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Happy Birthday, Alfa 33 Stradale!

Legendary Italian sports car celebrates 50 years of being utterly, stonkingly pretty

Published: 01 Sep 2017

Beauty, of course, is subjective, but even those with the most individual of tastes would struggle to label the Alfa 33 Stradale ugly. It is achingly gorgeous. A masterpiece.

Designed by former Bertone protégé Franco Scaglione, perhaps what makes it so memorable is it’s just so… simple. There’s a tiny horizontal grille that sits virtually on the floor, two small vents up by the windscreen, and those massive, characterful headlights sitting at the end of the smooth, heavily sculptured front arches. 

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It’s all because it comes from a pre-aerodynamics era, a time when car exteriors were designed for aesthetics and not much else. That said, under the skin, this car marked Alfa’s first attempt to integrate racing technology into a road car, making it resolutely not just a pretty face.

The race-bred engine was a 2.0-litre dry sump V8 with an aluminium block and fuel injection – all contemporary technology back in 1967. It meant the Stradale was able to match a Muira or Daytona for performance, which was no mean feat. 

Another reason why the Stradale is revered so much is its rarity – only 18 examples were ever produced, all hand-built near Milan by Autodelta, the competition arm of Alfa Romeo. At the time it was the most expensive car anywhere on the market, costing the equivalent of $120,000 when new. Nowadays, its value is hard to estimate because they hardly ever come up for sale. And if they did, it’d be for somewhere in the ‘do you own a private island?’ price range.

To commemorate the 33’s half century, there’s a special exhibition currently on at the Alfa museum, but we think a better tribute would be if they produced a modern successor to the Stradale. Think about it – a limited-edition series with a Ferrari V8, stunning body and the dynamics from the Guila Quadrifoglo. 

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While you ponder that, raise a glass to a car so beautiful it causes your mouth to make weird noises. 

Words: James Smalley

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