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Envisioned by Louis Bertetto, president of the Automobile Club Milano, and Romulus Tavoni, former sporting director for Ferrari, as an entry-level racing formula in 1964, Formula Monza 875 was both an affordable and educational series for up-and-coming drivers. The “875” in the name was tied to the ready-to-race car’s price limit – 875,000 lire, or around $1400 in 1964 dollars.
The rules allowed for any motor less than 500cc, but the Fiat Giardiniera’s was by far the most popular, both from a performance and a packaging standpoint. The brakes and other driveline components also had to come from a production car, keeping costs down. Not surprisingly, most Formula Monza 875 cars were built around Fiat 500 drivetrain components.
The first 3 prototypes were built by Massimino, and presented at the 1964 Italian Grand Prix. Growing wildly in popularity, the series soon expanded to 6 manufacturers, such as this Santandrea, # 41 of 90 built. Races were often held in support of a major Formula One race, usually on the preceding Thursday so as to not to interfere with the main event. Fields of 90 or more racers were not uncommon. 1983 saw the Formula evolve to include the newer, more powerful Fiat Panda engine, relegating the Formula 875 cars to the back of the pack. Notable drivers from the series include Max Papis and Michele Alboreto.
Country of Origin: Italy
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Air-cooled, 2-cylinder 500cc, 30 hp
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Top Speed: Approx. 100 mph
Years of Production: 1966-1978
Number Produced: 90
Original Cost: 875,000 lire; approx. $1400 USD