Thursday, March 14, 2013

Holy Flying Saucers! It's the Disco Volante

As the cardinals are in conclave in Rome, it seems timely to focus on another notable Italian, made in Milan by a small carrozzeria, called Touring of Milan.

Its automotive artisans took the mechanicals of the 1951 Alfa Romeo 1900 (the first Alfa Romeo to be made on a production line), and fashioned a beautiful, striking and slippery body, and named it the Disco Volante - Italian for 'Flying Saucer'.

Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring of Milan

This car was a dazzling design for its day, and some say it may have been the launching pad for design ideas that Malcolm Sayer included in his epochal Jaguar e-Type!

Original concept car being loaded for the Geneva Salon

The Disco Volante has been re-created, again by the modern company Touring of Milan Superleggera, but that’s another story, direct from this year's Geneva Salon.

The original designs were racing car concepts with mechanics from the Alfa Romeo 1900, the engine was a slightly tuned 1900 engine (1997 cc) now producing 158 bhp (118 kW). The car was very streamlined, wind-tunnel-tested, and the body was built on a tubular space frame. The highly aerodynamic shape made a top speed of 220 kilometres per hour (140 mph) possible.

Alfa Romeo 1900 C competing in the Mille Miglia Re-run

Three different body styles were made: one open seater and two different coupé styles.

Disco Volante Coupe

There was even a 3.5 L version made for Juan Manuel Fangio. None of these automobiles ever attained the status of truly successful racing cars although they were tried a few times, with one victory having been taken at the Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore.

The unique 3.5-liter car is preserved in the Museo Nazionale dell’Automotbile in Turin. Two 2.0-liter prototypes are preserved in the Alfa Romeo museum in Arese, and are regularly used in classic car races. Estimated value of each is between 1 and 2 million Euros.

(Source: Wikipedia)

In 2010 one of the open cars was shipped to the USA to be displayed (along with a number of Alfa Romeo classics) at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, again to celebrate Alfa Romeo’s centenary.

Disco Volante at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'E;egance

The original design highlights the appeal of the magic name of Alfa Romeo, which enjoyed great success in Grands Prix with its Tipo 158 and 159 Alfetta monopostos.

Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 Alfetta

As for Part Two of this story, it's in a forthcoming post!

No comments:

Post a Comment