In 1961, Carlo Chiti (ex Ferrari engineer) and Ludvico Chizzola (Alfa Romeo dealer) founded a company called Autodelta SpA in Felleto Umbreto, near Udine. The idea that connected these people was the preparation of Alfa Romeo models for racing as a production of specialized equipment and components. The very reputation they enjoyed and the results achieved in the lower racing competitions, very quickly attracted the attention of the management of Alfa Romeo. Just 2 years later, in the spring of 1963, the Autodelta SpA came under the auspices of Alfa Romeo and became the official factory racing division. The huge successes that Alfa has achieved through Autodelta with the Giulietta GTA, Giulia TZ 1 and TZ 2, need not be described in particular because this legendary period in the history of Alfa Romeo is well documented and deserves a special text. However, for Autodelta and Alfa Romeo, dominance in those classes was not enough. During 1964, Chiti managed to convince Alfa Romeo's board that Autodelta's potential was much greater and that it was necessary to develop a special racing car project with which Alfa would participate in the first motorsport league, the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans. Considering the amount of talented people that Autodelta gathered and the enthusiasm that reigned after the victories, it should not be surprising that the first prototype was put on wheels in 1965 and the whole project was given an official name - Tipo 33.
Chiti's reputation as an advanced engineer and Alfina's financial backing guaranteed that the Tipo 33 would be a particularly interesting project, and Autodelta did its best to deliver. The new racer was created according to the most modern conceptual and technical standards of the time. This primarily refers to a tubular chassis in which the central part was made of aluminum while the front and rear elements were magnesium. Also, the suspension components (double triangular shoulders on both axles) were made of aluminum while the entire car was covered with a thin body of the same material. The engine was positioned centrally while the transaxle transmission was mounted above the rear axle. At a time when road vehicles had 4 and the most expensive 5 speed sports models, the Tipo 33 had a 6-speed transmission, which was amazing at the time. The whole assembly is the work of Valeri Colotti, another former Ferrari engineer who founded his own company (Studio Tecnica Meccanica) in the late 50s, which was engaged in the production of gearboxes and components for racing cars.
Still, the best part of the Type 33 was not the excellent construction, the advanced concept, or the sleek aluminum body, "pièce de résistance this car was a fantastic V8 engine. It is a unique unit, which with its features and filigree workmanship is unique in motoring and shows all the genius of Chiti and his team. Specifically, this engine had nothing to do with any of the Alfa's series engines and it is a brand new project. From the outset, the goal was to create a racing unit, Carlo logically opted for aluminum and V8 construction with a 90-degree cylinder angle. Conventional design theory dictates that, when designing an engine, the diameter and stroke of the piston should be the same or approximate values. This provides a balance between torque (torque) and torque and makes the whole assembly easier to use under normal conditions. The autodelta team, led by Chiti, deliberately violated this rule by creating a block whose cylinder diameter was 78.0 mm and stroke was only 52,2 mm, which is about 30% difference. This produces an engine designed for high revs and racing use but with problematic street manners. However, this was not the end of Autodelta's magic and it was Spica's acceleration, special aluminum heads, four camshafts with as many as four bobbins and 16 spark plugs. Interestingly, the progress of such advanced engine heads is still kept lay out with 2 valves per cylinder. In the standard (street) version, the rpm limiter was set at 10.000 rpm and the engine was developing 270 hp in racing and 230 hp in Stradale variants with 11.0: 1 compression. Although the 230/270 hp doesn't sound like much, it should be remembered that it was 1966 and that all of this was drawn from a 2 liter naturally aspirated engine without any electronics and modern materials.
