Want a Classic Alfa Romeo 158 F1 Car? You Can Start With an Old Mazda MX-5
Here’s how you can build your own classic F1 car for less than $20,000by Ciprian Florea, on LISTEN 04:52
Are you a fan of classic Formula One cars and you have a Mazda MX-5 Miata laying around? Well, for around $11,500 you can use it to build your own replica of the iconic Alfa Romeo 158, the car that won the first official Formula One race back in 1950s.
It’s called the Tipo 184 and it’s available as a kit designed by Ant Anstead, whom you might know from "For the Love of Cars" and "Wheeler Dealers" TV shows. You can either build it yourself or take delivery of the assembled race car.
Tipo 184 offers a "starter kit" that basically includes all the parts needed to make this race car look like the original Alfa Romeo 158 race car. It includes the body panels, which are hand built, the front grille, and the side-exiting exhaust, but it also adds the bespoke chassis, gear linkage, dash panels, propshaft, and the steering column. The kit costs £8,499, which converts to around $11,425 as of December 2020. The sticker doesn’t include VAT, so it may end up costing as much as $13,700 depending on where you live.
But this kit won't be enough to complete your car. You also need eight smaller kits that Tipo 184 is selling separately.
There’s a bundle that includes the steering wheel and mirrors, one that includes the dashboard switches and buttons, and a cooling system. You’ll also need to get the fuel delivery kit, the closing panel kit, and the shock absorbers. Finally, there’s the driver’s seat and the wheel and tire kit. Pricing for each of these kits will be announced in early January 2021.
Finally, you need the Mazda MX-5 Miata I was talking about in the introduction. Tipo 184 did not release much info, but you don’t need an entire, fully functional Miata. From the little information available on their website, you basically need the drivetrain and some related components. This is good news because it means you can go out and purchase a beat up MX-5 for cheap.
Deliveries are set to begin in third quarter 2021. If you want to be among the first to get it, you need to place an order with a 25-percent deposit. If you can wait until after Q3 2021, Tipo 184 requires a smaller, 10-percent deposit for the kit.
One of the most successful race cars ever produced
The Alfa Romeo 158, also known as the Alfetta, is one of the most successful race cars ever produced. The 158 was introduced in 1937 and, alongside its derivative, the 159, remained in production until 1951. A single-seater with a tubular frame, like most grand prix cars from the era, the 158 was powered by a 1.5-liter, straight-eight engine. The front-mounted mill was supercharged and generates, depending on the setup and racing series, between 190 and 425 horsepower.
The 158 won six events before the outbreak of WW2, including the Tripoli Grand Prix. Three of these wins were scored by Giuseppe Farina. The 158 returned to the race track in 1946 and took 11 more wins until 1948 in the newly established Grand Prix championship. The 158 was eligible for the first edition of the Formula One championship and scored six wins during the 1950 season with Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel. Alfa Romeo 158 drivers dominated the championship, taking the top three positions at the end of the season.
Alfa Romeo returned with an updated chassis, the 159, for the 1951 season. The Italian race car won four out of eight races that season, also with Farina and Fangio behind the steering wheel. While Farina won the championship in 1950 for Alfa Romeo, honors for the 1951 title went to Fangio.
Financial problems prompted Alfa Romeo to retire from racing at the end of 1951, putting an end to the 158 and 159’s career. However, Fangio raced the 159 to one final victory at the Merano Grand Prix in 1953. Overall, the Alfa Romeo 158 and 159 took 47 wins from 54 races entered. With an 87-percent victory rate, the Alfa Romeo 158/159 is among the 10 most successful Formula One cars ever built.