Whenever talk about Italian mid-engined supercars of the 60s, most people remember Lamborghini Miura and De Tomaso Mangusta, or even Ferrari Dino. In fact, Alfa Romeo produced a ground-breaking supercar in 1967. It was Tipo 33 Stradale, or “Type 33 Street” in English.
Alfa Romeo’s history can be divided into pre-war and post-war period. Before WWII, the marque concentrated on producing the world’s fastest and best road/racing sports cars. After the war, under the guidance of the Italian government, Alfa turned to produce mass production cars. Although the likes of Giulietta SZ and Giulia GTV dominated touring car racing, Alfa lacked a supercar to enter higher level racing. In the mid 60s, Alfa’s racing department Autodelta started the Tipo 33 project with the aim to re-enter endurance sports car racing. This resulted in a series of Tipo 33 race cars as well as the street version, 33 Stradale.
Scaglione, a freelance designer previously headed Bertone studio. Like the contemporary Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Dino, the 33 Stradale emphasized a wedge shape front and wave shape side profile. This made it very sexy to eyes. However, Scaglione’s design was even more futuristic than Gandini’s Miura and Fioravanti’s Dino. It had a bubble roof with T-bar structure and butterfly doors which hinged upward and outward simultaneously (this feature was copied by McLaren F1 many years later). Today, we still can’t help amazing the car’s clean and sexy lines.
The racing version of Tipo 33 weighed around 575 kg. The street car was heavier of course, but it still tipped the scale at only 700 kg in dry. Like the race car, its chassis was made of aluminum frame while the bodywork was lightweight glassfiber reinforced plastic. Suspensions were racing-style double-wishbones all around. Ventilated discs brakes were used for the first time in Alfa.
33 Stradale was Alfa’s first mid-engined road car (and still the only one until today). Its all-alloy, quad-cam V8 sat longitudinally behind the cockpit and drove the rear wheels via a racing-style 6-speed gearbox and limited slip differential. The 90-degree V8 was designed for racing, this can be seen by its dry-sump lubrication, oversquare combustion chambers (78mm bore x 52.2mm stroke), twin spark plugs per cylinder (a usual technology for Alfa’s racing engines), mechanical fuel injection, 10.0:1 compression and small capacity at 1995 cc to comply with the regulation. No wonder it produced 230 horsepower at a sky-high 8800 rpm and 148 lbft of torque at 7000 rpm. (The race car with 11.0:1 compression could even squeeze out 270 hp). That’s 115 horsepower per litre without forced induction !
According to Alfa, the Stradale could top 162 mph, making it a real supercar then. However, its performance could not match the contemporary Ferrari Daytona, whose 4.4-litre V12 produced 352 horsepower and powered the car to 174 mph. Due to extremely lightweight, the Alfa Romeo’s acceleration (0-60 mph in an estimated 5.5 seconds) was competitive, but drivability from the race-biased V8 was questionable, as were the build quality and reliability from Autodelta. In addition to sky-high price, 33 Stradale was not a great commercial success.
Alfa built only 18 Stradales in total. Among them, only 13 were delivered to customers, 1 kept at Alfa Romeo museum and the remaining 4 were running chassis delivered to Pininfarina, Bertone and Ital Design to create styling concepts. For its rarity, beauty and exotic technical design, today it became the most desirable post-war Alfa.