Regardless of the all-wheel-drive construction and powertrain of the Type 33, Alfa Romeo has also planned a road version from the start. Although it could be assumed that the transformation from a racial racer to a passenger car would be difficult, Alfa wanted to slightly offset the high costs of developing a racing model by later selling the "civilian" version. Carlo Chiti also wanted to see his masterpiece on the streets as well, so the final decision to produce the Stradale model came easily and quickly. However, this puzzle missed another important part - bodywork. In that golden age of Italian bodybuilders, all design studios were too busy and production capacity was almost full, so Chiti remembered Franco Scaglione, one of the most talented Italian designers who was without engagement during that period. Alfa's board of directors welcomed the decision, as Scaglione, in the 50s, working at Bertone, endowed Alfa Romeo with a number of very successful, production-oriented models that became classics. You probably didn't know that it was Scaglione who was behind the beautiful Alfa 2000 Sportiv, the popular Giuliette Sprint and behind all the Alfa Romeo BAT prototypes that still capture the imagination of industrial design and automotive aesthetics today. To an artist of such repute, and indeed Scaglione was, Autodelta and Alpha were given their hands. Franco Scaglione immediately took up the job and for more than a year (1966 to 1967) traveled daily from his home in Turin to Autodelta, in the outskirts of Milan (130 km one way), working on the 33 Stradale project. Although not familiar to most connoisseurs, Scaglione's name does not mean much, it is a forgotten genius and a pioneer of Italian post-war design who influenced most of his, later, famous names. With his restrained attitude, very narrow circle of friends, and closeness, Scaglione completely deviated from the prototype behavior typical of colorful 60s and cheerful Italy. Always perfectly trained and of a moderate but cool demeanor, during his design career he gained more enemies than friends and therefore, in the early 70s, completely retired from work, and, 20 years later, in 1993, he died forgotten. The reason for his withdrawal was the impression that no one appreciates his work and that for people like him, there is no longer any place in the modern doctrine of automotive design. From this distance, and given his works, we can say that he was wrong, while for the second claim he probably was. With all this, rumors of heroin or morphine addiction have been circulating for many years, only heightened by his behavior and his acquaintance with the famous drug addict, American jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, who fled to Italy in the early 60s, where laws and doctors were far more lenient towards gamblers.
The enthusiasm with which Scaglione approached the design of the Alpha 33 Stradale was heightened both by the desire for revenge and the settlement of the unsolved personal accounts he had with another Italian-style giant, Nuccio Bertone. Namely, in 1966, he appeared to the astonished world public Lamborghini Miura, a fantastically aggressive yet elegant design and conception, which at that moment was proclaimed the most fashionable and beautiful design creation. The aesthetics of this model were signed by the studio Bertone, for which Franco Sacglione worked from 1952 to 1961 and who left after quarreling with Nuccio. The opportunity to design the new Alfa came as a chance for Scaglione to show through her work who really manages the highest-end car aesthetics, whose car is the most beautiful and to avenge her former employer in the best way.
The entire Alfa 33 Stradale project was completed in mid-1967, while the world premiere was held at the Turin Motor Show, in the fall of that year. After the shock that the audience experienced a year earlier with the presentation of Miura, the scene of Alfa 33 Stradale was already too much and despite the other premieres of that year, the short, red and incredibly sexy Alfa was a convincing star of the salon. Although we mention Miura in the story of the 33 Victims, it is true that these two cars do not have many points of contact, except for the impact they had on the public at the time of presentation. The Miura is a larger car, with different characteristics and a more aggressive style. 33 Stradale, on the other hand, is a more compact model, with a pure racing pedigree and a design that is more organic and fluid, whose lines exude emotion and whose details and design solutions (like the door that enters the roof) are unique and unrepeatable. The beauty and value of Scaglione's form is not only in the exciting lines and dynamic proportions, but in the elegance with which this car captivates and the inexplicable ability to creep into your subconscious and somehow always jump out before your eyes when the endless story of "the most beautiful car in the world" begins.
