What were the symbolic engines of Alfa Romeo's 'Cuore Sportivo' in F1?
Copyright Robert Little 2021
After retiring from racing at the end of the victorious 1951 season, the series in which the 'Alfetta 159' powered Juan Manuel Fangio to win the world championship title, Alfa Romeo returned to the world of F1 in 1970 as the supplier of engines for several teams.
In 1970 Autodelta supplied 8-cylinder 90 ° V engines to Bruce McLaren for his 1970 McLaren Cars model M14D driven by Andrea de Adamich and, in 1971 for the March 711 of Nanni Galli and Ronnie Peterson.
The engine was derived from the 3-liter V-8 used by the 'Tipo 33-3' that participated in the World Championship for Makes series.
Years later, the Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone inquired with Ing. Carlo Chiti of Autodelta to establish a inter-team relationship utilizing Chiti's highly proven 12 cylinder 'boxer' engine, culminating in the introduction of "BT45" Brabham-Alfa Romeo Formula 1 car of 1976.
The desire to actively return to the top formula with its own chassis and engine materialized in 1979 when Alfa Romeo made its debut on the Formula 1 circuits with it's secretly designed and developed 'Tipo 177'.
This 177 was followed by the 100% Italian Alfa Romeo (Totale) 179 and Tipo 182, cars that were directly managed by Autodelta until the end of 1982, and made the hearts of fans beat faster.
From the 1983 season, wrong choices led to the definitive disappearance of the brand with the disastrous 1985 season.
But what were the symbolic engines of the Alfa Romeo 'Sporting Heart' that made fans of the brand dream until 1987?
Let's find out together.
Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 105.80'
Alfa Romeo returned to Formula 1 racing in 1970 thanks to the interest of President Luraghi who wanted to adopt the Autodelta 33-3 sport engine for the McLaren MD14.
It returned with a 90 ° V-engine with bore and stroke measurements of 86 and 64.4 mm (2993 cc), equipped with an aluminum crankcase and aluminum cylinder head, with 4 valves per cylinder and 2 camshafts per cylinder. and crankshaft which rotated on 5 main supports.
Robust and compact, the Milanese V-8 had a design quite similar to that of the Ford-Cosworth DFV (four cam/four valve). Powered by a Spica indirect mechanical injection system, the McLaren version delivered an initial power of 403 hp at 9,400 rpm, which was increased to 420-425 hp at 9,500 rpm.
In 1971, passing to the application onto the March 711 chassis, the Milanese V-8 was capable of delivering a power of about 440 hp at 10,000 rpm, a power that was similar to that delivered by the Cosworth engines of the day.
Courtesy of Roberto F. Motta.
Discussion and Commentary
The Autodelta V-8 engine supplied to both McLaren Cars and later to March in 1970 was the design of Ing. Carlo Chiti following the transfer/assignment of Alfa Romeo racing activities from the factory's Servizio Esperienze Speciali” department under Ing. Busso to the newly-formed "Autodelta S.p.A." company in 1965 and his original design.
There remains some conjecture about the true historical origin of this engine... with some historians and archive researchers claiming that the unfinished and unsorted V-8 of Ing. Busso was uncerimoniously given to Ing. Chiti who was ordered to produce a winning prototype chassis for the engine.
During the development of the project, different stories about the fatherhood of the project arose.
Two different versions of the birth of the project were born from the research contained in two important books.
In the autobiography by Ing. Busso: “Nel Cuore dell'Alfa”, speaking about the T-33 Ing. Busso wrote:
"...at the beginning of 1966, the prototype chassis was delivered to Autodelta along with the new incomplete 8 cylinder engine, designed and built in our workshop by Alfa Romeo S.p.A.. The new engine began to run on the test bench on the 25th of February 1965 and was installed in the car and testing on the 28th of May 1965 at Balocco".
On the other hand, in Oscar Orefici's book: “Carlo Chiti, Sinfonia ruggente”, Chiti remembers that at the beginning of 1965, Dr. Luraghi, during the famous working lunch, laid the foundation of the T-33 project and asked him (Chiti) to have the car in a reasonable time.
The supporters of Ing. Busso on one side and the supporters of Ing. Chiti on the other, quoting one of the two books, claimed the fatherhood of the project to either Ing. Busso or to Ing. Chiti.
