1932 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1932
  • Car type 
    Convertible / Roadster
  • Chassis number 
    '50007' (see text)
  • Lot number 
    352
  • Drive 
    LHD
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Number of seats 
    2
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other
  • Drivetrain 
    2wd
  • Fuel type 
    Petrol

Description

The ex-Scuderia Ferrari, ex-Richard-Shuttleworth, 1935 Donington Grand Prix-winning
1932-34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto
Registration no. MPH 374
Chassis no. '50007' (see text)

Among the myriad great names of British motor racing history, that of Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth is equally well known today within both historic aviation and international motor racing circles. This is thanks largely to the Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft, with its motor vehicles as a subsidiary feature, which commemorates this great enthusiast and sportsman, more than 75 years after his death flying with the Royal Air Force in 1940.

Having learned the motor racing ropes most notably in a Bugatti Type 51, Richard Shuttleworth purchased this particular Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto for the 1935 racing season, directly from the Scuderia Ferrari quasi-works team at Modena, Italy.

Leading Alfa Romeo authority Simon Moore validates this wonderful car most unequivocally in his definitive book, 'The Magnificent Monopostos', listing its racing appearances in Richard Shuttleworth's hands as follows:

1935

March 16 - Brooklands - Mountain Handicap. Retired.

April 13 - Donington Park - 1st in a handicap race. Retired from a second race.

April 22 - Brooklands Mountain Circuit - 1st in Heat, retired from Final

May 6 - Brooklands International Trophy - 4th

May 18 - Shelsley Walsh hill-climb - 1st in class

May 31 - Mannin Moar race, Douglas, Isle of Man - Retired with transmission trouble after leading the first 13 laps of scheduled 50.

July 21 - Dieppe Grand Prix, France - finished 4th behind the two Scuderia Ferrari-entered sister cars and Wimille's works Type 59 Bugatti, ahead of Farina's 3.4-litre six-cylinder Maserati 6C-34.

August 13 - Nice Grand Prix, France - Retired 11 laps from the finish after the car boiled dry due to Shuttleworth's mechanic having left the radiator cap unclipped at the final pit stop...

September 4 - Brighton Speed Trials - fastest car (though beaten by a motorcycle).

October 5 - The Donington Grand Prix – 1st, ahead of the two ex-works Type 59 Bugattis of Lord Howe and Charlie Martin.

October 19 - Brooklands - won the Mountain Championship, again beating Charlie Martin's Type 59 Bugatti.

November 17 - Brooklands - The Mountain Circuit lap record. This stood as the 2-3 litre class record for all time, faster than various Maseratis.

It is also worth emphasising that Shuttleworth's Mountain Circuit lap record with the car was set in the face of ferocious opposition from all the other Tipo B Alfas competing at Brooklands up to its closure in 1939, including such very fine drivers as Charlie Martin and Chris Staniland in well prepared cars.

But Richard Shuttleworth's great road racing victory in the inaugural Donington Grand Prix would become this particular Tipo B Monoposto's most enduring achievement.

Derby & District Motor Club Secretary Fred Craner had been the practical-minded, no-nonsense promoter and organiser of racing at the Donington Park racing circuit on England's Derbyshire/Leicestershire border. He had long been unhappy with the kind of short-distance races commonly sanctioned by the extremely conservative Royal Automobile Club, and wanted to run a full Grand Prix-distance race such as those common in Continental Europe. His inaugural Donington Grand Prix followed at the picturesque Park, and following his experience of such "serious" road racing at Dieppe and Nice in France, Richard Shuttleworth was among the British amateur gentleman drivers immensely keen to take part. Here was a challenge into which they could really sink their teeth.

'Mad Jack' Shuttleworth - as he was nicknamed after having crashed into the pits at the Isle of Man - certainly made the most of his opportunity in this Alfa Romeo Monoposto. He started the 300-mile race facing such "Continental cracks" as Frenchman Raymond Sommer in a sister Alfa Tipo B and 'Nino' Farina in a works-backed Maserati V8-RI. Farina led until a Maserati driveshaft failed, and Sommer then took over until a stop to replace his British-regulation bonnet strap (not required in Continental racing, as Sommer heatedly protested), after which he suffered a terminal drive-shaft failure.

British owner-driver Charlie Martin in his ex-works Bugatti Type 59 then inherited the lead, only to try too hard to hold off Shuttleworth despite fading brakes and slide off the road, leaving victory to 'Mad Jack' in his spectacularly-driven Alfa Romeo, which had also spent some time exploring the grass verges of the park rather than staying strictly upon the asphalt.

The contemporary report in 'Motor Sport' magazine declared: "At last the ambition of the Donington organisers has been achieved, and a 300 mile race run under Grand Prix rules (has been) run off on England's only road-circuit. It was a most successful affair from every angle except that of the weather, for which Mr Craner and his staff of helpers could hardly be blamed. Even the wet roads were not without their uses, as they prevented higher speeds being attained, so that there were no less than nine out of fifteen cars still running at the finish.

