50 years Autodelta: The Department of attack Alfa Romeo

1963 Carlo Chiti founded the company Autodelta, which quickly became the sports department of Alfa Romeo. motor Klassik celebrates the anniversary with an exclusive test day at the test track of Balocco.

08/10/2013 Dirk Johae Powered by

On a former farm in a marshy area in Piedmont, an idyll in March sunshine: Starring a small man with a big cowboy hat. Each of its handles sits and follows a firmly ingrained ritual.

Then he grabs his big bag and disappears behind a gray barn. A short time later he comes out again, booted and spurred in fireproof overalls. Like a victory certain Cowboy proceeds Arturo Merzario his red racer - as in 1974, when the Milan from landowners in Maranello moved to Alfa Romeo and a leading role in Chitis Clan took over, that Luparello, who was in 1961 on edge from the Prancing Horse fallen.

1963 in Udine the story of Autodelta began

As Matra, as the year before Ferrari already abbog in the race for the World Championship of sports prototypes in the pits, was free outside in the runway prairie the way for Alfa Romeo: The twelve-T33 Autodelta had to boss and designer Chiti finally race horse with overall winner qualities in his Scuderia and was 1975 world champion brands. That was the biggest success in the history of Autodelta, which began in March 1963rd At that time Chiti and Ludovico Chizzola founded their business in Udine. The first task of the new company was the tuning of the four-cylinder for the new Tubolare Zagato and the construction of this Gran Turismo Alfa Romeo.

To be approved as a GT, it was mandatory to build 100 cars within 12 months. So a good deal for the young company and the birth of a sensational car that never was able to prove his qualities lack of competition law. Now the TZ from the factory museum with grim brabbelndem four-cylinder is ready to point to the Alfa-Mista-piste in the company test track in Balocco his character. The aerodynamically aluminum body with 1.20 meters in height requires a cautious start. The legs slide into the dark shaft under the instrument panel in front of the pedals, to the right of the powerful transmission tunnel limits the driver's seat. With clutch pedal fully depressed I put the car in gear the fully synchronized transmission - off we go out on the test track.

Alfa Romeo TZ with new distance record at Le Mans

The TZ presents itself at its best. Thanks to its light weight, the chassis with independent suspension and 15-inch wheels with Dunlop racing tires, the built for racing GT can conduct playfully across the track. The engine is the familiar four-cylinder with dual overhead camshafts, in versions for the Giulia TI or the Giulia SS he makes 112 hp. Carlo Chiti spendierte other piston, the larger valves and brought the inclined in the installed unit so TZ 150 PS in competition trim.

Thanks to the windschlüpfigen body of TZ at the 24-hour hour race at Le Mans with a top speed of 246 km / h measured. Autodelta test driver Roberto Bussinello and teammate Bruno Deserti win the class with a new distance record, which was set up in 1958 by a Porsche team.

Even during the season Autodelta moves to Settimo Milanese, closer to the headquarters of Alfa Romeo. but Chitis partners Chizzola remains in Udine, which is the large and portly engineer sole ruler of Autodelta. He already has a new job from his single customer: Autodelta is to develop a competitive touring car from the Giulia Sprint GT.

Giulia Sprint GTA excited with 170 hp Auto Motor und Sport

1965 provided with an aluminum body GTA is ready: The A in the model name stands for ALLEGGERITA, thus "easier". To 200 kg Autodelta slims the two-door coupe from - a temporarily built version with an aluminum underbody, but turns out to be too soft, is even easier. In addition, the four-cylinder receives a Doppelzündanlage, the tickle 170 PS in the Competizione version of the 1.6-liter engine.

excited Even the standard version of GTA: "It can not be denied that Alfa Romeo is capable of producing these driving skills irritation in a pure culture than almost any other car factory in the world," writes Autotester Reinhard Seifert 1965 in auto, motor und sport. On the race tracks the competition from 1966 to its knees, for the title in the European Touring Car Championship goes twice in a row to Settimo Milanese, and the GTAm follows from 1969, the next title from the hunters Chiti clan.

