Ferrari spent all of last year celebrating its 70th anniversary, marking the automaker’s founding in 1947. But Enzo Ferrari and his Scuderia were racing for longer than that. Before producing his own cars (and the outbreak of WWII), Ferrari raced Alfa Romeos – and none more noteworthy than the Tipo B.
One of the most successful of inter-war grand prix racers, the Tipo B was one of the first “monopostos”, single-seaters featuring the centerline driving position that would come to characterize the breed up ’til today.
Though designed by the famous Vittorio Jano for Alfa Romeo, that company’s insolvency in 1933 left the campaigning of the Tipo B to Scuderia Ferrari. So the majority of the 46 victories it achieved were won by the House of the Prancing Horse – including 16 out of 39 grands prix held in 1935 – with drivers like Tazio Nuvolari, Rudolf Caracciola and Louis Chiron behind the wheel.
This example – alternately bearing the chassis number 5007 or 50007 – was driven by Richard Shuttleworth, a British pilot of both aircraft and race cars. It won its heat at Brooklands, its class at the Shelsle Walsh hillclimb, and, most notably, the Grand Prix at Donington, where Shuttleworth in this Tipo B held off two Type 59 Bugattis to win the day.
Alternately known as the P3, the Tipo B was retired at the end of the 1935 season. And though it famously held off the more advanced Silver Arrows from Germany’s Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz, the models that replaced it proved no match for the superior German engineering. The Alfas wouldn’t claim another race win until the outbreak of the Second World War put racing on hiatus. They didn’t win another until racing resumed in 1950, and Ferrari didn’t until the year after.
That leaves the Tipo B as something of a legend. With only a handful having survived until now, this example’s forthcoming auction represents a rare opportunity to acquire one – and a race winner, at that. Little wonder, then, that Bonhams expects this one to fetch a good £4.5-5 million (about $6-6.6m) when it goes under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next week.