33 Stradale

Take an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 mid-engined racing car, give it a slightly longer wheelbase to make it more suitable for road use, de-tune the engine slightly and make it street legal; then you have the 33 Stradale. Why the name? 'Stradale' is Italian for 'road going' so not a lot of imagination was necessary.

This was one very expensive car at around £10,700 when it was first offered for sale in 1967; although some will consider it a snip at the price when you consider the fact that if you wanted one now you would need to have several million pounds to spare. Why would it cost so much now? Well for a start it is without doubt one of the most beautiful cars ever manufactured; there were only 18 of them ever made; and you would be buying a racing car capable of 174 mph and acceleration from nought to 60 in 5.5 seconds. All this from a 2 litre V8 engine generating a fairly modest 230 brake horsepower!

first offered for sale at the Monza Sports Car Show in 1967 it featured, for the first time on a production vehicle, dihedral doors; these moved both upwards and outwards and were originally developed to allow racing car drivers to get in and out of the car quickly. The body was built of aluminium, over an aluminium tubular chassis. Wheels were made of magnesium (one existing prototype had a body built of magnesium too;) very light and strong but I would not want to be too close if the car ever caught fire! Every one of the 18 were built by hand and so each was slightly different; even the power output of the engines vary slightly from one to the other.

Yes it was a street legal car but not really terribly suited for day-to-day driving. Ground clearance was minimal so taking it for a trip around a typical potholed and debris strewn UK road would be almost guaranteed to result in some expensive damage; and the lack of locks would make it a very interesting project for your friendly neighbourhood car thief.

Why was it built in the first place? In 1968 it was easily the most expensive car that the public could buy for road use (provided the road was as flat as a billiard table of course) and it sold for more than the price of a Lamborghini Miura with a 4 litre V 12 engine. However there is more than one reason to buy a car and although you would have more chance of finding teeth on a hen than finding one of these for sale the head of Alfa Romeo in America recently estimated that buying one now would cost more than US$10 million. But then again he would, wouldn't he.

Now if only I had £10,000 to spare back in 1967 ........

Next - the Montreal