Alfa Romeo (now a subsidiary of Stellantis) has been known for manufacturing Italian luxury automobiles since its founding as “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili” in 1910. The company has built its brand to represent not only class and high of range. line of European cars, but also in the fields of endurance and touring car racing, where they hold numerous victories, championships and records.
During their lifetime, the company introduced many concepts, some of which were incredibly influential even without being put into production. One such concept was the Alfa Romeo Iguana. Created in 1969, the futuristic car was designed by Giorgetto Giugario of Italdesign and based on the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.
Although the Iguana never reached official production, its style was later incorporated into many Giugario models, including some very famous models. Alfa Romeo may have missed out on producing this beauty, but it helped set the tone for some of their championship-winning cars produced later.
Let’s take a closer look at the Alfa Romeo Iguana and its intriguing history!
History of the Alfa Romeo Iguana
Although the Iguana never became a production car, even as a concept, it was incredibly influential and had a unique history and an intriguing effect on car designs to follow. Originally designed in 1969, it was the work of Giorgetto Guigario, who based the car on the road-ready version of the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale Tipo 33/2.
The Iguana can lay claim to being the first of many historic designs to come from Guigiaro while working for the ItalDesign studio, which was just beginning to reveal itself at this time. Despite the Stradale’s entry into competition in 1967, and the car winning its first race and several to follow, it was never a popular car.
Although a series of 50 was planned, less than half were created and only eighteen were actually built. This left plenty of chassis to be used elsewhere, and Alfa Romeo determined that they could be put to better use if entrusted to some of the best-known Italian designers. One of them was the booming ItalDesign.
Guigiaro created the Iguana on this basic chassis and presented it at the Turin Motor Show in 1969.
The initial design called for the car to have a metallic gray body and brushed metal (stainless steel, specifically) roof frame and cabin pillars. The result was a sleek, futuristic look when combined with the Iguana’s sharp front and rear and aerodynamic body lines.
After several photo shoots and extensive showings, the car moved away from the concept model and was used as the base model for several other production cars.
Alfa Romeo Iguana specs and influences
The Iguana’s chassis (“borrowed” from the remains of the Stradale) was a tubular steel version, and the fuel tank was lined with rubber. The body was drafted in fiberglass and had a low-sloped front end and nose. The deeper windscreen and raised wheel cutouts were a new design that later made it into both the Maserati Bora and the Porsche Tapiro. The definition and elements of the rear were also used later in other cars designed by Guigiaro, such as the Alfetta GT.
The brushed stainless steel look on parts of the body was a design that Giugiaro later used on the popular DMC DeLorean, which suited the futuristic concept and coloring. The DeLorean was later used as a time machine in the Back to the future film series. Other Giugiaro creations in the 1970s also referenced this design, including the Maserati Merak. The Maserati Bora and Merak look enough like the original Iguana to be brighter-colored siblings. They featured similar design cues in the body, including the pinched nose and cut-out wheel space, and a very recognizable rear end.
The Iguana featured a 121.7 cubic inch aluminum V8 engine capable of developing up to 266.9 horsepower. However, in order to increase reliability, the final version was tuned to deliver only 230 horsepower at 8,000 rpm. The Iguana’s V8 was paired with a SPICA fuel injection system and a six-speed manual transmission with Colotti gearbox. It could reach speeds of up to 161.6 MPH.
Although it never reached production or was ever used in the long-standing racing heritage held by Alfa Romeo, the Iguana concept car left its mark on the history of company and in the car world by influencing many other car design elements. who made it to production and even to film during the era that followed. Without the Iguana, some iconic rides wouldn’t exist in the form they are known for today.
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