Alfa Romeo Monoposto Tipo B

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Alfa Romeo Monoposto Tipo B
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Monoposto Tipo B

 1932 - 1935
Inline 8 DOHC
2.6 - 3.2 litre
255 bhp @ 5400 rpm
3/4 spd. man
Top Speed:
160 mph (approx)
Number Built:
6 + spares
5 star
Alfa Romeo Monoposto Tipo B
Alfa Romeo Monoposto Tipo B
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 5


When the Monoposto Alfa Romeo made its first appearance at Monza in 1932, it not only set new standards of aesthetics in racing car design, it also created something of a legend in Grand Prix history. The factory team virtually swept the board that year, and though they did not reappear until late in the 1933 season, they continued their sweeping successes.

Those first cars, from the drawing board of Vittorio Jano, were the narrow-bodied 2.6-litre cars and they were rebuilt with wider cockpits to conform to new rules for 1934 and were fitted with 2.9-litre versions of the classic straight-eight engine, the increase in capacity being achieved by increasing the cylinder bore from 65 mm. to 68 mm.

Six of these early cars were built, with spares for a further three, and to augment the team in 1934 a further seven cars were built to the new specification, with another four in the form of spares, and of these second series cars six of them were modifiied again for the 1935 season.

First the rear suspension was changed from ½-elliptic leaf springs to reversed ¼-elliptic leaf springs, then the front suspension was changed from the original ½-elliptics to independent suspension on the Dubonnet system, the coil-spring units being operated by a leading swinging arm through a bell-crank.

These suspension units were pivoted on stub axles at each end of a tubular cross-member attached to the chassis frame. At the same time hydraulic brakes were adopted and later in the 1935 season a bore increase to 71 mm. took the capacity up to 3.2 litres.

While the original cars had had a 4-speed gearbox, the increase in power necessitated strengthening the gears and the number was reduced to three to avoid changing the gearbox casting. The enlarged engines were so good on torque that three speeds were adequate. There was a school of thought that suggests that 3.8-litre versions of the straight-eight engine were used during 1935, before the Monoposto came to the end of its useful life as a factory team car for Grand Prix racing. If you have any evidence of this we would appreciate you contacting us here at Unique Cars and Parts.

During the latter stages of the career of the Monoposto the cars were run by the Scuderia Ferrari, and there were numerous versions, as many of the earlier cars were sold off to private owners, some of whom continued to compete in Grand Prix racing. Seven cars found their way to England, two in early 1934 form for C. S. Staniland and R. O. Shuttleworth, two in "interim" form with ¼-elliptic rear suspension, for C. E. C. Martin and L. Fontes, though the former never raced his, and two of the "ultimate" versions with Dubonnet independent front suspension for Austin Dobson and A. F. Ashby; later, in 1938 Mrs. Thomas acquired a 1934 car from Georges Raph, who had acquired it originally from the Scuderia Ferrari.

Of these seven, only two remained in the UK by the 1950's, when they were no longer any use, even for Club racing. These were No 5003 which Staniland had purchased from Raymond Sommer after the Frenchman had driven it in the 1935 Donington Grand Prix and 5006 which Anthony Powys-Lybbe acquired from Mrs. Thomas. In 1938 No 5003 was extensively modified into the Multi-Union, the engine being improved with stronger pistons and connecting rods to permit 6500 r.p.m., instead of the standard 5500 r.p.m. In 1939 the car was further modified with Tecnauto independent front suspension and became Multi-Union 11.

Shuttleworth's car was up-dated with ¼-elliptic rear suspension and subsequently was converted to a 2-seater road-going sports car, complete with starter and was sold to the U.S.A. Martin's car we believe came to Australia, and the two Dubonnet-sprung cars found their way to New Zealand, while the Fontes car went to the U.S.A.

The Fearsome "Bi-Motore" Alfa Romeo Twin Straight Eight

Around 1950 Powys-Lybbe was racing #5006 in Irish road-racing. As late as 1953 this car was winning races in Ireland, driven by Powys-Lybbe, and after that it joined the ranks of historic racing cars taking part in VS CC events, owned by Vessey, Crowther, Thackray, Corner, Summers and again by Corner. In 1966, when Bill Summers was racing it at Oulton Park in a VSCC meeting, it broke a connecting rod which damaged the crank-case severely. This was subsequently repaired and re-fitted to the car. Fortunately there were some spares with the car and among them a crank-case complete with brand new crank-shaft and a set of Multi-Union strengthened connecting rods. This crank-case was from the Bi-motore Alfa Romeo, a fearsome device built by Ferrari in 1935 using a lengthened Monoposto chassis frame with a straight-eight engine in the rear as well as the front.

The rear engine had the driving flange on the front of the crank-shaft for transmitting the power forward to the central gearbox and the crank-ease bearer arms of the Monoposto engine were machined away to fit this engine in the rear. It was one of these crank-cases that Summers had so he was forced to fabricate a sheet-steel engine mounnting to use it in No 5006.

A Dubonnet independent front suspension car came to Australia in 1937, but was subsequently returned to the UK in the early 1970's when purchased by the Hon. Patrick Lindsay, and No 5003, the Charlie Martin car, was also shipped back from Australia. Over the years journalists dubbed the Monoposto Tipo B the P3 Alfa Romeo, it being the next successful Grand Prix car from the Italian factory after the immortal P2 of the vintage years. It is often forgotten that Vittorio Jano designed the Tipo A for the Alfa Romeo factory in 1931, which had two 1750 c.c. engines side by side. It was not very successful, but was the forerunner of the Tipo B, which appeared in 1932 and became known as the Monoposto, even though the Tipo was a single-seater.

It was the slim lines of the original 2.6 litre cars in 1932 that emphasised the central driving position and the single-seater, or Monoposto, aspect of the car at a time when 2-seater Grand Prix cars were beginning to disappear. The Alfa Romeo factory still retains a working exammple of the original 1932 Monoposto, while there are two further examples of later cars in America and another in Argentina.

Monoposto Tipo-B Specifications

Engine: Eight cylinders in-line, 68 x 100 mm.- - 2905 c.c. Two overhead camshafts driven from the centre of the crank-shaft by a train of gears in a housing between the cylinder blocks. Twin super-chargers on the left of the engine, with eight-branch exhaust on the right.
Transmission: Three-speed gearbox attached to the rear of the engine, driving to a differential mounted at the head of a V-transmission layout with a prop-shaft running diagonally to a crown-wheel-and-pinion assembly for each rear wheel, with short half-shafts to the hubs.
Performance: Power 255 b.h.p. at 5400 r.p.m. / Maximum speed approximately 160 m.p.h.
Wheelbase: 8' 8".
Track: front 4' 7", rear 4' 5"
Tyres: 6.00 x 19"
Brakes: Rod operated brakes, ¼-elliptic leaf springs all round, rear ones mounted on out-riggers from the 5" deep channel-section chassis frame.

Note: Frequent changes were made to each cars specifications during their racing careers, as outlined in the article...

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