For me, the greatest times to be alive on earth were no doubt the glorious 60s, it was the era when the greatest music ever was created, it was Neil Armstrong took his first steps on moon. The 60s were also the first time the world came to two new words – superbike and supercar. The Honda CB750 was the first motorcycle to be loosely associated with the former moniker, while the absolutely radical-looking Lamborghini Miura took the honour of being called the later. Soon joined by the Ferrari Dino and the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, they showed a new face of the automotive world where cars would be built purely as engineering masterpieces dedicated solely to the purpose of precision and speed.
Mostly, whenever we discuss about the greatest supercars from the 60s, the talks shifts towards the Italian mid-engined machines. Cars like the Lamborghini Miura and the Ferrari Dino are the first ones to be mentioned. However, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale particularly gets left out from most conversations despite being equally breathtaking to look at and a step ahead it’s competitors. While deserving to be one of the sexiest Alfa Romeos ever to be made, the Tipo 33 Stradale is a legend on it’s own in every other way as the other two Italian machine.
Alfa Romeo in the 60s was dearly lacking a supercar that could be homologated for bigger racing events. However the Giulietta SZ and Giulia GTV were clearly dominating touring car racing, but still the Alfa’s racing department Autodelta was hell bent to bring a car to beat the best in their game. And the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale project began with the aim to create a car that will be Alfa’s entry to the world’s best endurance races. It resulted in a series of Tipo 33 race cars, and also the street version or the Stradale.
The Tipo 33 Stradale was designed by the legendary Franco Scaglione. For many car stylists, his creation is among the most beautiful designs of all time, and one can see why. For the design of the Tipo 33 Stradale, Franco decided to capture the then contemporary wedge shape front and a wave like side profile in an authentic Alfa Romeo style. Alfas were (and are) and are the mosts humble culmination of standout design and brilliant handling, but Franco wanted to take the Italian car’s appeal to a higher level. He designed the car’s doors to open like a butterfly wings, hinging outward and forward simultaniously… what we know today as dihedral doors. It wasn’t until the 90s when this door design would be used again in the McLaren F1.
The 33 Stradale continued using the unusual tubular chassis of the Tipo 33 racing car. This chassis was made up of three large diameter tubes, bolted together in what resembled the shape of an ‘H’. At the front, the transversely mounted tube was placed between the cockpit and the engine compartment. While the rear had longitudinal sections that were angled inward to cradle the engine and gearbox. Further, comparatively more conventional cross-members connected the two arms of the ‘H’ on both ends of the chassis. The tubular side-members were designed to also contain the rubber fuel tanks of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale had a mid-engined layout and was in a mildly detuned form as compared to the Tipo race car. On the 33 Stradale this engine produced a maximum power output of 230 bhp @ 8800rpm and 200 Nm @ 7000rpm while the engine redlined at 10,000 rpm. Also, this engine was Alfa’s first ever V8 engine and was made of aluminium with DOHC and SPICA fuel injection. The engine had a dry sump lubrication system. In race trim, this motor produced more than 270 bhp of power mated to a 6-Speed Colotti gearbox, all being synchromesh forward gears. Being designed specifically for racing, the car had double wishbones suspension with all round disc brakes giving it stopping power. The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale had gorgeous cast-aluminium Campagnolo wheels.
Sadly though, a price of 9,750,000 Lire or around $17,000 in the day meant that the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale was the most expensive car in the world. In comparison, the Lamborghini Miura – the second most expensive car, sold for 7,700,000 seeming like a bargain compared to the Alfa.
A low demand saw Alfa make only 18 road legal units of this stunning Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale. In March 1969 the production of the car was stopped. Almost 60 years later, only a handful of these fabulous machines remain in a working condition today. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when in 2015 during the launch of the 4C at the Detroit Auto Show; Alfa’s Head of North America estimated the current market value of the 33 Stradale at to be well over $10 million.
The stunning design elements of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale the things like the windows which seamlessly curve upward into the ‘roof’ of the vehicle. Since the car was made completely by hand, including its aluminium body on aluminium tubular chassis, each model differed from the others in some minor details. Interestingly, the initial models had twin headlights which were replaced in the final ones by single lights. In fact, the position of the windscreen wiper and even their varying numbers ensures that each Tipo 33 Stradale is uniquely differentiated. Furthermore, the final models of the car had vents added behind both the front and rear wheels to allow hot air from the brakes to escape. The stunning magnesium wheels on the cars were of different sizes, where the front ones were eight- and rears nine inches wide; the disc brakes were from Girling and the suspension, was typically 60s race car like where the shock absorbers consisted of upper and lower control arms in front and double trailing arms in the rear, along with substantial antiroll bars.
Later models also known as Continuation models were created by Giovanni Giordanengo who bought the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale chassis #02 from Autodelta in 1984 via Marcello Gambi. He also got various components such as the suspension components from the 5,900,000 Lire deal . Giovanni was a close friend of Autodelta’s Carlo Chiti and was an expert in creating exacting replicas of competition and road going Ferraris and Alfa Romeos. He was entrusted by Alfa Romeo with creating a Sanction II series of the TZ2, much like Aston Martin did with their DB4 GT Zagato. In the case of Giordanengo’s re-creation, a Tipo 33 Stradale from the Alfa Romeo museum was loaned to enable to perfect the shape of the Continuation. Once the chassis and suspension components were assembled, a new aluminium body was built to exacting standards by Giordanengo’s craftsmen.
Only a handful of these utterly beautiful Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale cars survive and out of which five were converted into concept cars. It is believed that Giovanni build only six continuation models in his lifetime.