
He co-invented and earned worldwide patent protection with Ing. Garbarino of Autodelta for the use and combination of the chemical additive "Fluobrene" and a rubber cube structured fuel cell that proved to successfully neutralize the possibility of racing vehicle fires...suspending the ignition of spark and fuel at the point of impact... and the subsequent high probability of the loss of life.
Offering this significant development to all of his competitors and to the Formula One Constructors without charge, no racing team chose to adopt it due to the weight penalty it created. In a technical paper presented to the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit by Alfa Romeo, USA engineer Don Black, Ing. Carlo Chiti wrote that there was a extra 142 pound penalty for every 26 gallons of fuel protected from explosion.
In the end he was forced to abandon his own patented fuel cell but continued to lobby for its regulated and uniformly consistent use across the board use....without charge to anyone worldwide.
The bearded fellow on the left is laying up fibreglass resin onto the green "negative" molds developed in house to protect the release of new aerodynamic design information until the last possible moment. A ex-Sebring front body panel from 1971 is visible on the left.
Don Black, Technical Director of Alfa Romeo and collaborator with Carlo Chiti on a multitude of projects over the decades adds some further clarification to the Chiti proposal to remove fire from the danger of motor racing.
"It was I who prepared the white paper on the safety cell fuel tank on behalf of Chiti. I also made the presentation at the SAE Int’l Conference at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. Montedison was the actual creator of “Fluobrene”. The FIA was interested in the concept, but would not change the rules to require such a system because the car constructors “union” would not support such a decision by FIA as the system was extremely heavy due to the high specific gravity of the Fluobrene."
"The inner cells contained the fuel ( gasoline) and the outer or intermingled cells contended the Fluobrene. If you carried say only 20 gals of gasoline (120lbs) you needed to carry 20 gals of Fluobrene (240lbs). The concept was NOT to carry an extinguishing agent, but rather an inerting liquid which when mixed with gasoline during a crash, rendered the mixture non combustible. It was a prevention concept of avoiding the cause, and not treating the effect."
"A dramatic demo was to fill the tank with both liquids, and then fire a couple of 50 cal tracer or incendiary rounds into the tank, resulting in the inert mixture pour out of the bullet holes. You could hear the silence of the observers."
"Again, too heavy."
The safety fuel cell was one of the most important safety developments in automotive racing; Chiti’s efforts with Fluobrene led the way in this significant advancement.
Thanks to Don Black and Peter DiMatteo, we are able to present the original papers:
"Automotive Fuel Fed Fire-a Preventative Approach" February 1977
Just like the then-present day 116.33 Alfetta sedan, extensive use of high-strength pop-rivets were used throughout the chassis.
Take careful note of the end of the chassis tubing near where the drivers' left foot would someday be...you are seeing the opening of one of the TT (titanium tubular) chassis ends (threaded nut) where engine oil will eventually flow back from the nose-mounted oil cooler to the rear-mounted engine.
Enrico, pictured here, was exclusively tasked with the assembly of all chassis electricals on the T-33 series.
The above two photographs inserted here for instructional purposes were captured by our Contributing Editor and Data / Image Historian Claudy Schmitz in 2019 of this chassis...reputed to be the first titanium tubulare three litre chassis constructed by Autodelta late in 1971.
Mr. Bordoni, the Autodelta model maker is working on the T33/3 chassis aerodynamics being prepared for the 1972 LeMans 24 Hours of Endurance race. He will be affixing perhaps fifty tiny white strings to the skin of his model and observing the model in his wind tunnel.... out of view in these photographs.
The overall design of this car had been adapted from an on-going original design by Ing. Chiti and is being "tweeked" by his newly hired French designer Ing. Michele Tetu`who was brought on board to design the new "Batmobile" 33TT12.
In the rear you see Mr. Bordoni's office...notice earlier models from his own archival 'favorites' collection. In the foreground you see past body panel sections...some will serve as 'donor' panels to be used as a 'point of departure' for new aerodynamic experiments to be tried out within the secret confines of the Alfa Romeo testing facility in Balocco, some will be used for future restoration projects on retired chassis...none will ever be used officially by Autodelta again (with one very notable exception to be seen by you, the interested reader in upcoming Part Three ).
Mr. Bordini and Ing. Tetu` are shown....both of whom collaborated with noted aerodynamic specialist Ing. Carlo Chiti on the "Batmobile" 33TT12 which at this stage of development is highly secret. Tetu` is best known for his work designing the Porsche 917 and some earlier Matra racing cars.
Secrecy dictated that all body panels be designed, tested and final-fabricated within the compound's high walls to prevent the early exposure of emerging T-33 aerodymamic concepts. You might recall that Carlo Chiti had joined the experimental department of Alfa Romeo in 1952 as an aeronautical engineer from the University of Pisa, collaborating with Ing. Satta to develop the Disco Volante.
Ing. Chiti was personally responsible for the periscope intake behind the driver for Grand Prix cars. He moved in 1957 to Ferrari where he was credited with the development of the mid-engined race car and the rear spoiler, a design which led directly to the use of the rear wing, according to a distinguished Alfa historian, the late Pat Braden.
Later in the assembly process, a tubular chassis being prepared for testing is beginning to sport new handmade, made to measure fiberglass clothes! One of the workers is jokingly protraying the placement of a Junior Z vent panel as meant to fit somewhere on the T-33.
'Jokesters' such as my friend here are using humor to relieve the unrelenting pressure placed upon them and the entire Autodelta team to eventually capture the World Championship for Makes title.
Another view of the carrozzeria area with a visiting experimental Junior Z receiving some bodywork to complement it's rear transverse-mounted four cylinder engine. In the immediate foreground you see a form for laying up fiberglass body components and the very first 12 cylinder TT chassis partially completed which will eventually find it's way onto the starting grid after a year or so of relentless testing.
