Alfasuds exposed in the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
The Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, Alfa Romeo's own museum, is situated on the ground of the Arese plant, in the North of Milan. The Arese plant was built in the 1960s to unburden the old Portello plant situated in the centre of Milan. The first models which were built in Arese were the series 105 Giulia, Giulia Sprint GT
(Bertone) and the 1750 and 2000 Berlina. Later on, series 116 cars (Alfetta, Alfetta GT/GTV, Giulietta and the near relative Alfa 6) and the Alfa 90, 75 and Alfa 164 were built there. Meanwhile Arese does not produce cars anymore. The last models produced by Alfa Romeo were the series 916 Spider and GTV. The classic Alfa Romeo V6 engine which was launched together with the Alfa 6 was also built in Arese. Meanwhile only the administration of the brand Alfa Romeo and the Centro Documentazione Storico (Alfa Romeo's archive) remain in Arese. In its best years, Arese employed more than 20.000 people. In 2006 only about 800 remained in the administration. There is no production activity anymore. Obviously Arese faces the same destiny as Portello: the complete demolition.
The Museo Storico was founded by the
Orazio Satta Puliga, the designer and father of the Giulia and many other famous
post-war Alfas. Dottore Puliga always had a heart for the prototypes and cars he
designed and saved many of them from being scrapped after they had done their
duty - the base for the museum.
The museum exposes nearly all Alfa Romeo production cars which were built till the mid 1970s. There are even some very rare models as the 2600 SZ a Giulia Ti Super and a 2600 Berlina de Luxe (Osi-bodied luxury version of the works-2600 Berlina). Alfa Romeo's famous race history and the spectacular show cars and prototypes are also well documented. Unfortunately, younger models as the Alfa 75 or 33 are not shown at all although they are already becoming classics. Besides the Alfasud there is a series I Alfetta, a Montreal an the already mentioned GTV 6. The younger the cars are, the worse is their condition in most cases. Obviously, those cars did not find their way into the museum directly after production. They look like more or less well preserved used cars which got a respray before being driven into the exposition. The museum also exposes two Alfa 155 V6 TI DTM-touring race cars, which were once driven by Nicola Larini. The youngest car in the museum is an Alfa 156 STW- touring race car. There have to be many more cars in the stores of the Museo Storico: Alfa Romeos presentation of new and old coupés on the German vintage car fair "Techno Classica" in April 2006 revealed a SZ, a 1750 GTV and an Alfetta GTV 2000, which are not exposed in the museum. What other treasures may there be in the stores of the Museo Storico?
As already mentioned, one can admire two Boxer-engined cars in the museum. The Alfasud is one of the first series, built approximately in 1973. One has the impression that this car has only got some new paint before it was rolled into the museum. At a closer look one notices a totally rusty exhaust system, a leaking radiatior and either a leaking master brake cylinder or clutch clyinder. There are traces of brake fluid in th drivers foot room. The dashboard has multiple cracks. Not praiseworthy. In front of the Alfasud one can see a Boxer drivetrain (engine and gearbox). This drivetrain is certainly younger than the Alfasud - it already has the plastic covers around the cam belts. In contrast to the Alfasud, the engine and gearbox are in an optically perfect condition.
The second Boxer-engined car in the museum is the show car Alfasud Caimano. Unfortunately it is not directly accessible for the visitor. No chance to get a closer look.
Besides the exposed cars, the museum lodges a comprehensive collection of miniature model cars and toy cars. Among them many Alfasuds in different scales.
The Museo Storico is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 12:30 and from 14:00 to 16:30. It is closed in August - as the rest of Italy is, too. Groups of more than ten people can book a guide. One can reach the museum by car using the motorway A8 / A9 Milano-Laghi or by taking the "Varesina", the statal street 233 from Milan to Varese. Arriving from the north (Switzerland) follow the signs "Arese" and leave the motorway shortly before the motorway reaches the Tangenziale Ouest. A GPS car navigator may be very helpful. Italian roads are not that well signed... The entrance to the Museo Storico is the main entrance of the Arese plant. You will find it in Viale Alfa Romeo 233 a little outside of Arese. Tell the porter that you want to visit the Museo Storico and go on for about 250 metres. Park your car on the staff's parking lot and enter the restricted area of the plant at the side entrance. The porter there will take your identity card. You will get it back when you leave. There will not be many people in the museum. Maybe the charwoman will be the only person you see there which is employed by Alfa Romeo. In the entrance you will find a little brochure which guides you through the musuem and gives brief information about the exposed cars. On the last page of this brochure, there is a list which lists jubilees and important anniversaries of the years 2002 to 2009. You will read there that the Alfa 164 will celebrate its 20th birthday in 2007. But not a word about the fact that the Alfasud celebrated its 30th birthday in 2002 and about the fact that the first Alfasud Sprints are now (2006) 30 years old. It is obvious that the first products of Pomigliano d'Arco are still not accepted as Alfa Romeos in Arese.
Last Update: September, 22nd 2006 Created: September, 22nd 2006
© Layout, text and photos by Tim Rauen.