From one of the most stylish brands in history.
Clarkson once famously said that you’re not a true gearhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. While that may not strictly be true – you can be a gearhead regardless of what you drive – there’s a certain allure to the Alfa Romeo brand that many others can’t quite match. They were, after all, the manufacturer for which Enzo Ferrari raced, the brand from which Scuderia Ferrari was born, creators of such beauties as the Tipo 33 Stradale and fine driving machines like the Alfasud. They’ve produced extreme concepts too; boasting both incredible beauty and immense performance potential. We’ve selected 10 of the best, to celebrate the illustrious heritage of the Italian marque.
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale was the road-going version of Alfa’s 33 race car and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful pieces of machinery the world has ever seen. Between 1969 and 1971, Pininfarina designed and built 3 concepts based on the chassis of the gorgeous 33 Stradale. The 1969 33/2 Coupe Speciale, also known as the 33.2, was first presented at the Paris Motor Show and took design influence from the Ferrari 250 P5 concept. It was built upon chassis No. 750.33.115, and bore a striking yellow paint job. Among the design highlights of the beautiful concept were pop-up headlights and hydraulic butterfly doors.
It wasn’t just Pininfarina that built 33-based concepts, though. Both Italdesign and Bertone also had their turn with the 33 Stradale, with Bertone’s attempts resulting in the 1976 Geneva debut of the Alfa Romeo Navajo concept. Built on chassis No. 750.33.11, the Navajo did away with the flowing lines of the 33 Stradale and featured an angular, full-fiberglass coupe body. Equipped with a 2.0-liter V8, the Navajo boasted outputs of 230 horsepower, developed at an incredibly high 8,800 rpm, partially due to the SPICA fuel injection system equipped.
While the ‘early years’ are highly considered to have been the glory days for the Italian brand, the 1990s also produced some special concept cars for the brand. The 1995 Nuvola – meaning ‘Cloud’ in Italian – was a front-engined, all-wheel-drive sports car with a highly unique construction. Built upon a tubular steel spaceframe, the Nuvola featured a polyester body. Up front was a longitudinally mounted 2.5-liter twin-turbo V6 boasting 296 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph took just 6 seconds, with a top speed of 174 mph. The innovative design was headed up by Walter de Silva, who oversaw the project handled by a group of young designers from Centro Stile Alfa Romeo.
What’s so special about a concept Alfa Romeo Brera? After all, the Brera reached production in 2005 as a stylish coupe in the midst of an era when Alfa was struggling to return to its former glory. The production Brera closely mirrored the design of the 2002 concept that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, a design penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign Giugiaro. But while the most potent engine on offer in the production Brera was a 260-hp 3.2-liter V6, the concept packed something far more potent, with a Maserati V8 engine housed beneath the hood producing 390 hp.
Beginning in 1953, Alfa Romeo and Bertone teamed up to produce a series of aerodynamically enhanced concepts, called the BAT. It stood for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica, and all three of the originals were really futuristic looking things. But 53 years after the last of the originals was unveiled, Alfa Romeo revived the BAT nameplate with the 2008 BAT 11 concept. Bertone and Alfa once again teamed up, basing the stylish concept on the formidable 8C Competizione, replete with Ferrari-sourced drivetrain and styling cues reminiscent of the cars from the 1950s.
2010 gave rise to another unique Alfa Romeo concept, but it was once again Bertone behind the design. The Pandion coupe, based on the 8C Competizione, featured reverse butterfly doors – a design trait used numerous times by Bertone historically. At the heart of the Pandion was an all-aluminum 4.7-liter V8 engine producing 444 horsepower, capable of propelling the 2,773-lbs concept from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a 199-mph top speed.
Thankfully, Alfa Romeo partnered up with numerous design houses for various concepts – rather than just sticking with one. It was its 2010 partnership with Pininfarina, celebrating Alfa’s 100th anniversary and Pininfarina’s 80th, that gave rise to this stunning automotive artwork, the 2uettottanta. Pronounced Duettottanta – The 2 is actually a capital manuscript D – the concept paid tribute to the Duetto Spider, and was Pininfarina’s vision for how the next Spider should look. The 4C’s 1750 cc turbocharged 4 cylinder engine gave the 2uettottanta its power, sending it rearwards through a dual-clutch TCT gearbox.
The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione is already regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever, but with only 500 coupes made, it’s almost unbearable to think of tearing one to pieces. That’s what coachbuilders, Carozzeria Touring, did in 2013, reviving the nameplate from the 1950s model; but in stripping an 8C, they created something arguably even prettier than before. Powered by the same 4.7-liter V8 as the donor 8C, the Disco Volante outputs 444 hp through a transaxle six-speed transmission with limited slip differential. The resulting performance of the Disco Volante is a 0-62 mph sprint of 4.2 seconds and a 181-mph top speed.
The Alfa Romeo Renaissance is upon us – the one replete with a rear-wheel driven super-sedan to rival the BMW M3. But back in 2013, an altogether different Alfa Romeo sedan design was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Designed by 20 students of transportation design from the European Design Institute of Turin, the Gloria was a 4-door Alfa sedan with rear suicide doors and a 114.2-inch wheelbase, and either a V6 or V8 engine driving the rear wheels – or at least that’s what the designers envisioned. Somewhere in an alternate universe, there’s a Quadrifoglio badged version of this battling M3s on the racetrack.
Alfa has dabbled in the hot hatch game a few times throughout the years with varying degrees of success. The MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde is one of the brand’s most recent attempts and one that could be best described as lukewarm – but in 2009, the MiTo nearly became a very serious machine. The MiTo GTA Concept wore the famous badging that had adorned the hottest Alfas for generations before, but it was what lay beneath the hood that made it special. It swapped out the dreary 180-hp 1.4T for the 1.75-liter turbo-4 that would later be found in the 4C, generating 237 hp.
In such a small body, with weight further reduced by the use of carbon fiber for the roof and mirror housings, 0-62 mph required a mere 5 seconds. The suspension was also lowered by 0.8 inches for improved handling, and the car featured active suspension. Had it gone to production, it would’ve been the Alfa supermini dealing out beatings to the Mini Cooper JCW.