Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
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Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ 2 - Versione della Giulia Sprint Speciale, elaborata per le corse su telaio tubolare.
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Arese, Italy - April 23th, 2005

On the outskirts of the small town of Arese, about ten kilometers northwest of Milan, the Alfa Romeo complex covers an area of two-and-a-half million square meters. The Alfa Romeo factory is situated here ever since 1961 and has always been an important industry for the little village. While the parking lots were still reasonably filled we visited the factory, the executive offices on the site make a desolate impression. The whole complex is surrounded by fencing, appearently to prevent people getting hit by debris falling from the old fashioned office buildings. While people continue to work in the Arese offices, it appears the major part of the Alfa Romeo Executive Offices have moved to other (FIAT) premises nowadays.

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Opposite to the Executive Offices a small, what appears to be a one floor, building arises; the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo. Officially inaugurated in december 1976, the museum is open to the general public, but only by advance booking through Alfa Romeo's Relazioni Esterne. Entering the small and dark building (the cars are pretty well protected from the northern Italian sunlight), one notices things are not always what they seem from the outside. The Museo Storico covers nearly 5000 square meters and is divided into six floors, housing a breathtaking collection of well over a hundred cars, each and every one of particular importance to automotive history in general and Alfa Romeo history in particular.

Next time you are planning to travel to Italy, be sure not to miss this wonderful temple of Italian motorsports, well hidden from the general public, but a true gem for those who take the extra effort of advance booking their visit to the Alfa Romeo Factory in Arese.

1910: la genesi
In 1910 a company named Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica di Automobili (A.L.F.A.) was estiblished in Portello, where it arose from the ashes of the Società Italiana Automobili Darracq. The A.L.F.A. company soon understood that racing was the best way to test (and display) reliability of their products and started to develop purpose build cars for motorsports. By the time A.L.F.A. won at Mugello in 1920 and 1921, Napolitan entrepeneur Nicola Romeo took over the company, and "Alfa Romeo" was born.

RL: il primo capolavoro
The company of Alfa Romeo became a real industrial production unit when the 3 litre 6-cylinder "RL" was introduced. A total of 2640 units (remember, we're talking 1926 here) of the RL were produced in many different variants. The Museo Storico houses a Castagna bodied variant, build for an Indian Maharajah, the RL Super Sport by Zagato that came fourth overall in the 1927 Mille Miglia, another Zagato that won the 1926 German Grand Prix and two other RL versions which were raced in the Targa Florio in 1923 and 1924.

L'epoca d'oro
In 1923 the talented designer Vittorio Jano joined Alfa Romeo and his first creation was the legendary "P2" that brought Alfa Romeo the first World Championship title and laid the foundations for the legend. The Museo Storico houses several of the 1500 and 1750 cc 6-cylinders among them the Super Sport driven to victory by Campari - Ramponi in the 1929 Mille Miglia or the 1930 Gran Sport, driven by Tazio Nuvolari in the thousand miles the year after. Another important racing car on display is the 8C-2300 Monza, also designed by Jano, that came first and second in the 1931 Italian Grand Prix. The legendary 8C-2300 also won Le Mans in that same year and in 1934.

Le più veloce del mondo
Derived from the P3, the "fastest and most beautiful sportscar in the world" was born in the 8C 2900. A car unrivalled both on road and track, which took for instance the first 3 places in the 1938 Mille Miglia. Another car, with a lightweight Touring body, is also on display in the Museo Storico. Biondetti and Sommer had built up a lead of a mere 160 kilometers when a broken valve put them out of the race.

Prima e dopo la guerra
The 6C 2500 is both the last pre-war and the first post-war Alfa Romeo. The Museo Storico houses the Touring bodied 6C 2500 Super Sport Corsa that finished second overall in the 1940 Mille Miglia and several other variants, amongst them the gorgeous Villa d'Este, so called after winning the prestigeous concours d'elegance at Lake Como.

Verso l'industrializzazione
In the early Fifties, car builders needed to make more functional and less luxurious cars to meet market demads. But Alfa Romeo did not want to give up its image as a producer of prestige sports cars and designed the "1900", a reasonable priced 4-cylinder platform that offered Alfa-style sporty performance. The Museo Storico houses several examples built on the 1900 platform, ranging from the AR 51 (Matta), an Alfa Romeo interpretation of a military jeep that nevertheless took part in the 1952 Mille Miglia to the absolutely stunning "Disco Volante" (Flying Saucer) spyder

L'epoca della Giulietta
The Giulietta was the first platform specifically built for the mass market and the first car with a "name" rather than a "number". The Museo Storico houses several examples from the Bertone designed spider, through a Berlina by Bertone, a Pininfarina designed spider to a race-bred Zagato SZ.

Le Giulia da corsa
The Museo Storico in Arese houses several examples of the competition Giulias from the Sixties. The "TZ" developed in collaboration with Zagato scored class wins in the Sebring 12 Hours, the Targa Florio, the Nürburgring 1000km, the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Tour de France Automobile. The successor, the "TZ 2" was developed directly by Autodelta (Alfa Romeo's racing division) and featured a fibreglass body over its tubular frame.

Campioni del Mondo
The history of Alfa Romeo's involvement in motorsports list three great Grand Prix cars which won the World Championship. The first car to win this title was the P2 designed by Vittorio Jano and driven by great names like Antonio Ascari, Giuseppe Campari and Gastone Brilli-Perri. The P2 had a supercharged 8-cylinder in line engine, was introduced in 1924 and took the World Title in 1925.

In 1932 Jano produced the Type B, or P3, which is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful Grand Prix cars ever built. It was raced by the greatest drivers of the day: Tazio Nuvolari, Varzi, Caracciola and Borzacchini.

In 1938 it was Gioachino Colombo that designed the car known as "158". While the car already took its first wins before the war, the first World Championship title was won in 1950 by Nino Farina. A year later, Juan-Manuel Fangio drove an improved version of the car, the "159" to victory in 1951 World Championship.

Nate per vincere
The lowest floor of the Museo Storico houses the most recent race history of Alfa Romeo. Beside a cross section of DTM versions of the Alfa 75, 155 and 156, a selection of Indycar, Formula 3 and Formula 1 racers, there is a range of Sports Prototypes on display. Alfa Romeo 33's Sports Prototypes were entered from 1967 throughout 1977 and have scored a brilliant one-two in the Daytona 24 Hours in 1968.  In 1975 Alfa won 7 out of 8 races in the World Constructors' Championship with the brand new 12-cylinder boxer engine. The "33 SC 12" also on display in Arese, won the 1977 Championship, this time by winning 8 out of 8 races.

A interesting example on display is the Scaglione designed roadgoing version of the Alfa Romeo 33, of which online 18 were built. Truly unique is the Bertone designed one-off coupé, called "Montreal Expo".

Edwin van Nes