Think Alfa Romeo and your mind’s eye will most likely conjure up a beautiful red roadster or lithesome coupe, both powered by a high-revving DOHC engine that is both powerful and visually a work of art. But buses (and trucks) were once a major part of the company’s product line. As we’ve recently reviewed the Mercedes O6600H and the Krauss Maffei KML 110 coaches; both produced in the decade of the 1950’s, let’s look at several buses that Alfa built during that same period.
Alfa Romeo 110
Alfa Romeo 130
First a little history. Pre-war, Alfa built some of the largest motor coaches in Europe…
Alfa Romeo 500A (both pictures)
And during the immediate post-war period, they made some highly stylized conventional designs…
But the 1950’s was the “Golden Age” for the company’s motor coach division. The bus above is the 140/150A urban transit coach. The 140/150 was built from 1950 – 58, and was used primarily in Milan. It came in two and three axle versions with the three axle model twelve meters (39 ft) long. It could seat 46, and used a big Alfa 12.5 litre inline six cylinder front-mounted gas engine that pushed out 140 horsepower.
A articulated model was also produced and could hold one-hundred fifty; both seated and standing.
The trolley bus model was perhaps the most popular – it was also made in both single body and articulated versions. Note the steerable rear axle in the photo directly above.
For intercity travel, Alfa produced the 800/900A – made from 1952 to 1956. Like the Krauss Maffei, this was Alfa’s first semi-monocoque body design (no separate body and chassis).
It came in several different lengths, but most were ten meters (32 ft) long, seating thirty-five. Engine was a front-mounted Alfa 1606 9.5 litre diesel inline six, with 130 horsepower.
Alfa made several more models and continued to produce buses until the mid-60’s – it’s last coach was the “Mille” (1000). After 1964, the company exited the bus and heavy truck market, though some smaller commercial trucks were made until 1974.
I’d like to take a ride in an Alfa bus – just to see if it is imbued with the same spirit of enthusiasm and élan that its smaller, more famous products were noted for…likely not, but one can always dream…