Car: Afa Romeo Bertone Carabo, 1968

The Carabo sits at the pinnacle of the “wedge” car design craze of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Along with a galaxy of other concept cars, this fantasy machine took groundhugging to extremes. Bertone used a mid-engined layout to turn what would normally have been a hood into an acute-angled nosecone, from which the enormous windshield was a continuation in one unbroken styling line. An abruptly truncated tail hinted at scientific aerodynamics, but the main intention of these cars was to shock and impress in equal measures.

1968 Bertone Carabo
Nuccio Bertone inspects the Bertone Carabo, complete with scissor-doors that became a feature found on later Lamborghinis.

There seems to be no evidence that the quoted 160mph (257kph) of the Carabo was ever attained, but its stunning lines— the work of designer Marcello Gandini— certainly cloaked a real car. In this case, the chassis was from the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 race car with a V8 engine, complete with its sophisticated all-round double-wishbone suspension and disc brakes.

1968 car Bertone Carabo
1968 car Bertone Carabo

Bertone’s deft public relations made the Carabo a headline-grabber around the world upon its unveiling at the 1968 Paris Motor Show on its looks alone. Yet it was also a technology showcase, boasting lightweight copper-tinted glass from Belgian specialists VHR-Glabverbel, and a metallic green paint job with fluorescent orange highlights.

1968 Bertone Carabo
1968 Bertone Carabo

No one claimed the Carabo would be on sale any time soon, yet, three years later, this was clearly the inspiration for the Lamborghini Countach—adding to the car’s iconic status in the pantheon of car design.

“A landmark, for many years nobody went beyond it. You could put it into a show now and it would still impress.”

Autocar Magazine, 1977

Video: Model of the car Bertone Carabo

Specification: Model of the car Bertone Carabo

ENGINE: V8-cylinder, 123ci (1,995cc)
LAYOUT: mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: two-door, two-seater coupé
TOP SPEED: 160mph (257kph) (claimed)