For the reputation of Alfa Romeo motor sport was vital

The success can Autodelta with former Ferrari engineer Carlo Chiti at the top of the new spearhead of Alfa Romeo in motorsport are. The last great success with the Formula 1 titles for Dr. Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio are at this time already more than ten years ago: "The sport is vital for the reputation of the house Alfa Romeo," Seifert says at the beginning of his test report on the Alfa Romeo GTA. To this reputation to burnish this precious image again, the Milanese car company founded in 1910, ensures the specialist auto Delta and the company buys in Settimo Milanese 1966th

The parent company itself must operate as a state enterprise not Motorsport, with its allies Autodelta but very comfortable. This "state within a state" as Yörn Pugmeister 1978 his company portrait sports car overwrites, works on the wave of success with the powerful touring car models already on a real race car: the Tipo 33. In 1967, the sports car with the two-liter V8 is used for the first time, but not until two years later introduced sports prototype with three-liter engine opened Alfa again chances of overall victory in a world Cup.

It then takes but four years until Chitis strategy is working: On April 4, 1971, the works driver Henri Pescarolo and Andrea de Adamich care at Brands Hatch with the further developed Tipo 33/3 for the first overall victory of Alfa Romeo in the manufacturers' world championship.

Close fight with Ferrari

Two more overall victories, including the hugely prestigious for an Italian brand success at the Targa Florio by Nino Vaccarella and Toine Hezemans and their teammates de Adamich and Gijs van Lennep, Autodelta bring into second place in the overall standings - ahead of Ferrari. But the arch-rival from Maranello turns the tables with the new open sports prototype 312 P and the following year champion, Alfa Romeo is back in second place.

To bring the world title to Piedmont, Autodelta now also developed a twelve-cylinder three-liter displacement. 1974 also Arturo Merzario joins Autodelta and starts right after his last race with the tests. "I am the car but not down here in Balacco for the first time, but at Vallelunga near Rome," said Milan, who has become a few days before 70 years of age remembers. "The T33 has impressed me is - a real race car." The very first race in 1974 in Monza are Merzario and his American team-mate Mario Andretti at the top of the podium. "I drove the start, and Andretti has the car to the finish," Merzario still told in awe.

Behind us the mechanics of the work of the museum Alfa Romeo warm up the twelve-cylinder on the grounds of Balocco in front of the restored Autodelta hall. Merzario is impatient, always turns back to his Alfa from 1975, but still tells quickly what had Carlo Chiti actually kind of guy: "He was for us like a father figure to the security he was very concerned and very careful, broke a test drive from rather have it too wet the track or the weather was too foggy. "Merzarios voice is melancholy.

The T33 with twelve cylinders conjures up the rays in the face

"The results have the more harm, but also because some fellow drivers Chitis have exploited caution," says Merzario - and has climbed to the sweeping rear wing, which he won in 1975 four world championship races and one already in the T33 / TT / 12 has a major share in the first world title for Alfa Romeo by the 1951st The casual laps on the test track and the roar of 500 hp mid-engine conjure up the rays of a champion in the face of Merzario.

In 1977, the title successfully in the World Sportscar Championship, the little Italian belongs again to the first team of Carlo Chiti. And to this day the Alfa jockey has with long, curly hair and cowboy hat as a badge an intimate relationship - for the day in Balocco waives a fee of his former employer.

With the Formula 1 of the beginning is the end

As Merzario in the last 640-hp turbo-T33 is fighting for championship points, Chiti has already been invested in the middle of his new Formula 1 adventure - initially as an engine supplier for Brabham in 1979 even with a car. The big success remains off 1986 deadline: With the Formula 1 as well with Carlo Chiti at Alfa after Fiat took over the traditional brand. "Chiti was never allowed to set foot in the work", Merzario says wistfully.