The Autodelta 50th anniversary logoEnlarge Photo
The name was eventually changed to Autodelta SpA, but its mission remained: as the official competition department of Alfa Romeo, Autodelta was to bring Alfa Romeo back to the top of the motorsport ranks.
While Autodelta may not be as famous (on these shores, anyway) as Fiat’s in-house tuner, Abarth, the brand oversaw the creation of many successful Alfa Romeo race cars.
Its first effort, launched in June 1962, was the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ, which saw numerous sports car wins in TZ and TZ2 variants. In 1965, the development of the TZ series ended, in order for Alfa Romeo and Autodelta to focus on the GTA.
In 1967, Alfa debuted an Autodelta prototype known as the 33/2 Daytona, which would go on to win its very first outing before taking victories at Daytona, Le Mans and the Nürburgring.
In the mid-1970s, Alfa Romeo took the Makes World Championship with the 33 TT 12, and a later variant, the 33 SC 12 reprised the victory two years later. The TT 12 was so dominant that it took wins at seven out of eight races in 1975, and was wheeled by legendary drivers such as Derek Bell and Jochen Mass.
Autodelta led Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula One racing in 1979 with its 179 chassis. While the early cars were powerful, reliability proved to be an issue. Mario Andretti joined the team in 1980, partnering with Bruno Giacomelli, but the 179 still proved to be uncompetitive, finishing a season-high fifth place in Argentina and Germany.
Things didn’t improve much in 1981, though Giacomelli managed a podium finish at the season-ending Caesar's Palace Grand Prix. Chiti became one of the first to adopt a carbon fiber monocoque chassis for the 1982 season, but reliability issues prevented the car from finishing higher than third place.
While Autodelta may now be just another chapter in the long history of Italian motorsports, the division will be honored on its 50th anniversary at this year’s Milan Autoclassica, scheduled for February 22-24.
On display will be five classic models from Autodelta’s past, including the 1963 Giulia TZ, the 33/2 liters Daytona, the GTA 1300 Junior, the 33 TT 12 and an experimental 179 F Formula One car. If you can make it to Milan, Italy, this weekend, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.