Recently, Alfa Romeo took pride of place at the Autoworld museum in Brussels. The exhibition celebrated the brand’s 112th anniversary. Stellantis- who owns the brand- worked with the museum to bring together some fifty vehicles. All were iconic in a way or another and belong to the Quadrifoglio Belgio club members, the Musée National de l’Automobile in Mulhouse, private collectors like Corrado Lopresto, a well-known Alfa enthusiast. His collection also includes many prototypes and unique works signed by the most famous Italian coachbuilders.
This temporary exhibition was located in the upper part of the museum and highlited the Milanese brand’s finest hours : pre-war, racing, one-offs, mainstream cars… a diversified gathering allowing visitors to appreciate the rich history of the brand. Not to mention Alfa’s own technical solutions which were often well ahead of their time and the competition. The current range, Giulia, Stelvio and Tonale were also on show, linking the future to the past. (text: Dimitri URBAIN, photos: Paul-Edouard URBAIN)
The Giulia is forever emblematic of Alfa Romeo’s success in the 60s and 70s. It was the car of choice of both criminals and the italian police forces. Both the Carabinieri and the Financial Police used them for years. Light, aerodynamic (Cx : 0.34!), featuring the famous DOHC engine, a five-speed gearbox and four disc brakes, it had better performance than any of its competitors. This one greeted visitors at the entrance to the exhibition and put you in Alfa mood right from the start.
The Giulia GTAm is the ultimate expression of sportiness in the current Alfa range. Body-built to perfection, this saloon is an authentic low-flying sports car!
Alfa and the Mille Miglia is a very long and never ending story… the brand still wins the modern famous race reenactments ! This 6C 1750 from the early 1930’s was then one of the very best sports cars available. The engine’s cubic capacity is one of the brand’s favourite and Alfa used it many times over the years. Featuring a Zagato body, this car is still as much of a dream today as it was almost a hundred years ago!
Alfa took also part in another mythical race, Le Mans 24 Hours… This 8C 2300 of 1932 run in the Sarthe. Its 2366 cc in-line eight-cylinder engine produced no less than 180 bhp in a 1280 kg car. Its 220 km/h top speed made it some kind of a real Formula 1 car!
Touring often bodied Alfa Romeo chassis. This big 1947 « Villa d’Este » coupe is typical of the post-war years. Back then, Alfa Romeo was still producing top-of-the-range vehicles in tiny numbers.
At the beginning of the 1950s, Alfa Romeo abandoned the luxury car sector, stopped producing chassis that needed to be bodied outside the factory and launched a brand new saloon: the 1900. It still featured a double overhead camshaft engine, it was very modern for its time and was also succesfull in many races.
Nevertheless, the most affluent Alfa customers could still have a one-off car made just for them. This elegant convertible is a Stabilimenti Farina car. Done in pontoon style, it sweetly stood the test of time.
Something completely different : Ghia launched this one-off in 1954, using 1900 saloon underpinings but it was done the American way using a sweeping windscreen , loads of chrome, grilles and fins…
This very elegant 1954 1900 TI coupé came from Pininfarina and combines beauty with high performance.
Vignale is another famous Italian coachbuilder. In 1955, the company built up this prototype and named it « The Arrow ». The American design influence is obvious, but the overall shape uses simple lines and its balance makes it a real work of art.
The Giulietta was replaced by the Giulia. Coupes and convertible models were soon available too. The Duetto was available for many years, its career started in the 60s and only ended in the 90s ! Its enduring charm kept it in the hearts of enthuiasts all over the world. The first version featured a rounded rear end (« osso di sepia ») and is forever linked to Dustin Hoffman. »The Graduate » is the best ad Alfa ever had.
For many years, the GTA Junior Coupes ruled on all European tracks. Featuring a side exhaust, the sound of the carb-fed bialbero is just magic and will have you shivering straightaway…
At the beginning of the 1970s, the coupe was close to the end of its commercial career but Alfa dropped a 2-litre engine in it. The 2000 was then as powerful as it was elegant… for years, many less powerful examples were also re-engined with this engine, a sure way to get a grin on their owners’ face!
In the mid-1970s, Alfa derived a new GTV coupé from the Alfetta saloon. In the 1980s, the brand’s V6 turned it into something even more sporty and unique.
The 75 was the last « traditional » Alfa saloon : the rear-wheel drive transaxle means a rear-mounted gearbox and the ubiquitous DOHC engine. It also enjoyed huge success on racetracks. Turbo or V6 engines were also used to give it even better performance.
Closer to us, the 156 was a real success. The range was topped by the GTA versions, both in saloon and gorgeous- looking estate guise.
The 8C is a real work of art that was produced only in tiny numbers. Both its aesthetics and technology are in line with the brand’s heritage. It became a legend in its own right when it was launched in Frankfurt, back in 2003. Enthusiasts had to wait another three years to get one. In the end, 500 coupes and as many convertibles were produced between 2007 and 2010.