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5-6 February 2014

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Lot 41

1980 Alfa Romeo 179B Formula One

  • Chassis no. 179B/04

Sold for €168.000


500 bhp, 2,991 cc V-12 engine, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent wishbone suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,743 mm

  • An exceptional example of Alfa Romeo’s return to F1 racing
  • Ex-Bruno Giacomelli; proven competition history
  • Eligible for Historic Grand Prix racing


Alfa Romeo’s Formula One racing revival in the 1980s came after the firm spent decades as an engine supplier. However, that is not to say that Alfa’s F1 efforts were relegated to the back room. Under the guise of Carlo Chiti’s Autodelta competition department, Alfa Romeo carved out a deservedly positive reputation for building racing engines. By the late 1970s, however, Chiti convinced Alfa Romeo to fund an Autodelta-engineered Formula One effort, which made its debut to much enthusiasm as the Alfa Romeo 177 at the 1979 Belgian Grand Prix. Evolving into the 179 racing car, with the addition of a 500-horsepower, 3.0-litre V-12 engine that replaced a flat twelve, the team picked up the distinctive and lucrative Marlboro sponsorship.



Under Bruno Giacomelli’s stewardship, this 179B Formula One racing car made its debut in January 1980 at the Argentinian Grand Prix. Finishing 5th, Giacomelli racked up the car’s highest finish that year in its very first race. Although it bears chassis number 04, it is generally considered to be the first true 1980 chassis that was finished in time for the beginning of the season.



Giacomelli’s highest finish might have come in Argentina, but that is not to say that his season lacked excitement. Perhaps the most notable footnote was a half spin on a hairpin curve before Shoreline Drive at the Long Beach event. The experienced Giacomelli was attempting to rectify the spin, but he was hit by Carlos Reutmann and, subsequently, Alan Jones. Giacomelli was forced to retire, but more notably, the impact took out both of the Williams cars in the process.



Although chassis 04 was retired from Alfa Romeo’s racing fleet at the end of the 1980 season, this 179B has remained in the public’s eye at vintage racing events primarily in the United States, where it is eligible for Historic Grand Prix racing. Its engine, recently rebuilt by Bob Slade Engines in California, has been used at just one event.



This 179B, which is eligible for numerous historic racing events, is presented in the iconic red and white Marlboro livery in which it debuted.






Moteur V12, 2 991 cm3, 500 ch, boîte manuelle cinq rapports, suspension avant et arrière indépendante par triangles, freins à disques sur les quatre roues. Empattement: 2 743 mm.



  • Exemplaire exceptionnel, témoin du retour d'Alfa Romeo en Formule One
  • Ex-Bruno Giacomelli ; authentique palmarès en course
  • Éligible pour les Grand Prix historiques




Le retour d'Alfa Romeo en Formule One, dans les années 1980, s'est produit après que le constructeur ait joué longtemps le rôle de fournisseur de moteurs. Non pas que la marque ait été reléguée dans les coulisses de la Formule One : par le biais du département compétition Autodelta de Carlo Chiti, Alfa Romeo s'était forgé une solide réputation dans le domaine des moteurs de compétition. Mais à la fin des années 1970, Chiti a réussi à convaincre Alfa Romeo de mettre au point sa propre monoplace de Formule One à moteur Autodelta. Il en résultait l'Alfa Romeo 177, qui faisait sa première apparition en course au Grand Prix de Belgique 1979, suscitant beaucoup d'enthousiasme. La voiture évoluait en version 179, équipée d'un moteur V12 de 3 litres et 500 ch remplaçant le précédent 12 cylindres à plat, l'équipe bénéficiant alors du sponsoring lucratif de Marlboro.



Entre les mains de Bruno Giacomelli, cette monoplace 179 B était engagée pour la première fois au Grand Prix d'Argentine 1980. Terminant cinquième, Giacomelli signait dès sa première course la meilleure place obtenue par cette voiture au cours de cette saison. Bien qu'elle porte le numéro de châssis 004, cette monoplace est généralement considérée comme le premier vrai châssis de 1980 terminé à temps pour le début de la saison.



Même si Giacomelli décrochait son meilleur résultat en Argentine, cela ne signifiait pas que la saison se déroulait sans rebondissements. Un des événements les plus marquants sera un demi tête-à-queue dans une épingle à cheveux, avant Shoreline Drive, lors de la course de Long Beach. Avant de pouvoir repartir, Giacomelli était heurté par Carlos Reutemann, puis par Alan Jones. Le pilote italien était contraint à l'abandon, l'impact ayant provoqué la mise hors course également des deux Williams.



A l'issue de la saison 1980, le châssis n°04 était mis à l'écart de l'écurie Alfa Romeo, mais cette 179 B continuait par la suite à faire des apparitions devant le public lors d'épreuves historiques, particulièrement aux États-Unis où elle est éligible pour les Grand Prix historiques. Le moteur, reconstruit récemment par Bob Slade Engines, en Californie, n'a été utilisé qu'à l'occasion d'un seul événement.



Cette 179 B, éligible pour de nombreux meeting historiques, se présente dans la légendaire livrée Marlboro rouge en blanche avec laquelle elle a débuté.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more