Showing posts with label Alfa Romeo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alfa Romeo. Show all posts

Alfa Romeo BAT 7

Alfa Romeo BAT 7 1950s Italian classic concept car

The Alfa Romeo BAT 7 was a concept car out of the house of Bertone - an Italian coach-building firm, par excellence. The BAT 7 was the work of the young Franco Scaglione - a rising star of the Bertone team. It was one of a series of cars he designed - which also included the BAT 5 and BAT 9.

BAT stood for 'Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica'. As the name implied, airflow was a key concern. Scaglione's goal was to decrease cornering drag - while simultaneously increasing frontal downforce. That tied in with another performance box Scaglioni wanted ticked. That 125mph be extracted from a mere 100bhp engine. All these technical criteria were achieved with flying colours. The BAT 7's drag coefficient was 0.19 - a figure a modern-day supercar would struggle to match. And that, from a car built in '54! Okay, so it helped that the BAT 7 did not come with roadster-style baggage attached. That said, its sibling - the BAT 9 - did put real miles on the clock.

The BAT 7 served only to strengthen the bond between Alfa and Bertone. The latter had designed the bodywork for the Giulietta Sprint GT - now an established product in the Alfa range. The insights gleaned by Bertone from the three BAT cars had been vital in the GT's development. Not least, the BAT 7. From its rakish low nose - to the folds of its 'tail-fins' - air-pressure did not stand a chance. In time, Bertone's lessons in shape-shifting would be learned by other automotive designers. Few of their creations, though, would have the allure of the Alfa Romeo BAT 7. A manta ray on wheels, the BAT 7 took metalwork to a whole new level. Young Italian coachbuilders - take notes!

Alfa Romeo Carabo

Alfa Romeo Carabo 1960s concept car

The Alfa Romeo Carabo is one of the most influential concept cars ever created. Think Lamborghini Countach, for example. The Carabo was the ultimate in wedge-shaped styling. As diagonal lines go, the one from the tip of its nose - to the top of its roof - was about as dynamic as it gets. That was in sharp contrast to its cute stub of a tail. Not only did that combination look cool - aerodynamically, it was bang on the money. Show car though it was, the Carabo had a top speed of 160mph. It was, after all, kitted out with a 230bhp V8 engine.

To be fair, the Carabo did not stint on real-world parts. Many of them were honed at the racetrack. Its chassis was spawned by Alfa Romeo's Tipo 33 competition car. There was double-wishbone suspension all round - as well as disc brakes. For a car that was not built to be driven - at least, not in anger - the Carabo came pretty high-spec.

Marcello Gandini - of design house Bertone - was chief stylist. Certainly, the scissor-doors set-up he drew would become a supercar trademark. When fully flung up, they were not just visually stunning - they were an engineering tour de force, too. The car's finish was fittingly flamboyant. Metallic green paint was set off by orange highlights. The lightweight glass used - by Belgian firm VHR-Glaverbel - was copper-tinted. It was a gimme that the Carabo wowed the Paris Motor Show, in '68. Nuccio Bertone - and his Turin-based studio - had delivered. Lamborghini lovers, especially, will be forever indebted to the Alfa Romeo Carabo!

Alfa Romeo Montreal

Alfa Romeo Montreal 1970s Italian classic supercar

Montreal - in Quebec, Canada - hosted the '67 Expo show. It was there that the Alfa Romeo Montreal made its début. Designed by Marcello Gandini, there was never a doubt that the car would turn heads. Gandini's employer - coach-builders Bertone - built the body. For all that, the Montreal did not sell in shedloads. But it did give Alfa a much-needed publicity boost. Following its 1970 launch, the Montreal stayed in production for seven years. Ironically, Montreal's showrooms were a no-go - on account of the city's strict emissions regulations. Not the best of marketing messages!

Performance-wise, the new Alfa lived up to the hype. Its fuel-injected V8 engine gave 132mph. That was quick - particularly since the Montreal was no lightweight. Its motor was taken from the Tipo 33/2 race car ... suitably de-tuned for the road. That said, it still made 200bhp. And revved up to 6,500rpm. Torque was abundant throughout.

The Montreal's engine, then, was hard to fault. Sadly, the same could not be said of every component. The live axle rear suspension, for instance, was too softly sprung. To the point at which cornering could be compromised. At speed, steering, too, was an issue. Its gearing was set up for a more sedate pace. However, the ventilated disc brakes were fine. Overall - as Grand Tourers go - the Montreal passed muster. Which was important - as GT cars were a new market for Alfa. One thing no one complained about was the car's looks. Dubbed the Montreal, it may have been. But - in styling terms, at least - the new Alfa Romeo was as Italian as cars come!

Alfa Romeo Spider

Alfa Romeo Spider 1960s Italian classic sports car

Few marques can compete with Alfa Romeo for sheer romance. And few Alfas more so than the Spider. Pour exquisite styling into the cultural cool mix - and superlatives start to become redundant. The Spider's sculpted 'boat-tail' rear end, for instance, could only have originated in Turin. The great Italian city is home to the Pininfarina design house. That firm's legendary coachbuilding skills were key to the Spider's appeal.

The Spider was dubbed the 'Duetto'. That was in homage to the spec of its twin-cam engine. And, the Spider was graced with a snug two-seater cockpit, into the bargain.

When a 1600 Duetto hit Hollywood, the Spider's celebrity status was assured. It co-starred with Dustin Hoffman - in the '67 film, The Graduate. The Spider had made its automotive début a year before - at the Geneva Show. On its release, it went on to perform well in the showrooms, too. While pricy, the Spider's combination of refinement and practicality still made it good value for money. The Alfa Romeo Spider, then, weaved an attractive web. Many a driver was willing to dash headlong into its exotic allure!