Just over two thousand vehicles produced in the immediate post-war period, mainly intended for the Carabinieri, the Army and the Police forces. But the Alfa Romeo 1900M, nicknamed “Matta” (crazy one), also became a star in civilian life. Like the white Matta which, in 1976, departed on a 27-thousand-kilometre journey crossing 24 countries, with an expedition of four Giulia Supers headed by Maner Lualdi, from the Vatican City to Canton in China, carrying a message of peace.
On Sunday March 17th, the very same Matta that participated in this Raid of Brotherhood and Peace was the protagonist of an event at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo in Arese, as part of Backstage, a series of encounters which focuses on the less famous chapters in the brand’s history.
One conference dealt with the operations involved in transforming the Biscione’s old off-road vehicle – the vehicle in question had been built in 1955 – in order to make it participate in the devastating raid as a technical support, mobile workshop and warehouse for spare parts for the Giulia Supers that were starring in the endeavour. The two Mattas had several things in common: a hard top created by adapting the sheet metal of the Romeo van, a heater for the cockpit, and many other minor adjustments. The interior fittings were however somewhat different: one of the two was fitted to transport spare parts and bulky equipment such as suspensions, gear boxes, engine components. The one preserved in the Museum, on the other hand, was equipped with drawers and storage compartments for the smaller materials but also fitted to host a small crane on the back, which is still present on board the vehicle, in order to offer on-the-road interventions like in a small workshop. Among the spare parts still on the vehicle are two plexiglass windshields which were specifically commissioned for the Giulias in the raid.
In addition to a description of the vehicle and overview of its history, which was offered by Museo Alfa Romeo, the second part of the conference was developed in collaboration with the Registro Alfa Romeo Matta, which concluded its annual rally with the stage at the Museum in Arese. This second part illustrated the main stages of the historical expedition, the dramatic characteristics of the trajectory, the extreme weather conditions, and the controversial political circumstances that led to the conclusion of the journey in Canton, after a road block imposed by the Chinese authorities, who were opposed to an expedition of peace carrying a message from the Pope.
Before taking part in the conference, however, the large audience present at the event had the chance to enjoy a unique show when the Matta from the Raid paraded on the Museum’s internal track leading a convoy of its siblings owned by passionate collectors.