Backstage \1 The Alfa 6 used by the Pope

​ Among the just over 6,500 Alfa 6s whose production was launched in April 1979,there is one in particular that is very special. It is white and armoured in order to transport one illustrious passenger - Pope John Paul II – during his visit to Milan on the occasion of the 20th Eucaristic Congress. There is one photograph, taken on 21 May 1983, portraying the Pontiff standing at the exit of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan as he waits to get into this vehicle. The "Papal" Alfa 6 is part of the historical Alfa Romeo collection, but it is not normally shown to the public. Normally stored away, it has now been chosen to open Backstage, a line of monthly events planned to allow visitors to discover the less famous pieces in the collection.
 
On Sunday 20 January, during the first appointment in the Backstage initiative, the "Papal" Alfa 6 walked the runway on the Museum's test track, in the company of a dozen other vehicles of the same series owned by private individuals.
 
After the show, it was transferred to the Giulia room in the Museum for the scheduled conference. As the curator of the Museo Alfa Romeo, Lorenzo Ardizio, explained, "There were quite a lot of armoured Alfa Romeos, often used by the different ministries. The one that was made available for the Papal visit, however, has different specifications from the ones that coachbuilders usually fitted, although it had similar features: armoured body, windows, radiotelephone, and fire prevention system. There are no plates or writings that link this vehicle to a specific coachbuilder, and it had presumably been fitted internally to the company: this would also explain the anomaly according to which the production records state that it was produced in 1984, when in reality it was used and photographed – with test plates – during the Papal visit in April of 1983.
 
What were the characteristics of the Alfa 6? "The long gestation period of this model is rather well known and since its first presentation at the IRI in 1975, many blotters and possible technical specifications followed to propose other versions of the project. The truth is that they were often very similar: technicians stubbornly insisted on producing this particular vehicle. Among the strongholds was the idea of the four-door sedan with a traditional mechanic set-up, equipped with a V engine and part of the organs from the other series-production vehicles. But also a vehicle that could 'reflect the Alfa Romeo brand image at the highest level in terms of performance'". A curious fact is the name of this car. There is a backstage story to this as well: "once the project had been defined, Alfa Romeo still needed to find a name for the new vehicle. First, the company turned to its sales network for help. The dealers answered the call with great enthusiasm and made as many as 179 proposals. Out of these, four possible names were selected: 2.5, Duemilacinquecento, 256 and 6C. Just like for the Duetto, there was no shortage of more original and curious proposals as well: Prestige, Superalfa, Ammiraglia, Alfona, Monza, Le Mans, Grand Prix, and Freccia d'Oro. But also Lady, Vedette, Nivola, Futura, Iride and Desirée.

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