photo (4) Col Goldie, Winton, Benalla, Victoria, Australia late 1970’s (unattributed)

Australian Sportscar Championship, the ‘Endeavour Cup’, Phillip Island 1975…

One of the stranger public relations exercises in 1975 was Alfa Romeo Australia’s entry of a motor-show circuit-Queen in the Australian Sports Car Championship.

The one race Endeavour Cup, 30 laps, 143km held at Phillip Island on 30 November attracted a strong field of 40 or so Group A or Can-Am type open sportscars, Production Sports and Clubman cars.

Elfin’s Garrie Cooper built a new car to contest sportscar racing in 1974, his MS7 Repco was powered by one of his F5000 Repco Holden engines, using all of the experience Ansett Team Elfin had gained in running 5-litre single-seater cars since 1971. The Elfin would offer the Alfa’s major competition.

Tipo 33/3 ‘75080-005’ Coupe…

The superb looking Alfa Tipo 33/3 had been on the show circuit for some years, including an appearance at the Melbourne Motor Show in early 1975.

Alfa’s Tipo 33 in various forms was Autodelta’s entry in the World Sports Car Championship or Championship of Makes for over ten years with Alfa winning the championship in 1975 and 1977 using flat-12, circa 500-530bhp 33TT12 and 33SC12 machines.

Vaccarella, T33/3 Coupe during the 1969 Solituderennen at Hockenheim (Autodelta)
(unattributed)
Above and this photo. Nino Vaccarella, Alfa T33/3 Coupe on the grid for the Coppa Citta di Enna on 15 August, he won from the Bonomelli Porsche 906 and ‘Nicor’ Alfa T33/2. The other car on the grid is a McLaren/Serennissima, driver unknown (unattributed)

The Tipo 33/3 Coupe was built in 1969, the accepted history is that the car was updated by Autodelta in 1971 and is possibly chassis #75080-005. The consensus is that the car is the machine raced by Nino Vaccarella at Hockenheim in July 1969. He popped the swoopy-coupe on pole at the Solituderennen and finished third behind Hans Hermann in David Piper’s Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, and Gerhard Koch in a Porsche 908/02. A month later in Sicily, he won the Coppa Citta di Enna against modest opposition. The rest is a bit uncertain, but at some point, perhaps 1971, a 4-litre DOHC, four-valve, circa 510bhp V8 replaced the 3-litre circa 400bhp four-valve unit originally fitted when raced by the Sicilian.

The 4-litre unit was developed for Can-Am series use. Chassis T33/3 75080-023 was raced by the Otto Zipper team with both 3 and 4-litre motors fitted, it was driven by Scooter Patrick without much success in the famous Group 7 series in 1970 and 1971. The results are hardly surprising given the 7-litre papaya coloured monsters (McLaren M8D/F Chev et al) running up front.

Zipper’s “4-litre car, a T33/3 was often referred to as a T33/4” according to Collins and McDonough. In the same way that T33/2s which raced with 2.5-litre V8s did not become T33/2.5s when so fitted, so too, our subject car when fitted with its 4-litre V8 did not become a T33/4.

Both the Zipper and our subject car, are Tipo 33/3s. These are type, or model numbers, not engine capacities. To differentiate both cars (Zipper and the subject car) from T33/3s fitted with the usual 3-litre V8, the correct description is Tipo 33/3 4-litre. If evidence can be produced of Autodelta or Alfa Romeo using the T33/4 model designation in period, I stand corrected.

In addition to the engine change, the T33/3 4-litre’s curvaceous original nose (see photos) was replaced by one to later 1971 specifications, which is as it raced in Australia. No photographs have come to light of the car competing in this later form elsewhere in the world.

The Alfa is a marked contrast visually with Cooper’s Elfin which aerodynamically was influenced by the all-conquering 1972/3 Can-Am Porsche 917/10-30.

By 1972 the Alfa T33/3 4-litre was being used as a promotional tool by Alfa Romeo globally in car shows, some poor quality photographs online show it in Beijing that year in the form shown below.

33 front

The Race…

The exotic Alfa Romeo created a lot of interest but it wasn’t race prepared, and was fitted with a tall set of unsuitable gear ratios. It smoked its way around the ‘Island for three days, Fred Gibson did a great job of bringing the gorgeous, misfiring car home in third place.

Fred was in Alfa Romeo’s touring car squad at the time running 105 Series 2000 GTVs, but his pedigree included a potent Brabham BT16 Climax Tasman 2.5 single seater and a 5 litre-Elfin 400/R&T Chev sports car. His considerable engineering prowess and mechanical sympathy brought the car home and gave we spectators the chance to see the fabulous car race in Australia for its one and only appearance. A lesser driver would not have been able to stroke the thing home.

Garrie Cooper ran away with the event, his sprint car was far quicker than the heavy endurance racer, unprepared as it was. Henry Michell was second in the Elfin 360 Repco 2.5 in which he won the Australian Sports Car Championship in 1974 (a four race series). Fourth was Paul Gibson in a Rennmax Repco 2.5 and fifth, Stuart Kostera in an ex-Frank Matich, Matich SR3A.

The shrill note of the 2.5-litre Repco Tasman’ V8s and muscular note of the Alfa, also running a single plane crankshaft was in marked contrast to the basso-profundo bellow of the Chev and Repco Holden production based V8’s – that long straight and open nature of Phillip Island was, and still is an aural and visual feast.

autopics Lap 1, Cooper’s Elfin MS7 Repco from Keith Poole’s Gardos McLaren M8 Chev, Jim Phillip’s Rennmax Repco, Henry Michell Elfin 360 Repco…fifth car back on the inside is Fred Gibson in the Alfa T33/3

I was there for the weekend which also featured the final round of the Australian Formula 2 Championship. Geoff Brabham won that race and title in a Birrana 274 Hart-Ford, then headed off to Europe to pursue F3 and subsequent fame and fortune.

