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Will Tipo B Alfa P3 No. 46 find a lucky buyer?

Will Tipo B Alfa P3 No. 46 find a lucky buyer?RMSothebys have  assembled a delicious choice of cars for their auction on 8 February at Paris Retromobile and we seized upon a car with just 3 gears, one seat and no roof.
The very mention of the Tipo B P3 Alfa Romeo was sufficient to make us dive into the bookshelves and refresh our memory. Legendary names leap from the page - designer Jano, driver Nuvolari and of course Scuderia Ferrari.

p3aThe lines of this legendary car are perfect. The first 'monoposto' grand prix car and a successful one at that, winning races as soon as it appeared in 1932.
Jano's clever design kept the weight down to 700kg, making it a formidable racer in the right hands.

p3fA new formula in 1934 demanded wider and heavier cars, and Alfa complied by widening the bodywork on the original five P3 cars. A batch of seven additional examples was then built to the newer specifications, and these cars received larger engines ( see below). Numbering sequentially from chassis number 50001, these wide-body cars were often identified by their Scuderia Ferrari number.

alfa-p3-engineThe weight increase was the perfect excuse to enlarge the engine capacity to 2.9 litres. Effectively two 4 cylinder blocks each with their own Roots supercharger which gave tremendous torque at low revs. Jano recognized that smaller superchargers put less stress on the engine, had less rotational inertia and were more thermally efficient.

p3gThe differential is behind the gearbox and the split drive train uses two short driveshafts running at angles to simple bevel gears just inside each rear wheel driving stub axles. The axle tube itself is very light and the centrally located driver sits low, between the two driveshafts.
Great attention was paid to the road-holding and lightness - keeping all masses low and unsprung weight to a minimum.

p3hBy 1935, The P3 was out-gunned by the superior German cars ( but we recommend you read about Nuvolari's victory at the German Grand Prix that year!) - so the car was sold in 1936 and by 1946 ended up with Ken Hutchison, a wealthy British enthusiast who wrote about his experiences with the car in an extended cover feature in the January 1948 issue of Motor Sport magazine.
It's a marvellous record of his enjoyment of this car and how he developed it with his mechanic (' The Great Man') - he fitted  Lockheed brakes and described the Alfa-Romeo brakes as  'erratic and rather unsafe'.

p3eImagine youself at the wheel and read this quote from Hutchinson... "The maximum speeds and performances of the “2.9” have been somewhat loosely spoken of in the past, and it may interest readers to know that with a high axle ratio of 3.79 to 1 and 700 by 16 covers my car is capable of a maximum road speed of 152 m.p.h. at 6,500 r.p.m.—but you need a mighty long road to reach this and so far, at any rate, I have never exceeded 6,200 r.p.m. At Brighton Speed Trials we only attained 5,800 over the line at the end of the standing kilo".
We make that 135 mph !!  He must have trusted his brakes.


alfa-tipoB-50006Ed.  Reader William Hearne has sent us a picture of this Alfa P3 in New Zealand C 1955 at the
International G.P. at Ardmore, Auckland. ( Other pictures HERE.)

He has also identified the who, what & when of this picture
as British amateur Frank Ashby and team rebuilding 50006 after buying it from Scuderia Ferrari in 1936.

The sight of a Riley wheel behind the Alfa reminds us that Thompson and Taylor were building Brooklands Rileys before Rileys themselves.  Food for thought....

Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy RMSotheby's.

Thursday, 02 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

PreWarWorkshop: a monocylinder repair

PreWarWorkshop: a monocylinder repair
In this case there was a cast-iron cylinder that was cracked on a very tiny bridge between the 2 valve plugs. The area has a diameter of some 2,5mm and had been welded multiple times already, but kept cracking again. After each weld, the cracks got worse and a solution had to be found.

Of course this is a single idea of how to solve this and I would be very curious to find out how you would have approached this problem. For future reference, any tips and tricks are most welcome!

In this case, we milled the top 5mm off the cylinder, revealing the crack and start with new material. A 3-layer copper crush gasket, made to my own design by advertiser Gaskets-to-Go, is fitted and a new 4,5mm top-plate is made, in the shape of the part that has been milled off. When assembled, the part looks as it did originally, and the cylinder seals perfectly well now.

The 2 large brass plugs on top of the cylinder hold the plate and crush the copper rings and copper gasket for a tight seal. The whole assembly can be fitted with plenty of torque on the plugs to seal everything.

