There are many cars out there that, while some find sexy, could be considered polarizing - but few cars are more likely to make people’s ‘most desire’, or ‘most beautiful’ list than the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale.
The Stradale (Italian for ‘road-going’) mid-engined car was based on the Autodelta Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 racing car. The road-going car was designed by Franco Scaglione and built by Carrozzeria Marazzi. It was introduced to the pubic at the 1967 Turin Motorshow, not surprisingly to critical acclaim. Despite the incredibly favorable response, only a total of 18 models of the Tipo 33 Stradale were made.
It was built by Alfa as an attempt to introduce their racing-grade technology to the public, but that technology didn’t come cheap. It was one of the most expensive vehicle sold in 1968, costing US$17,000. For comparison, the average price of a new car that years was around $2800. It was not far off the price of a Lamborghini Miura.
The Tipo 33 Stradale was the first production car to utilize dihedral (butterfly) opening doors. It was constructed of an aluminum body on an aluminum tube chassis. With such hand-built techniques, and sun low volumes, each of the 18 cars is distinct. For example, earlier cars have double headlights per side, whereas later models only have one. Some models have a single windshield wiper while others have two. Some later models have large body openings cut out to vent the brakes, unlike earlier ones.
The engine in the Tipo 33 Stradale is closely related to the V8 of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, but with smaller displacement and in a much higher state of tune. Both engines were derived from the 33 racers‘ but with significant changes. Both engines had chain driven camshafts as opposed to the racers‘ gear driven ones. The 33 Stradale kept the racing engine’s flat plane crank, whereas the Montreal engine had a more pedestrian cross plane crank. Race engineer Carlo Chiti designed an over square cylinder, with a 78 mm bore and a 52.2 mm stroke. It was a dry-sump lubricated, all aluminum 1,995 cc V8 that featured SPICA fuel injection, four ignition coils and 16 spark plugs. The engine used four chain-driven camshafts to operate the valve train and had a redline of 10,000 rpm. The engine produced 230 hp at 8,800 rpm in road trim versus 270 hp in the race version. Because of the hand-built nature of the cars, every Stradale's power levels can vary by car. As an example, the first production Stradale (No. 750.33.101) has a factory datasheet that claims 243 hp at 9,400 rpm with a ‘street' exhaust and 254 hp with a more open exhaust.
Another first on a production car introduced on the Tipo 33 Stradale was the six-speed transaxle gearbox, designed by Valerio Colotti. The car has gold 13-inch Campagnolo-made magnesium wheels and Girling disc brakes on all four corners. Even through the wheel diameter is just 13 inches the wheels are eight and nine inches wide, front and rear, respectively. Suspension is race car grade, with upper and lower control arms in front and double trailing arms in the rear, along with thick antiroll bars.
Although the Stradale is a road car, it’s every day practicality was limited. It didn’t come with door locks, and had an outrageously low ground clearance. A ground clearance that helps enable the car to sit one inch lower than a GT40, at 39 inches.
Since the Tipo 33 Stradale only weighs just a tick over 1500 pounds, the car can reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start and has a top speed of 160 mph). In 1968 it was the fastest commercially available car in the standing kilometer with time of 24.0 seconds measured by German Auto, Motor und Sport magazine. Any other cars with even similar performance numbers were all at least double the Stradale`s displacement. Cars like the Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari Daytona and Maserati Ghibli.
The current value of an Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is very hard to estimate, since those that have them are not inclined to part with them. At the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, while presenting the Alfa 4C Spider, Alfa's Head of North America estimated the current market value of the 33 Stradale at "well over $10 million”. Some think that’s highly conservative for what is an exceedingly rare, visually stunning proper sports car.