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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There is a higly interesting story hiding behind this magnificent car. It was born as a project of Jankovits brothers from Hungary, Gino e Oscar in 1938. Alfa Romeo, through Wifredo Ricart, had already on the table the "Tipo 163" project intended to be a Sport version of the Tipo 512 Grand Prix car. As already known, the Tipo 512 would have a 1.5 liter 12 cylinder boxer engine placed at the centre while the Tipo 163 the 3 liter 16-cylinder engine of the Tipo 162 project. When Jankovits brothers heared of the Ricart's intentions, went to Ricart's office asking from him to give them one such chassis and an engine. Ricart agreed partially and gave them a chassis but not the engine. The Jankovits car was similar in shape with that of Ricart but they already had a plan to construct it by 1934. Having that chassis they started constructing the car using the gearbox and the 6-cylinder engine from a 6C 2300 Pescara. At firts (1938-1939) their car was cinstructed as an open-wheeler. In this form the car served as a test car for their own-designed suspension and some Lancia and Buick parts. In 1939 was bodied as a spider at the Lampo shop in Fiume based on an original design of Oscar Jankovits helped also for that by Herman Graber. The car was then shipped to the USA. then in 1978 it was found in North Ireland. Luigi Fusi tried to buy it on behalf of the Alfa Romeo museum but without any luck. Recently the car was sold to someone Nazario Bacchi from Forli. The car was restorated after the help of the Jankovits brothers.
This is a part of the marvelous story being presented in the October issue (No 202) of the "Ruoteclassiche" magazine. It also has some period technical drawings of the suspension elements and the chassis of the car and some magnificent pics of the rebuilt car!

I tried to find 3 pictures on the web with the car prior to its restoration:

 

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Very interesting car. It's difficult for north Americans to learn about "oddball" cars like this, as no one imports any of the european automotive history magazines, except for those in the English language. Even if they did, only a handful of nuts like me would be willing to have to pay $10-$15 per issue for something in a language other than English. There is not only Routeclassiche, but also Auto d'Epoca and at least 10 others from Italy, France and eastern Europe.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Stu!
I particularly like Autocollezioni magazine! In the next issue there will be a test drive of the Giannini 650 NP Gr.5! :D
 

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Ruoteclassiche costs no less than Euro 11 here, but I bought this issue as well.

Although the story fits with previous ones already published, including one in English (not sure if in Classic and sports cars or Thoroughbred and classic cars), I highly doubt the part of it sourcing the chassis at Alfa. There was probably some help from Alfa, but I wonder how the chassis could be on Jankovits drawing signed and dated 1935 and at the same time be a forerunner of the 512 one. Not only they have nothing to do with each other in shape and construction, but the Jankovits one has the look of a hand crafted thing designed for easy construction (straight, parallel frame rails of plain ladder type, I or C section, hard to tell from the docs, thus already outdated in the 1937 GP cars construction) and its design is dated of a period when Ricart was not yet in Italy. He began working on the 1940 generation of GP cars (162 and 512) from 1938, and the 162 was designed before the 512, as the 158 was designed in 1937 and raced first time mid-1938. Since the Jankovits 6C was already running under a provisory body in 1938, the frame cannot be a 512 prototype. And those advanced project were certainly not in the public dominion prior to 1940, their first test runs. Moreover, the 163 is hardly a prewar project as well. It was more likely developped from 1940 on.

I must say that I read twice or three times the Ruoteclassiche article as it first seemed pure nonsense as for the Jankovits/512 parenthood. Then, when you check carefully every sentence, you realize that they don't say there's a link with the 163, although a quick reading leaves that impression.

So, I guess the author didn't want to write plain b*llsh*t, but was somehow compelled to get the article more "sexy", as did the "spin doctors" (no, Stu isn't involved :D ) about the intelligence on nuclear weapons in Iraq... :rolleyes:

I wonder if the car will come for sale in short time...
 

