Alfa Romeo Museum Vault Tour

This has been a special day for me, as I've finally been allowed inside a place I've wanted to visit all my life.



I don't mean the stunning Alfa Romeo museum, which I've already visited countless times since its reopening in 2015, but the Museum's "vault," where all the cars, engines, trophies, and memorabilia that doesn't fit into the exhibition space are stored, waiting for their moment under the spotlight.

The space had never been open to the public before.

Still, thanks to the Museum's curator and his staff's great effort in making it presentable and taking care of the cars, one can now book a guided tour on select days. By the moment the announcement was made, right on the Marque's anniversary day, I certainly didn't need to be told twice!

But it's the sheer act of discovering what lies underneath each red cover, that made things extra special, kind of like unpacking Christmas gifts... That you aren't allowed to take with you, sadly!

The tour started on a high note, with the fearsome 164 Pro Car. Basically, a Formula One car masquerading as a 164, equipped with a 3.5 liters V10 and destined for a racing series that sadly never happened for lack of interest from other manufacturers.

Right beside it, the red 4C is the 2011 concept car, flanked by two production models.

Then it's time for two quite unsuccessful single-seaters, the 177, the car of Alfa's return to F1 in the late 70s, and a March Indy car equipped with the twin-turbo V8 that Alfa Romeo supplied between 1989 and '91.

The cute Z33 by Zagato pioneered the current SUV craze by over 30 years. Based on the 33 4x4, it has a surprisingly roomy cabin with three rows of seats.

This row could be called the dream's corner, as it's full of prototypes that never made production, some of which are quite tantalizing, like the Alfetta Spider by Pininfarina, from 1972. The 2600 Zagato is the original motor show prototype from 1963, and its front end differs markedly from the production models later made.

But it's the sheer act of discovering what lies underneath each red cover, that made things extra special, kind of like unpacking Christmas gifts... That you aren't allowed to take with you, sadly!

But the car that really caught my attention is this bright red GTV, which is a bit of a mystery.

The Popoli-Alfa Romeo speedboat, powered by a 2.5 liters V8 derived from the 33 sports racers, set in 1969 a speed record (225,15 Km/h) that stands to this day.

Speaking of speed, we find nearby the 75 Turbo IMSA that won two editions of the Giro D'Italia, keeping company to the successful 156 Super Touring and the stillborn 156 GTAm, shown at the 2002 Bologna Motor Show and equipped with a 300HP "Busso" V6.

Those who've followed this site will recognize the 75 Sport Wagon V6, a real missed opportunity for Alfa Romeo, beside one of the two Sprint 6C in the Museum's collection. One is a rough rally "mule," while the other, a few cars down this line, is a pristine road car prototype, resting beside the "Scarabeo 2" I covered time ago.

Then there are the experimental Alfasud prototypes from 1982 that I've covered here, which combined improved passive safety with fuel efficiency through a wide array of technical solutions. Talking of fuel efficiency, here we find the lone survivor from the small fleet of taxis used to test Alfa Romeo's modular engine technology in the traffic of Milan in 1983. But the car that really caught my attention is this bright red GTV, which is a bit of a mystery. The only reliable information I have mentions a 3.0 liters V6 engine and credit the aero package's design to Zagato. I've asked for more details on the spot and through e-mail, but sadly, I've yet to receive conclusive answers.

This trio concludes the first floor of the facility. Besides the white 2000 saloon, we find a styling prototype from 1963, a design for the 2600 flagship saloon attributed to Pininfarina. Instead, the blue saloon's looks and its Rover badging were intended to confuse journalists. This was a development mule for the 1967 "1750" saloon.

the vast majority of the place's content could be described using two words: youngtimers galore!

Cutaway cars, like this 33, used to be fixtures at motor shows, allowing the public to peek into the latest models' inner workings. Personally, I'm impressed by the sheer amount of work it must have taken to build such a display: small wonder nobody does it anymore! Right beside it, we see a 6C 2500 chassis and the engine and driveline from a 155 Q4. This model borrowed its engine and 4WD transmission from the legendary Delta Integrale, the reason why it's already sought after by collectors.

An Alfetta 159 from 1951 welcomes visitors on the second floor of the vault, but the vast majority of the place's content could be described using two words: youngtimers galore!

Pristine, brand new production Alfa models set aside the moment they left the assembly line, like this red 75 1.6 from 1992, which is believed to be the last one made. Or this very early 1.8 model, with less than 30 km on the clock.

This car successfully completed a grueling raid between Nordkapp in Norway and the Cape Of Good Hope in South Africa. To think that people say Alfas are unreliable...

Then comes one of the two prototypes that Bertone designed for Alfa Romeo to be shown at the 1967 Expo in Montreal.

The success of the design led to the car becoming a production reality in 1971, as the Alfa Romeo Montreal we know and love.

To be honest with you, I prefer the look of this original prototype, which I've had the pleasure of seeing on several occasions.

The mysterious Abarth SE048 is the car designed for an Alfa Romeo Group C endurance racing program that never happened. Created in 1988 around the V10 engine from the aborted 164 ProCar project, the car we see today was subsequently fitted with a Ferrari V12, only for the program to be scrapped entirely by the end of 1990. Behind it, we find another broken dream, the Diva from 2006. Designed by the Centro Stile AlfaRomeo but materially built by Sbarro in Switzerland, it's equipped with a "Busso" V6 mated to a paddle-shift gearbox. While the Diva never made production, the later 4C certainly is very close conceptually.

Those of you who've read this will remember this parade car, known as the Giulia "Saragat," made in 1965 on the occasion of the Italian president's visit to the Alfa Romeo Arese factory. It's here keeping company to this 1972 Alfetta saloon, perfectly standard apart from the yellow bull bar and underbody skid plates.

This car successfully completed a grueling raid between Nordkapp in Norway and the Cape Of Good Hope in South Africa. To think that people say Alfas are unreliable...



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