The most beautiful Italian car ever?

Discerning the line of beauty

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (4)
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To name the most beautiful Italian car ever made is not an easy task. However you define beauty, there are countless names to choose from. For curves, you only have to look at the Lamborghini Miura or the Ferrari 458 Italia, and for straight edges, there’s just as much difficulty narrowing it down between the Lancia Stratos and the Lamborghini Countach.

Many aficionados would look at history and naturally veer towards a Ferrari. Others would go niche and argue for a De Tomaso or a Pagani. All fine choices, but for me nothing compares to the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

Alfas tend to look pretty amazing, but the 33 Stradale is special. This is a car without a single bad angle. Gazing at even a picture of one leaves you scrambling to find the words that can do it justice. Calling it beautiful is like saying the Milan Cathedral is a decent church. All adjectives feel hollow and measly when applied to the 33 Stradale, leaving you with only strange, garbled noises and a few four-letter words not allowed on reputable websites like this one.

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (1)

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale: Early models had dual headlights, which was reduced to one for later models due to regulations. Credit: John Filiss

Based on the Tipo 33/2, a sports racing prototype which took part in endurance races, the 33 Stradale remained true to its origins. The word Stradale is Italian for ‘road-going’, but a closer look at the 33 gives you the impression they were just being sarcastic when they named it that. Wing mirrors were purposefully left off, the doors had no locks and the chassis was so low it virtually glided across the ground. Funnily enough, the most practical thing about it was probably the butterfly doors.

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (2)

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. Credit: Andrew Basterfield

The tiny 2.0 litre V8 cranked out around 240 bhp, good for a 0-60 time under six seconds and a top speed of almost 160 mph. That may sound a little slow these days, but at the time of its release these figures made the 33 Stradale one of the fastest cars in the world. It certainly helped that the whole car weighed 700 kg, less than a Fiat 500. Even today, it can still hold its own, with a standing kilometre time only a second or so less than a modern Ford Mustang 5.0 GT.

And to mention one final record, the 33 Stradale’s price tag of $17,000 made it more expensive than any other car on the market. In 2018 terms, it was the Bugatti Chiron of its day, if the Chiron looked like a piece of art and not a stretched Audi TT.

Just 18 of these models were built between 1967 and 1969, with six being transformed into concept cars over the next few years by Bertone, Pininfarina and Italdesign. 50 years later and it’s estimated that fewer than 10 original models are left. It may be one of the most beautiful cars ever created, but for anyone who doesn’t have £10,000,000 lying around it’ll remain more elusive than ever.

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (3)

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale: Told you it was stunning from every angle. Credit: Brian Snelson

by Andrew Shaw at 21 Nov 2018, 00:00 AM