One of the most original stylistic offerings from Alfa Romeo is the ‘Disco Volante’ which literally translates to ‘Flying Saucer’. These streamlined cars were initially designed by Carrozzeria Touring to participate in motor sport, but they did not race. Instead they influenced Alfa Romeo design including the 6C 3000CMs which ran the 1953 Mille Miglia and numerous Pininfarina show cars which followed.
The design was very uncommon for the era, with its rounded fenders, low slung profile and convex tail. In many ways this aerodynamic shape predated the Jaguar D-Type which would shared many of the Disco Volante’s lines.1
Back in 1952, Alfa Romeo was very keen to experiment with this shape. A coupé was made along with a slab-sided version but none of these cars were used in motor sport.
Powering all the Disco Volante variants was a revised version of the four-cylinder engine found in the Alfa Romeo 1900. Alfa Romeo increased the bore size of this engine to 1997cc which offered a healthy 158 bhp.
The body was made using Carrozzeria Touring Superleggra principles which stretched an aluminum body over a steel-tube lattice work. This was then affixed to the main steel tube frame and the unit was exceptionally light. Just one year later, Alfa Romeo abandoned this construction, preferring a proper space frame for the 6C 3000CM.
Fortunately, the Alfa Romeo History Museum in Arese, Milan, Italy has retained both a coupé and spider version of the Disco Volante for their permanent collection. The one slab-sided car is part of the The Schlumpf Collection in Mulhouse, France.
Sources & Further Reading
1.Batchelor, Dean. ‘Alfa Romeo Disco Volante’ Road & Track. September 1974.