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gtv2000 said:
I highly doubt the part of it sourcing the chassis at Alfa. There was probably some help from Alfa, but I wonder how the chassis could be on Jankovits drawing signed and dated 1935 and at the same time be a forerunner of the 512 one. Not only they have nothing to do with each other in shape and construction, but the Jankovits one has the look of a hand crafted thing ...
I've been busy slowly reading two articles in LaManovella from October 2001 by our friend Elvira Ruocco, one titled "the Spanish Alfa " [the 512] and the other "the Alfa only dreamed," [the 163]. But attached to the article is a 2 page sidebar, I think by Ruocco, about this car--I think offered tongue in cheek. Nothing but some parts look Alfa or Ricart here.

--Carter
 

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gtv2000 said:
Ruoteclassiche costs no less than Euro 11 here, but I bought this issue as well.

Although the story fits with previous ones already published, including one in English (not sure if in Classic and sports cars or Thoroughbred and classic cars), I highly doubt the part of it sourcing the chassis at Alfa. There was probably some help from Alfa, but I wonder how the chassis could be on Jankovits drawing signed and dated 1935 and at the same time be a forerunner of the 512 one. Not only they have nothing to do with each other in shape and construction, but the Jankovits one has the look of a hand crafted thing designed for easy construction (straight, parallel frame rails of plain ladder type, I or C section, hard to tell from the docs, thus already outdated in the 1937 GP cars construction) and its design is dated of a period when Ricart was not yet in Italy. He began working on the 1940 generation of GP cars (162 and 512) from 1938, and the 162 was designed before the 512, as the 158 was designed in 1937 and raced first time mid-1938. Since the Jankovits 6C was already running under a provisory body in 1938, the frame cannot be a 512 prototype. And those advanced project were certainly not in the public dominion prior to 1940, their first test runs. Moreover, the 163 is hardly a prewar project as well. It was more likely developped from 1940 on.

I must say that I read twice or three times the Ruoteclassiche article as it first seemed pure nonsense as for the Jankovits/512 parenthood. Then, when you check carefully every sentence, you realize that they don't say there's a link with the 163, although a quick reading leaves that impression.

So, I guess the author didn't want to write plain b*llsh*t, but was somehow compelled to get the article more "sexy", as did the "spin doctors" (no, Stu isn't involved :D ) about the intelligence on nuclear weapons in Iraq... :rolleyes:

I wonder if the car will come for sale in short time...
Ya, that's it....the WMDs are hiding under my bed... :p
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
gtv2000 said:
(...)
I wonder how the chassis could be on Jankovits drawing signed and dated 1935 and at the same time be a forerunner of the 512 one. Not only they have nothing to do with each other in shape and construction, but the Jankovits one has the look of a hand crafted thing designed for easy construction (straight, parallel frame rails of plain ladder type, I or C section, hard to tell from the docs, thus already outdated in the 1937 GP cars construction) and its design is dated of a period when Ricart was not yet in Italy. He began working on the 1940 generation of GP cars (162 and 512) from 1938, and the 162 was designed before the 512, as the 158 was designed in 1937 and raced first time mid-1938. Since the Jankovits 6C was already running under a provisory body in 1938, the frame cannot be a 512 prototype. And those advanced project were certainly not in the public dominion prior to 1940, their first test runs. Moreover, the 163 is hardly a prewar project as well. It was more likely developped from 1940 on.
(...)
Hi Patrick!
It seems also to me weird for Alfa Romeo to give such a mystical at the time project to a both of brothers. Just a thought though. Maybe this drawing had been made by them prior getting the chassis from Wifredo Ricart? You can read into the article that the two brothers were thinking of this project as back as in 1934 probably inspired by the Auto Union GP cars. As for the Alfa Romeo engine clearly visible as such in the drawing, maybe they already had it in their possesion planning to put it in the car when this would have been completed? But at the other side this also seems weird just because they clearly built the car with the intention to have a really bigger engine as can be seen in the small picture in page 60 where you can see a small engine put into a very large engine bay.
Maybe it would ne a nice idea to send a letter to Ruoteclassiche asking about all these things? ;)
 

