Alfa Romeo Bella: An Expressive Vision That Never Became the Brand’s Flagship

Aivaras Grigelevičius

In its catalogue, Alfa Romeo has numerous impressive concept cars that, for one reason or another, never made it to production. The vast majority of them didn’t get past management because they were too complex and complicated, but the Alfa Romeo Bella was a different project.

Alfa Romeo’s comeback plan got off to a good start in 1996. The 156 model that they introduced at that time became a bestseller and won several awards. After that, Alfa Romeo’s development plan was straightforward – build cars that were just as successful.

The Alfa Romeo 166 came out in 1999, followed by the Alfa Romeo 147 in 2000, and the Alfa Romeo GT in 2003. According to the initial plan, the 2002 model range was supposed to be supplemented by one more car. The vision for this car – the Bella – was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999.

Sketch of Alfa Romeo Bella
Sketch of Alfa Romeo Bella
©Bertone archive
Sketch of Alfa Romeo Bella
Sketch of Alfa Romeo Bella
©Bertone archive

At that time, Alfa Romeo had already come to an agreement with the renowned design studio Bertone. The specialists from the two companies wanted to create a luxurious, 2+2, higher-end coupé. You could say that Alfa Romeo wanted to have a flagship for the model range that would properly represent the brand name around the world.

Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive

The project budget was not especially high. Although classic Alfa Romeo coupés had rear-wheel drive, they switched to front-wheel drive once the famous Italian brand moved into the hands of the Fiat Group. The Alfa Romeo Bella, which was developed on the Alfa Romeo 166 platform, was no exception.

Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive

Under the expressive, futuristic appearance of the car, there was an Alfa Romeo 166 sedan. Even the interior was almost identical. But up front, the long bonnet housed the famous 3-litre V6 petrol engine that could produce 225 hp.

Alfa Romeo Bella concept interior
Alfa Romeo Bella concept interior
©Bertone archive
Alfa Romeo Bella concept interior
Alfa Romeo Bella concept interior
©Bertone archive

At the Geneva Motor Show, Alfa Romeo allowed a select few test drive the new coupé. Many people really did expect that the Bella would soon be put into production, but... These plans were scrapped a few years later. Why? No one knows to this day.

Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
Alfa Romeo Bella concept
©Bertone archive