5 Things You Didn't Know About The Alfa Romeo 33
The Alfa 33 is one of Alfa Romeo's greatest commercial successes, with nearly a million units sold over its twelve years in production. The model is now part of the Marque's history, so let's discover five things you probably didn't know about the Alfa 33.
The Alfa 33 is one of Alfa Romeo's greatest commercial successes, with nearly a million units sold over its twelve years in production. It replaced the Alfasud but, due to Alfa Romeo's precarious financial position, retained its predecessor's floorpan and running gear. Yet, Alfa's Centro Stile, then directed by Ermanno Cressoni, successfully managed to give the new 33 a distinctive, fresh, and more upmarket image that lured many new customers to Alfa Romeo. As the last 33s rolled off the Pomigliano d'Arco production line in 1995, the model is now part of the Marque's history, so let's discover five things you probably didn't know about the Alfa 33.
The Alfa 33 4x4 was presented in late 1983 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It was initially available only as a hatch, with the stylish wagon by Pininfarina arriving in '84. The rear axle was connected via a two-piece prop shaft to the five-speed gearbox, whose ratios were slightly shorter. Regardless of the body style, Pininfarina took care of the final assembly for all four-wheel-drive 33s built from 1983 until 1986, when Alfa Romeo brought 4x4 production in-house.
The Alfa 33 hatch was only ever offered in the five-door configuration, but a sportier three-door body style had been considered during the model's development. However, the idea was soon dropped, with only a few pictures surviving.
In 1993, the Milanese coachbuilding firm Engalcar presented a one-off convertible based on a 33 1.7 16v Permanent 4. Painted in a rather striking shade of green developed by PPG, I remember spotting it at the Turin Motor Show in 1994.
Ahead of its time
In 1988, Alfa Romeo developed a hybrid version of the 33 SportWagon in collaboration with the Italian firm Ansaldo, which supplied the electric motor that sat on top of the car's 1.5 liters boxer engine and was connected to the gearbox via a rubber belt.
Conceived as a low-emissions, practical urban vehicle, the hybrid 33 could utilize the motor and engine individually or simultaneously but was perhaps too far ahead of its time and never became a production reality.
The peak of the restyled Alfa 33 range introduced in October 1986 was the 1.7 liters Green Cloverleaf. Its flat-four engine was the first in Alfa Romeo history to be equipped with hydraulic tappets, eliminating the need to adjust the valve clearance. This solution was then extended to all the Alfa boxer engines from 1990.