"Foreign cars and drivers always add to the interest of a race over here, and for once all three whose names appeared on the programme did actually take part in the race. Farina was at the wheel of a 4.5 Maserati, the new V8-cylinder car, his partner Rovere had brought a 6-cylinder 3.7-litre car, the one which Nuvolari drove last year, while Raymond Sommer, twice victor of Le Mans, was seen on the 3-litre Alfa-Romeo which he drove so successfully at Comminges..."

The report continued "It was a splendid sight to see in England...the Union Jack was raised, and the exhaust notes of the cars mounted to a culminating pitch, followed by a headlong rush for the first corner at Old Starkey's. Farina got there a car's length ahead, with Shuttleworth and Sommer jostling for second position... Farina's Maserati in a single lap gained eighty yards on Sommer, while Shuttleworth on the green Alfa was some fifty yards to the rear. Shuttleworth found the French-owned Alfa a little too quick for him, and lost ground each lap."

Shuttleworth's great friend and rival Charlie Martin rushed into contention in his Bugatti Type 59: "Martin took fourth place, but a few laps later braked heavily when in hot pursuit of Shuttleworth, and spun right round at Starkey's Corner. On the thirty-fourth lap Shuttleworth came roaring down to Starkey's Corner in company with ' Bira ' on the ERA. He found, that the latter, whose car bore the legend ' Siam ' in large letters, had no intention of giving way, and had no option but to charge straight on to the grass, just pulling up in time to avoid hitting the bank. He came into the pits two laps later to enter a protest, but the only result of this was that he lost third place to Charlie Martin on the 3.3 Bugatti.

"Farina was reported as having stopped near McLean's Corner with a broken half-shaft in the back-axle...Sommer moved into the lead, and at 50 laps C. E. C. Martin (3.3-litre Bugatti) was second, 1 minute 40 seconds behind, and Lord Howe on a similar car was only 10 seconds in the rear. Shuttleworth who was fourth was within four lengths of being lapped by Sommer, but now decided the time had come to make a stand...

"The two Alfas were perfectly matched and after a time the English driver widened the gap to forty yards. This contest was ended by Shuttleworth having a terrific skid at the hairpin corner shooting up the bank, and Sommer was past before he got back on to the road.

"On his fifty-ninth lap Sommer came into the pits, and besides refuelling changed all eight plugs, possibly as a result of his duel with Shuttleworth. This stop cost him over 3 minutes and so Martin passed into the lead, having completed 60 laps at a speed of 66.04 m.p.h. Lord Howe then came in and Shuttleworth jumped up into second place.

"Sommer set off again with renewed speed and at the sixty-fifth lap had pulled up to second place. Shuttleworth refuelled and adjusted his brakes all in the record time of 1 minute 10 seconds, but his stop pulled him back to fourth. Just as Sommer looked like catching Martin, his bonnet strap broke and he was flagged into the pits to remove it, and again four laps later to fit another one in its place. These delays so infuriated Sommer (bonnet straps are not compulsory on the Continent) that he lost all restraint and started to overdrive the Alfa Romeo, and on the seventieth lap came slowly into the pits — another broken halfshaft. Sommer kicked the offending bonnet strap and left the course.

"This left Martin in the lead, while Everitt (Gino Rovere's Maserati) now lay second. (But) with a hundred laps completed the order was Martin, Shuttleworth, Lord Howe and Everitt. Martin was due to call at his pit for a small quantity of fuel and at lap 104 a mechanic hung out a board marked ' In '. Next lap the car pulled in and eight gallons of fuel was dumped in, in a twinkling.

"A win for the Bugatti seemed a foregone conclusion but next time round No. 2 failed to appear...he had gone off the road at McLean's Corner and was unable to re-start. Officials came to his rescue and gave him a push, but with only ten laps to go it was obviously impossible to catch Shuttleworth or Howe.

"Lord Howe made great efforts to catch Shuttleworth, whose brakes were not functioning too well, but the Alfa, managed to get home with less than a minute to spare. It was a splendid finish after three hundred miles of fine driving..."

As the British and European race season had ended, a select group of British racing regulars then shipped their cars to contest the 1936 South African Grand Prix at East London. The 12-mile Prince George Circuit lay some five miles south west of the Indian Ocean port city. Racing driver T. P. Cholmondeley-Tapper recalled: "The race over eighteen laps was to be a handicap event, apart from the orthodox racing cars to be driven by Wimille and our party, which now included Richard Shuttleworth who had arrived by Imperial Airways and was to drive his new Monoposto Alfa Romeo, the entries consisted of hotted-up production cars, many of them American models...".

Bugatti star driver Jean-Pierre Wimille's Type 59 started on scratch. Tapper continued: "As I completed my first lap and came in view of the starting straight, I saw Shuttleworth in his new Monoposto Alfa Romeo and Wimille with the Bugatti works entry beginning the race, and they were the only cars I saw for some time, for with the long circuit and wide diversity in the performance of entries, it was a lonely race...". However, when travelling at high speed on the coastal section, a gale-strength crosswind gusting off the Ocean and blasting through a gap in the flanking vegetation caused Shuttleworth to lose control of his Monoposto, which dashed into the roadside scrub, tripped, and somersaulted, throwing him out to sustain serious head and leg injuries...

