1972 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33Tipo 33 TT 3 - 1972 Le Mans 4th Overall - The last works-entered Alfa Romeo in the Le Mans 24 Hours
- Year of manufacture1972
- Car typeOther
- Chassis numberAR 11572 010
- Competition carYes
- Interior colourBlack
- Number of doors1
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourRed
- Fuel typePetrol
Fourth-place finisher at the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours
One of three Works-Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 3s entered at the Le Mans 24 Hours
The last Works-entered Alfa Romeo in the Le Mans 24 Hours
The ultimate V8-engined Alfa Romeo sports racing car
Eligible for the world’s greatest historic races, including the Le Mans Classic, Peter Auto and FIA Masters series, and concours events
Maintained by Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 expert Tim Samways Sports & Historic Car Engineers Ltd regardless of cost
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 3
During the 1971 FIA World Sports Car Championship season, Alfa Romeo and Autodelta began competing with its new and updated Tipo 33 TT 3. Taking design and engineering cues from their competition at Ferrari and Porsche, Alfa Romeo’s latest race car earned its name courtesy of its tubular chassis (Telaio Tubolare in Italian). An all-new steel spaceframe chassis replaced the out-dated sheet-aluminium monocoque of the previous Tipo 33/3.
The engine fitted in the Tipo 33 TT 3 was an updated and enhanced version of that previously seen in the Tipo 33/3, now boasting an impressive 440 bhp at 9,800 rpm. Thanks to its redesigned cylinder heads, this high-revving quad-cam, 36-valve V8 engine was producing the same power as Ferrari’s much heavier 12-cylinder unit!
Developments over the outgoing Tipo 33/3 were not limited to the engine and chassis construction. There was also a new five-speed gearbox, the wheelbase was increased, and new safety fuel tanks were fitted, whilst the new bodywork did bear similarities to the previous iteration. Initially, the car weighed a mere 600 kg, but to meet regulations, the weight was increased to 650 kg.
This Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 3
The car offered here, chassis AR 11572 010, was an Autodelta car — the official Alfa Romeo Works team — and used during the 1972 and 1973 World Sports Car Championships. This car has been confirmed by Stefano d’Amico, president of the Alfa Romeo Registro Storico, to be the car assigned to Andrea De Adamich for the 1972 season. Born in Trieste, Italy, De Adamich was a successful racing driver, not only competing for several years in Formula One but also in World Sports Car Championships. Even today, De Adamich continues his connection with Alfa Romeo and is vice president of N.Technology, which prepares racing cars for Alfa Romeo!
At Le Mans in early June 1972, Alfa Romeo entered this car, chassis AR 11572 010, as confirmed by copies of the entry forms supplied by the Le Mans archive. Low downforce rear bodywork was fitted, importantly allowing the engine to rev another 700 rpm on the straights, giving the drivers that final push!
For the race, this car was driven by Andrea De Adamich and Nino Vaccarella under race number 18, easily identifiable thanks to its white nose section. The pair qualified this car 7th on the grid, with a time of 3 minutes 52.6 seconds. During the preliminary practise sessions, both Helmut Marko and Teodoro Zeccoli also drove this car.
Shortly after the start, on Saturday evening, Vaccarella suffered a clutch issue, requiring over an hour to be spent in the pits whilst the Autodelta mechanics replaced it; then, later in the race, the car was once again forced into the pits, requiring new brake discs. Towards the end of this gruelling event, De Adamich was caught on slick tyres in a downpour, spinning the car at Dunlop curve. After a quick stop at the pits for a check over, the Autodelta mechanics chose to fit a new nose section, one finished in all red this time. Thanks to relentless consistency and never giving up, this car crossed the line in 4th place at the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours, having covered a staggering 307 laps! Interestingly, this was to be the Alfa Romeo factory’s last finish at the world’s most famous endurance event!
This car remained with Autodelta through until the winter of 1973/74, at which point it was bought by Martin Morris in the UK, an enthusiastic racer whose garage housed an ex-Works Jaguar D-Type and C-Type and an E.R.A. The purchase from Autodelta was negotiated by Richard Pilkington, who also bought an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 at the same time. Martin Morris drove to Italy, through the snow, with a trailer to collect his latest racer, along with a variety of spare parts. This Tipo 33 TT 3 returned to the track at the 1976 and 1977 AMOC meetings at Brands Hatch, and even raced against Richard Pilkington in his Tipo 33/3! Morris also gave his car’s nicknames, with this Alfa being called “Groundhog”.
Later in 1977, this car was sold to Steven O’Rourke, the manager of British rock band Pink Floyd. O’Rourke was more than an enthusiast: he was a racer, regularly competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, with a best result of 4th overall in a McLaren F1 GTR.
O’Rourke retained ownership until 1986, at which point the car travelled to a new home in Japan, where it remained for 13 years, passing through three important collections. Firstly, the Hayashi Collection, then to Yamaguchi and finally to Takeshi Fujita, during which time the engine was rebuilt by an ex-Autodelta employee.
In 1999, the car returned to Europe, passing through Jean Guikas of GTC to M. Dubochet in France. In 2002, Dubochet sold the car back to Jean Guikas, who, in 2006, had the engine, suspension and brakes rebuilt before offering the car at auction in 2011, where it was bought by Californian collector Peter Read. During Read’s ownership, the car was maintained by Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 expert Tim Samways Sports & Historic Car Engineers Ltd.
Upon arrival at Tim Samways, the decision was made to fully strip and inspect the car in preparation for competition. The car received a new wiring loom, fuel cells and suspension, and the brakes were serviced, with all relevant components also being crack tested. The beautifully patinated exterior remained untouched.
The year 2012 saw this car return to the Le Mans circuit for the Classic event in July, where it was driven by Peter Read and Brian Redman in Plateau 5, before competing at the Peter Auto Classic Endurance Racing Dix Mille Tours at Paul Ricard in October. In April 2013, the car was sold to its current German owner, who continued to employ Tim Samways Sports & Historic Car Engineers to maintain the car. The Goodwood Members’ Meeting in March 2017 saw this car be demonstrated by Sam Hancock.
Through sheer passion, dedication and knowledge, the current owner has built a sizeable collection of significant competition cars, including a 1968 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/2 ‘Daytona’ and 1974 Tipo 33 TT 12. In October 2017, these three famous cars returned to the Autodelta test track Centro Sperimentale Balocco in Italy. When you have three of the most important post-war Alfa Romeo competition cars and the Autodelta test track to yourself, you need to take some friends, and in this case, that meant Derek Bell, Arturo Merzario and Nanni Galli! Can you imagine being at the Autodelta test track with three of its most important creations and three of the most successful World Sportscar Championship drivers of their era? We think the pictures speak for themselves!
Chassis 010’s most recent competition outing was at the 2018 Le Mans Classic, where it was driven by the current owner and Sam Hancock in Plateau 5, wearing race number 5. Since these events, the car has returned to Tim Samways, where it has been thoroughly inspected and prepared, with the engine receiving a refresh that included new valves and springs, spring tops and big-end bolts.
This car was born into an era of highly competitive sports car racing, developed from the highly successful Tipo 33/3 — it is the ultimate V8-engined Alfa Romeo sports racing car. Today, this car is eligible for the Peter Auto Classic Endurance Racing Championship, Le Mans Classic, FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship and, thanks to its fabulous history, would undoubtedly be welcomed at many of the world’s leading concours events.
The opportunity to obtain the final Works-entered Alfa Romeo to finish the world’s most famous endurance race, the Le Mans 24 Hours, is special — can you resist?
Price Upon Request
Modern photography courtesy of Tim Scott / Fluid Images