An Alfa in Martini livery: a racing car can hardly be more Italian than this 155 V6 TI
Stephan Bauer / Sotheby's
Under the hammer:
Under the hammer:
an Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI, built in 1996.
There is only one currency that counts in motorsport, namely the number of victories. Seen in this way, the iconic Martini paintwork, which also adorned Lancia's successful rally cars, is a nice packaging for tough statistics: The Alfa Romeo 155 was one of the most successful touring cars of its time and won all the racing series in which it started a. In 1993, the Italian brand with the characteristic Scudetto radiator grille ventured into the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) - and Nicola Larini immediately secured the title at the wheel of a 155 V6 TI and won eleven of the 22 races.
The successes also had to do with new regulations. From 1993 onwards, so-called class 1 racing cars were driven in the DTM, which had hardly anything to do with their original model. The body shape of the car, based on the production model of the 155, was pure cosmetic. Under the shell was a tubular steel frame and a safety cell made of carbon - as well as a 2.5-liter V6 that developed 420 hp at 11,800 revolutions per minute. The unit, which was equipped with titanium valves and weighed just 110 kilograms, accelerated the 1.1-ton car to up to 300 km / h. This made the 155 closer to a Formula 1 car than to its visual model, the series 155. For example, in the V6 TI - in contrast to the example that was in the sales room of the car dealership - the engine was installed lengthways to enable the car's special all-wheel drive.Alfa was well prepared for the new regulations right from the start and, with this recipe, relegated Mercedes to second place in the brand classification.
However, after this strong start, the Italian brand was unable to match it - at least initially. For the next season, Mercedes struck back with the new racing version of the C-Class and secured the title in 1994 and 1995. The touring car arms race finally reached its climax in 1996, when the DTM finally became part of the International Touring Car Championship (ITC), which was to become a kind of touring car world championship.
This became a problem for Alfa, because the 155 V6 TI simply lacked performance in the competition of the over-touring cars.
The car's engine was based on Alfa's so-called Busso V6.
This six-cylinder with a cylinder bank angle of 60 degrees bore the name of its developer Giuseppe Busso and is considered to be one of the best-sounding six-cylinders that have ever been built - in the ITC, however, it reached the limits of its capabilities.
The Alfa engineers decided to take a radical step, the V6 TI got a new engine in the middle of the 1996 season, the 690RC.
The cylinder bank angle increased to 90 degrees and the output to 490 hp.
It accelerated the touring cars from zero to 100 km / h in 2.5 seconds and brought Alfa back into the fast lane.
In the second half of the season, the 155 won eight of the remaining 14 races.
This example, chassis number 005, achieved pole position in Magny-Cours and Mugello, on the latter course Nicola Larini even managed to win at the wheel of the car.
In Interlagos, Brazil, Larini and the chassis 005 scored yet another victory.
Things went even better for Larini's team-mate Alessandro Nannini.
The racing driver, whose fame is overshadowed by that of his sister, the singer Gianna Nannini, climbed from sixth to third place in the drivers 'championship during the second half of the season - and helped Alfa Romeo to come second in the constructors' championship behind Opel and ahead of Mercedes-Benz to achieve.
With the successes that it owed to the new engine, the 155 had triumphed to death. The arms race for ever more sophisticated ITC racing cars, which not only contained powerful engines, but also sophisticated aerodynamics and lots of electronics, ultimately became the doom of the series. The final version of the 155 V6 TI had, among other things, an electronic central differential, traction control and a chassis with push rod dampers in the style of a Formula 1 car. The use of such technologies kept the costs of the racing series rising until Alfa and Opel left the ITC at the end of the 1996 season. The championship was discontinued - and the 155 V6 TI took early retirement.
The auction house RM Sotheby's is auctioning the 155 V6 TI on June 15 in Milan. Another location is hardly an option with an Alfa. A price of around 750,000 euros is expected - or the equivalent of around 95,000 bottles of Martini. Incidentally, the new owner would hardly be happy with the car in normal traffic. It would be extremely uncomfortable to drive with the chassis, and the rear-view mirrors are not approved at all. But that's why there are private museums and the retro DTM, in which the car has already participated a number of times.