Bentley mechanic Billy Rockwell joined the outfit and when Straight decided to throw in the racing towel in 1934 the duo set up a workshop in London under the title Ramponi Rockwell. Dick Seaman, for whom Ramponi had prepared an MG K3 racer while still with Straight, entrusted his 1935 season ERA preparation to Ramponi. Success was not exactly forthcoming in the ERA and Seaman instructed Ramponi to find him something better for coming years. Ramponi’s solution was a 10-year-old Grand Prix Delage, extensively developed and modified. The results were impressive with the car almost unbeatable, and catapulted Seaman up the ranks to secure a drive in the all-conquering 1937 Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix team.
1938 was Seaman’s year. He won that year’s German Grand Prix, came second in the Swiss Grand Prix and married Erica Popp, the daughter of the director of BMW. Sadly, six months later at the age of 26, Seaman passed away when he crashed out while leading the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and the car caught fire. Ramponi, who saw Seaman as a son, was devastated.
Although a British citizen and not fascist in the slightest, the onset of World War II saw Ramponi and his first wife placed in an ‘enemy’ camp on the Isle of Man. His wife passed away while there and Ramponi was eventually released in 1944, after which he took up a short job stint at the Bristol-Siddeley operation manufacturing for the allied war effort. When the war ended he moved back to London and with his new wife Irene Cooper as secretary, re-opened Ramponi Rockwell selling and servicing Alfa Romeos. Thereafter he consulted for various motor and aeronautical giants like Girling, Vanderwell and Ferodo and is often credited as introducing disc brakes to the Italian auto-makers.