Alfa Romeo. A name that oozes Italian passion, style and luxury. In 2010, Alfa Romeo celebrated its 100th anniversary, and over the past century they have produced some amazing cars, including the various Giulia sport saloons of the 60s, the charismatic Spider, which is probably Alfa’s most well known model, as well as some more controversial models, like the 1990s SZ, and GTV.
The car I am going to write about is my personal favourite, the Tipo 33 Stradale. Nothing in the world looks anything like this. Its proportions seem so perfect, with its curvacious lines throughout, and those sweeping teardrop headlights, a masterpiece designed by Franco Scaglione. This car was launched in 1967, and was created to take on the Ferrari Dino, Lamborghini Miura and De Tomaso Mangusta.
The 33 Stradale had a more futuristic design than all of its rivals with its bubble roof and butterfly doors. Underneath that gorgeous skin are the mechanics from the Tipo 33 racecar, or be it slightly detuned from the racer version. Both versions made use of a mid-mounted 2.0 litre V8 engine, the road car producing 230bhp, as opposed to the 270bhp that came out of the race version. The entire engine was built out of aluminium and was mated to a Coletti six speed gearbox. Suspension is double wishbones all round the car as well as disc brakes at all four corners. The road car also made use of the racer’s tubular chassis, consisted of three large tubes, fixed together in an ‘H’ shape. At the rear of the car, longitudinal sections were angled inwards to cradle the engine and gearbox. The tubular side-members also contained the rubber fuel tanks. The body was also made of aluminium, thus resulting in an overall weight of just 700kg.The interior was one of the most luxurious of its time, with leather throughout the cabin.
Despite the car’s magificent looks, it was not a great seller due to its extraordinate price, and only eighteen cars were ever made. Today, there are no more than four known vehicles existing on the roads, with one of them belonging to Alfa Romeo. The others presumably belong to private buyers, cherishing what some would refer to as the pinnacle of automotive design. On rare occasions they might make an appearance on the road, inspiring those who see them, both from a visual and audible experience.
What does the future hold for such a car? From the actual car itself, not much, by todays standards the engine is tiny, although the power to weight ratio is quite extraordinate to say the least.However, this car’s design did inspire an entirely new car for Alfa Romeo, the 4C. Although the new car will not have a V8, Alfa Romeo claim that the new car will have a power-to-weight ratio nearly identical to that Tipo 33. As the name suggests, the 4C will make use of a four cylinder engine from the Giulietta Cloverleaf, producing about 235bhp. Alfa are also claiming that the new car will weight about 850kg. They are also claiming a price tag of about 45,000 Sterling, although recently there have been rumours of the price droping to 38,000 Sterling. With materials like carbon fibre, I do not have a clue how they are able to come up with such a price tag. However, if everything goes according to plan, and for Alfa Romeo’s sake I hope they do, then the struggling Italian brand may have another classic on their hands.