The ordinary black and white paddock shots were the best I could manage with my little Olympus Trip 35 but show the cars lines well. Call it Alfas 917 or 512S in looks without quite the success rate!

Retirement…

The Tipo 33/3 was sold to Melbourne Alfista Ern Stock for a nominal sum, and the cost of outstanding Customs duties, it was just an old racing car after all!

Stock was more of an old-car-guy than a racer, the car appeared at an Alfa Romeo Owners Club day at Winton driven by Col Goldie once. It also did a few laps of a Canberra Motel carpark at an Alfesta – the annual Easter gathering of the Australian Alfa Romeo clubs – one morning in the early 1980s. The poor old Canberra pollies had not heard such excitement since the Petrov Affair!

Eventually the car was Hoovered up by an American dealer as cars of its ilk became global Automotive Monets.

Only Alfa would have done the nutty thing they did, but god bless ’em for doing so, the car was worth travelling a long way to see and hear. It only ran in Australia, just once!

(MRA)
photo (5) Fred Gibson, Phillip Island 1975

The scrappy photos above and below show the car being driven in anger. While perhaps not as pretty as in its original 1969 guise the machine has a muscular beauty all of its own – quite Ferrari 512S like.

It does make you wonder how it could have fared had it raced at 4-litres in 1970 or 1971 in endurance events. I’m not suggesting it would have knocked off the Ferrari or dominant Porsche 917 mind you, but in 1971 the T33/3 3-litre prototypes were quicker and more reliable than hitherto, taking wins at Brands Hatch, Targa and Watkins Glen thereby giving Alfa Romeo/Autodelta a very well deserved second placing behind Porsche, in the International Championship of Makes; a 4-litre Coupe in the mix is an interesting mighta-been?

G1

Fred Gibson, Phillip Island 1975

G1 (3) (M Bisset)

Butt shot at Phillip Island 1975. With the addition of fresh rubber and attention to coolant, lubricants and brake fluid, a safety check and a wheel alignment it was off-we-go-with-what-we-have, superb opportunism by Alfa Australia really.

With a fresh engine and suitable ratios the car would have been competitive, but would not have knocked off Cooper’s Elfin. Melbourne Alfista and historian, Vin Sharp, recalls that Ern Stock bought a second engine with the car. Presumably the spares’ health was unknown otherwise the team could have swapped engines overnight at the Island to address the weekend long misfire.

photo (15) (M Bisset)
image T33/3 cutaway…Spider not Coupe but indicative otherwise (unattributed)

Bullshit…

retirement Alfa Romeo T33/3 ‘75080-?’ Retirement in the US and a new identity as a ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’ apparently (unattributed)

conceptcarz.com wrote in an article about the ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’, that the T33 was ‘Driven by Pescarolo and De Adamich in three liter form in Europe, it was later run with a 4 liter V8 in Europe’s InterSeries (in blue livery) driven by Teodoro Zeccoli. Later sent to Australia, at the request of Sig Tadini of Alfa-Romeo, Australia, the car was campaigned in the Tasman Cup, since it was already fitted with the larger V-8. It was driven by Graham Lawrence. It was brought to the United States in 1988’ our star writer/researcher wrote. Richard Cranium is his name I suspect.

I can be accused of slavishly following, what has on occasion turned out to be the utter crap written by others, but this nonsense is a total crock-of-shit.

The T33/3 Coupe was never, ever, referred to as a ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’ in period – in any period, not at least until it became a beauty princess in the USA.

The Tasman Series in 1970 was a championship of seven races in New Zealand and Australia that January/February for Tasman 2.5 (and under) and Formula 5000 single-seater racing cars. Not 3-litre or 4-litre or sportscars of any sort. The ’70 Tasman was won by Graeme (not Graham) Lawrence, a Kiwi, in an ex-Chris Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, a little, itty-bitty, red, cigar shaped cutey-car which bares little similarity to a big, red, butch 1969 Alfa Romeo T33/3 Coupe or a ‘1970 Alfa Romeo T33/4 Tasman Coupe’, whatever that is.

Lets raise a glass to utter Disney-esque, fanciful bullshit…

Etcetera

(T Bartsch)

Another shot of Col Goldie?, Amaroo Park ‘Tribute to Alfa Romeo’ meeting in the eighties.

(C Schmitz)

The car when owned by Ern Stock during an Alfesta in Canberra, 1982.

(D Willis)

Dick Willis and Colin Bond (left) with the Tipo 33/3 4-litre during the launch of the Alfa 33 road car at Dick’s Coffs Harbour Alfa Romeo/Datsun dealership in 1984.

Bondy was racing Alfa’s amongst other things by that stage, and was present as an ‘Alfa Ambassadore’ as Dick put it.

(Walter Anker)

Smile kid. ‘Walter Anker’ and our star car date and place unknown.

Photo and other Credits…

Autopix, Alfa Bulletin Board, Vin Sharp, Autodelta, Mark Bisset, Conceptcarz.com, ‘World Sports Racing Prototypes’- wsrp.cz, racingsportscars.com, Claudy Schmitz, Dick Willis, Tim Bartsch, ‘Alfa Romeo Tipo 33:The development & racing history’ Peter Collins & Ed McDonough

Finito…

Comments
  1. […] Also see this article on the Alfa T33/3 4 litre Coupe i wrote a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/05/15/when-im-in-a-car-i/ […]

  2. graham64 says:

    1975 was the only year when the Australian Sports Car Championship was conducted over a single race, rather than over a series of races.

  3. Owen Rob says:

    Rex hotel in Canberra that morning was a buzz.

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