“We are proud to say our museum cars are not just museum cars. They’re living cars that you can see running, you can hear and smell.” So says Mario Fazio, the Historical Services Manager of the newly formed FCA Heritage organisation and the man responsible for looking after machines as diverse as the FTM challenging Alfa Romeo 155, the 1977 Brabham BT45-Alfa Romeo and this, the 1970 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 during the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.
JUL 13th 2017
This Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 was a sportscar ahead of its time
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Heritage aims to emphasise the link between the various marques’ historical cars and the machines they build today, although it’s fair to say it was the Italian marques of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Abarth and Lancia that dominated its activities at FOS.
In period, the 33/3 didn’t achieve much in the way of success; a third place at Sebring was the highlight of its 1970 season. Opposition from the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 featured larger 5.0-litre engines and they dominated as a result.
But that didn’t stop it captivating the FOS audience… especially when that 3.0-litre V8 fires into life and Mario’s promise that you can hear and smell it is fulfilled. And talking of fulfilment, the 33/3 had a much better season in 1971 with a second place in the championship and an outright win at the Brands Hatch 1,000km. It was also in that year that the 33/3 starred in the Steve McQueen’s iconic film, Le Mans.
The Tipo 33/3 was somewhat experimental with its aluminium and titanium monocoque chassis. Both its predecessors and successors had simpler tubular chassis structures. And the car’s time was yet to come… in 1972, the 5.0-litre cars were banned and 3.0-litre cars from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Matra were gunning for outright victories in the newly formed Group 5 class.
It may be the later Alfa Romeo 33 TT12 that stands out in most sports car fans’ minds, but the 33/3 has its own significant place in history. It certainly might be the prettiest of this family of Alfa sportscars. We’re delighted that it’s kept alive and running, not merely tucked away in a museum.
Photography by Tom Shaxson