The relationship between Alfa Romeo and italian design house Bertone goes back to 1952, and the vaults are littered with masterpieces. The BAT series, the Montreal, the 1500 BiPosto and the Carabo are all but notable products of this enviable pairing, and to have even a motor show model of these concepts in your garage would be an enviable prospect to say the least. But my favorite is the elusive, modern and mysterious 1964 Canguro.
The year is 1962 and the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ is experiencing success on the world's racetracks. Hoping to capitalize on this, the bosses at Alfa presented Bertone and rival design house Pininfarina with the chassis of the TZ racecar, and asked them to design their vision for a road-going version of the Giulia.
The Canguro, or Kangaroo in Italian, was what Bertone came up with. With an ultra-light all-fibreglass body draped over a steel space-frame chassis powered by an 4 cylinder inline engine, producing 112 bhp (84 kw) via a five speed manual gearbox with power going to the back, the Canguro was a light-weight racing car for the road.
Of course, the highlight was that body, that swoops and sweeps with such grace that I personally reckon that it could be built today with some LED lights and be passed off as a viably modern-retro design. It has hints of E-Type in the sculpted front end and the Giulia TZ influence is obvious at the back end. And no wonder the Canguro is so satisfying to look at; It was designed by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, famed for the Mk.1 Golf, the Esprit S1 and the DeLorean.
But why didn't it make it to production? And why did we never see the Pininfarina concept?
Well, I can answer both of those; One, according to the Alfa Romeo official page on the Canguro, they simply didn't have the capacity to build the bodies for the Canguro, and that the R/D required to change the TZ engine was too expensive. A shame.
Second, I doubt that Pininfarina would have appreciated their failure being broadcast all over the world's media, particularly to a comparatively younger design house such as Bertone.
So the inception of the Canguro was awesome, a true racecar for the road, but it's planned production was stillborn. So what happened next?
Well, in 1965, a front-end collision occurred between the Canguro and the Chevrolet Testudo, another Bertone concept, which was to become the Corvair. At the time, the Canguro was deemed too damaged to fix and as such lay as a write-off in Bertone's warehouses in Italy.
In fact, it took forty years until the Canguro made another public appearance at the 2005 Ville d'Este Concours D'Elegance where it won best in show. Clearly, they have good taste.
Someone else seemed to agree that the Canguro would work as a modern design, and with some new rims, headlights & other minor changes, it looks like it could be Alfa's brand new concept sports car.
The reason why I tell you all this? Well, all too often we see amazing, pure designs shelved in favour of profit. I think that the Canguro comes from a simpler, better time. Sure, the Cold War was going to kill us all but goddammit the cars were amazing. Alfa's especially. They were at the top of the game and the Canguro evidenced that. I think that this concept is seriously underrated, and deserves more awareness amongst petrolheads. The simplicity and poise of the design is just fantastic and...I dunno. Maybe Alfa could pull a Honda and make an ultra-retro EV remake of the Canguro, and put it on sale for us all to admire? I wish...