For more information about this historical dispute, please turn to the "T-33 Chrono" section of this site.
Chiti's engine was this 90 ° V-engine with bore and stroke measurements of 86 and 64.4 mm (2,993 cc). It was equipped with an aluminum crankcase and aluminum cylinder heads with 4 valves per cylinder and 2 camshafts per cylinder. and a crankshaft which rotated on 5 main bearings.
Robust and compact, the Milanese V-8 had a design quite similar to that of the Ford-Cosworth DFV (four cam/four valve). Powered by a Spica indirect mechanical injection system, the version furnished to Bruce McLaren delivered an initial power of 403 hp at 9,400 rpm, which was soon increased to 420-425 hp at 9,500 rpm.
In 1971, passing to the application of the V-8 to the March 711 chassis, the Milanese V-8 was capable of delivering about 440 hp at 10,000 rpm, a power level that was similar to that delivered by the Cosworth V-8's.
Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 105-12'
Introduced to the motor racing world during the 1972 season, the Alfa Romeo 'boxer' was one of the most technically advanced engines of its time. It had an aluminum crankcase with chromed liners, bore of 77 and stroke of 53.6 mm 2,995 cc, crankshaft mounted on four main bearings, titanium connecting rods and a lubrication system with four recovery pumps.
The cylinder head was made of aluminum, with four valves per cylinder, angled at 35 °, double springs and cups for the double-axis control of the cams, moved by a train of gears. Its initial weight was 181 kg.
The engine used on the 33TT12 produced about 500 horsepower at 11,500 rpm.
After winning the 1975 World Championship for Makes series, the 'boxer' was mounted on the Brabham BT 45 to contest the 1976 season. It debuted in F1 producing 517 hp at 12,000 rpm and a torque of 33 kgm at 9,000 rpm.
Copyright Robert Little
Courtesy of Calvin Sallee
Courtesy of Calvin Sallee
Underneath and top views of the Alfa Romeo 12 cylinder as shown above in the 1978 Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT46B cars and others similiar to it.
This is actually an intricate model furnished for Autodelta Golden Years.com through the courtesy of master modeler Calvin Sallee of California who prepared, painted and meticulously assembled hundreds of parts from this Japanese kit. There are no such publically available images of the actual BT46B cars or engines with these educational views.
While it is not the policy of this website to show models of various racing cars...in this case there were no alternate choices to help you understand the complexity of the Brabham Alfa Romeo engineering processes.
Courtesy of Roberto F. Motta.
Over the years this Tipo 105.12 used two types of indirect injection, Lucas and Spica.
In 1977 it was lightened and its weight dropped to 175 kg while the power went up to 525 hp.
In 1978 it reached its maximum evolution and some examples reached powers of 535 and 540 HP based on the different configurations.
Powerful and reliable, over the years the "boxer" proved to be an excellent companion for the correct evolution of the "ground effects".
But at the moment of time when the designs of the other F1 manufactruers were evolving quickly and efficently, the relatively heavy and wide twelve cylinder engine of Autodelta was abandoned in favor of a newer Carlo Chiti design, the V-12 60 degree powerplant.
Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 1260'
The Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 1260' engine, i.e. 12 cylinders in 60 ° V, characterized by bore and stroke measurements of 77.0 and 53.60 mm (2,995 cc), exploited all of the experiences of the previous boxer which maintained some proprietary design details... such as the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons and cylinder heads configuations.
Designed by the Autodelta staff under the direction of Ing. Chiti and assembled and tested in just four and a half months, this engine, thanks to its narrow 60 ° V architecture, was better designed for its use on a 'Ground Effects' car. With its granite appearance, its structure was characterized by narrow and high cylinder banks, which gave it a sense of solidity and great power.
Each group of 3 cylinders were placed next to each other with an identical ignition interval. The separate exhaust manifolds merged with a Type 3 system into one and then flowed into a single exhaust.
Courtesy of Roberto F. Motta.
Courtesy Archives of Estate of Rey Paolini
Courtesy of Roberto F. Motta.
This 12-cylinder Alfa engine, shown above was also distinguished by its tremendous noise, typical of its very fractionated construction.
