Alfa Romeo Carabo – A revolutionary Concept car

We continue our weekly look at classic Italian cars with FCA Heritage, this week the striking Alfa Romeo Carabo – From Curves To Sharp Lines.

Reinterpreting a work of art like the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is not easy, but Marcello Gandini succeeded and produced a masterpiece in the process. Totally different from the coupé designed by Franco Scaglione, it was nevertheless equally important in the history and evolution of the sports car.

On 31 August 1967, from the brilliance of designer Franco Scaglione came the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale: one of the most mesmerising cars of all time, a road vehicle that inherited the extraordinary mechanics of the “Tipo 33”, which in those years won victory after victory on the race track. Scaglione’s splendid creation—built by coachbuilder Marazzi—was a light, fast and powerful coupé, full of curves and sensuality.

The following year, design studio Bertone entrusted a young Marcello Gandini with the task of integrating the superb mechanics of the 33—with two-litre V8 engine in a central rear position—into a different and alternative bodywork for the sleek coupé designed by Scaglione.

Gandini abandoned the compass in favour of a ruler, devising a perfect wedge-shaped car with a low, streamlined profile and vertically opening doors. The low wedge-shaped line, retractable headlights and unconventional doors revolutionised the concept of the mid-engine Concept car and remained a stylistic influence on sports cars until the 1980s, thanks also to the contributions of two subsequent Gandini masterpieces: the Lancia Stratos Zero and the Maserati Khamsin.

The name Carabo comes partly from the car’s colour scheme and partly from its shape, which resembles a small green beetle.

Gandini painted his creation inluminescent green, adding only black to cover the engine and lower parts. The thin front edge of the bonnet is in phosphorescent orange, while the windows are gold-tinted and mirrored.

The name Carabo derives specifically from the beetle Carabus auratus, which has the same iridescent green colour with golden reflections, just like the windows of this highly original Alfa Romeo car bodied by Bertone, while the profile of the orange bonnet resembles the legs and antennae of the colourful insect.

Only a single model was ever made, within a very short time frame of around ten weeks. It belongs to the FCA Heritage collection and is one of the most eye-catching gems on show at the Alfa Romeo Historical Museum in Arese.

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