For Autoworld Ottority created this documentary video about the famous Disco Volante, which is exhibited at the "Italian Car Passion" Exposition till the end of January 2016.
We are in 1952 and society is in the grip of science fiction stories. A film is a huge success in the cinema: “The day the earth stood still”. Alfa Romeo builds its first concept car, the 1900 C52 type, or “Disco Volante”, which means “flying saucer” in Italian.
Designer Orazio Satta Puliga - in partnership with Gioachino Colombo and Carlo Chiti - gives the Disco Volante shape and Carrozzeria Touring in Milan is asked to build the bodywork. The bodywork is highly streamlined, tested in the wind tunnel, and as a result has an extremely low air resistance coefficient of 30. Three different bodies were built, a spider and 2 different coupés. 6 were built in all, with no two exactly alike.
The cars are built based on a chassis of the Alfa Romeo 1900. This has a 2 litre engine with 1,997cc that has been slightly tuned and generates approximately 158 HP. The cars weigh a mere 735 kg and have a top speed of 220 km/h. In addition to the 2 litres, 3 cars are built with a 3.5 litre version of 275 HP. Although the Disco Volantes are intended as racing cars, they were never truly successful on the circuit. In 1953, 4 coupés were registered for the Mille Miglia, one with the two litre and three others with a 3.5 litre. The 1st to drop out was the 2 litre car, the other 3.5 litre cars were constantly switching positions at the front of the race. The first 6-cylinder to drop out was due to engine damage, the second due to an oil leak from the motor. The third, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, was overtaken by a Ferrari and finished second in the 1953 Mille Miglia. The Disco volante also took part in the Spa 24-hour race and also the Le Mans 24-hour race, again without success. One victory was achieved however, in the Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore.
Today there is one 3.5 litre in the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile in Turin. Two 2 litres are in Arese in the Alfa Romeo Museum and are regularly run in classic races. To celebrate the 50-year anniversary, in 2012 Carrozzeria Touring built a new Disco Volante based on the Alfa Romeo 8C. The car has various style elements that are inspired by the original version.