Red – the color of Italian race cars. Every country has it’s own color which should be used for Grand Prix cars, the French cars were blue, the English cars were dark green or British Racing Green and the German cars were white or later silver. Not only the Ferraris but also the Maseratis and the Alfa Romeos were red. Red – the color of love and passion, which color could be better for Italian race cars. Love and passion – these are the basics and ingredients for building Grand Prix cars in Italy, not only on the 1950’s but also today.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 159, nickname „Alfetta“, which means little Alfa, was the Grand Prix car of the 1950 and 1951 season. The Tipo 159 was very successful. Dr. Nino Farina won the world championship with this race car in the 1950 season and was the first World Champion of modern Formula One and Juan Manuel Fangio won his first of five world titles with the Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 in the 1951 season. The Alfetta was state-of-the-art in this era. The fastest and the most reliable Grand Prix car.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 made its debut on September 3rd in 1950 at the Grand Prix of Italy held in Monza with Nino Farina behind the steering wheel. He won this first race with the Tipo 159. The car was the development of the 158. The numbers stand for 1500 cc and the 8 for the 8 cylinder engine. The Tipo 158 was build since 1937, but was further developed all the time until September 1950.
Alfa Romeo were dominating the Grand Prix circus completely. As after World War II the motor racing activities were growing slowly most of the car factories were using the type of cars which were build in the late 1930’s. Alfa Romeo did the same and brought the Tipo 158 into the new Formula One World Championship. The car was developed over the years and was strong enough for Nino Farina to win the first world title.
The 1950 season started with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone at May 13th. The technical regulations were adapted by the pre war Grand Prix races. Alfa Romeo brought four Alfetta’s to the British GP. The drivers were Nino Farina, Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio and Reg Parnell. At first the Scuderia Alfa Romeo started with the Tipo 158. But than in Monza the 159 made its debut and continued the success of the 158. With only eight starts at official Grand Prix the Tipo 159 won five and set seven times the fastest lap. Also there were some victories at Grand Prix races which were not part of the championship.
From my point of view the Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 is beside my all time favorite, the Maserati 250F, one of the most beautiful racers. The proportion of the bodywork is perfect, the cockpit and the seat, every thing is right and very well designed – with passion and love. As all Italian race cars are made by passion and love. Red – the color of love – the color for Italian race cars, even today with Ferrari. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 – „Alfetta“: TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
MODEL Tipo 159
TYPE Formula One car
YEAR OF PRODUCTION 1950
NUMBER OF CHASSIS 4 (all modified Tipo 158)
ENGINE 8-cylinder in a row, longitudinal
CONSTRUCTION Alloy block and head
BORE AND STROKE 58 mm x 70 mm
CUBIC CAPACITY CYL. / TOTAL 90,3 cc / 1479 cc
COMPRESSION 6.5 : 1
VALVE TRAIN DOHC, 2 Valve per cylinder
FUEL FEED 3 carburetors
ASPIRATION Twin Roots-Type Superchargers
COOLING Water cooled
TRANSMISSION four-speed, manual
HORSEPOWER 425 bhp at 9600 rpm
TORQUE 382 nm at 4000 rpm
CHASSIS aluminium body panels on steel tubular chassis
BRAKES Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes, all around
SUSPENSION FRONT trailing links, transverse leaf spring, friction/hydraulic shock absorbers
SUSPENSION REAR DeDion axle, transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, friction/hydraulic shocks
WHEELBASE 2502 mm
LENGTH 4280 mm
WIDTH 1473 mm
HEIGHT 1164 mm
TRACK FRONT / REAR 1250 mm / 1250 mm
WEIGHT WITHOUT FUEL 710 kg
TYRES FRONT / REAR Pirelli
FUEL CAPACITY 300 liters
MAXIMUM SPEED 310 km/h
MAJOR WINS (World Championship) 1951 Swiss GP, Belgian GP, French GP, Spanish GP
MAJOR WINS ( not Championship) Ulster Trophy, Bari GP, Merano GP
DRIVERS Nino Farina, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Luigi Fagioli, Reg Parnell