THE legendary Alfa Romeo BT45 F1 car (more commonly known as the Brabham-Alfa) has literally stolen the show at Florida’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, instantly becoming the event’s crowd favourite.
Borrowed for the event from the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, colloquially known as “the time machine”, along with some of the latest models, including the multi-award-winning Alfa Romeo 4C (Coupé and Spider versions) and the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the Brabham BT45 is the star attraction of a homage to German driver Hans Stuck.
The enchanting story of this race car began in 1976, after the World Sportscar Championship won by the “33 TT 12” in 1975, when Autodelta – Alfa Romeo’s racing department – decided to join Formula One by supplying the Brabham team with the 500 HP 12-cylinder boxer on the “33” itself.
In actual fact, Alfa Romeo had already fitted an engine on a single seater in 1971, but the program had been stopped. The year 1976 thus became a good year: the car referred to as the “Brabham-Alfa” was born, retaining the Martini Racing livery, but the basic colour, by virtue of the Italian maker’s engines, switched from white to red.
The entire operation was orchestrated by the engineer Carlo Chiti, founder of Autodelta, and by Bernie Ecclestone, who owned the Brabham team at the time. The talented Gordon Murray designed the car, built around the overall dimensions of Alfa Romeo’s flat engine and distinguished by two side periscopes to feed the twelve cylinders.
In 1976, the official drivers of the Brabham BT45 were Carlos Reutemann (ARG) and rising star Carlos Pace (BRA), while Larry Perkins (AUS) and Rolf Stommelen (GER) competed in some races. The B version broke cover in 1977, and started off in the best possible way in that season’s first GP in Argentina, with Carlos Pace finishing second.
In March of that year, the Brabham team was devastated by the loss of Carlos Pace in a plane crash, with the team recruiting German driver Hans-Joachim Stuck.
Stuck would scored two third places in Hockenheim (GER) and Zeltweg (AUSTRIA) that season, with English team mate John Watson ending the season with second place at the French Grand Prix (Dijon) as his best result.
After varying levels of success, the partnership between the Italian brand and the English car maker came to an end in 1979 with Alfa Romeo deciding to produce its very own Formula One single seater, known as the Alfa-Alfa.