Please view my photo album at

Article and work by Jos van Genugten
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Adolphe Clément: What's in a name?

Adolphe Clément: Whats in a name?
In early French transport history Adolphe Clément was overwhelmingly present. Whether cycles, motor cycles, cars, boats, balloon, zeppelins or aeroplanes, Adolphe Clément has made them. It is therefore very much justified that the Club Teuf Teuf will show a tribute to this extraordinary engineer at the coming Rétromobile show.

Adolphe Clément was also responsible for one of the most confusing combination of firms and names in the period before WW1: the names Clément, Gladiator, Humber, Panhard, Talbot, Bayard and combinations of these were all derived from his enterprises in France and England. I'll try to explain. In 1896 Clément & Cie. merged with the french branch of the Gladiator-Humber works to increase their cycle production. When Clément-Gladiator started producing automobiles, a separate Clément and Gladiator line was put into existence. In this period also the Clément-Panhard was built, a car developed by Panhard & Levassor engineer Arthur Krebs. In 1903 Adolphe Clément left the firm after disagreement with the board of directors. The name Clément remained in the hands of the Clément-Gladiator firm and Adolphe Clément had to make up a new name. He chose for Bayard, the french 'fearless and blameless' chevalier he greatly admired. In an article in The Motor Car Journal of October 24th, 1903 the new situation was made clear: the Clément would continue to be built by the Clément-Gladiator concern, Adolphe Clément would manufacture cars with the name Bayard and the English Clément-Talbot concern would call their cars Talbot. Maybe this seemed very clear, the public and the press thought otherwise. Although during the first years advertised as Bayard, already soon in the media the cars of Adolphe Clément were called Bayard-A. Clément, Bayard-Clément or even Clément-Bayard. After 1910 the name Clément-Bayard was universally accepted. The English branch, which continued to do busines with Adolphe, called their cars Talbot, but also Clément-Talbot. In 1906, when they had developed their own all-British Talbot, Clément disappeared in the name. In the meanwhile the Gladiator concern continued to build Clément and Gladiator cars, which were marketed in the UK with the same names. And although from 1907 the UK branch had started to develop their own product, which they called British Clement and which were partly constructed in the Swift factory, their British agent E.H. Lancaster already had built a Clément of his own design in 1904.

The Gladiator cars, which were often almost identical to the Clément during the years after 1903, were at some moment also made by Austin. In 1909 the Gladiator branch was acquired by the Vinot & Deguingand concern.

And if you're even more confused now, don't worry: just visit the Club Teuf Teuf stand at Rétromobile and enjoy the legacy of this remarkable man.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

Mystery Bugatti body

Mystery Bugatti body
What is it?: Mystery Bugatti body.
This mystery Bugatti body recently came out of a long-term storage, from the owners of the chassis that it’s supposed to belong to. The body is of a 1927 Type-40 Bugatti. This body was found at the location of the original owner of the chassis over 50 years ago. It’s former owner was at the time, due to age and health, unfortunately not able to tell the story of this car and body anymore. 
After the current owners had the chassis and body for over 50 years, they recently sold the pair and I came in possession of this fine piece of automotive history. Since the coachbuilder is unknown to me, I would like to ask the experts on this website and share what I already think I know.
Knowing that the car has been bought new in the Lille area of France, this body has very likely been built somewhere between Molsheim and there, leaving us with a wide range of possible coachbuilders. 
Our most probably bet is that it is a Pourtout body. The reason for this is that they have constructed a famous Lancia Belna with the same door style, same rear end with spare wheel and the same narrow fender setup. The style of the door seems to be quite rare. With the hinges at the front-side and this typical shape.
Pourtout made much more cars with the similar rear, like this Lancia Belna Eclipse, which have the narrow space above the rear-fender, sweeping all the way down to the end.
Another feature that Pourtout bodied cars had more often was the disappearing top. This Bugatti body has a soft-top that folds away behind the rear seats, completely out of sight when folded down. Although the famous Eclipse roof, which Pourtout called it, was designed by Georges Paulin for Pourtout in 1935 (8 years after my body was built), there are examples of earlier soft-top foldaway roofs to be found from this coachbuilder.
If anyone has any information about my body, please share. I do not know for sure if I’m searching in the right direction with Pourtout, so anything is appreciated.
Article written by Jos van Genugten 
(images from Wikipedia: Carrosserie Pourtout )
Monday, 30 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail

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