Yes, the excitement of the works 'Alfettas' returning to the fray after their '49 sabbatical was considerable - and hearing the 'varoom-varoom-varoom' of their straight-eights warming-up in the Silverstone paddock was to have the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention.
And the thought of the exciting Juan Manuel Fangio in one of the cars, fresh from his wonderful San Remo debut with the team was reason enough to trade in your month's petrol coupons just to be in Northamptonshire last weekend.
Ever since his startling speed in the Squadra Achille Varzi Maseratis last year on tracks new to him, the idea of him being in a full-on factory car has been a tantalising one - and now Alfa had made it a reality.
How would he compare to the great Giuseppe Farina, who hadn't been on the Alfa strength at San Remo?
Silverstone was going to be the first instalment of that epic match race. But yet there was still something disappointing about the entry, especially given that it was the opening round for the newly-founded World Drivers Championship.
That something, of course, was Ferrari's absence. Yet again, the Royal Automobile Club had not been able to arrive at a suitable incentive to bring the Maranello cars across the Channel.
Giuseppe Farina receives the plaudits for winning the first world championship grand prix © LAT
The little V12-engined supercharged single-seaters were very much the class of the F1 field last year, of course, but that was in the absence of Alfa. How would they compare now that the Ferraris had been developed for a year while the Alfas stood under dust sheets at Portello? The answer to that sadly, wasn't going to be given at Silverstone last week.
Nor of course were we going to get the opportunity to see how our own wildly exciting attempt at a Grand Prix car - the BRM V16 - would compare.
Raymond Mays gave the beast a few demo laps, thrilling us with the shrill sound and incredible acceleration, but he did it in bursts, hardly pressing at all in the corners.
It would be nice to imagine that in the future a whole field of quality entrants would commit to the whole season and the tawdry bidding auctions between race organisers and teams would be gone. Anyway, enough of how the event may have been even better; it was still a truly exciting occasion.
In practice the Alfas confirmed that neither the pre-war local ERAs, the sports car-based 4.5-litre normally-aspirated Talbots or the supercharged Maseratis were even vaguely in the same league.
This was a strictly Alfa affair, with Farina practising marginally quicker than Fangio, each visibly faster than Fagioli whose old Mercedes form now seems long ago. Our own Reg Parnell made a competent stand-in guest performance in the fourth car.
Long black lines of rubber at the start as the Alfas' 380bhp was transferred to the old airfield perimeter track, Fagioli briefly ahead but the race soon settled down to a demonstration, Farina and Fangio swapping places.
The four red cars left the rest behind, with Prince Bira's Maserati best of the rest until a fuel feed problem stopped him.
Juan Manuel Fangio would not finish the race © LAT
By three-quarter distance Farina seemed to be pulling a decisive gap out over Fangio and on lap 62 we got a clue as to why - with the Argentinean driver pulling up in the pits with smoke pouring from those elegant bonnet vents.
He was out and victory was in the end rather uneventful for Farina, with Fagioli and Parnell filling the podium.
Trundling along a couple of laps behind was best of the rest Yves Giraud-Cabantous, his lumbering Talbot leading home the similar car of Louis Rosier.
Best of our boys was Bob Gerard in the ERA in sixth.
|Read Tony Dodgins' 10 grands prix to make F1 proud|
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