Alfa 33 Stradale : only for your eyes !

The 1967 33 Stradale is Alfa’s Holy Grail, the Milanese GTO… Certainly one of the most beautiful cars of all time. With the new 33 Stradale, Alfa Romeo returns to the tradition of exclusive hand-made cars, assembled individually by independent coachbuilders, as in its heyday. It is also a manifesto establishing a direct link between Alfa Romeo’s past and future, the very first model in a collection of “fuoriserie” reinterpreting the brand’s masterpieces. Others are expected to follow: work on a second project should start at the end of this year… We recently had the opportunity to discover it exclusively, alongside its illustrious inspirator, at the Centro Stile in Turin. (text: Dimitri Urbain, photos: Stellantis media)

The 33 Stradale is Alfa’s first Fuoriserie. Only 33 unique and individualised cars will be hand-made and all are already sold even before assembly starts in the Touring bodywork workshops in Milano.

The genesis

Take a legend, some masterpiece experience, a good dose of passion as well as a touch of dream and madness… these are the ingredients you need to create a work of art! That’s what the 33 Stradale is, and Alfa Romeo isn’t beating about the bush: why not call on a legend to go forward to the future in the most beautiful possible way? The motor car is increasingly criticised and attacked from all sides right now but that doesn’t prevent Alfa Romeo from reaffirming loud and clear its love for passion, speed and beauty on four wheels. The brand enjoys a special status among manufacturers, and the Biscione huge number of enthusiasts keep the passion alive around it. Since the beginning of its history, Alfa Romeo has been synonymous with sportiness, recording numerous victories in the Mille Miglia and, in the aftermath of the war, the first two F1 world championship titles. After the war, Alfa abandoned small-scale car building and moved into mass production, with great success. From the 1900 to the Giulia, the brand symbolises the economic recovery of post-war Italy. Alongside the production models, numerous special versions designed by Bertone or Pininfarina to name just a few, are the stuff of enthusiasts’ dreams. Among these, the Stradale, derived from the 33 racing car, is one of the most fastorymous.

The inspiration… the brand’s GTO, Alfa’s Holy Grail, the 33 Stradale of 1967. It was derived from the racing version and intended for road use. It was the result of Franco Scaglione’s collaboration with Autodelta.

Three men and a stroke of genius

Giuseppe Luraghi was one of the key men in the history of Alfa Romeo, first working for the company after the war and then between 1960 and 1974. The Milanese engineer was also a writer and a poet. He approved the brand’s competition programme and the integration of Autodelta as an official department, in 1963. The company was founded in 1961 in Udine by two former Ferrari engineers, Carlo Chiti and Lodovico Chizzola. Although Lodovico Chizzola soon left the company, Carlo Chiti remained the driving force behind Autodelta’s success. Born in Tuscany in 1924, he began his career as an motor engineer at Alfa, in 1952. In 1964, Autodelta moved to Settimo Minalense, bringing racing activities closer to both the factory and the Balocco track, where racing cars and prototypes could be tested in complete secrecy. The aim was to return Alfa Romeo to the racing successes it enjoyed back in the 1930s and 50s. Autodelta is part of the Alfa Romeo legend, thanks to the famous Giulia TZ and TZ2, GTA and GTAm or… 33.

Like its ancestor, the 33 Stradale is fitted with elytra doors giving good access to the interior.

The latter being originally a prototype aimed at the World Sports Car Championship. It had a very long career, lasting until 1977. It won the manufacturers’ world titles in 1975 and 1977. Over the years, it received a range of open and closed bodies, as well as 2, 2.5 and 3-litre V8 engines. In the end, it was even fitted with a boxer 12-cylinder engine ! A coupé version, the 33 Stradale, topped the Alfa road range between 1967 and 1969. The third man behind the 33 Stradale was Franco Scaglione, a designer born in Florence in 1916. From the 1950s onwards, he worked for Bertone, where he designed the BAT prototypes for Alfa Romeo. Scaglione also designed the Giulietta Sprint and Giulietta Sprint Speciale. He became independent in 1960 and opened his own design office, where he worked for brands such as A.T.S., Intermeccanica in Italy and… Prince in Japan, for whom he designed a 1900 Sprint coupé named… Skyline in 1963!

The interior is minimalist and largely inspired by the 1967 Stradale. No huge screens, no touch-sensitive controls, no steering wheel cluttered with buttons… just the bare minimum !

33 Stradale: a unique pedigree!

The 33 is, first and foremost, a racing car. It even raced in Belgium, at the Fléron hill climb, in March 1967. At the time, many manufacturers were taking part in the European hill-climb championship, which was hotly contested and spectacular. Driven by the in-house driver Teodoro Zeccoli, it won on its first outing! The Stradale was launched at the 1967 Italian Grand Prix, in Monza. Its chassis was made of steel rather than aluminium. Unlike the racing version, the wheelbase was ten centimetres longer to allow the seats to move back further for taller passengers. Its 2-litre 90° V8 engine is the same as the racing car’s, as is the six-speed gearbox. However, specific settings made the Stradale more suitable for road use. Power was reduced from 260 to 230 bhp at 8,800 rpm. The car is light (weighing just 700 kg!) and highly aerodynamic, allowing it to reach 260 km/h flat out.

