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’ of 30 laps- 143km held at Phillip Island on 30 November attracted a strong field of forty 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, the ‘MS7 Repco’ was powered by one of his F5000 Repco Holden engines, using all of the experience ‘Ansett Team Elfin’ had gained in running these 5 litre single-seater cars since 1971- the Elfin would offer Alfa Romeo’s major competition.

Tipo 33/3 ‘75080-00?’ Coupe…

The superb looking Alfa Tipo 33/3 had been on the show circuit for some years including appearances at the Melbourne Motor Show early in 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 with their flat-12 cylinder, circa 500-530bhp glorious 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 Citta di Enna on 15 August- he won from the Bonomelli Posrche 906 and ‘Nicor’ Alfa T33/2. Other car on the grid is a Serennissima, driver unknown (unattributed)

Originally built in 1969, the correct chassis number of the car is still unknown- it was unclear in 2014 when i first wrote this article and still is now in December 2019 as i review and update it.

The story goes that the car was updated by Autodelta in 1971 and was said to be ‘possibly the coupe’ chassis #’75080-005′- this is now clearly not the case. The consensus, despite plenty of discussion online, is that the car is the machine raced by Vaccarella in 1969, and would correctly therefore have the T33/3 chassis prefix ‘75080’ but the chassis number itself is unknown.

The works car was raced by Nino Vaccarella at Enna (car #92 in photos above, won the Coppa Citta di Enna in August) and Hockenheim (third in the Solituderennen Hockenheim in July) in 1969.

The rest is a bit uncertain, but at some point a 4 litre DOHC four valve circa 510bhp V8 engine replaced the 3 litre circa 400bhp four valve unit originally fitted when raced by the Sicilian.

The 4 litre engine 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, the car 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.

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

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

By 1972 the car 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 very 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 GTV ‘s, but his pedigree included both 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. Fred finished third with Henry Michell second in the Elfin 360 Repco in which he had won the Ausralian Sports Car Championship the year before. 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’ V8’s 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 the open nature of Phillip Island was and still is an aural as well as a 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 and went off to Europe that summer for a season of F3 and 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 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 in the early 1980’s- 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.

And 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, whilst 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 both 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, 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 still not have knocked off Cooper’s Elfin.

Melbourne Alfista and historian Vin Sharp recalls that Ern Stock bought a second engine with the car so 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)

Etcetera…

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.

I can be accused of slavishly following, what has on occasion turned out to be the crap written by others…but this nonsense is a corker.

The T33/3 Coupe was never, ever, referred to as a ‘1970 Tipo 33/4 Tasman Coupe’ in period- in any period 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, 4 litre or sportscars of any sort.

The 1970 Tasman was won by Graeme (not Graham) Lawrence, a Kiwi, in an ex-Amon Ferrari Dino 246T, a little, 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 bullshit…

Car when owned by Ern Stock, Canberra Alfesta 1982 (C Schmitz)

Photo and other Credits…

Autopix, Alfa Bulletin Board, Vin Sharp, Autodelta, Mark Bisset, Pinterest, Conceptcarz.com, ‘World Sports Racing Prototypes’- wsrp.cz, racingsportscars.com, Claudy Schmitz

Finito…

Comments
  1. 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.

  2. Owen Rob says:

    Rex hotel in Canberra that morning was a buzz.

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