Alfa Romeo celebrates 33 Stradale's 50th birthday
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Alfa Romeo has marked the 50th anniversary of the mid-engined 33 Stradale, a model renowned in the '60s for its blend of cutting-edge technology, racing mechanics and aesthetic beauty.
Debuting on 31 August 1967 - the eve of the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix - the 33 Stradale (Italian for "Road-going") was a true to its name, and to commemorate the 33 Stradale and wider 33 project of racing cars, Alfa Romeo has organised a special gathering in Milan, Italy.
Run by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Heritage, a department dedicated to promoting the legacy of FCA's Italian brand, a public exhibition has opened with a 1967 33 Stradale prototype taking centre stage.
Alongside the prototype the display includes five of the six concept cars derived from the 33 chassis, including Carabo, Iguana, 33/2 Speciale, Cuneo and Navajo. Also on display are the 33/2 Daytona, 33/3, 33 TT12 and 33 SC12 turbo racing cars.
The Italian sports car was based on the Autodelta Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 racing car (Autodelta being the company's factory-backed racing division) which competed in the Sports Cars World Championship and latter even the American Can-Am Championship.
In typical Alfa fashion, the first competition versions of the Tipo 33 proved to be unreliable and uncompetitive between 1965 - 1967. But in 1968, a change from a four-cylinder to 2.0-litre V8 paid off with the Tipo 33 claiming a class victory of the opening round of the Sports Cars World Championship at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Alfa would finish the year in third spot.
Even in the '60s, the championship rule book required a road-going version of the Tipo 33 to be produced, allowing the race car to be homologated.
Dressed with the iconic Quadrifoglio four-leaf clover, the 33 Stradale was built on a aluminium tube chassis and body that was completely hand-built, meaning each 33 Stradale is slightly different. Sitting on 13-inch magnesium wheels, the two-seat sports car weighed in at only 700kg.
The 33 Stradale was also the world's first production car to feature dihedral doors, just like a McLaren F1 from the '90s.
Powered by a 170kW flat plane 2.0-litre V8 that was closely related the engine the won its class at Daytona, the 33 Stradale could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 260km/h. Disc brakes on all four wheels were also closely related to the competition version.
The road-going racer was one of the World's most exclusive cars when it went on sale, only 18 33 Stradale models were produced for customers between 1967 and 1969. A total of 28 33 Stradale cars were produced before production finished, the final 10 were either one off creations or Alfa prototypes used for testing.
In its homeland the Alfa retailed for 9,750,000 lire, in a time when the average worker was lucky to earn one per cent (150,000 lire) of that asking price a year.
Nowadays, any 33 Stradale model's value would exceed $14 million.