- Classics for Sale
- Parts & Stuff
- My PreWarCar
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.
The 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.
A 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.
The 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.
The 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.
By 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'.
Imagine 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.
Ed. 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.
Page 7 of 653
Visitors OnlineWe have 2809 guests and 5 members online
1935 Riley 9 Van... Go >>
Top Pre War AdsAC
American Austin (Bantam)
Ford Model A
Ford Model T
Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
+ show all makes
Post War Choice
1972 Citroën SM ... Go >>
Top PostWar AdsAlfa Romeo
Mercedes - Benz
Ford Model T