Spotlight: The Exquisite Alfa-Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale

January 26, 2012

In the oft-worshipped halls of exotic Italian sportscars of yore, the Alfa-Romeo Tipo 33 ‘Stradale’ is the stuff of dreams for petrolheads the world over. Yet, it didn’t exactly start out that way when it was first introduced at the Sport Car Show at Monza, Italy in September of 1967…

Essentially a road-legal version of Alfa’s Tipo 33 mid-engined racecar, the limited-run Stradale cost the equivalent of $17,000 when it was summoned upon the gazing eyes of the motoring world in ’67. That was astronomical money back then and as a result, Alfa struggled to find buyers for their luxuriously appointed, mid-engined Supercar that was carefully built by hand alongside their racing cars.

Churning out high-volume numbers of the Stradale was never going to be an issue so each Stradale was built-up over relaxed periods of time and therefore received evolutionary modifications and upgrades with each one produced. Subsequently, no two Stradales are alike, with earlier examples exhibiting twin-headlamps and later Stradales featuring vents behind the front and rear wheels to enable increased cooling capablities of the brakes.

Power for the Stradale came from Alfa’s first-ever V8 – A mildly-detuned version of their racecar’s 2-litre, all-aluminium, naturally-aspirated, dry-sumped, twin overhead camshaft engine that produced 230 bhp (it was capable of 270 bhp but ‘safely’ reigned-in for road-going purposes) and enabled the sprint to 60 in just 5.5 seconds and a top-speed of over 260 km/h. Rifling through the gears was a 6-speed Colotti gearbox and handling was aided by double wishbones all around. Stopping power was handled by Girling disc brakes on all four corners and helped along by the scant 700 kg curb weight of the entire rolling chassis. Accelerative prowess was a definite given with those numbers…

Franco Scaglione was a former employee at Bertone by the time he designed this evocative aluminium body for the Stradale – surely one of the most beautifully exotic, elegant, balanced and sexy designs to ever clothe a car. The signature (and rather clever) door-design being just one feature of the Stradale alongside many other design cues that permeate Italian flair and beauty like only the best of the best from the era.

With the Stradale struggling to find owners of the mere 18 examples created between late ’67 and March of 1969, five of them were eventually given to coach-builders Giugiaro/Italdesign, Pininfarina and Bertone to use as Stradale-based showcar concepts – the first one emerging from Bertone with their highly-influential, wedge-shaped ‘Carabo’ concept of ’68 (and the later Stradale-based ‘Navajo’ concept shown in ’76) followed by the ‘Iguana’ concept of ’69 from Giugiaro/Italdesign and two later Pininfarina-designed offerings. All five of those concepts survive to this day in the respective museums of their creators along with only 3 known road-going versions left in the wild- rare indeed.

What was considered a complete sales-failure at the time, it is now viewed as one of the most-cherished and adored pieces of Italian automotive creations. Its stunning lines and ferociously-lunged engine providing worldwide fanfare and adoration for this exquisitely created and rarest of Supercars from the 1960s.

-Blake J.

Google Car: Auto-Pilot Mode is a GO!

December 16, 2011

Google has patented a new autonomous mode for their high-profile ‘driverless car’, further securing its vision of a safety-infested driving landscape without us pesky humans messing things up…

Yet, given the daily examples of inexscusably mind-boggling driving intuition displayed in our fair city alone, this new tech is far from any sort of threat on our independence and love of driving – this tech is aimed at the daily-grinder. The city commuter and the drab endlessness they inhabit every… single… day.

Let your car's brain do the troublesome mile-a-minute multi-tasking now, you inferior human.

To quote US patent # 8,078,349 – “An autonomous vehicle comprising: a first sensor configured to detect a landing strip responsive to the vehicle stopping; a second sensor configured to detect a reference indicator, responsive to the first sensor detecting the landing strip; an analysis module configured to identify reference data associated with the detected reference indicator, wherein the reference data comprises an internet address; a wireless unit configured to wirelessly retrieve an autonomous vehicle instruction based on at least the reference data; and, a control module configured to switch the vehicle into an autonomous operation mode, wherein the autonomous operation mode comprises the control module executing the autonomous vehicle instruction”

Got all that..?

Basically what this means is that, at the press of a button drivers will be able to direct their cars onto a section of road that will generate a code (similar to that of a QR code) and then Google will send the vehicle’s GPS directions and info on how to arrive at the humanoid’s destination. Smart stuff.

In short...

The more I think about it though, the more I like it… and I’m someone that’s fully aware of the Orwellian future awaiting all of us. But as long as this tech remains in-control of the driver (for now) and has the potential to lessen the amount of annoyingly clueless, wandering drivers on the road (especially in the citys) then I’m almost inclined to think it perfectly suits our endlessly boring, grid-patterned driving landscape.

Suddenly, the fun, far-off, winding and challenging backroads just became even-more enticing…

-Blake J.

How to cross the road in Iran

August 10, 2011

Crossing the road in Iran is like a game! That’s right I said it so lets watch some people play a little game called Frogger!

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