Obscure Auto: Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale

Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale

This is the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, and I’m sure your eyes have already informed you that it is one of the most beautiful cars ever built by anyone. The word “Stradale” of course means that it is street version of a racing car, and it is indeed. The Tipo 33 Stradale was made in 1967 as a road going version of Autodelta Alfa Romeo’s Tipo 33/2 racing car. Only 18 Stradales were ever built, making it one of the rarest, most sought after cars in the world. One that just gets more and more interesting with every new detail you uncover.   

Like the racecar it is based on, the Stradale features a mid-engine layout, and was extremely light weight; just over 1500lbs. The Stradale also shared its engine with the racecar, although it was slightly detuned for road use. This motor, a 2.0L V8, was unique to Alfa’s race bred cars and was not related to motors used in Alfa’s typical road cars. This little V8 was quite advanced for its time, and featured dry-sump lubrication, SPICA fuel injection, four ignition coils, two spark plugs per cylinder, dual overhead camshafts, and was made from aluminum; quite advanced for its time.

First generation Stradales had twin headlamps like this one. Second generation cars had single headlamps (see below)

All of this technology made the 2.0L V8 quite efficient, and it produced 230-270hp depending on whether the street or race configuration was being used. For reference, the modern record for a naturally aspirated, 2.0L production car is held by Honda’s S2000 at 247hp. This Alfa was up to our modern standards for engine efficiency back in the late 1960s; it was some serious engineering. Power went through a 6 speed transaxle gearbox (like many modern supercars) and its V8 revved to 10,000rpm, so just imagine how much these things would scream at full tilt.

One piece glass windows wrap around the door from the side to the top

The Stradale’s chassis was also quite advanced as well, being made entirely of aluminum. It shared its suspension geometry with the racecar 33/2, and had wide 13-inch magnesium wheels. There were also disc brakes at all four corners, so stopping was not an issue. Body wise the Stradale featured sleek, sexy curves and was the first road car to use gullwing doors; which featured a curved, one piece glass window.

With the screamingV8 in its feather-light chassis the Tipo 33 Stradale was capable of 0-60mph in 5.5seconds and a top speed of 160mph. These numbers are still fairly impressive today, but you have to remember the type of car this is. Tires back then were far behind what we have now, and gearboxes featured longer ratios and were much slower to shift. Therefore, you shouldn’t judge it purely by its numbers; I assure you it would destroy an Infiniti G35. Its power to weight ratio is nearly 350bhp per ton, and that means its level of “pull” will be on par with that of a Ferrari 458 Italia. In fact, in 1968, the Stradale was the fastest road legal car in the standing kilometer with a time of 24 seconds flat. Don’t be fooled, the Tipo 33 Stradale remains fast as hell, even in 45 years later.

With all of this cutting edge technology the Tipo 33 was much like the Bugatti Veyron of its time, as far as being a technological marvel is concerned. However, it also matched the Veyron’s absurd price tag back in 1968. At the time a typical car cost around $2800. The Tipo 33 Stradale, on the other hand, would set you back $17,000, making it the most expensive road car of its time. This made the Alfa one of the hypercars of its day, and like any hypercar it also had a few absurdities. For example, other than the obvious difficulties found by driving a racecar on a public road, when you did get to your destination you could not lock it up because there were no locks. Impossibly impractical, but all the flaws add to the charm as with any proper supercar.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rgt3/6284119206/

So what is the Tipo 33 Stradale worth today? Simply put: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Honestly though, nobody really knows because one hasn’t publically changed hands in quite some time. The value is sure to me many millions of dollars, but just how many will depend on the people involved. The Stradale is so rare, so beautiful, and so coveted that for many owners it is priceless; they could never dream of selling it. A car like this is much like a famous painting; it is not just about its form, but also about its historical significance. This is one of the great Alfa Romeos of all time, and currently Alfa cannot make cars like this because they are underneath Ferrari in the corporate chain. That means that the Tipo 33 Stradale is a part of an extinct breed, one that will never resurface in quite the same way again. It surely is one of my all time dream cars, but I will honestly be happy if I ever even get to see one in person and photograph it. It is legend, plain and simple.

-Nick Walker

Photo Credit: Auto Classico, visit their photostream HERE

And because this car is so insanely gorgeous, here are a few more pics and a video so you can hear that glorious engine:

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