The V-60 engine made it possible to create internal wings that were 40 cm wider than the wings used with the flat 12-cylinder boxer when cornering, thanks to the lateral venturi. The hidden wings of a wider width gave a downforce estimated to exceed several hundred kilograms weighing on the wheels.
At the time of its track debut, which took place in Lauda's BT48 in December 1978, it had an output of 525 hp at 12,200 rpm.
Over the years the engine had always maintained a high standard of reliability and power, reaching, in its latest versions, 540 horsepower at 12,300 rpm and a torque of over 35 kgm at 9,000-9,500 rpm.
Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 890T'
This engine shown below, the only 8-cylinder in its category, was designed and built by Autodelta under the direction of the engineer Chiti.
Publically introduced on the occasion of the Italian Grand Prix at Imola in 1980, it made its competition debut at Monza later that season.
Featuring bore and stroke dimensions of 74mm and 43.5mm (1,497cc) it weighed 130kg. Entirely made of alloy, the engine exploited double overhead camshaft distribution with gear control, 4 valves per cylinder, crankshaft in forged nitrided steel that rotated on five main supports, connecting rods in titanium alloy, with bolts and nuts in steel.
The engine project was initially carried out using only components developed in Italy from Alfa Avio turbines to the mechanical-electronic injection system developed by Alfa Romeo.
Courtesy of Roberto F. Motta.
The Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 890T'
These Italian components were some of the main weaknesses of the engine, so much so that Alfa Romeo engineers had to turn to KKK for the turbines and Bosch for the fuel injection system.
But despite the changes, the race results did not change.
In the first tests, the engine, supercharged by two Avio turbines, were powered by a battery of 8 Weber carburetors, and proved capable of delivering 585 HP at 11,200 rpm, and of providing a torque of 39 kgm at 10,000 rpm. In the subsequent development, feeding was entrusted to a Spica injection system with mechanical distributor.
With the arrival in Alfa Romeo of Ing. Tonti, the engine, while maintaining the basic structural characteristics, was profoundly modified with the replacement of the cylinder block with integral liners and Nikasil treatment, new heads with different combustion chamber design and oversized valves, new pistons, new magnesium sump and carbon fiber valve covers.
A further step in the development was the adoption of electronic injection characterized by a three-parameter adjustment: engine speed, position of the throttle valve and boost pressure.
In the racing set-ups, with turbo pressures of the order of 2 atmospheres, the engine developed 600 horsepower at 10,500 rpm, with 7: 1 compression ratio and 45 kgm torque at 9,000 rpm. An extension of the supercharging pressure up to 2.3 atmospheres and an increase in the engine speed up to 11,500 rpm, made it possible to reach powers of 650-700 hp.
Among the other changes made was the adoption in 1984 of the power supply system with water injection, followed by the electronic control of the power supply, the variable advance and the fully electronic injection.
In its last racing season, this engine was credited with a power of 800 hp at 11,000 rpm, power that, unofficially, could rise to 820-840 hp at a maximum boost pressure between 2.6 and 2.9 bar.
Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 415/85'
In anticipation of providing the engines to Team Ligier, Ing. Tonti and his staff gave life to the 'Tipo 415/85' engine project, i.e. 4 cylinders, 1.5 liters and 1985 (year of construction).
At the start of development tests, the engine was filled by a Weber-Marelli electronic power supply system, the most advanced system of its time, and it was able of push out 830-850 hp at 10,500 rpm, in a race configuration.
In its latest evolution, the one destined to the Ligier for the 1987 season, the 'Tipo 415/87' was characterized by bore and stroke dimensions of 92.0 and 56.4 mm (1,499cc) and pushed out 900 hp at 10,500 rpm.
The engine had a compact structure (it weighed only 135 kg), it was made up of 1,364 pieces, and required 230 hours of work for its overhaul, compared to the 325 hours required for the rebuilding of the previous V-8.
After a long series of dyno tests, the engine was mounted on a Euroracing chassis and tested on the track by the Ligier drivers. During some tests at Imola, Arnoux made some highly questionable claims on the working capacity of the 'Alfa Romeo' team.
