Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks

Castiglioni’s RR126 radio-phonograph

Unless you have been living under a rock you will be familiar with the work of the colossus of popular music, David Bowie and that he sadly died in January 2016 after an 18 month long fight with cancer.

In November 2016 Sotheby’s held a two day auction sale entitled “Bowie/Collector” which featured 350 pieces, around 65% of Bowie’s carefully chosen and hugely personal collection.

My wife and I saw the small capsule exhibition of pieces at Sotheby’s Mayfair salesroom some months ago and were struck by the eclectic depth of the collection that included Surrealist, Modern British and African art.

Stand out pieces for us included Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Air Power” – Bowie played Andy Warhol in the 1996 movie “Basquiat” – Damian Hurst’s  “Beautiful, Hallo, Space-Boy” – which Hurst painted for Bowie and Peter Shire’s vibrant “Big Sur”sofa.

The sale was a massive success with many lots tripling – and more – their estimates.

However, it was a radio-phonograph designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni (estimated at £800 – £1200 that sold for £257,000) that really caught my eye. Not least as it may have been the real music orientated piece in the sale but it also begged me to know a little more about the designers, although I am passingly familiar with Achille’s work with the Alessi collection – see before our piece on Richard Sapper’s Bollitore kettle.

Pier Giacomo (b.22 April 1913) and Achille’s (b. 16 February 1918) father was a sculptor.

Achille studied arts and architecture in Milan prior to wartime service in Greece but graduated from the Politechnico in 1944.

In 1938, Pier Giacomo and older brother, Livio, had started an architecture practice which Achille joined working on projects such as the reconstruction in 1952-3 of wartime bombed Palazzo della Permanente in Milan which was transformed into new home for the Società per le Belle Arti ed Esposizione Permanente.

Following brother Livio’s departure from the architectural practice until Pier Giacomo’s death in 1968, he and Achille worked as a team.

In 1965 the brothers designed the RR126 radio-phonograph cabinet as a celebration of the beauty of machinery turning a piece of audio equipment into something decorative even sculptural. The RR126 is featured as part of the amazing New York Cooper Hewitt collection of Product Design and Decorative Arts.

The Castiglioni brothers designs radios and televisions were also realised by Brionvega.

Interestingly, Brionvega, now makes the RR226 version which is a faithful reproduction of the original the only changes being an updated technical specification that includes a cd-dvd player.

Do you like the idea of an iconic Italian design gracing your home?

 

Photo from Sotheby’s