5 Weird Alfa Romeos You've Probably Never Seen Before
What I love most about Alfa Romeo's history is its sheer depth and variety, which ensures it never gets dull: no matter how much you know, there's always something new and exciting to discover. Here are 5 Alfa Romeos you probably didn't know ever existed.
40/60 HP "Aerodinamica" (1914)
Cars really don't come much weirder than the Alfa 40/60 HP "Aerodinamica," also known informally as the "Siluro Ricotti," or "Mr. Ricotti's missile," an obvious reference to its otherwordly shape and to the individual who commissioned it.
This unique, impressive creation is based on the largest and most powerful Alfa chassis available at the time, whose wheelbase measured a generous 3.2 meters and was equipped with a six-liters inline-four engine producing 70HP at 2200 Rpm.
Inspiration for the car's striking bare aluminum bodywork, constructed by the famed Milanese coachbuilder Castagna, came from a raindrop: the shape that was considered the most aerodynamically efficient at the time.
Even though such an approach looks decidedly naive today, it was way ahead of the curve over a century ago. Its creators, through sheer intuition, had already realized the importance of covering up parts exposed to the wind and flush-fitting windows to reduce drag.
And, to their credit, it worked: despite an imposing frontal section, Ricotti's car reached a top speed of 140 Km/h, around 15 more than the same car fitted with traditional bodywork could manage.
However, the noise, heat, and fumes resulting from having the engine enclosed in the same space as the passengers quickly made the car unbearable to drive, so the following year Ricotti had its roof removed, thus abandoning any pretense of superior aerodynamic efficiency.
The car that stuns the visitors of Alfa Romeo's museum today isn't that long-lost original, though, but a faithful replica made from period drawings that the museum's first curator, Luigi Fusi, commissioned in 1974 for display.
750 Competizione (1955)
The 750 Competizione is a one-off racing prototype created by Alfa Romeo in collaboration with Abarth in 1955.
The most knowledgeable Alfisti will undoubtedly know that the name "750" has nothing to do with the engine's displacement: it refers instead to the original project code for the Giulietta, of which this car constitutes a radical evolution.
Abarth tuned the inline-four twin-cam engine, boosting its displacement from 1290 to 1488 cc and adopting a dual-ignition cylinder head, resulting in a whopping 145 HP and a top speed in excess of 220 km/h.
Abarth assigned the development of the car's bodywork to the trusted coachbuilder Mario Boano, who built it as a traditional, open two-seater sportscar, but with a partition running down the middle separating the driver and passenger seats, with tiny separate plexiglass windshields.
Being based on the production Giulietta means the car is a conventional steel unibody rather than the tubular frames that were then customary on such vehicles, but that didn't negatively affect the car's dynamic qualities and competitive potential.
However, said potential was ultimately never exploited by Alfa Romeo, which decided against an official return to motorsport, leaving the 750
Competizione as merely another gorgeous museum exhibit.
Giulia Sprint Speciale (1965)
Following the launch of the Giulia in 1962, the Giulietta Sprint, Spider, and Sprint Speciale were renamed "Giulia" and equipped with an uprated 1.6 liters engine.
Of course, that was only going to be a temporary measure before their Giulia-based replacement models could be designed, and this achingly pretty prototype from 1965 is what Bertone proposed as a replacement for the Sprint Speciale.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, its shape bears a strong resemblance with the later Fiat Dino Coupé, the last project Giugiaro worked on before leaving Bertone, while the stainless roof panel idea would reappear a few years later on the Maserati Bora, another Giugiaro masterpiece.
However, Alfa Romeo was selling all the Giulia GTs it could make and saw no value in offering another Giulia-based coupé, especially one that could only accommodate two people rather than four.
Consequently, this beautiful, fully functional, and perfectly finished prototype remained a one-off, on permanent display in Alfa Romeo's historical museum.
Gran Sport Quattroruote (1967)
Even though it may look like one of the legendary six-cylinder Alfa roadsters from the 1930s, the Gran Sport Quattroruote was actually produced between 1966 and 1967.
The idea of a modern interpretation of the iconic 6C 1750 SS based on then-contemporary Alfa Romeo Giulia running gear came from Gianni Mazzocchi, the founder of Italy's preeminent monthly car magazine "Quattroruote," but was officially sanctioned by Alfa Romeo.
A total of 92 cars were made by Zagato, starting from the floorpan of the outgoing "101 series" Giulia Spider. The engine and running gear instead came from the regular "105 series" Giulia Ti sedan, except for the drum brakes on all four wheels, chosen over the standard discs to give the car more of a "vintage" look.
Giulia Super "Combinata" (1972)
Between 1967 and 1976, the Italian highway police and the Carabinieri utilized around 700 Giulia Super specifically modified into paneled station wagons.
These cars, known as Giulia Super "Speciale" or Giulia Super "Combinata," depending on who you ask, were conceived to carry around 200 Kg of emergency rescue equipment that just wouldn't have fitted into a regular Giulia's trunk.
The first batches, about 160 cars, were built by the Milanese coachbuilder Colli, which had been the first to develop a wagon version of the Giulia, but, as that went out of business, other coachbuilders like Giorgetti, Introzzi, and Grazia, took over these commissions and carried over the design, albeit with subtle detail differences.