The response of the new Alfa Romeo management, which in the meantime had passed to the FIAT group, was immediate and equally harsh: on the eve of the 1987 season, the collaboration relationship with the transalpine team was deleted and the project was stopped.
It was a real shame if one considers that the engine had proved to have displayed excellent qualities and the development on the track had just begun.
With the 415 / 85T project frozen, the company's investments were diverted in favor of a new engine, the 'Tipo 1035' V-10 with a V of 72° and 3.5 liters of displacement.
Courtesy Archives of Estate of Rey Paolini
The Alfa Romeo 'Tipo 415/85T' 1500 Turbo
Commentary by Senior Heritage Editor Vladimir Pajevic:
" 415 / 85T "
The engine that closes the construction and production cycle of engines destined for racing, of Alfa Romeo as an indigenous factory, has gone down in history... under the acronym 415 / 85T.
It was the year 1987, and almost with a touch of timid shame, the house in Portello first and then in Arese, now firmly owned by the FIAT group, closed a chapter that, with mixed fortunes, lasted 76 years studded with immense glory and some short period less fortunate.
Fiat, already in possession of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lancia, had precise ideas where and how to invest in the sports car and the place of Alfa Romeo, given the presence of the giant from Maranello in the maximum categories, and of the Lancia engaged in the prototypes and rally, was relegated to touring racing (now devoid of the charm of the past), and supplier of engines also for third parties.
However, this soon forgotten engine had its roots in the history of the brand and its "armed wing", the Autodelta which was born in 1963 and since 1966 was the official Alfa Romeo racing department.
The small factory, by the will of the IRI technocrats (state structure that owned the factory) closed its doors in 1984 and its Deus ex machina, brilliant Tuscan engineer, Carlo Chiti, was already ousted and removed from the environment that ran the racing business. Everything that Ing. Chiti, a volcanic technician, and tireless explorer of new routes had created, remained in the now abandoned drawers in Settimo Milanese (headquarters of Autodelta), since the headquarters of the racing department had now moved to Senago and operated commanded by Paolo Pavanello and its Eurocacing.
Giovanni (Gianni) Tonti, with his mustaches and his admirable technical knowledge, author of the miracles with Lancia LC1 and LC2 was brought at Alfa Romeo to create the conditions for the rebirth of factory in racing business, and taken in place of Chiti.
In truth, the idea of a 4-cylinder engine, supercharged and suitable for use in F1, was born in Chiti's mind, already in 1983, given the not so lucky debut of the V-8 'Tipo 890T', which did not do much in F1, and this project is traceable to the sporadic exchange of notes between Chiti and his team of designers.
Alfa Romeo with the tradition of using the 4-cylinder twin-shaft engine, had enormous experience with the concept of 4-cylinder in-line engines, and this was the logical way. However, with Chiti's departure, everything was over in the phase of the first steps, among the enormous volume of projects to be carried out, and it was Tonti, a man of good intuition who came up with the plans and carried out the development of this engine.
Strengthened by his experience with the LC1 Beta Montecarlo, Gianni had clear ideas and in Chiti's initial plans, he saw good potential to be exploited. Throughout his professional life, Tonti, man of Abarth and later Lancia, had to deal with 4-cylinder engines, and his orientation towards this solution was congenital. There were many reasons for such an engine: Simplicity of construction, greater strength and resistance of the unit, lightness, fewer parts to be built and a smaller footprint compared to more fractional engines.
Gianni Tonti's project started with a radical redesign and "his" engine involved an electronic injection by Bosch, with two injectors per cylinder, an unprecedented solution of the "barrel" engine block, which increased the rigidity, sealing of the head with rings that responded to the need to deal with the pressure and temperatures generated by the turbines (there were two of smaller dimensions), but did not affect the weight of the unit and, also, he practised an unprecedented solution (for one of the two versions produced), to apply for each exhaust valve its own exhaust manifold (the other had four pipes crossed with the turbines, serving two cylinders with each turbine, a solution already seen on the LC1 Beta Montecarlo).
The number of components was halved which facilitated the overhaul, and the engine made, demonstrated in first tests the solid power of 830-850 HP, at 10,500 rpm. The weight was also contained and the engine with its 122 kg was lighter than the 890T. Time was running out and development accelerated.
