For many years the Fiat Group had not developed concept cars for motor shows.In early February 1990, Alfa Romeo decided to present an innovative fully functional prototype with a very high technical content for the upcoming 1991 Geneva Motor Show.
Given the experience gained in the styling model sector and the growth of their design office, Fiat's top management decided to entrust STOLA s.p.a. with this work despite not having specific experience in the concept sector.
The first meeting took place in Milan at the historic Alfa Romeo Portello Style Center, at the time almost in disuse due to the imminent transfer to Arese which took place two weeks later.
At this meeting, Bustreo will present the preliminary general feasibility studies on immense rolls of drawing paper and in particular the general idea of the innovative hood.
Over time, the meetings between the Alfa Romeo men of the Centro Stile and the design team with Gottardo Bustreo and his assistants will become almost daily between the respective offices in Arese and Grugliasco.
Over time, the business meetings between the Alfa Romeo’s Centro Stile and Gottardo Bustreo and his assistants became almost daily at their the respective offices in Arese and Grugliasco.
It was a difficult challenge, the bodywork would have to be made entirely of aeronautical carbon, there was a fully retractable folding glass top, 6-cylinder engine and both four-wheel drive and steering.
The top was as extraordinary electrochromic glass object, hydraulically operated and totally retractable.
By pressing a convenient switch positioned inside the passenger compartment the architecture could be transformed in 45 seconds from coupe to spider and vice versa, without having the impression that one may become the other.
Precisely for this characteristic, the name of this car is "Proteo", from the shape changing Greek God- Proteus .
It was a prototype "Spider-Coupé" laboratory, a forerunner of the future Mercedes SLK, SL and BMW Z 4, whose hoods were formed in sheet metal, foldable and totally hidden when open.
Alfa Romeo had a really good idea, the Stola technicians succeeded at engineering and building it; the regret was not having patented it in March 1991.
From the beginning the goal was to build a first salon prototype and to follow that up with two more for technical checks and preliminary feasibility as Fiat Auto’s intention was to put this sports car into production as soon as possible.
For the record, shortly afterwards the project was stopped, of the two technical prototypes only the platforms were built and nothing more.
For Stola that was their first salon prototype, and it brought a lot of luck to the modeling shop because in the following thirteen years, through to the end of July 2004, another fifty-six were made for the most prestigious car manufacturers in the world.
The Alfa Romeo Proteo was presented to the world press on the morning of March 5, 1991 in Geneva on the occasion of the 61st International Motor Show.
In the presence of hundreds of journalists and professionals, the hearts of Roberto and Alfredo Stola, Bustreo, Sasso and Goffi were put to the test during the opening of the convertible top in the presence of the Fiat leaders represented by the 'Agnelli, the lawyer Cesare Romiti and the engineer Paolo Cantarella accompanied by the technical director the engineer Stefano Iacoponi and the director of the Style Center, Walter Da Silva.
Ten minutes earlier, in a final pre-show test of the opening and closing top, it had jammed ...