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Tubolare Zagato said:
Hi Patrick!
It seems also to me weird for Alfa Romeo to give such a mystical at the time project to a both of brothers. Just a thought though. Maybe this drawing had been made by them prior getting the chassis from Wifredo Ricart? You can read into the article that the two brothers were thinking of this project as back as in 1934 probably inspired by the Auto Union GP cars. As for the Alfa Romeo engine clearly visible as such in the drawing, maybe they already had it in their possesion planning to put it in the car when this would have been completed? But at the other side this also seems weird just because they clearly built the car with the intention to have a really bigger engine as can be seen in the small picture in page 60 where you can see a small engine put into a very large engine bay.
Maybe it would ne a nice idea to send a letter to Ruoteclassiche asking about all these things? ;)
I have tought to write a letter, but I'm probably too lazy to write to every magazine publishing questionable tales about Alfas :rolleyes:

And when I watch the pic of the inside, I'm not sure that what we see as being seemingly frame members fits the drawing, so the actual car might also not look like the accompanying documents. We'll probably know more with further articles on the car, now it has been restored.

Anyway it doesn't change anything to the messy chronology implied by the Jankovits/Ricart theory, as it is documented the car was completed, with minimal bodywork, in 1938.

Stu, how about very obscure WMDs? :D :p
 

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Try this link, the above does not work: http://www.auction.fr/fr/base/lot.php?vente=8923&etude=6&passe=1&lot=52

Interestingly, the catalogue entry states that the car was owned by Colin Crabbe, a well-known discoverer of lost exotics during the 60s and 70s. He used to run the Complete Automobilist vintage parts store in the UK but I believe he has recently retired.

Alex.
 

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There's a new article on this car by the journalist Mick Walsh in this month's Classic and Sportscar in the UK - it gets the full treatment and there are some great photos of the car since an obviously careful and sensitive restoration. I'm not going to post a scan, sorry, but it's worth hunting out a copy if you can (the front cover has a yellow Ferrari 355 on it). A brief test drive revealed that the steering at low speed is so awful that it was thought that the steering column was binding! Apparently the French sale fell through ....

Alex.
 

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Jankovits Alfa

The full text...

Alfa Union

How did a small garage in eastern Europe beat the Alfa factory to a mid engined layout? Mick Walsh reckons the Jankovits special was inspired by the Silver Arrow.



You wouldn't automatically associate Rijeka on the Adriatic coast with automotive innovation. The bustling Croatian port, where the torpedo was designed, had a tough time between the wars, with control running from the fallen Habsburg Empire to a Nazi puppet state, but the core of its populace was Italian. In this unsettled environment, one of the era's most intriguing sports cars was designed and built by two young, qualified architects, determined to put Rijeka, or Fiume in Italian, on the automotive map.

Little is known about the brothers Gino and Oscar Jankovits but, by the 1930s, they'd given up architecture to focus on automotive engineering. Based in a port better known for shipbuilding, they built a garage business that reportedly included an Alfa Romeo dealership. During 1935, they completed drawings of an innovative mid engined sports car, with independent suspension and central driving position. This three-seater was styled with all enveloping, streamlined bodywork, possibly influenced by another Hungarian born engineer, Paul Jaray, former chief designer at the Zeppelin works. After WWI, Jaray had patented his theories for aerodynamic car bodies and the grandfather of streamlining produced wind cheating saloons on several German marques. The Jankovits brothers must have been aware of his work. No doubt the sensational debut of Ferdinand Porsche's Auto Union A type, with its mid-mounted V16 engine, early in 1934 at Avus also made a big impression. And maybe they witnessed Nuvolati beat Rosemeyer around the Budapest Gardens in 1936.

