5 Weird Alfa Romeos You Didn't Know Existed
What I love most about Alfa Romeo's history is just how varied and complex it is, with plenty of tantalizing "what if" moments. Here are five of the weirdest and wildest Alfa Romeos that time forgot.
Zagato Zeta 6 (1983)
Presented in 1983 at the Geneva Motor Show by legendary Milanese coachbuilder Zagato, the Zeta 6 was a sexy two-seater based on the contemporary GTV6. Its curvaceous lines, designed by Giuseppe Mittino, were quite blatantly inspired by the Porsche 928, with only the tiniest of Alfa "shields" on the front bumper giving away its Italian origins.
However, the then-perilous financial situation at Alfa Romeo meant that Zagato's hopes for a small production run were soon quashed, and just two Zeta 6 were ever completed, one of which has been residing in the Alfa Romeo museum's collection ever since.
Zagato Z33 "Free Time" (1984)
With this intriguing prototype based on the Alfa 33 running gear, Zagato predated the current "crossover" vehicle craze by at least three decades.
Thanks to the compactness of the Alfa 33's front-wheel-drive layout, the tall, boxy proto-SUV could seat up to six people inside despite measuring just four meters in length. However, the concept was way ahead of its time and left the public and critics of the 1984 Geneva Motor Show distinctly unimpressed.
Only one prototype was ever constructed, and, much like the Zeta 6, it's been tucked away in the Alfa Romeo museum's reserve collection ever since.
Alfasud Caimano (1971)
Contrary to the Zagato proposals mentioned above, the Caimano from 1971 was never intended to be anything but a pure flight of fancy, which left its designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, completely free to exercise his imagination.
And boy, he did.
The Caimano has no conventional doors, windows, or windshield: just a single transparent dome hinged at the cowl height. The trapezoidal roll-bar structure at the rear also includes a spoiler that can be regulated in four different positions through specific controls placed inside the car.
Although it looks like it'll do a million miles per hour, the Caimano was actually based on the smallest, least powerful Alfa Romeo model then available: the Alfasud, which was presented contemporarily at the 1971 Turin Motor Show.
But that was precisely the point Giugiaro and Alfa Romeo wanted to make, as the prototype's extremely low bonnet line and scuttle height could be achieved thanks to the compactness of the Alfasud's boxer engine.
Alfetta Eagle (1975)
Presented at the 1975 Turin Motor Show, the Eagle by Pininfarina was a design study based on the Alfetta and penned by the great master Aldo Brovarone.
Apparently, though, even the greatest minds have their "off" days sometimes, as the Eagle's looks haven't aged all that well, at least in my opinion.
The idea was to explore a possible replacement for the aging Spider, offering not only more space and comfort but also a lot more crash safety thanks to the hefty roll bar.
However, Alfa Romeo's rapidly deteriorating financial position meant the classic Spider soldiered on for almost two more decades while the Eagle gathered dust in Alfa's museum, where it can still be seen today.
New York Taxi (1976)
Designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro and based on the running gear of Alfa's existing F12 light commercial van, the Alfa Romeo New York Taxi was specially constructed for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art held between June and September 1976, where it was displayed together with four other prototypes by different manufacturers.
The whole aim was to create a vehicle that could be produced at a reasonable price and would better serve the needs of drivers and passengers than the regular three-box sedans then used for taxi services in the Big Apple.
Given the vehicle's utilitarian purpose, aesthetics took a back seat (pun intended), and the prototype is a masterpiece in vehicle packaging that left an area of roughly two square meters available to passengers and offered wheelchair accessibility through a retractable ramp.
Powered by a detuned version (52 HP) of Alfa Romeo's classic 1290cc twin-cam inline-four engine, the unique New York Taxi prototype is preserved at Alfa Romeo's museum near Milan.