Created on the basis of the iconic Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, the spectacular Carabo (1968) will be on parade at the prestige concours d’elegance hosted at the Chateau de Chantilly, 50 km from Paris.
30 June will see the fifth edition of “Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille”, the prestige concours that combines motoring, art and elegance. Sponsored by the French Culture and Communications Ministry and held biennially, the event will welcome some of the world’s most spectacular cars, including the stunning Alfa Romeo Carabo (1968) concept car owned by FCA Heritage – the department that safeguards and promotes the historic legacy of FCA’s Italian brands – and normally on display at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo – La macchina del tempo in Arese.
The story of the Carabo begins with one of the most iconic cars ever built, the 33 Stradale (1967), the “road-legal” version of the 33/2, initially intended for production in a limited edition of 50, even though only 18 were actually constructed. Its strong points included its lightweight fibreglass bodywork “sculpted” by grand master Franco Scaglione and the mighty 90° V8 engine, mid-mounted in an innovative tubular chassis.
It was on that same chassis that a year later another great Italian designer, Marcello Gandini, created the Carabo, yet another milestone in Italian car design and one of the supreme creations of historic Turin coach-builder Bertone. Bertone had also recently built other concept cars on Alfa Romeo mechanics, including the Canguro, on the chassis of the Giulia TZ, in 1964 or the Montreal, presented at the Montreal Universal Exhibition in 1967. The Carabo was even more extreme than these two cars, with very taut front lines leading seamlessly into the large, apparently almost horizontal windscreen.
The rear was just as breath-taking, with its full-width ventilation grilles to cool the engine compartment, ending with the sharply cut-off tail, its hexagonal face entirely covered with a rectangular mesh grille picked out in the bright green bodywork colour. This iridescent green paintwork, alternating with dark grey parts and the fluorescent orange tapered front profile, recalls the Carabidae beetle family, which earned the concept car its name.
The pronounced wedge shape of the front is even more noticeable when viewed from the side, where the Carabo also features asymmetrically shaped wheel arches and hydro-pneumatically operated scissor doors to facilitate access to the very low-slung cockpit (the car’s ground clearance is just 99 cm). Another distinctive feature are the headlights, housed in a special compartment protected by active flaps. The internal fittings maintain the simple, right-angled forms of the exterior, very noticeable in the dashboard and the central tunnel, with the lever of the gearbox with 6 speeds plus reverse in its middle. The Carabo concept car made its debut at the 1968 Paris Motor Show. Fifty years after its presentation, it is certain to delight the French public again at the Chantilly concours d’état, where it will be exhibited hors concours in the “The Marcello Gandini creations” section.
Finally, there will be an Abarth stand at “Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille” displaying the current Abarth 124 and Abarth 595 of the new “70th Anniversary” range, both sporting a special badge that makes them unique and exclusive. By their side there will be a classic Abarth 124 owned by a private collector that this year took part in the 28th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000 from Paris to Deauville.