The 4C is the latest coupe, with a 1750cc engine in a lightweight chassis
Alfa Romeo has a heritage that stretches back more than 100 years
Despite a modest 240bhp, it will reach 62mph in 4.5sec
The 6C 2600 Mille Miglia was named after the race in which it participated. An 6C won in 1928
The 6C 2500 Villa d'Este was the firm's last hand-built model
The 8C Competizione was based on a Maserati platform. Stunning looks ensured demand far outstripped supply
It remains the most collectable of all modern Alfas
This is a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Lungo with Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera bodywork
The 1938 8C 2900B Le Mans Speciale recorded a drag coefficient as low as 0.38
Just 18 33 Stradales were built, costing the equivalent of £10,500; the average car cost just £1750
The dry sumped 2.0-litre V8 could rev to 9400rpm
The 1750 GT Sprint Veloce used a shortened Giulia chassis
Russian steel was widely credited for being the root of corrosion issues in the Alfa Sprint
The Alfetta GT was originally offered with a 1.8-litre DOHC engine
The GTV nomenclature was reserved for range-topping 2.0-litre models
The Alfa GTV6 enjoyed enormous success in touring car and rally championships around the world
More than 21,500 Breras were built over five years; over 9000 more were sold than its sister car, the Spider
This is a 1952 Disco Volante, built by Carrozzeria Touring. They fetch upwards of £1m
Most GTA 1300 Juniors were modified by Autodelta before delivery to customers
The lightweight GTA Sprint had aluminium panels, plastic side windows and a pared-down interior
The Sprint was the first Giulietta model to launch, and more than 24,000 were sold
The GT lacked the dynamic pizzazz of older Alfa coupes, but was a strong seller
The GTV marked the return of the nameplate; it was designed by Walter de Silva, who went on to become VW's design chief
The Sprint Zagato is regarded as the ultimate Giulietta. Just over 200 were made
The concept that preceded the Montreal had no name, but took the name of the place it was first shown
The SZ was the most radically-styled of all of Alfa's road cars, but its Marmite styling has ensured a cult following
This week the long-awaited Alfa Romeo 4C was driven for the first time, marking a welcome return for Alfa’s coupe models. The firm might be most synonymous with its drop-top Spider offerings, but the coupes represent some of the most appealing models.
Early Alfas were offered in a bewildering range of configurations, and were coachbuilt by many firms around Italy and beyond. The one constant in the 6C range – which was the first coupe sold under the Alfa Romeo banner – was a six-cylinder engine configuration.
It was much the same with the shorter-lived 8C, which as its name suggests sprouted a further two cylinders. The stunning 1937 8C 2300 was the fixed-head highlight of the 8C range; described at the time as the best-looking sports car in the world – a claim that could arguably still ring true today.
1950 marked the introduction of the 1900 which was the firm’s first ever monocoque design and, once again, was available with a range of coachbuilt bodies, most notably the Disco Volante, Pinin Farina-built Sprint and the lightweight Zagato 1900 SSZ. The model was followed in 1958 by the somewhat predictably-named 2000, offered as a Bertone-designed Sprint coupe.
Bertone also penned the pretty lines of the 2600 which arrived several years later. The six-pot flagship saw the SZ (Sprint Zagato) model join the line-up in 1965, and it boasted much-improved fit and finish. It could seat four in comfort and was positioned more as a GT than a outright sports car. The Sprint gained the attentions of the Italian police, who pressed a number of them into service to counter an increasing number of armed robberies in the country.
The Giulietta, which launched in 1954, was the first model to have a non-numeric name. It went on to spawn a number of hot variants, including another SZ which developed 100bhp from its 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine. It was followed in 1963 by a range of Giulia-based coupes which had huge success in race series around the world. The 1600cc Sprint GT won the European Challenge in 1966, '67 and '68, and the model was later fitted with a 1750cc unit.
In 1968, Alfa attempted to bring its racing technology to the road car buyer with the 33 Stradale. The pretty Scaglione-designed bodywork was the first to feature dihedral doors, a format which was later used by the McLaren 12C. Just 33 hand-built Stradales were built, making it one of the most valuable Alfas of all time.
Two years later, the Montreal was revealed in the city that gave up its name. It entered production in 1970 and used an evolution of the 33’s V8 to develop 200bhp. Its top speed was in excess of 135mph.
The Alfetta was the basis for the GTV, which became one of the most iconic coupes of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Earlier, smaller-engined models were badged as GT, with the GTV reserved for the range-topper.
It was, however, the GTV6 that grabbed the attention of performance enthusiasts, thanks to its 2.5-litre V6 engine. It won the European Touring Car Championship four times in succession and Andy Rouse took it to a BTCC championship in 1983. Classic and Sportscar magazine said it was “the best sounding engine this side of a Maserati V8".
While the GT and GTV were gaining plaudits, the Alfasud Sprint – later called the Alfa Romeo Sprint – was an affordable coupe. Sadly, the handsome coupe was overshadowed by the speed it would corrode, and its generally poor build quality.
1989 saw the launch of the radically-styled SZ which showed early promise, but production ended after 1036 units. Despite the jaw-dropping styling, the car was based on the humble 75. The SZ also spawned an ultra rare convertible, the RZ, of which just 278 were built – the lowest number of any series production Alfa.
The GTV nameplate was resurrected in 1993, alongside the Spider. The pretty coupe was a massive sales success, and was voted the Autocar car of the year in 1995. It was sold with a 2.0-litre TwinSpark engine and a 3.0-litre V6 in the UK, although a 2.0-litre turbo was sold in other markets. The model was facelifted in 1998 and again in 2003, before being replaced by the Brera a year later.
As the GTV continued to sell in strong numbers, Alfa introduced the GT. It was based on the 156 platform and shared the saloon car’s mechanicals and, towards the end of its run, featured a range of UK-only limited editions. Sales continued until after GTV ended production, but it never became the sporting flagship – that honour was bestowed on the Brera.
The Brera entered production in 2005, with styling largely unchanged from the Geneva concept car shown earlier that year. Like the GT, it was based on the GM/Fiat platform which underpinned a mid-sized saloon, but in the Brera’s case it was the 159. It carried a range of familiar engines, including Alfa’s sonorous 3.2-litre V6, but was discontinued in 2010 after the Alfa 8C supercar was launched.
Alfa’s most recent supercar was first teased on 2003, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the coupe entered production. Alfa received more than 1400 orders for the Maserati-based supercar but only 500 were built, ensuring its status as an ultra-desirable sports car for years to come.
Which takes us to the latest, and some might argue most desirable Alfa for decades. The Alfa 4C mixes light weight, modest power and agile handling, much like all of its greatest models. Yes, it’s slightly flawed, but as any Alfista will confirm, that is all part of the Italian brand’s appeal.