The 50th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

31 August 1967–2017

Some cars are priceless because very few of them were built, some owe their status to their sophisticated engineering, and others achieve greatness through their outstanding racing careers.

But the 33 is in a class of its own. 

A single car that effortless combines all these characteristics, together with one more, normally a matter of opinion but in this case unanimously acclaimed: the Alfa Romeo 33 is not just beautiful, it is sublime! Without a doubt everyone, inside and outside the industry, recognises it as one of the most beautiful cars of all time.

Just 18 of the 33 Stradale were built, and it is also one of the few road cars to be created after the racing version, inheriting superb technological features, which fifty years later are still able to put those of today's ultra-sophisticated cars in the shade. We could examine its outstanding technical data, such as its many cylinders, massive horsepower and light weight… Or list all the victories achieved by the various racing versions starting from Fléron on 12 March 1967, and the many cups won and trophies brought home, a lasting contribution to Alfa Romeo's racing history.

But what is almost impossible to describe is its crystalline loveliness, the quintessence of automotive beauty. Harmonious shapes, clean, simple lines and elegance in every tiniest detail. The many reviews and the thousands of words written in 50 years, or the glossy photographs of the car in a 3/4 view, with the butterfly doors open, the stylised but perfect grille, the exclusive wheel rims or any small but essential detail, are not enough to convey its impact. To appreciate it and fall in love with it at once, you have to see it at first hand.

The "Tipo 33" was a highly expansive project and many beautifully preserved specimens are proudly displayed at the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, including the illustrious racing versions and original spin-off variants by design studios of the time.

Four models were behind a decade of victories in the sports prototype class.

The first was the 33/2 Daytona in the coupé configuration, featuring the V8 engine with its original 2-litre displacement and peak output of 270 hp: in 1968 it secured a 1-2-3 finish in the 24 Hours of Daytona and won the World Championship in its class.

Then came the 33/3, with the V8 expanded to 3 litres and output boosted to 400 hp: in 1971 it won eight out of nine races in the World Sportscar Championship.

The 33 TT12 arrived in 1973, with the V8 replaced by a 3-litre flat-12 engine developing 500 hp: three years of victories followed, culminating in the 1975 World Championship for Makes title. 

The last addition to the line-up was the 33 SC12 Turbo, with a twin turbocharged 12-cylinder engine displacing 2134 cc and developing 640 hp. It was debuted by Arturo Merzario at Salzburg in 1977, with the championship already won convincingly by the non-turbo version.

Design studios at the time enriched the 33 project with their own interpretations, including Bertone, first with the Carabo (1968) and later with the Navajo (1976); Italdesign with the Iguana (1969); and Pininfarina with the 33/2 Special coupé (1969) and Cuneo spider (1971).    

But the most outstanding of all is the prototype, also by Scaglione, which opened the way to the advent of the definitive version, providing a complete, exemplary preview of its line and stylistic identity. 

Happy birthday 33 Stradale!

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