The exceptional design and appearance of this car was accompanied by such performance, and the racing genes that the 33 Stradale possessed catapulted the car from 0 to 100 km / h in 5,2-5,5 seconds while top speed was around 260-280 km / h h. With a weight of just 700 kg and racing suspension and construction, the dynamics and stability of this car were at the highest level. Alfa Romeo and Autodelta were pleased with the results, both by what the car showed them on the test track and by the reaction of the audience. The performance that the 33 Stradale had was at the very top of the then Italian (and therefore the world) sports cars, which is a great success, especially considering that the 33 Stradale had twice the engine and power of all its competitors. With all this in mind, the management of Alfa Romeo was optimistic about the sale and predicted that the first 33 Stradale series would be made in 50 copies and the car would be Alfa's response to the Ferrari Dino.
Concentrated on top technology, materials, drive and bodywork, Autodelta and Alfa have completely forgotten about the costs, that is, the price that a car with such characteristics, handmade and pedigree must have. When sales officially began, in January 1968, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale was declared the most expensive car in the world and consequently, customers were very rare to the horror and disappointment of the company's management. Namely, in order to buy an Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale in 1968, you needed exactly 9.750.000 lira. Since the lira has not been in use for a long time, it should be said that the average annual salary in Italy in those years was 150.000 lira, which means that the average Italian worker had to work exactly 65 years to earn for one Alfa 33 Stradale. In addition, the 33 Stradale was more expensive than all other sports cars of the period and cost more than the Miura and even twice as much as the Ferrari Dino, which was reportedly its competitor. Apart from the abnormal price, the problem was in the essence of the car itself because the 33 Stradale was an undisguised racing car, cramped interior, no usability in real conditions, which was also required for driving because it delivered power and torque at the very top. In the middle of 1968, Alfa became aware that it was offering a terribly expensive and realistically unusable car to the market, and that the entire project was doomed. The timeless beauty of the body, the exclusivity and prestige of this model were mitigating circumstances, but still insufficient to save 33 Sufferers from a safe cessation of production and realize the plan of 50 copies made. After all, Alfa Romeo still did not enjoy the reputation of Ferrari or Maserati for an abnormal price to be acceptable. The end came in March 1969, when the last bodywork came out of the plant of Carrozzerie Marazzi, the company that was hired to produce Scaglione’s masterpiece.
Although production of the 33 Stradale was quickly discontinued, Alfa Romeo reoriented itself to another sports car project and Autodelta switched to the preparation of a V8 engine (a derivative of the existing 2.0 V8) to be built in Montreal, which began in 1970. However, the design of this car did not use the services of Franco Scaglione, but Alpha turned to Bertone, who received a beautiful but unoriginal design, which was a big foul against Scaglione, who spent much of his career drawing Alpha and probably one of the reasons retired to obscurity and early retirement.
Although the market life of the Alfa 33 Stradale lasted only a little over a year, the impact of this car and the controversies that accompany it continue to this day. For starters, the biggest mystery is just how much the Alfi 33 Stradale was actually made and the most common piece of information circulating the internet and specialized printing is 18 copies. However, we must immediately say that this figure is incorrect and represents information that is taken out of context and in the wider production story of this model. Specifically, Autodelta gave the 33 Stradale special chassis numbers that all start with the 750.33 mark. The prototype was 750.33.01 (located in Japan), while the first production copy had a chassis number 750.33.101 down to 750.33.118. Yet, while this suggests that 18 copies were made, it did not happen. Specifically, the 5 chassis (# 108, # 109, # 115, # 116, # 117) never received the Scaglione bodywork, but were given to various design houses that built the concept of vehicles for car shows. These are Pinifarina P33, Alfa Romeo Iguana, Alfa Romeo 33.2, Alfa Romeo Carabo, Alfa Romeo Navajo. In addition, chassis number 750.33.113 was renamed 750.33.133 at the express request of the superstitious owner, confusing the counting. Also, at least one chassis (# 114) was immediately converted after purchase into a race car that had little to do with the 33 Stradale. Also, there are no data for the three chassis (# 110, # 112, # 118) and it is believed that they were never made. On top of that, comes the chassis number 105.33.12, which is a factory replica, made in the early '70s, based on the Giulia and housed in the Alfa Factory Museum. Although Alfa claims to have two copies of the 33 Stradale (replica and original) in their possession, experts say the factory only owns a replica. The important information for all those who want to get into pattern recognition is that there were 2 series of this model. The first one had double headlights that went to the very bottom edge of the body, while the second had only two headlights and large side vents.
