“So I’ve found this car, a special car,” your classic car dealer tells you. “Something unique, a classic Alfa Romeo, built by a prestigious Italian coachbuilder. One-of-one, you’ve got to see it,” he says. You’re expecting glorious lines, exquisite craftsmanship, and the unquestionable taste only an Italian could deliver, right? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The car in question is the Alfa Romeo Castagna Vittoria, built in 1994 as a one-off concept to be displayed at the Geneva Motor Show the following year. It was intended to herald in the revival of Carrozzeria Castagna, a famous Milanese coachbuilder that was first founded in 1849 before ceasing operations in 1954.
The mid-90s comeback was thanks to businessmen Uberto Petra and automotive designer Gioacchino Acampora. The latter penned a daring design that would put the company back in the spotlight, based upon an Alfa Romeo 75 from 1987. Buying a 7-year-old car as a base was probably a good way to save a few bucks as the company found its feet.
Where the 75 was a boxy, angular sedan straight out of the 1980s, Acampora envisaged something altogether sleeker and more rounded. In theory, it was something more befitting the 1990s, and a drastic departure that would highlight the coachbuilder’s unique offering to the marketplace. Plus, it rocked Alfa Romeo’s gorgeous 3.0-liter Busso V6 under the hood—one of the sweetest sounding engines ever born on the continent.
The result is a strange, gloopy concept car with proportions most toddlers could beat when they first pick up a box of Lego. The front clamshell bonnet has a long overhang, culminating in a triangular tooth that notches down into a negative-V element in the front splitter. This eye-searing feature is flanked by a pair of entirely pedestrian rectangular headlights that in no way fit the car.
[Editor’s Note: Hold on, we gotta talk about this shockingly phoned-in taillight setup here. I mean, look at that crap! Buying cheap lights from the catalog is one thing, but not even going past the first page is something else. What are those indicators, side marker lamps from something? And are those just the cheapest rectangular DIY-trailer taillights they could get? Is one of them held on with black gaffer tape? The hell is this crap? This is like University project experimental lead-acid 1970s EV-grade taillights here. Embarassing. – JT]
Heading further rearward, the car wears a sleek bubble canopy that could actually be quite fetching if anything else around it matched. Meanwhile, the door shutline on the coupe awkwardly rises sooner than it probably needs to as well. The roofline then tangents towards the rear in a straight line to something akin to a hollowed-out Kammback tail. Overall, panel fit looks a little sloppy, too. Given the panels were hand-built, it may have been that the upstart coachbuilder was in a touch of a rush ahead of their big return to the spotlight.
Viewed from the side, the car almost works if you hide the front end. With it visible, though, it’s clear the front splitter sits way too high and throws off the whole profile. Between that and the goofy face created by the headlights and the Megatooth, and it’s a show car that stands out for all the wrong reasons.
It bears noting, though, that this car didn’t actually spell doom for the company. The coachbuilder continues on today, recently building everything from a drop-top Fiat 500 to a Peugeot 308 GT. Some of their modern designs are actually super fresh and inspired. It suggests that they’ve either got their eye in since the early 90s, or they simply ran out of time on this one.
Inside, it’s a striking thing, too, and not in such a bad way, either. Charcoal carpets and dash are paired with a green flocked instrument binnacle and center console. The old-school setup with all-analog gauges actaully works in this way, with the flocked material adding an appealing rally-ready vibe. The rich green leather of the seats is appealing too. The real key is that Acampora didn’t make the mistake of specifying green carpets as well, which would have turned the tasteful use of color into something overwhelming.
The car has just 2,500 kilometers (1553 miles) on the odometer. The interior does show signs of being used, but overall, it looks to be in good shape. We’re told the engine was dyno tested on the bench at 254 horsepower, too, suggesting its fit and in fighting form. It also rocks some upgrades including front and rear suspension cribbed from the Alfa Romeo SZ ES30.
Currently living in Italy, the car will be available for a physical viewing between November 17 and 19 at the Milano Autoclassica. At the time of writing, three bids have already been made, with the vehicle initially listed with a guide price between £125,000 and £135,000 ($153,000 and $165,000 USD). Whether you can stomach that face at that kind of price tag is up to you.