Formula 1 cars are so extreme that they are never allowed on public roads.

Yet it has sometimes been tried to put the complete technology of such a race car in an apparently normal family car.

A speed of 329 kilometers per hour: on Friday, September 9, 1988, something red shoots through the

speed trap

on the Monza circuit.

Nothing special in itself;

after all, it is the Grand Prix weekend and Ferraris are also participating.

Except that this time it is not an F1 car that comes rushing by.

The spectators rub their eyes in confusion.

Wasn't that just an Alfa 164?

Yes that was it.

At least, sort of.

At the wheel, Riccardo Patrese has his hands full with the device that previously made only a few laps on Alfa's test track Balocco, and that was a while ago.

In the poorly tested, disguised Formula 1 car, Patrese thinks it was nice after two laps.

Although the Italian driver drives for Williams that year, he still has warm ties with Alfa Romeo, the team he was under contract with in 1984 and 1985.

And also with Brabham, Bernie Ecclestone's racing stable, where he finds shelter for the seasons before and after.

The Ecclestone-Alfa Romeo-Brabham triangle is therefore responsible for the creation of the simply spectacular 164 Pro Car.

Fiat sees nothing in the racing ambitions of Alfa Romeo

In 1984, Alfa Romeo Project 1035 starts the development of a 3.5-liter V10 Formula 1 engine.

The ten-cylinder was completed in 1986 and a development program with Ligier is in the pipeline.

That radically ends when Alfa Romeo is incorporated by Fiat at the end of 1986, which sees nothing at all in the racing ambitions of the brand.

Leave that to Ferrari, is the idea.

Kind of the bill: a brand new, unused V10 engine, the very first for Formula 1.

The ever-commercial Ecclestone promptly comes up with the plan for Formula S, with the S for 'silhouette'.

In 1987, Fiat briefly became the owner of its former Brabham racing stable, which was commissioned to build a chassis for Alfa's 600 hp ten-cylinder.

The bodywork that goes on top is very similar to that of the Alfa 164: a large family and business car of the brand known at that time.

The sizes almost match.

But the Pro Car is a true silhouette racer, with the composite shell only serving to cover technique and driver.

And to serve the public with something recognizable.

For the Formula 1 driver, the modified Alfa Romeo felt familiar.

For the Formula 1 driver, the modified Alfa Romeo felt familiar.

Photo: Autoweek

Ford, Honda and Renault are failing

The idea is to have the Pro Cars, with F1 drivers behind the wheel, as the support act for Formula 1, as BMW did successfully with the M1 a decade earlier.

In this way, Ecclestone wants to attract more car manufacturers to Formula 1.

But while Alfa Romeo is setting a good example and racing fans are already looking forward to spectacular races with these Formula 1 cars disguised as road cars, other manufacturers, including Ford, Honda and Renault, are failing.

And so the whole project goes out like a candle.

Only two of the 164 Pro Car have been built.

They are now in the Alfa Romeo museum in Arese.

Whoever was there on September 9, 1988, saw something unique.

More information about all versions of the Alfa Romeo 164, including specifications and user experiences, can be found in this AutoWeek file.

Interested in a used Alfa Romeo?

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Nice try, but owner Fiat did not see the racing ambitions of Alfa.

Nice try, but owner Fiat did not see the racing ambitions of Alfa.

Photo: Autoweek