Franco Scaglione – driving force behind the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale - was an engineering whizz-kid from an early age. Mix that in with his precocious design sensibilities - and mechanical marvels seemed only a matter of time. Mind-blowing cars, say!
Engineering, then, was an academic cakewalk for Scaglione. He was a natural. In due course, he gravitated to advanced learning. Then, the Second World War kicked in. Scaglione's studies – which had started so swimmingly - were thrown into disarray. When he found himself a civilian again - in '46 - he was 29. His dream of being an engineer in shreds, Scaglione scouted about for alternative employment.
The Fiat Abarth was Scaglione's first full-on automotive design venture. Launched in '52, he was on Bertone's books at the time. Emboldened by the scale of the Abarth's success, he decided to go solo. He started up his own design studio, in '59. The jewel in its crown would be the 'Stradale'. Using Alfa Romeo's Type 33 racer as his template, Scaglione fashioned a stylishly muscle-bound sports car. Aluminium bodywork was draped over a tubular steel frame. An Alfa 2-litre V8 was strapped in the back. It pleased Scaglione that it be on view - in all its mechanical majesty. Fired up, it made 230 bhp. Full use could be made of that power. For a start, the throttle was ultra-responsive. The gearbox was a flexible 6-speed affair. And, the Stradale's dimensions were hang-it-out compact. Plus, it weighed in at just 700kg. In its short production run - between '67 and '69 - a total of just 18 Stradales were built. Surprisingly - given that built-in exclusivity - the car's price tag was relatively low. That did not detract from the Stradale's prestige one iota. Carrozzeria Marrazzi had made an outstanding job of the coachbuilding. And, Franco Scaglione had drafted a design tour de force. The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale radiated design excellence. Scaglione - World War Two interruptions notwithstanding - had got there in the end!