Germany was in the 1930s the dominating factor in Grand Prix racing. Constructors as Auto-Union and Mercedes made history with their, sometimes futuristic design, voiturettes on the circuits. Sadly, the war made an end of their success, and meant the end of Grand Prix racing for several years. Despite the war, Alfa Romeo continued to work on their Alfa Romeo Tipo 512. It was intended as replacement for the Alfa Romeo Tipo 158.
There is no need to explain to you that the Second World War was the reason why Grand Prix racing was abandoned for several years. Between September 1941 and September 1945 there were no races held in Europe, and in (Latin) America between September 1942 and September 1945. However, it didn’t mean that constructors weren’t working on their cars. In 1940, Alfa Romeo completed the design of their new Grand Prix car, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 512. Wifredo Ricart designed the car. It was the second car he created for Alfa Romeo; previously he was also responsible for the Alfa Romeo Tipo 162. Which had an incredible V16 engine.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 512 was the first mid-engined model for Alfa. The engine was a flat V12 with two roots type superchargers. In the early stage of the development it gave the engine 225HP. Compared to most of the engines in those days, the engine had a short stroke. The engine was tested on the test bench, and the team measured at least 355HP at 8600rpm. However, at Alfa’s Museum were both 512’s are standing is mentioned that the car would reach a top speed of 350km/h by 550HP at 11.000rpm. It is not clear if it could, as the cars officially never raced a race. Since both chassis designed by Alfa Romeo were prototypes.
So far the design of the Tipo 512. Did Alfa Romeo tested the car? Yes of course they did. And it is fascinating to see that the first test mentioned is in early 1940 and that the team actually kept testing/developing the car until 1943(though I wasn’t able to get this clarified). On the 19th of June 1940, a Tipo 158 was mounted with the rear suspension of the 512. Alfa’s test driver Attilio Marinoni tested the car at Monza, sadly Attilio lost his life during the test when he crashed the modified 158.
On the 12th of September 1940, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 512 was for the first time officially tested by Alfa Romeo’s mechanic and test drier Consalvo Sanesi. He tested the 512 several times on Monza. While the car hit high speeds on the track, Sanesi was not amused of the car’s handling. What I could not get confirmed is the fact that Carlo Pintacuda also tested with the 512. It’s said that Carlo liked the car better. The car has also been tested at the autostrada Milano-Varese.
We will never know what the Alfa Romeo Tipo 512 real potency could have been. Both prototypes were stalled in a factory. After the war, Alfa Romeo recovered the cars with an eventual intention to continue developing them and let them make its race debut. However, this never happened as Alfa Romeo decided to continue developing the tipo 158. They would win the first two official Formula One championships in 1950 and 1951.