The Alfa Romeo 164 Procar racer.

The early 1980's saw the european rounds of the Formula 1 championship being supported by the 'Procar' series. This series involved famous drivers battling it out infront of the F1 spectators in race prepared BMW M1's .The M1 was coming to the end of its production run and it was decided that a new car or new series was required to entertain before the main F1 events. A new series was decided upon and it was to follow a silhouette format. Taking F1 style chassis and engines and covering them in a road car body. Formula S was born, albeit stillborn. The only manufacturer to produce a Formula S car and show it to the world was Alfa Romeo, using the oppotunity to showcase the body from its top model, the 164.

Alfa Romeo had the neccessary experience in building F1 engines, however building F1 chassis was not something they had done before. In 1987 a series of unfortunate events had however befallen Alfa's previous F1 partner, Brabham: left without a designer and engine supplier, and with a team boss increasingly tied up F1 politics they were all at sea. Enter Fiat and the purchase of Brabham MRD (Motor racing development), and the final piece of the puzzle is in place.

With Brabham producing the chassis, and a very convincing carbon fibre copy of the 164 body, Alfa dusted off its newly designed 3.5L V10 engine. The engine was mid mounted in the car and drove the rear wheels through a 6 speed Hewland gearbox. With a weight of 750kg, an engine producing 600bhp, slicks and no downforce performance would be brisk to say the least. Alfa UK issued a single page document stating top speed to be 215+mph and a 0-60mph time of 2.1 seconds, both of which are entirely believible.
The car was then shown off at the Paris and Birmingham motor shows with the accompanying statement

"Although the new ProCar formula has yet to be given a firm starting date, Alfa Romeo are the first manufacturers to exploit the potential of the new regulations and produce a proper, running feasibility study to establish the formula's performance benchmark."

Alfa were not just the first to produce a working prototype, they were the only to do so. No other manufacturer commited resources to formula S, and it never got off the ground. In fact the 164 ProCar ,and there is just 1, only ever had one public airing, the 1988 grand prix weekend at Monza. Ricardo Patrese was given the special task of piloting the car around the Monza circuit for just 2 laps, in the hope of drumming up enthusiasm and support for the planned Formula S series. In reality though, Ricardo had been told to take it easy, apart from a sprint down the main straight because of the condition of the then quite old Michelin slicks.

Formula S was ahead of its time, filling a gap in motorsport that still needs filling to this day. Like the series the 164 ProCar was never properly developed, which is a shame, as watching a field of 600bhp showroom silhouette cars racing on the european GP circuits would certainly have been a draw for the spectators.

Alfa Romeo 164 ProCar

Produced by:
Alfa Romeo / Brabham MRD
Year of production
1988
Country of manufacture
Italy
Number Produced
1
Engine
3.5L 72 V10, 40 valve Naturally Aspirated.
Engine Location
Mid mounted longitudinally
Gearbox
Hewland 6 speed, driving rear wheels
Power
600bhp @ 12,000rpm
bhp/litre
177bhp/litre
Power to weight
800bhp/tonne
Top speed
215+mph (345+kph)
0-60mph
2.1seconds

 

Official press photographs

Please click on one of the images to open a larger image in a new window.

 

Photos from the workshop

A short YouTube video of the 164 Procar.

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