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“STORIE ALFA ROMEO” EPISODE SEVEN: SHAPE AND COLOUR REVOLUTION IN THE 33 STRADALE, CARABO AND MONTREAL
|Date: 04 Jun 2020
||Author Type: Press Release
|Author: Alfa South Africa
|Source: Alfa South Africa
The car as a sign of the times
advanced materials, and styling that marries technological innovation and
creativity: these are the ingredients of the Tipo 33’s design.
in Alfa Romeo’s competitive spirit, two “non-identical twins” were
conceptualized on this racing technology:the 33 Stradale and the Carabo.
by Franco Scaglione, the 33 Stradale is a masterful synthesis of technical
creative daring: where innovation in style blends with the quest for
aerodynamics and functionality.
Marcello Gandini designed the Carabo pointed to the future, with fine attention
to colour and paintwork that would continue to be explored in the Montreal.
Headlights for “eyes”, the
front grille for a “mouth”, the front for its “face” – and, of course, the car
its “body”, with “shoulders” and “hips” traced by the wheel arches. These
descriptors are still used today. But how did they come about, and why?
The first cars were literally “horseless carriages”,
with no specific embellishments. As car design evolved, various “coachbuilders”
became prominent, particularly from the 1930s onwards. They beat the sheet
metal into shape by hand, directly onto a wooden frame, creating genuinely
unique models with rounded, sensual lines. As industrial production evolved,
the designs tended to simplify, if only because the pressing equipment of the
time couldn’t stamp out such voluptuous forms.
At one point, in the late
1960s, the two stylistic inspirations noticeably diverged. The difference
between those curvy cars with hips and faces and what was considered to be the
“car of tomorrow” is easily seen in the differences between the 33 Stradale and
Carabo – two Alfa Romeo models developed from the same technical base.
Drawing on the same platform
The 33 Stradale and the Carabo
could not look more different. One all nerves and sinews, like an athlete in
the midst of competition; the other, all straight lines and angles, aimed at
grasping the essence of mobility and pushing it forward into the future. So
much more than two interpretations, these are two different worlds.
The shared technical basis of
these two cars was the culmination of 50 years’ of racing experience at Alfa
Romeo. Ingenuity, advanced materials,
and styling that marries technological innovation and creativity: these are the
ingredients of the Tipo 33’s design
The desire to compete
All this stems from the desire
to compete, one that has never waned at Alfa Romeo. In 1964, Giuseppe Luraghi –
the then president of Alfa Romeo – felt it was time for an official return to
motorsport. To re-establish the racing team, he acquired Autodelta, an Udine
company that was already a privileged partner in the production of the TZ.
Along with Autodelta, Carlo Chiti – who worked at Portello from 1952 to 1957 –
also returned to Alfa Romeo, taking on the role of head of the official works
In the same year, the 33
project began. Luraghi asked his team for a car that could compete in the most
popular form of motorsport at the time: the World Sportscar Championship and
the time trials were at the height of public and media attention.
In the mid-1960s, Autodelta
relocated to Settimo Milanese – closer to the Alfa Romeo plant, but most of all
to the Balocco test track.
The first Tipo 33 frame
designed by Alfa Romeo arrived at the Autodelta workshops in 1965. It featured
an asymmetrical "H" tubular structure, made of aluminium alloy, with
integral fuel tanks. A magnesium structure supported the front suspension,
radiators, steering, and pedals while the engine and gearbox was mid-mounted
longitudinally in the rear. The fiberglass bodywork limited the total mass of
the car to 600 kg – the minimum regulatory weight. Once again, lightness was
Alfa Romeo's secret weapon.
Victory in the 1975 and 1977 World Championship for Makes
The first 33 to race was
immediately nicknamed “Periscopica”, for the air intake that popped out above
the roll bar submarine-style. The time trial at Fléron, near Liège in Belgium,
was chosen for its debut with Autodelta’s chief tester, Teodoro Zeccoli behind
the wheel. After years of meticulous preparation, the 33 entered the world of
competitive motorsport on March 12, 1967. It was immediately victorious and
would go on to win some of the most prestigious races and the 1975 and 1977
World Championship for Makes. The 33 truly was a dominant motorsport force.