Among all the prototypes derived from the 33 Stradale, the Bertone Carabo, designed by Gandini, is one of the most famous. Launched in 1968, it determined the proportions on which all supercars are still built today !

The aluminium bodywork of the 33 Stradale was produced by Carrozzeria Marazzi in Caronno Pertusella, near Milan. Mario Marazzi was a former Touring employee who set up his own company in 1967. The company specialised in industrial bodywork but, in addition to Alfa Romeo, also worked for Lamborghini. Franco Scaglione supervised the company’s work and was constantly tweaking details. Headlights  windscreen wipers or air intakes changed frequently, ensuring every 33 Stradale is unique. Final assembly was then carried out by Autodelta in Settimo Milanese. At the time, the target clientele was rather wealthy and keen to experience a racing car feeling, however in a bit less spartan package. Only 18 chassis were produced, and several of them ended up being built as prototypes. Bertone introduced the Carabo in 1968 and the Navajo in 1976, respectively designed by Marcello Gandini and Paolo Martin. Pininfarina used a 33 Stradale chassis for Paolo Martin’s 1968 P33 Roadster, another for the 1969 33/2 Coupé Speciale by Leonardo Fioravanti and a third one for the 1971 Cuneo, also penned by Paolo Martin. Giorgetto Giugiaro’s 1968 Iguana for Ital Design used one as well.

This 33/2 prototype was designed by Leonardo Fioravanti for Pininfarina, back in 1969. It’s easy to identify a number of elements that would later be incorporated into the coachbuilder’s creations or inspire others, from the air intakes to the wheel arches.

33 Stradale: the comeback!

Alfa reinterprets the historic 33 Stradale as a design manifesto, a link between its past full of internal combustion engines and an electric future. It will be a ‘fuoriserie’, or ‘made-to-measure’ : it will be hand-made by Milano’s Carrozeria Touring Superleggera. Each car will be unique and their owners will be involved in every stage of the car’s assembly. The new 33 Stradale was created in the Alfa Romeo ‘Bottega’, a new department set up for the project. Designers, engineers and brand historians first listened to potential buyers, then produced the car together, just as they did in the shops of Renaissance painters and sculptors or in the workshops of the renowned Italian coachbuilders of the 1960s.

The author of these lines, a lifelong Alfisti, had the privilege of getting behind the wheel of the 2023 33 Stradale !

La Bottega even has its headquarters in the Sala del Consiglio of the Arese Museum, where the design of the original 33 Stradale was approved, back in 1967. Finally, the 33 Committee is responsible for approving customer requests, ensuring that the car’s history and unique character are fully respected. The committee is chaired by Alfa Romeo’s CEO and includes the heads of the brand’s various departments. This project is the first in a series of reinterpretations of the brand’s history. With the “the courage of dreaming” motto, Alfa is inspired by the boldness that enabled the original 33 Stradale to exist.

Only the essential controls are present, on the centre console and… on the roof. Directly inspired by planes, the layout is ergonomic and elegant. The interior features aluminium, carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara.

Quite a feat…

One can’t help wondering what is more impressive: getting Carlos Tavares giving the green light to this crazy project ? Or selling all 33 units to wealthy Alfa enthusiasts (rumour hasit that each car costs about €1.5 million…) before even the very first one is made? While the pedigree of the 1967 33 was certainly a key factor, there is no doubt that Jean-Philippe Imparato’s passion for the brand did the rest… As soon as he took over the helm of the brand, he announced his intention to bring out an Alfa worthy of the brand’s glorious racing past. Alfa’s history is also full of masterpieces imbued with that inimitable Italian character, combining a touch of madness with technical prowess, a sense of beauty and design…

The BAT 7 was one of the many prototypes designed by Scaglione for Alfa back in the 1950s. It was one of a series of 3 prototypes that greatly influenced car design at the time.

It puts the brand among the most prestigious ones, in the hearts of enthusiasts. J-P Imparato: “With the new 33 Stradale, we wanted to create something that would live up to our history, serve the brand well and make Alfisti proud. Such a result could only be achieved thanks to the expertise, hard work and passion of our team and the support of the management. There’s a clear ambition to write some of the chapters of Alfa Romeo’s future, while respecting its unique history. This is the brand’s first ‘fuoriserie’ car since 1969, and I promise it won’t be the last.”

What was originally intended to be a grand touring Alfa became a reality at Maserati as the MC20. It now underpins the modern 33 Stradale. This study model allowed the Centro Stile to test various elements while respecting the 1967 version.

