When describing classic Alfa Romeos, it’s difficult to avoid the clichés that tag along with one of Italy’s most distinguished marquees. The 110-year old automaker established itself in its first 60 years as the purveyor of aesthetic and deeply passionate vehicles that inspired generations of automotive enthusiasts from all walks of life, and a classic Alfa in an equally fabulous environment represents la dolce vita more than perhaps any other automaker.
Because of Alfa’s elegance and evocative character, there’s no shortage of gorgeous historical images of the marque’s machinery. We scrounged around in the archives to gather a tasting menu of Alfa’s history, rounding out somewhere around the mid-1980s. Of course, we picked a few of our favorites to highlight in the text, but don’t miss the full gallery.
Glamor Shot of a 1968 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750
Not much background is available on the origins of this excellent staged shot, but it’s pretty much a scene pulled straight from our steamiest daydreams.
Alfa Romeo GTV Tested to Its Limit, ca. 1966
Alfa Romeos are renowned for their balanced handling and enthusiastic approach to driving dynamics, but this image proves just how far we’ve come since this amount of roll was considered excellent. Look at that lean!
Alfa Romeo BAT 7 at the 1955 Palm Springs Road Race
As the (perhaps apocryphal) story goes, someone borrowed the outrageously styled BAT 7 concept from its California owner at the time and took it for a race in Palm Springs. After suffering some rear-end damage as a result, those wild wings were chopped off and the BAT was a more ordinary looking car until a future restoration.
A Line of Alfa Romeos at the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix
Speaking of racing, Alfa Romeo has one of the richest motorsports histories of any automaker save perhaps Ferrari and Porsche. Most of its racing glories were had prior to 1970, with particular success found in the pre-war years, so many current Giulia and Stelvio drivers are likely a bit clueless to the badge’s pedigree. Check out this lineup of Alfa monopostos at the 1934 Monaco Grand Prix, where the marque took first, second, and fourth.
Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45
On the topic of Formula 1, the Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 from 1976 is one of the wickedest and menacing GP cars to ever compete. Designed by Gordon Murray and driven by the likes of Niki Lauda and Hans-Joachim Stuck, the BT45 was never particularly successful. Wondering where Alfa comes in all this? The Italian automaker supplied the 3.0-liter flat-12 that provided 500 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque.
Alfa Romeo TZ2 at the Test Track
Even among the many beautiful cars to wear the Alfa Romeo badge over the years, the rare Giulia TZ2 is one of the finest. With an aerodynamic Kamm tail design vaguely reminiscent of the Ferrari 250 GTO, the four-cylinder TZ2 remains one of the most desirable racing Alfa Romeos ever built.