To make matters worse, all the people involved in the project have their own versions. Test driver Bruno Bonini states that only 6 cars were "baptized" on the track before delivery to customers. People close to Alfa's archives state that there are 11 copies, but they also include prototypes from the fairs, which indirectly confirms Bonini's story. The most optimistic is Luigi Fusi, a famous historian Alfa Romeo, which lists serial numbers for as many as 25 chassis, but we can be sure that this is not true. If, after all the claims made, we would adjudicate the exact number of copies, we could say that the real figure is some 8 pieces, not counting the prototype, the concept of the vehicle and the factory replica. Of course, thanks to Latin frivolity, nonchalance and frivolity, we may not be right (but certainly close) and do not see who could deny it.
In addition to the mystery surrounding the production, the exact number of copies made and the list of owners is in the "twilight zone". Namely, the market for 33 Victims was very limited and despite the exceptional situation of potential clients, the owners had to be ready for a race car that, practically, cannot be driven on the street and cannot even be locked because someone is in the Carrozzerie. Marazzi realized that 33 Stradale would never spend the night on the street in a suspicious part of the city, so he did not even install a lock on the "lambo" door. That's why the buyers of the Alfa 33 Stradale were too rich individuals, of refined taste or well-to-do racing teams (Scuderie) who thought that buying the Stradale version would get a car that with minimal modifications offers the same as the racing variant Tipo 33. However, a couple of names are known the first buyer of 33 Stradale was the wealthy American amateur runner Henry Wessels III, then his German counterpart, Anton Fischhaber whose copy later ended up in the famous Rosso-Bianco collection. Count Corrado Augusta (from the MV Augusta family) is also mentioned, as well as the famous collector, the Iranian Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. According to the legend, the specimen that belonged to Shah is one of those chassis for which there is no information, but also, there is no evidence that would confirm that Reza Pahlavi ever had 33 victims. Chess was a man of impeccable car taste, very fond of Italian sports brands and also a man of unimaginable wealth, whose attention was certainly attracted by a car like 33 Stradale. More than 1000 cars are mentioned for his name and the stories of driving feats are legendary. However, there is no evidence that this Alpha was ever delivered to him, that it was in the garage of his palace in Tehran or in one of his European summer houses. However, anything is possible…
After all that has been said and what we have left to your imagination at will, perhaps it should explain where the 33 Stradale is in the history of motoring. To begin with, it should be emphasized that the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale was a car made at a time when the world was big, when everything was possible and creative people were not constrained by calculations, environmental and safety standards. This is why this car is so different, special and beautiful because it is a product of pure idea, passion and speed ideals rather than the desire to earn or fill the market segment. From today's perspective, its flaws do not matter because they do not affect the image this car has and the mystery that has been following it for decades. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that 33 Stradale is a great inspiration to this day, decades after it disappeared from the scene and moved into the automotive underground. Alfa Romeo today evokes the old Scaglione lines and proportions of the 8 and 4C models, but it fails to evoke that spirit of innovation as well. Probably because Alfa Romeo is no longer the factory that was almost 50 years ago, there are no longer artists like Carlo Chiti and Franco Scaglione, and today's wealthy Middle Eastern despots prefer flat-screen TVs in headrests. That's why we need the Alpha 33 Stradale to remind us that the ideals of speed and prestige do not live on soft leather seats with massagers and heaters, but on hard racing tubs with a screaming engine behind the back of the neck.
Retrieved from: autocaffe.net
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