Don’t Call it a Kit Car

Some of you might be familiar with the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale.

By Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England - 1967 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale Prototipo, CC BY 2.0,
Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale Prototipo

I’ll bet most of you aren’t. That’s a shame, it’s been called one of the most beautiful cars in the world. But it’s also understandable since only a handful were made and they cost a small fortune. Considered the first “supercar” ever produced, the V8-powered Stradale was a street legal race car clad in an aluminum and plexiglass bodywork. Imagine witnessing one on these on the road in 1967!

Sadly, most of us will never lay eyes on one of the few, rare examples ever produced. But wait— maybe we will! Not necessarily one of the real Italian examples, but an Oklahoma version passionately built incredibly close to the genuine article.

Aluminum form will be used to mold the windshield.

Hidden behind post oak and blackjack trees in Northeastern Oklahoma is a workshop filled with all manner of Alfa Romeos. Behind all the Giulias and Zagato-bodied examples is this scratch-built replica of the sleek Stradale (literally Italian for road-going). I say replica because the car is not a kit, or the typical fiberglass-body-plopped-on-a-Beetle sort of thing. It is based on the actual prototype’s dimensions, layout and design. It is not a kit car, it is… constructed.

Some off-the-shelf parts have been used in place of more extoic bits— like a 3.0 liter V6 from a Milano stands in for the 2.0 liter V8. Instead of the rare-as-hen’s-teeth transaxle Alfa designed and built in-house, a Renault unit was used (ala Lotus Europa). For the cast alloy subframes that hold the front and rear suspension a clever sandwich of sheet steel has been used (and painted dusty silver to complete the effect). So the rolling chassis and aluminum bodywork of the car is an impressive replica of a real Alfa Romeo Stradale.

As you can see it isn’t finished. There is still a lot of work to do on the interior, windows and engine tuning. But six years on the car is taking shape, the engine runs, it can stand on its own four feet and the doors open and close— though it’s a mystery how one gets in or out of them.

I’m not sure how many hours have been invested so far. I was a little afraid to ask.

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