On June 30, 1985, the engine carried out the first bench tests and on the 16th of August it was installed on the “muletto” and went through the first tests in Balocco. Meanwhile, the search for a partner for future use continued, and at the beginning of 1986 (after having tested the possibility with Williams), the Alfa Romeo management signed a three-year contract starting in 1987 with the French Ligier, which was left without the support of Renault.
The abolition of the turbo fuel systems was already in sight (final elimination in 1989) which meant that the competitive life of the 415 / 85T was already determined for only two years, basically too few to obtain results and not able to justify investments of a company in deep financial crisis.
But the decisions were already made, and the three-year contract had to be respected. The goal was to redeem the factory, after disastrous results of the previous period, and above all to present Alfa Romeo as a reliable supplier for racing engines.
The Ligier JS29, destined to house the 415 / 85T engine, was ready and the first tests established for inauguration at the Le Castellet track. But bad luck did not leave the Biscione house, and in a long series of repeated failures, breaks and problems that saw the JS more frequently flooding the track with oil or remaining stationary for some (even trivial) breaks. That put the nervous system of a good driver like René Arnoux in serious crisis. He finally exploded and gave an poisoned interview where he dismissed the 415 / 85T engine and the assistance of the Milanese factory as very inadequate behavior for a racing partner.
The management of Alfa Romeo jumped at the opportunity to get out of a deal that was by now too counterproductive, and as an offended prima donna, unilaterally severed the contract, leaving Guy Ligier stranded.
For Gianni Tonti, that decision, pacefuly resolved with a pact signed at the level of compensation with mediation of FIAT for Ligier's access to the BMW Megatron engine (an excellent engine) and perhaps something more, given the importance of Guy Ligier in the French media , took on the contours of the already known story of his predecessor Carlo Chiti.
It was the premature end of a dream that had begun four years earlier, without giving the good technicians the opportunity to fully realize his ideas. The same situation had also happened to Chiti a few years earlier.
It remains that the 415 / 85T engine, which bears his signature, has gone down in history as the last engine, designed and produced in the Alfa Romeo environment, before the factory lost its autonomy, becoming in fact only a part of the reign of FIAT.
However, if Divine justice exists... it certainly lives in the fact that Luraghi, Satta, Busso, Chiti (also Tonti) will be remembered forever as brave men who had been able to turn their dreams into reality, while the names of the many bureaucrats (who alas have had the decision-making power) have fallen into oblivion.
Alfa Romeo after 1986 will never again be the factory that animated the imagination of Italians (and others) and the name Autodelta is the one destined to be associated with red racing cars. Who still remembers Euroracing ...?
Courtesy Archives of Estate of Rey Paolini
The Ligier Alfa Romeo 4 cylinder 1500 Turbo
Alfa Romeo Type 1035 V-10
Aware of the future change in regulations which provided for the introduction of 3.5-liter naturally aspirated engines in F1 from 1989, the Alfa Romeo management decided to build a 72 ° V-shaped 10-cylinder.
The project officially kicked off in November 1985: the engine was designed and built under the management of Ing. Tonti.
The Alfa Romeo 1035 (10-cylinder-3.5 liter) engine was the first 10-cylinder in the history of modern F1 (Honda would later present a dummy of the engine just a month after the Italian V-10 was made and Renault making its V -10. a year later).
This V-10 featured bore and stroke measurements of 88.0 and 55.5mm (3495cc). It had an aluminum alloy engine block, titanium connecting rods and oil jet cooled pistons (with two segments)
Initially, the heads were of the four-valve-per-cylinder type but were then replaced with new five-valve-per-cylinder heads. The valves were made of titanium, activated by 4 camshafts.
The engine was tested for the first time on 1 July 1986.
In its last version, the engine was capable of delivering 620 hp at 13,300 rpm with a maximum torque of 39 kgm at 9,500 rpm.
It was first fitted to the 164 Pro-car and then to the science fiction and wonderful Group C SE048.
Both cars would never be used in a race and in particular ...in the SE048... it would never make a single lap of a track.
Courtesy of Centro Documentazione Alfa Romeo, Arese
Shown here is Ing. Gianni Tonti with his V-10 3.5 liter 'Tipo 1035' engine in development.
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