Tradition and modernity

The new 33 Stradale was designed by the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. It draws on and enriches the timeless sculptural beauty of the car launched in 1967, with various design elements from the brand’s new stylistic language. The balance between proportions, its volumes and the treatment of exterior surfaces give a full meaning to Alfa Romeo’s expression of “necessary beauty”. At the front, the volume is balanced, the bumper reinterprets the ‘scudetto’ in a modern way, as do the elliptical headlights combining air intakes with… 33 lighting elements. The profile is dynamic and slender, with elytra-shaped doors and two large air intakes on the sides. The body is projected forward, with shaped surfaces in keeping with Alfa Romeo tradition.

In 1967, driving pleasure was still quite spartan. The chassis of the 33 was lengthened by 10 cm to allow taller people to sit inside.

In addition, thanks to the way the doors open and the large wrap-around wndows, the driver can enjoy an exceptional view, very similar to that from the cockpit of an plane and… in keeping with the 33 Stradale of 1967. Unlike other sports cars, the maximum height is not at the windscreen level but in the middle of the roof. The rear, in particular, expresses the car’s strength with its ‘coda tronca’ – another Alfa stylistic reference – a V-shaped design and round rear lights. The Cx is 0.375 and its claimed top speed is… 333 km/h, without the aid of active systems that would ruin the elegance of its lines.

The headlights were also inspired by the original 33 Stradale but use LED technology, incorporating… 33 modules, combined with air inlets.

Up to date technology

Ironically, the new 33 Stradale is based on… a Maserati MC 20. For the record, this was originally an Alfa Romeo project handed over to Maserati at the last minute. It is built on an aluminium chassis and the carbon fibre bodywork ensuring rigidity and lightness at the same time. Safety is also high on the agenda, with a carbon fibre and aluminium roof structure incorporating hinged gullwing doors.  The window frames are also made in carbon fibre while the rear window is polycarbonate. The new 33 Stradale is available with a either a V6 2.9 twin-turbo petrol engine developing over 620 bhp mated to a ZF automatic transmission or with a 750 bhp electric motor.

Alfa claims a 333 km/h top speed both for the petrol and electric versions, without resorting to a multitude of spoilers, fins or diffusers… It was essential to preserve Scaglione’s elegant design without altering it.

No matter the engine, the 33 Stradale achieves a top speed of 333 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than three seconds.The suspension uses double wishbones with active shock absorbers. The Alfa Romeo Brake-By-Wire braking system and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes guarantee stopping times that match performance. The ratio between cars fitted with a petrol engine and an electric one seems to be in the region of 70% and 30%. The car will be tuned by Valtteri Bottas on the legendary Balocco circuit, bringing F1 experience to this unique Alfa Romeo road car.

The Autodelta workshops, 1968. It was here that many Alfa’s sporting legends were created, from the GTA and GTAm to the 33 that won the world sports car championship title in 1975 and 1977. It was also there that the 33 Stradales were put together, using bodies made by Marazzi under the supervision of Franco Scaglione.

A minimalist and very traditional Alfa interior!

The designer’s aim was to enhance the pleasure of both driver and passenger. He or she will be privileged to enjoy it, too!  There’s no 45″ screen in the console or on the top of the dashboard, nor buttons adorning the steering wheel… The interior and dashboard were designed to minimise the number of elements likely to distract the driver.  The number of useful driving controls has therefore been deliberately limited and they are grouped together on the centre console and… on the roof, as in an aeroplane.  In front of the driver, there’s a 3D screen mounted in a ‘cannocchiale’, the two typically- Alfa round instruments.

Like its ancestor, the 33 Stradale will be fine- tuned by an in-house driver on the Balocco track. This time it will be Valtteri Bottas. Alfa claims a 333 km/h top speed and a 0 to 100 sprint taking less than 3 seconds, no matter the engine.

Two finishes are available: ‘Tributo’ and ‘Alfa Corse’. The dashboard and centre console feature aluminium, carbon fibre, leather and Alcantara. The wraparound seats reinterpret those of the historic 33 Stradale, offering both comfort and excellent ergonomics. Every detail was designed to create an exclusive and attractive environment while preserving the aesthetic and technical heritage of the 1967 33 Stradale. This is particularly true of the bag in front of the passenger, which doubles up as a… glovebox !

The 33 Stradale is therefore a highly successful blend of modern technology and Alfa Romeo history. It will undoubtedly delight the lucky 33 owners who can afford it. Let’s hope they’ll enjoy taking it out, for our own pleasure, rather than leaving them gathering dust in climate-controlled garages… No doubt it’s already making many Alfisti dream and… creating vocations!

The 1976 Navajo was also designed by Bertone, but penned by Paolo Martin. It was the last prototype created on a 33 Stradale chassis. Its angular shape can be found on more recent SZ and RZ models.

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