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The Alfa Romeo Bella concept car by Bertone

The Alfa Romeo Bella, a captivating prototype born out of the passion for historic Italian brands, stands as a testament to the creativity and innovation of the automotive world. Crafted by Luciano D’Ambrosio during his tenure as the design director at Bertone from 1991 to 2000, the Bella aimed to revive the allure of Alfa Romeo in the late ’90s. This 2 + 2 coupé, based on the Alfa Romeo 166, showcased unique design elements, pushing the boundaries of traditional Alfa Romeo aesthetics.

The Genesis of Alfa Romeo Bella

The project stemmed from the desire to reignite the splendor of Italian automotive heritage. Unveiled at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, the Alfa Romeo Bella, a prototype for a potential Alfa Romeo 166 coupé, sought to gauge public interest in a distinctive direction for the iconic brand. The shortened chassis from the Alfa Romeo 166, designed by the Alfa Romeo Style Center, hinted at a luxurious 2 + 2 sports car, but unfortunately, it never made it to production.

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The Creative Mind Behind the Bella - Luciano D'Ambrosio

As the design director at Bertone, Luciano D’Ambrosio brought his wealth of experience, having previously worked at Italdesign Giugiaro and the Ford Style Center in Cologne. His innovative approach and dedication to pushing the boundaries of design played a pivotal role in shaping the Alfa Romeo Bella. D’Ambrosio’s collaboration with Nuccio Bertone, the visionary leader of Bertone, reflected a shared commitment to tireless exploration and a relentless pursuit of the new.

Redefining Alfa Romeo Aesthetics

D’Ambrosio and his team at Bertone aimed to break away from clichés associated with Alfa Romeo, envisioning a high-performance future for the brand. The iconic scudetto was reimagined, becoming a graphical element on the hood, while the headlights transformed into captivating, almost squinting eyes, showcasing pioneering LED technology. The sleek lines of the Bella challenged conventional Alfa Romeo design stereotypes, setting it apart in the automotive landscape.

The Bella’s exterior design was a masterful composition, drawing inspiration from the scudetto. The streamlined body, devoid of unnecessary embellishments, featured a clean rear design with two light strips flanking the rear window. The windscreen seamlessly merged into the side window, reminiscent of the Lancia Stratos, showcasing Bertone’s commitment to both heritage and innovation. The front bumper, intentionally designed with minimal visible air intakes, hinted at the future design choice of electric vehicles.

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Interior Elegance and Practicality

The interior of the Bella, adorned with red leather, hinted at comfort rather than sheer sportiness. However, the rear seats, designed as folding seats, showcased Bertone’s ingenious approach to maximize luggage space. A unique feature allowed the rear seats to be moved, creating additional room for unconventional cargo such as surfboards or bicycles. The dashboard featured a heat-absorbing material, equipped with fans that expelled the absorbed heat outside, ensuring a comfortable environment for passengers on hot summer days.

Mechanical Prowess and Unfulfilled Destiny

Built on the Alfa Romeo 166 platform, the Bella retained the original mechanics, with only minor modifications to the rear wheel area to accommodate a more compact rear light. The choice of the Busso V6 engine, boasting 225 horsepower, a manual gearbox, and front-wheel drive, highlighted the Bella’s commitment to performance. Despite its mechanical prowess, the Bella remained a prototype, never making it to commercial production.

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Legacy and Unexplored Potential

The Alfa Romeo Bella, though never destined for mass production, left an indelible mark on recent Alfa Romeo design. The concept’s versatility, combining sportiness and practicality, paved the way for future Alfa Romeo models. Unfortunately, it took four more years for Bertone’s collaboration with Alfa Romeo to materialize into the Alfa Romeo GT. The Bella’s legacy lives on as a source of inspiration for designers, challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of automotive aesthetics.

The Bella prototype, running and eventually ready for production, underwent testing by journalists in Geneva. However, for reasons unknown, it remained a concept car, leaving enthusiasts and admirers to wonder about the untapped potential of this remarkable design.

Despite the Bella not making it to production, its influence can be traced in later Alfa Romeo models. The innovative design choices, such as the reimagined scudetto and sleek lines, found echoes in subsequent Alfa Romeo releases. The Bella served as a catalyst for the brand’s evolution, sparking a new era of creativity and experimentation in automotive design.

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Conclusion

The Alfa Romeo Bella stands as a testament to the passion and innovation that fueled the Italian automotive industry in the late ’90s. While it may not have graced the roads as a production model, its legacy lives on in the creative spirit it ignited within the automotive community. The Bella, with its blend of heritage and forward-thinking design, remains a symbol of what could have been for Alfa Romeo – a captivating chapter in the brand’s history that invites us to ponder the untapped potential and the roads not taken. As the automotive world continues to evolve, the Bella remains a beacon of inspiration, reminding us that true innovation often lies in the unexplored realms of possibility.

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Automobili Pininfarina, the pinnacle of Italian luxury automotive design, has unveiled the Battista Cinquantacinque, a hyper GT paying homage to the timeless elegance of the 1955 Lancia Florida. This one-of-a-kind masterpiece blends cutting-edge technology with the spirit of classic Italian design, capturing the essence of automotive history.

Named “Cinquantacinque,” meaning 55 in Italian, the car’s moniker pays homage to the legendary Pininfarina-designed classic car. The Battista Cinquantacinque proudly showcases the iconic Blu Savoia Gloss bodywork and a contrasting Bianco Sestriere Gloss roof, inspired by the original Lancia Florida show car.

The Lancia Florida, created by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina, served as a muse for the creation of the Battista Cinquantacinque. Farina, the visionary behind the classic model, also lent his name to the fastest and most powerful Italian road car, the Battista.

The exterior of the Battista Cinquantacinque features flawless Blu Savoia Gloss paint, complemented by a Bianco Sestriere Gloss roof and Brushed Anodised jewelry pack. Inside, the bespoke Mahagoni Poltrona Frau Heritage Leather upholstery exudes luxury and sophistication.

Each Battista Cinquantacinque bears unique inscriptions, including the signature ‘Cinquantacinque 55’ on the passenger door plate and the underside of the active rear wing, signifying its heritage and provenance.

Underneath its exquisite exterior lies a powerful heart—a 1,900hp electric powertrain propelled by four independent motors and a 120 kWh lithium-ion battery. With staggering performance figures like 0-100 kph in 1.86 seconds and a driving range of up to 476 km, the Battista Cinquantacinque promises an exhilarating driving experience.

Dave Amantea, Chief Design Officer at Automobili Pininfarina, expressed his excitement, stating, “This was a truly special and unique opportunity to design a car that pays homage to Pininfarina SpA’s heritage.” Amantea highlighted the significance of the Lancia Florida’s influence on both the Battista Cinquantacinque and the PURA Vision design concept, setting the stage for future Automobili Pininfarina models.

The Battista Cinquantacinque will make its debut in Tokyo, Japan, alongside retail partner SKY GROUP, marking Automobili Pininfarina’s global expansion. Clients in the region will experience the brand’s promise of ‘Dream Cars. Made Real.’ firsthand, with each hand-crafted vehicle tailored to reflect the personality of its owner.

Automobili Pininfarina’s dedication to crafting bespoke masterpieces ensures that each vehicle leaving the Atelier facility in Cambiano is a unique expression of luxury and automotive excellence, rooted in Italian heritage and innovation.