Along with the Bugatti Type 35 and the Mercedes-Benz SSK, this was one of the motor racing legends of the pre-war period. It marks what is probably the most important milestone in the production history of this Milan-based car manufacturer; an archetype of the touring sports automobile, based on a single-seat Grand Prix race car design. Its aura is inextricably linked with one of the great races - the Mille Miglia, where it built up its world-beating reputation. It also represents the greatest work of Vittorio Jano, one of the most talented engineers of the time.
It all began just after the First World War. Motor racing had become enormously popular, with a manufacturers's prestige and international reputation directly linked to its sporting achievements. Bitter rivalries were to form between various constructors, especially in Italy, where the competition between FIAT and Alfa Romeo was fierce. With the world title in its sights, the latter was to put all of its resources into achieving this objective.
The P1 model was conceived for this purpose by their in-house engineer Merosi. By 1923, two of these had been built to be driven by Ascari and Sivocci at Monza. Unfortunately, Sivocci was killed in an accident during qualifying and the manufacturer naturally withdrew from the race.
To be continued...