Time for something fast and Italian.

There were in fact two. Both named after their engine size and layout, so 1.5 litres and eight cylinders.

Meet the Alfa one.


Note the lack of seat belts, fireproof overalls, armco, run off areas or anything else in the line of safety. The odd bale was thought perfectly adequate and several deaths per year per championship (or even per race!) accepted.

The 158 was raced with considerable success from 1937 to 1951, a remarkably long career due to the interruption in racing activities caused by the unpleasantness from 1939 to 1945.


You’d expect an eight cylinder engine to have those eight cylinders in a V orientation, but not a bit of it. Alfa used a straight eight, a design once favoured by luxury makers because of its smoothness but one which was eventually discarded because of its length and a nasty tendency for its unusually long crankshaft to bend itself to destruction.


Despite the bendy crank., Alfa got rather a lot of power from their little eight. By adding a blower and blowing vigorously they got up 350 bhp at 8,500 rpm using methanol. Not content with that, they replaced the 158 by the 159 (no, not that one) and achieved 425 bhp at 9,300 rpm, an impressive rotational speed for this kind of layout. On the other hand, it managed just 1.5 mpg and had to refuel during races which presented difficulties if the race was long and cost them victories.

Cute little supercharger featuring prominently