Model history: There is no shortage of spectacular machinery that sport the Alfa Romeo badge but few can rival the Tipo 33 'Stradale'. First shown at the Sport Car Show at Monza in September of 1967 and officially introduced at the Turin Motor Show later in the year, the Stradale was the road-going version of Alfa Romeo's Tipo 33 mid-engined sports racer. Despite its obvious racing roots, it was a luxuriously appointed supercar, clothed with a Franco Scaglione designed body that will never cease to impress. The car's underpinnigs would later also be used for several eye-catching design studies by Italy's major design houses.
What was carried over from the racing car was the somewhat unusual tubular chassis. It consisted of three large diameter tubes, bolted together in what resembled the shape of an 'H'. The transversely mounted tube was placed between the cockpit and the engine compartment. At the rear the longitudinal sections were angled inward to cradle the engine and gearbox. On both ends of the chassis more conventional cross-members connected the two arms of the 'H'. The tubular side-members also contained the rubber fuel tanks. Subtle modifications to the original design included a 100 mm longer wheelbase to create additional interior space and some of the main chassis components were finished in steel instead of aluminium to increase rigidity.
Mounted amidships of the 33 Stradale was a mildly detuned version of the competition car's 2-litre V8 engine. This was Alfa Romeo's first V8 engine and was constructed entirely from aluminium. The dry-sump unit sported twin overhead camshafts that actuated two valves per cylinder and a Spica fuel injection system. It was capable of producing as much as 270 bhp but for reliability reasons it was restricted to 'just' 230 bhp in road trim. It was mated to a Colotti gearbox with six, all syncromesh forward gears. Suspension was by double wishbones on all four corners. Girling disc brakes provided the stopping power. The finishing touch of the rolling chassis was provided by the beautiful cast-aluminium Campagnolo wheels.
Upon completion, the chassis were fitted with a Franco Scaglione designed body. One of Italy's most talented designers, Scaglione had previously worked for Bertone and now worked as a freelancer. Unfortunately he was not as productive as his contemporaries but most of the designs he did produce received universal acclaim. None more so than the aluminium body he created to fit the Tipo 33 Stradale. Its classically elegant and perfectly balanced design features a novel, door design with additional hinges in the roof. The doors are cut deep into the roof for easier acces. Even though fitted with a fully appointed interior and a slightly heavier variant of the 33 chassis, the Stradale only tipped the scales at 700 kg. The powerful engine and Scaglione's very efficient shape helped the car achieve a top speed of 260 km/h.
Production of Alfa Romeo's most potent road car yet commenced late in 1967. Unfortunately there were only very few takers for 33 Stradale, mainly due to its very steep price tag. Built alongside the racing cars, the project was also not on the top of the list of priorities. All examples were built by hand and no two are alike. The earliest examples had twin headlights fitted under the cover, which were later replaced by single lights. Vents were also added behind both the front and rear wheels to allow hot air from the brakes to escape. At least two were known to have been raced in period and one of these may have been fitted with experimental magnesium bits. In March of 1969 the model was discontinued by which time only 18 examples had been produced.
Several of the 33 Stradales failed to find an owner and five of these were handed to the likes of Bertone and Pininfarina. Bertone were the first to launch a Tipo 33 based show car; the 'Carabo' at the 1968 Turin Motor Show. This was one of the very first 'wedge' shape designs that would go on to dominate the 1970s. A year later Giorgietto Giugiaro / Italdesign showed the 'Iguana' at the same venue. Pininfarina also produced two show cars using the 33 Stradale underpinnings and the fifth machine was another Bertone creation, known as the Navajo. All five unique machines still exist today and are part of Alfa Romeo's 'Museo Storico' collection along with at least two Tipo 33 Stradales.
While the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale was not a big success in period, it is today considered as one of the most beautiful cars ever constructed. Its looks are backed up by a competition proven chassis and engine, which give the Stradale the performance to rival most of its exotic contemporaries. Only a handful of these fabulous machines remain today and most of these are cherished by major collectors. Fortunately they do come out of hiding once in a while for all to admire the machine's exquisite lines.
Chassis 75033.001 was the very first Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and was used for show duty both at Monza and Turin. It can easily be distinguished from the later versions by the twin headlights and the lack of vents behind the wheel. The Stradale prototype was never sold and is today still part of the Alfa Romeo collection. It is regularly shown at the world's most prestigious events and is seen here at the 2008 Goodwoood Festival of Speed and also at its home in the Alfa Romeo Museo Storico.
Originally sold to an Italian customer, chassis '104' was the fourth production car and already features the modified headlights and additional vents. In 1984 it was acquired from Italy by a Japanese collector and after a brief spell in Germany, it was again in Japanese hands from 1990 until 2004. Its subsequent American owner commissioned a full restoration and showed the car at Pebble Beach in 2006. It has since passed in the hands of the current, British owner. He immediately entered the car for the 2011 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. It was not only the owner's first concours entry but, surprisingly, also the first time a Stradale was shown at Villa d'Este. The car was one of the stars of the show and was awarded the Trofeo BMW Group for best in show by jury vote and also the Trofeo BMW Italia for best in show by public referendum at Villa Erba.
One of the very last 33 Stradales produced, this example was born as 75033.113 but for superstitious reasons was re-numbered soon after to 75033.133. We do not know the early history of the car but it is believed to have passed through Australia before being acquired by prominent Japanese collector Yoshijuki Hayashi in the 1980s. He subsequently sold the car to the United States where it today resides in the caring hands of another Alfa Romeo enthusiast. It is seen here at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where Alfa Romeo was the featured marque.
The Museums Car is not the Prototipo. It carries Chassisnumber AR105.33.12 and was build on an Magnesium (Daytona)Chassis in the late 70th, for the Museo Storico.
Prototipo was sold to Galeria Abarth, in Japan.