Progress on the construction of the Jankovits design was slow. Story has it that, through connections at the Alfa Romeo factory, they made contact with Vittorio Jano. The legendary Turin born engineer was struggling against the fascist pride of the state controlled firm and, after failing to deliver a GP car capable of beating the German teams, was sacked by Alfa manager Ugo Gobbato. Aero engine manufacture was then the priority at Alfa so, against such pressure, it's unlikely Jano would have had much time for the Jankovits brothers. But he may have given them a new generation 6C 2300.

Rumours that Jano allowed the duo to build the special in the Alfa factory seem implausible, particularly because Jano had enough problems of his own. Quite When the car was completed isn't known but it's thought it entered several local events, with mule type bodywork. During restoration the present engine was dated to 1938, which further confuses its timeline, but earlier mounts suggest that the box section chassis was possibly used with a larger motor.

Jano's successor at Alfa Romeo was Catalan engineer Wifredo Ricart, who'd fled from the Spanish Civil War to run the diverse technical divisions at the huge new Portello plant. Among Ricart's many projects was the Tipo 512 GP car, with mid mounted flat 12 engine, which was never fully developed due to the outbreak of war. Also on his drawing board was a mid engined racing coupe with 16 cylinder power detuned for endurance, but this too was abandoned when his design team moved to Lago d' Orta after the first allied bombings hit Portello.

Various reports on the Jankovits Alfa suggest that it was a prototype for Ricart's Tipo 163 but this seems ridiculous. As advanced as the Jankovits special was, it had little in common with Ricart's design which featured tubular chassis and a de Dion rear with Watt linkage and two massive drilled radius arms running rearwards from the hubs to a pick up on a frame extension around the gearbox. Alfa's in house workmanship was to a high order so it makes no sense that it would have used a home built special to test its new engine. If the true timeline of the Jankovits Alfa could be confirmed, it would pre date the factory with its mid engine and wishbone front suspension. During rebuild all the components were found to be methodically numbered, and extensively drilled for lightness maybe to compensate for the heavy steel bodywork.

Just like Ricart's prototype Tipo 512s, which were spirited away to a cheese factory, the Jankovits Alfa was hidden during WW2, though with peace the situation in Rijeka was very, different from that in Italy. Maybe because of its rumoured royal connections, the Jankovits family was forced to flee the newly established People's Republic of Yugoslavia. Its automotive business and property were seized by the new communist regime under Marshal Tito when Rijeka was occupied, but the brothers were determined to save the prototype. In Boys Own comic style, the car was driven at night across the closed border. During the restoration, several dents were suggested to be from bullets fired by guards as the streamliner roared into Italy.

Having lost almost everything, the Jankovits brothers were forced to sell their Alfa and, while based in Trieste, it was spotted by a US serviceman who had it shipped back to America. What happened to it during the ensuing 20 years isn't recorded, but it seems to have remained in storage with little use until discovered by Ed Duras of the Vintage Car Store in Nyack, New York.

Legendary antique car hunter Colin Crabbe was one of the few who took an interest in the mystery machine.

"It was a ***** looking thing, recalls Crabbe. "The rear bonnet had been removed and a small petrol tank had been strapped on behind the engine. I contacted Luigi Fusi at the Alfa Romeo museum, and he was insistent it was nothing more than a special. No one was interested in it then and I had a devil of a job selling the thing."

Eventually Malcolm Templeton, an Alfa dealer and racer from Northern Ireland, was tempted by the project but again little was done to the car. In the mid '80s, another collector Neil Crabb heard rumours of an intriguing Alfa prototype stashed away in a barn in Ireland. After a visit, he did a deal with Templeton and the car was on the move again, but Crabb soon sold it to Leeds based classic car dealer Phil Bennett. Michael Ware, then curator of the National Motor Museum, took an interest in the machine and even borrowed it for display at Beaulieu in the hope that more details would come to light.

