Home » This Alfa Romeo Touring Car Has One Of My Favorite Racing Cheats: Cold Start

This Alfa Romeo Touring Car Has One Of My Favorite Racing Cheats: Cold Start

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The whole concept of having “homologated” versions of race cars for the road has always been a questionable one. As the man said: if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. Homologated road versions are often a stretch, but credit Alfa Romeo for the most ingenious (and also laziest) cheat in racing history.

Alfa Romeo was excited about its svelte new Alfa 155 TS touring car and wanted to win the British Touring Car Championship with its excellent driver Gabriele Tarquini. Per BTCC rules, the road car and the race car had to share aerodynamic features.

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Here, I’ll let RM Auctions explain:

In order exploit a loophole in the homologation criteria that stipulated 2,500 road going variants of similar specification had to be sold to the public, Alfa Romeo launched the 155 ‘Silverstone edition’, complete with a much higher adjustable rear wing and adjustable front splitter. This naturally gave the racing variant a controversial advantage over its competitors, which was made all the more contentious when it transpired that the raised rear wing was supplied in kit-form in the boot of the Silverstone, for owners to install if they wanted. The fact that Alfa Romeo ran the cars with the wings in the retracted position in pre-season testing, thus keeping the ‘extended’ aero parts a secret until the first race meeting at Thruxton was equally provocative.

Did you catch that? They sold 2,500 cars with a retractable wing, but only chucked it in the trunk of the cars and left it up to the owners to decide if they wanted to add it or not. Here’s what that looks like:

Alfa 155 Silverstone
Photo: FCA

And here’s what the race car looks like:

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Tarquini Alfa
Photo: Top image and this image RM Auctions

The other teams figured this out pretty quickly and appealed to the racing organizers to not allow the team to run this setup after Alfa Romeo absolutely dominated the first part of the season. The compromise was that Alfa had to run the wing in the lower position and that other teams could basically do something similar. The result was that Tarquini only won one more race, but by that point, he had such a lead that he won the driver’s championship.

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Adam EmmKay8 GTI
Adam EmmKay8 GTI
4 months ago

Rear spolier on race car and road car look the same. How high are you Matt?

Edwin van Hoof
Edwin van Hoof
4 months ago

And for DTM they used an engine based on PRV
Like in Delorean

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
4 months ago
Reply to  Edwin van Hoof

What are you smoking? The DTM cars’ engines were very loosely based on the famed Busso engine but built like a scaled down F1 car engine.

SkyRise
SkyRise
4 months ago

One of the best things about homologation requirements is that they require manufacturers to include legitimate racing features on cars sold to regular customers.

That’s not cheating. That’s the whole point.

The fact that the number of units are limited means that regular humans get access to devices that would never be included on a high volume production car. I don’t see the downside here.

Black Peter
Black Peter
4 months ago
Reply to  SkyRise

I don’t even see the cheat here. Was is homologated? Were both race configurations
(high and low) offered to the public? Yes and yes, this wasn’t cheating, this was a bunch of sore losers complaining.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Black Peter

I don’t even see a wing! All I see is a little spoiler.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
4 months ago

Are we talking about the wing or the splitter? I see a massive difference in the splitter. Can’t see a difference in the wing.

Winsome Badger
Winsome Badger
4 months ago

Both pictures show the low wing. What came in the trunk was a set of extension plates that lifted that wing up from the trunk about 6″.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
4 months ago
Reply to  Winsome Badger

I recall hearing that story. The pictures looking the same is what threw me off, as I thought they were meant to show the difference.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago
Reply to  Winsome Badger

Do they have to pay AOL by the jpeg? Would have been nice to have a photo included in the article of the wing in the high position.
I’m pretty sure there was a jello picnic article back in the day that was exactly this but with more photos, i think they even showed pictures of how the risers were stored in the trunk

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago
Reply to  Winsome Badger

The front splitter was also one of the “cheats” where it could be slid forward

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Winsome Badger

Wow that’s a fail in the article to not show the extended wing.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
4 months ago
Reply to  Winsome Badger

Exactly! Here’s the proper raised wing. I was hoping the article would mention that all there was to it was some raising plates in the trunk. It kinda reads like a whole lifted wing was supplied in kit form.

Last edited 4 months ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago

Am I the only one who can’t tell the difference between the wing on the race car and the stock car? Is there any difference?

Is this like one of those magic eye posters? I could never do those…

10001010
10001010
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

A schooner is a sailboat!!!

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony
Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
4 months ago

This was one of my all time favorite cars. Just such a perfect design, great sound, and great performance. Masterpiece.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

Absolutely. I remembered wanting one of these so badly as a kid.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago

I love the look of the 155, but every time I see one I also see my Chevy Corsica in the body styling. (Mine was the respectable Z52 version.)

Same basic wedge shape (A little stubbier in the Alfa, a little more rounded body sides and gentle curve to the hood and deck shapes.) Same clean overlap of the rear door panel at the rear fender. (No cutline above a separate fender piece.) Same slight notch in the rear quarter panel where the C-pillar meets the fender. Same black trim around the windows and the lower portion which cuts across the B-pillar. It’s all so similar.

Ordinarily I’d accuse GM of copying Alfa — except the 155 came out in the 90s well after the Corsica/Beratta’s debut in the late 80’s. So either Alfa’s design leaked and got scooped up by GM, or it’s just a surprising parallel development.

I will say I kind of prefer the predecessor Alfa 75’s grille/front styling a bit more, as well as the Corsica’s less-cluttered and more pointy nose to the 155’s. From some angles, the 155’s front looks a bit off or awkward.

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
4 months ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

The 155 and the 75 (its predecessor) share lots of design features, some also shared with the 164. Lots more than shared with a.. Chevy Corsica?? LOL

If I got high enough I could maybe see something there.. but definitely less resemblance of the Corsica with the 155 than with any other 4-door small sedan of that era.
They all got 4 round wheels, I’ll give you that 🙂

Last edited 4 months ago by SarlaccRoadster
UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago

Meanwhile, Adrian just pointed out some potential cross-pollination between the Chevy/GMC GMT-400 trucks’ design elements and period Land Rovers. I just find it intriguing how some design concepts get around, and the originators aren’t always the cars we associate with them.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

At least Alfa customers got something, unlike with Ford’s late ’90s one-off Taurus with much nicer lines that we actually got, a brazen effort to convince NASCAR oh yeah, this is the production model we’ll be selling for sure…

Also, anachronistic fonts look so good on modern cars.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago

how alfa are remembered for only making beautiful cars is beyond.

Buzz
Buzz
4 months ago

Lowered and with the body colored splitter, it is beautiful. The homologation car is pretty fugly though. I wonder how much of it is due to the swoopy front plate making everything look extra crooked.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Buzz

I’d say “italicized (ha!) Volvo 850”, but it’s not stunning by any measure.

Yes, the homolgation car looks broken and hideous.

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