Tapper again: "Several days later when he regained consciousness, Shuttleworth told me that he vividly remembered being thrown high into the air and having a long, long way to fall before hitting the ground...". Tapper and fellow British racing driver Arthur Dobson contacted South Africa's leading head-injury specialist, 700 miles away in Johannesburg, "...who chartered an aircraft for himself, his assistants and equipment, and we waited anxiously for the early evening when he was due to arrive (but) engine trouble had forced their plane down some miles north of East London and that he had completed the journey by car. He accompanied me straight away to the hospital, and was successful in bringing Shuttleworth round for the first time since his crash...".

After many months' recovery, Richard Shuttleworth had his crash-damaged Monoposto returned from South Africa to the Scuderia Ferrari workshops in Modena where he had it rebuilt during the winter of 1938-39.

Some new or low-usage spare parts replaced damaged components, and the car has come down to us today with its frame stamped in the correct rear-end location with the Scuderia Ferrari vehicle number '49'. It is possible that the team mechanics used an immediately available spare chassis in the repair, or the structure surviving within the car today may well in fact have been the original dating from 1934 and straightened-out. While first-series Tipo B cars were identified by four-digit chassis numbers, second-series cars had five-digit serials applied. Simon Moore explores the car's early provenance like this in his wonderful book, 'The Magnificent Monopostos' –– writing: "In early 1935, Richard Shuttleworth appeared with a Tipo B, painted green. Since it must have been a first series car...I have covered the car here" – as chassis serial '5007' although "...the car has a plate giving '50007' as the chassis number today.

"The car (when acquired by Shuttleworth) had the later 1934-style body (with blowers covered) and twin oil lines..." – and Simon suspects that "...it is possible that this was the car built up by Guidotti in early 1934 from parts at Alfa Romeo and fitted with a streamlined body for AVUS" – the speedway-style AVUS-Rennen race in Berlin, Germany in which the Italian team would confront the newly-introduced state-backed teams from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz.

The Scuderia Ferrari's new star driver – Algerian Guy Moll – dashingly defeated the Auto Unions and won the AVUS race in that Pallavicino-bodied streamlined Tipo B, which may have come down to us as the car offered right here: ex-Scuderia Ferrari, ex-Richard Shuttleworth. The possibility is that the Pallavicino-bodied chassis was reworked with standard 1934 750kg Formula Grand Prix bodywork, and was then the car driven by Guy Moll when he crashed during that year's Coppa Acerbo road race at Pescara. The damaged car would then have been rebuilt for sale to one of the several importunate would-be customers queuing up at the Scuderia Ferrari's front door in Modena, eager to buy... in this case, the wealthy, enthusiastic and capable young Englishman, Richard Shuttleworth.

Simon Moore: "The AVUS streamliner was seemingly rebuilt with a 'normal' body and used during the rest of the season — and 'normal' by mid-1934 would have meant a wide body, twin oil line, second series type. It..." – referring to the car as purchased by Shuttleworth – "...was also rumoured to have been rebuilt from the car wrecked by Guy Moll at the Coppa Acerbo" (at Pescara, in poor Moll's fatal accident), which was fitted with a second-series body — which is not inconsistent with it (also) being the AVUS car rebodied..."

But Simon Moore emphasises: "...we will never know for certain". He also assessed the car's numerical identity as stamped into the metal today, as follows: "Despite the uncertainty about the original chassis number of this car, it has a long and continuous history and is a lovely Tipo B. Since it must have been a first series car — numbers 5001 to 5006 ... — I have covered the car here as chassis serial '5007'. He continued "That assumption as to the number may be incorrect and the car has a plate giving 50007 as the chassis number today — incorrectly". Moore goes onto speculate that the car was re-numbered 50007 either as an in-period customs dodge for bringing it in and out of the UK for the Scuderia Ferrari post-accident rebuild, since 50007 was already in the UK having been imported with duty paid by Lemon Burton in 1938. Or possibly because the mechanics that rebuilt it at Scuderia Ferrari did not understand the first series numbering system, thought the plate on the car saying 5007 was erroneous and fitted a new one with what they believed to be its correct number.

The frame also has a five-digit number (52002) stamped at the front...which would also indicate a second series frame, although most of the mechanical parts are stamped with first series Scuderia Ferrari numbers..."

This rebuilt Tipo B was not used again by Richard Shuttleworth before the outbreak of World War 2 and his accidental death while flying in the RAF in 1940. His mother finally sold the car post-war to Geoffrey Barnard, perhaps via Brooklands star Charles Brackenbury. In the late 1940s it was converted in British specialist Vic Derrington's Kingston-upon-Thames workshop into a two-seat sports car for high-performance road use, as Scuderia Ferrari had done with a Tipo B pre-war to dominate the Mille Miglia. Geoffrey Barnard then used it on the road for several years with the two-seater body fitted, and it featured in several magazine road tests and comments columns.