Thanks to Alfa Romeo enthusiast Olaf Roeten we learn that the Junior Z pictured here is the "Periscopia". Only one was made and it lives in the secluded Museo Storico. According to Olaf, the car has Alfetta suspension setup front and rear with widened track and wheelbase. It eventually had a twin plug head (normal 1750 shown here) with it's exhaust system on the right side instead of the left side one would expect.
The cut out on the rear bumper is there to purge hot air from the engine bay with engine air scoops positioned on the rear pillars. (See another photo here with my friend holding the Junior Z pillar air scoop). From what I was told at the time, the car suffered from differential/transmission problems and loud gear whine.
Left image: My best friend and the man who was solely responsible for the color "Alfa Red # 501" on every single T-33 ever built in the Autodelta factory: from 1968-1977...the Autodelta painter and part-time Autodelta long distance truck driver... Mr. Ermes Moscardo.
Right image: The senior most technician and "perhaps" the man most responsible for leading the race preparation team...and perhaps the hardest working man among extremely hard working men at Autodelta... a 'lifer' with Ing. Chiti and team...Mr. Giuliano Luppi.
The men of the engine assembly department. Every single engine you ever saw or heard in a V-8 or twelve cylinder T-33 was perfectly and painstakingly built by these gentlemen. Friendly, highly dedicated, extremely hard-working, energetic, a tad naughty and playful.
The group was divided among those building cylinder heads (48 valves per 12 cylinder engine) and the technicians completing the critical final assembly of all components.
My friend Renato shown here was a junior level employee, joining Autodelta as an apprentice and receiving a deferment from military service, I understood.
There were only a couple men serving as apprentices and in this case Renato was given the assignment over a number of years to perfect the art of cylinder head building....starting with a rough casting, porting, polishing and ultimately asembling them.
Shown is a V-8 cylinder head...four valves per cylinder.
"The Life Work of Carlo Chiti"
This is a twelve cylinder 2,995 cc 460 bph 4 valve aluminum normally-aspirated masterpiece. Seen here fully built and awaiting the completion of a new chassis to be introduced for it in 1973 ...seen elsewhere on this site in other photographs. In its 1975 form it won the 1975 World Championships for Makes.
The 1977 World Championship for Sports Cars saw Arturo Merzario, Vittorio Brambilla and Jean-Pierre Jarier win every race in the season with this engine in three litre form and with a smaller displacement twin turbo version. . at Salzburgring in 1977 the 2134 cc displacement version of this motor using two turbochargers each linked to a separate engine bank produced an internally documented 580 bhp in the SC12 Turbo sponsored by Fernet Tonic. New meaning for the term "TT".
The engine was later used in the Brabham-Alfa BT-45, BT-46 and the Alfa Romeo Formula One cars.
The last project for Motori Moderni and Ing. Chiti was supported by Subaru Fuji Heavy Industries to provide an Formula 1 engine. Following the termination of the F1 project Chiti, assisted by Don Black the powerplant was adapted into a supercharged version for world class offshore racing.
The 2993 cc 440 bhp V-8 is also pictured at Sebring in 1971, a development of Ing. Chiti's original 2000 cc V-8 260 bhp from the period 1967-1968.
Differential and transmission 'wizard' Roberto Banfi always loved to get in front of the camera. And what a true wizard he was!
And this is where the flat 12 cylinder lives with its low profile allowing for the use of better aerodynamic solutions as opposed to the V-8 pictured below.
The quietest man and the most secluded area within Autodelta. This gentleman, with whom I had never shared a single word...working year in and year out in a form of solitary confinement.... fabricated exhaust manifolds for V-8s, 12 cylinders and of course GTA cars.
In the foreground you see a surplus 12 cylinder block and head used as an 'easel' for his elaborate work of art.
The transmission and differential assembly area for all cars. The door to the famous dynamometer room is seen on the left sporting the warning "Vietato Fumare" warning.
Behind the door the English dynamometer room where there were three dynos said to each be the same as the others..
That small door on the left side of the image with the circle and cross on it was known to others as the "Infirmaria" but was known to me as my 'bedroom' for a short period of time in 1972.
This is the end of Part Two of my series "Inside the Walls" of historical Autodelta.
Part Three has been posted with many more never before seen or publically released archival quality images "Inside the Walls".
You are 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", "Visitor Comments Page" and finally "Author's Notes."
Thanks for viewing and please feel free to contact me if you have questions that Imight answer... at Paralegal123@msn.com.
Lunchtime on Via Enrico Fermi.
The Alfetta chassis elaborated by Autodelta soon after series introduction.
In 1972 Alfa Romeo S.p.A. decided to develope the competitive potential of it's new Alfetta 116.33 chassis offered to the world's markets that same year. Two cars were built...a Le Mans blue model that was used at two ETCC events at Zandvoort and at Paul Ricard with Rolf Stommelen and Carlo Facetti....and the red one pictured here that was used as a test and development car.
The cars were built with a roll cage, engine size increased to 1900 c.c. based on a 1800 mono sleeve block with a narrow head and SPICA injection. Total weight was 950 kilograms in "ready to race" trim.
After the 1973 season the blue car went through a handful of owners whereas the red car continued to live "Inside the Walls" at Settimo Milanese and was used competitively throughout the 1975 season of various races.
The production of the Alfetta GT signalled the end of the Alfetta sedan's competitive life in 1975....but the sedans' success paved the way for the championships earned by the Alfetta GT.
"The next very interesting part of this series resumes here in the customer repair and Arese new vehicle intake area ... click on the tab marked Part Three"
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