“In those days there was no speed limit in Italy and the police only stopped you out of curiosity. More often they would gesture you on: “Avanti, Avanti.” Once, on the autostrada to Venice, I ran it for 4 km at its 10,000 rpm rev. limit in sixth. I clocked it at 180 mph. Amazingly, below 150 mph there was little engine noise, but past 160 it became really intense inside. The car was fantastically stable – even in crosswinds it still ran brilliantly straight.” Henry Wessells II, the first private owner of a Tipo 33 Stradale.
Whenever there is talk of Italian mid-engined supercars of the 60s, most people remember the Lamborghini Miura, the De Tomaso Mangusta, or of course Ferrari Dino. However Alfa Romeo was one step ahead. In 1967 an excited world first set eyes on the Tipo 33 Stradale.
In the 1960s, although the Giulietta SZ and Giulia GTV dominated touring car racing, Alfa lacked a supercar to homologate for larger events. Alfa’s racing department Autodelta started the Tipo 33 project with the aim to re-enter endurance sports car racing. This resulted in a series of Tipo 33 race cars, and also the street version, the Tipo 33 Stradale.
Designed by Franco Scaglione, many car stylists regard the 33 Stradale as one of the most beautiful designs of all time. Like its contemporaries, the Stradale emphasized a wedge shape front, and wave shape side profile. However the 33 Stradale took design to the next level, with fabulous futuristic dihedral (butterfly) doors which hinged upward and outward simultaneously, a feature was copied by the McLaren F1 many years later.
What was carried over from the racing car was the somewhat unusual tubular chassis. It consisted of three large diameter tubes, bolted together in what resembled the shape of an ‘H’. The transversely mounted tube was placed between the cockpit and the engine compartment. At the rear the longitudinal sections were angled inward to cradle the engine and gearbox. On both ends of the chassis more conventional cross-members connected the two arms of the ‘H’. The tubular side-members also contained the rubber fuel tanks.
Mounted amidships of the 33 Stradale was a mildly de-tuned version of the competition car’s 2-litre V8 engine. Made from aluminium, and sporting twin overhead camshafts and SPICA fuel injection, this dry-sump unit was Alfa Romeo’s first V8 engine. The motor could produce as much as 270 bhp, but in a nod to reliability it was tuned to ‘just’ 230 bhp in road trim. It was mated to a Colotti gearbox with six, all synchromesh forward gears. Suspension was by double wishbones, and Girling disc brakes provided the stopping power. The finishing touch was four rather beautiful cast-aluminium Campagnolo wheels. Production commenced late in 1967, however there were few takers for the 33 Stradale. The retail price for a 33 Stradale was 9,750,000 Lire, meanwhile the average working wage was 150,000 Lire a year.
In March of 1969 the model was discontinued, by which time only 18 examples had been produced. Only a handful of these fabulous machines remain today, and the chance to own an example is a rare treat indeed. It comes as little surprise to read then that Alfa’s Head of North America, at the 2015 launch of the 4C at the Detroit Auto Show, estimated the current market value of the 33 Stradale at “well over $10 million”.
This stunning Tipo 33 Stradale Continuation was purchased by the current vendor in the early 2000s, using as the basis front and rear sections of the magnesium chassis frame of Tipo 33 Stradale chassis number #02, supplied in 1984 by Autodelta (via Marcello Gambi) to Giovanni Giordanengo for the sum of 5,900,000 Lire. At the same time Giordanengo also purchased a number of other components from Gambi, including various items of suspension. An invoice dated 18th October 1984, and endorsed by Gino Vanso of Autodelta, supports this.
Giovanni Giordanengo, a close friend of Autodelta’s Carlo Chiti, was a Cuneo-based ‘artigiano’ renowned for his exacting replicas of competition and road going Ferraris and Alfa Romeos. He was entrusted by Alfa Romeo with creating a Sanction II series of the TZ2, much like Aston Martin did with their DB4 GT Zagato. In the case of the Tipo 33 Stradale, the Alfa Romeo museum’s Tipo 33 was loaned to enable to perfect the shape of Giordanengo’s Tipo 33 Continuation. Once the chassis and suspension components were assembled, a new aluminium body was built to exacting standards by Giordanengo’s craftsmen.
The car was then built up to near completion; the body was painted, the interior was trimmed, the suspension and brakes fitted, as was the glass, electrical system and wiring loom. A stumbling block however was the engine. The original motor was not available, and so the vendor sourced an original Tipo 33 crankcase, and cylinder heads, also a correct 6-speed gearbox, which have now been assembled and fitted to the car. The correct Tipo 33 crankshaft is also available, as are the pistons. The car will also be supplied with a later 3 litre Montreal V8 engine, which can be fitted if required.
Only a handful of the original eighteen Tipo 33s still survive in their original form. Five of the eighteen went on to become concept cars, whilst it is estimated that no more than six Continuations were built in Giordanengo’s lifetime. Needless to say ownership of any Tipo 33 Stradale grants membership to one of the the most exclusive clubs in the world.
This incredibly beautiful car is without doubt the closest you will get to one of the original 18 Tipo 33 Stradales, and provides the next owner with a truly mouth-watering prospect.