Formula Monza

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In-between Karting and Formula Ford, young Italian wannabee racing drivers had another option to hone their skills – Formula Monza. From the mid-1960s and using a short-circuit in the Monza park, races took place in the evenings, in the long shadow cast by the great banking. The cars were all single seaters, with spaceframe chassis and basic fibreglass bodywork. For reasons of economy and to promote competition, the running gear for all cars would be taken from the ubiquitous Fiat 500.

The basic twin-cylinder air-cooled engine, rear mounted and with a four-speed transaxle gearbox lent itself well to being fitted in a racing car, though in order to reduce height, the canted over, Giardiniera version of the engine was used. Suspension and steering were all from the 500 aswell, including the transverse leaf-spring across the front and the semi-trailing arm rear. Brakes as well came from the drum-braked 500 cars.

The result was probably a ‘safe’ car for young bucks, as it will have developed only around 17.5 bhp in standard form. Of course the weight of around 400 kilos made the power to weight ratio a bit more useful, but you can probably see why a ‘short’ circuit was appropriate!

We do not have any history on this particular Formula Monza or indeed a manufacturers name, though it does have a chassis number #002 stamped on one suspension turret and we are informed that it is from the first series of cars in 1965. The date of the components certainly corroborates that. The engine runs but we have not attempted to drive the car and would recommend a thorough overhaul before use (and certainly racing) is contemplated. Simple and cheap to restore, it could also benefit from modification with the myriad Abarth parts available for the 500.

Of course the problem with single-seaters is what you use them for. This would make a great hillclimb car in classic competitions here in the UK. It would also be a fabulous car in which to do the Vernasca Silver Flag event in Italy, no doubt being extremely nimble. It would be a fun car to do the circuit demo at Auto Italia Brooklands. Actually, the possibilities are endless! Or, and we suppose this is the most likely, it would make a fitting centrepiece to a Small Fiat collection, being as it is, the ultimate 500!