1968 Alfa Romeo Bertone Carabo
On loan from: Kirk Zeller, Ravenna, NE
Number made: About 400; this car is one of only about 250 still on the road
Engine, etc.: 1,600 cc flat four cyl. rear engine; manual transmission; turbocharged; single-side draft Weber fully adjustable racing carburetor
This is a tribute/kit car of the protype car. Mr. Zeller has owned it since 2013. It was featured in Kitcar Magazine in January, 1983.
It has a lowered 1971 VW chassis, gull-wing doors, a Lamborghini Miura windshield, adjustable rear shocks, electric ignition, manual choke, ceiling console toggle switches, and a new radio.
The Tipo 33 sports racing Alfa Romeo inspired the looks of the Carabo.
The original Carabo concept car was by designed Marcello Gandini for the Bertone design studio. The wedge design was popular in the 1960’s and the Carabo was a more extreme example of this design. It inspired the Lamborghini Countach design which included the gull-wing doors and many others that followed. It was never meant to be produced but showed features not seen before.
Giovanni Bertone was born in 1884 in Mondovi, Italy. At age 12 he began working for a business building horse-drawn carriages. In his 20’s he worked repairing wagons and for a coachbuilder. He started his own business which grew slowly until the 1930’s when many Italian car builders went out of business. Bertone survived. His son, Nuccio, joined the company at the age of 18 and the two salvaged and developed the Bertone coachworks. Nuccio became a salesman for the coachworks and the company began working with Fiat. He developed an interest in race cars and met many influential owners and suppliers in the 1940’s. World War II was hard for the company and it once again struggled to survive. The beginning of the company’s recovery was its work with the chassis of two MG cars. Bertone designed a coupe and cabriolet body which were shown at a car show in Turin. Stanley Harold Arnolt II, a wealthy Chicago businessman, saw the cars and started a partnership with Bertone to supply 200 Bertone-bodied MGs for shipment to the U. S. The result was work on other projects and led to work with other car manufacturers including Packard, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Ferrari.
In 1965 Bertone restyled the Mustang for Ford and the Miura for Lamborghini the following year. In 1968 Bertone created the Carabo on a Alfa Romeo chassis. By the 1970’s additional designs emerged and in the 1980’s they worked with Volvo, Lamborghini, Fiat, and Mazda.
Giovanni Bertone died in 1972 and Nuccio Bertone continued to run the company until his death in the late 1990’s. They filed for banrutptcy around 2010.
They managed to pull the company from near disaster into a major industrial company with a secure reputation. The scope of its designers seemed endless, creating wonderful cars by molding the improbable and the possible and making dreams come true.
Sources: The Automotive Art of Bertone. Rob de la Rive Box and Richard Crump. Somerset, England: Haynes Publishing Company,1984.
https://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/2287/Alfa-Romeo-Carabo-Concept.html (Additional information about the concept car)