The Florentine aristocrat who wanted to be
When Alfa Romeo decided to
produce the 33 in very small numbers for private individuals, it needed a new
look to bring its sporty character to the roads. The project was entrusted to
Born in Florence into an
aristocratic family, Scaglione studied aeronautical engineering until he was
conscripted into the army. He then set off for the Libyan front and was taken
prisoner in Tobruk. He returned to Italy in late 1946. Determined not to resume
his studies, he chose to become a car designer: first with Pinin Farina, then
with Bertone, and later working freelance.
Scaglione put all his technical
expertise and creative daring into the design of the 33 Stradale, resulting in
a masterpiece where innovation in style blends with the quest for aerodynamics
The 33 Stradale
The bonnet of the 33 Stradale
opens fully to improve access to the mechanical components. For the first time
on a “street-legal” car, its “dihedral” doors allowed easier access to the
low-slung sportscar that was no more than one meter high. The only differences
from the track version were the extension of the wheelbase by 10 centimetres,
and a steel frame rather than an aluminum one. The engine was the same as the
Tipo 33, made entirely of aluminium and magnesium alloys, with indirect
mechanical injection and dry-sump lubrication. With twin overhead cams per
bank, two valves per cylinder and dual ignition, its 230 hp mean the
lightweight Alfa could reach a maximum speed of 260 km/h, with a 0 to 100 km/h
time of 5.5 seconds.
The premiere event in Monza
The car was officially launched
at the 1967 Turin Motor Show but had been unveiled a few weeks earlier to an
enthusiastic audience of experts. On September 10, 1967, the Italian Grand Prix
– the ninth round of the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship – was held in
Monza. That GP went down in history for Jim Clark's epic comeback against Jack
Brabham – and for the debut of one of the most beautiful sports cars ever made.
At launch, the 33 Stradale was the most expensive sports car on the market,
then selling for almost 10 million Italian lire, compared to 6-7 million for
its most prestigious rivals. Only 12 cars were produced with Scaglione bodywork.
Its buyers were making the investment of their lives: they are virtually
A “dream car” was presented at
the 1968 Paris Motor Show, representing the evolution of this radical idea: the
Carabo, designed for Bertone by Marcello Gandini, then only 30 years old.
A non-identical twin: the Carabo
The Carabo was based on the
mechanics of the 33 Stradale, used at the time by other designers for one-offs such as Giorgetto Giugiaro's
Iguana, the 33 Special Coupé, Pininfarina's Cuneo, and Bertone's Navajo. The
height was the same, but the rounded lines had disappeared completely.
Everything in the Carabo is clear-cut, from the wedge design to its “scissor”
doors. The name Carabo was inspired by the Carabus auratus, a brightly
metallic-coloured beetle. The same hues are used for the car's body: luminescent
green with orange details. From then on, Alfa Romeo began to explore
extravagant colours and special paintwork techniques, to highlight the brand’s
uniqueness even more, a theme that would continue with the Montreal.
In 1967, nations from across
the world brought their best technical and scientific achievements to the
International and Universal Exposition in Montreal. Alfa Romeo was asked to
create a technological symbol for the Expo – a model to represent “the highest
aspiration of modern man in terms of cars”. Satta Puliga and Busso requested
assistance from Bertone, which tasked Gandini with designing the bodywork and
interiors. The result was a resounding success. North American visitors
resonated with the car’s daring elegance and in the wake of this public demand,
a production model was developed and presented at the Geneva Motor Show in
1970. Unlike the original concept, this Montreal had a V8 engine based on the
Tipo 33, raised to 2.6-litre capacity and limited to 200 hp. The model boasted
an extraordinary range of colours, both pastel and metallic: from green
(previously used in the show car for the Expo) to silver, and from orange to
gold. This exploration of vivid colours would become an Alfa Romeo tradition
and reflected in today’s new colour palette: Red Villa d'Este, Ocher GT Junior
and Montreal Green. These hues are inspired by the 110-year history of the
Brand, and are dedicated to some of its most glorious models.