VIDEO: The Improbable 1935 Alfa Romeo Bimotore

Photo: Museo Alfa Romeo

In an all-out effort to compete with the dominant German machines in the mid-1930s, Alfa Romeo unleashed the Bimotore, a true beast of a racing car with both front and rear 3.2-liter straight eight engines, each delivering a reported 270 hp.

Historic Automotive Promotion’s Vasileios Papaidis writes: “The two engines were connected by separate driveshafts to a gearbox with two input shafts, and two angled output shafts, so each of the rear wheels had its own driveshaft. [The car] could never quite succeed against the Mercedes W25 B of Rudolf Caracciola, and was hard on fuel and tires. The gain in speed was offset by increased pit times.

“On May 12, 1935, two were entered in the Tripoli Grand Prix driven by Tazio Nuvolari and Louis Chiron who finished fourth and fifth. However, Chiron managed an impressive second at the following 1935 Avus race.

“On June 16, 1935, Tazio Nuvolari drove a specially prepared Bimotore from Florence to Livorno and set a new speed record 364 km/h (226 mph) with an average speed of over 323 km/h (201 mph). After that, though, the ultra-complex machine was sidelined in favor of the V-12 Tipo C.”

Eleven years ago, sports car racing star Alain de Cadenet gave a restored Bimotore a drive and walk-around for SPEED Channel, speculating that the red machine was, in fact, the first Ferrari race car. Enjoy the video, preserved on YouTube.