In the end the car found an appreciative home in Italy and, in 2004 near Modena, it finally got the restoration it had long deserved. In February, French auction house Artcurial, through its Italy based consultant Franco Meiners, consigned the restored Jankovits car for its Paris auction during Retromobile's opening weekend. Not surprisingly, the prototype was the talk of the town. News of its sale even reached two Paris based members of the Royal Automobile Club of Hungary "Out of the blue I received an e mail from this mystery woman," Meiners explains. "She said the Jankovits family had royal connections and were dealers in motorbikes as well as running a coachworks in Fiume. The brothers also raced in Hungary and Italy."

Discrepancies over the Alfa's history remain unresolved. Why was such an advanced chassis fitted with a heavy steel body if the Jankovits brothers had intended to race it? The few pre WW2 photographs show the bodywork in various stages of construction, and it's possible the rest wasn't finished until after the war. Although badged with the crests of Swiss coachbuilder Graber, it's believed that Hermann Graber was a friend of the Jankovits family and only advised them on the body build. Hammering out those long streamlined wings was done by local artisans in the Jankovits workshops, maybe redundant ship workers, but it must have been a challenging process.

Before the auction we visited the car with pre-war Alfa expert Alain de Cadenet, who, like us, was captivated by the one off. Prior to the display inside the shopping hall. at the Palais des Congres, the Jankovits special was readied for a short run. The rear hinged doors are opened via flush fitted vertical handles set low in the body side. Once you've clambered across the bench style seat to the centre driving position, it is immediately clear how cramped the ****pit is. The three spoke steering wheel is close to the driver's chest, resulting in very bent arms to wind on lock. On a twisty road, passengers on either side would soon get tired of the driver's restless torso and pumping elbows. The column runs to the floor, splitting the pedals, with brake on the left, and throttle and clutch paired on the right Even a short driver would have to hunch down to protect his forehead from the wind-stream The narrow fork of the front chassis members sits proud of the floor, with vintage gear selector mounted to the right, and brake to the left. The dash is dominated by a large rev counter in the centre but surprisingly there's no speedometer maybe hinting at the constructors' competitive ambitions. The ancillary gauges are divided, with oil pressure and petrol on the left, plus water temperature and ammeter to the right.

Once the triple Webers are primed, the engine barks into life with a rorty exhaust rasp, accompanied by the top end sizzle from the twin cam gears and three sucking carb trumpets directly behind. Considering the length of the gear linkage, the selector is surprisingly precise, with first away in the top right of the polished Ferrari style gate. Quite how it would respond to faster changes as speeds and revs increase we didn't discover.

The steering is the weakest feature. So heavy is its very direct action that we were initially convinced there was column lock. Slow manoeuvring requires body weight to turn the wheel yet once up to speed it lightens, claims Meiners. Paris city traffic was no place to explore the car's handling but there's no doubt about the interest it creates. Just imagine the reaction as it came up on to the starting ramp at the Mille Miglia or Pebble Beach. That pleasure still awaits a new owner, because, frustratingly, the Jankovits Alfa was withdrawn prior to the auction, so its market value is still untested. "In France, you are legally responsible for what is written in the auction catalogue for 10 years after the sale," says Meiners. 'We're still learning about the car, and want the information to be correct. I'm planning to take it to a few Italian shows and it's been invited to Villa d' Este. Hopefully more of its history will come to light."


[ Interestingly, Rosemeyer also planned a mid engined, three abreast fully enclosed road version of the Auto Union in 1934, the body based on Komendas work, later seen in Porsche designs.
See Scratch Made Cars - Car Blueprints Forum
for more.

I note Jano did not give them an 8C.
 

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FYI: There's a 15 minute video (mostly the owner explaining design aspects of the car in German) available on the Oldtimer TV web site.
 

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Yeah, if only there was a dubbed English version for linguistically challenged car buffs, like myself.

That vid of the car loads really slowly here (Australia), even on uncapped adsl1.
 
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