Alfa Romeo 1900M Matta
Alfa Romeo Matta
Alfa Matta Engine
Our slightly modified Matta with the Montreal V8 engine
The Matta or Mad Alfa was quite a departure for Alfa Romeo. Prior to the second world war, they had produced the ultimate supercars now in the post-war period they had decided that it was necessary to mass-produce cars and having seen the success of the Willy's Jeep, they decided that developing a 4X4 was a good avenue to follow.
The Matta or AR51 was developed in the late 1940s to the government specification for a light jeep and was first produced in 1951, hence the 51 in the title. However, AR does not stand for Alfa Romeo, but for Auto-veicolo ricognitivo or reconnaissance vehicle, and as such this vehicle was designed to be tough.
As with most 4x4's the AR51 has a separate ladder chassis and the body was mounted on this. The suspension consisted of a live rear axle with independent front suspension consisting of double unequal length wishbones, this very advanced design gave the Matta unsurpassed off-road ability. The independent front suspension was the key to this ability and in order to give the suspension maximum travel, the lower wishbones are huge with the inner pivot point being as close as possible to the centre line of the vehicle.
Power was, in typical Alfa Romeo style, from a 1900 twin overhead cam petrol engine, this was by any standards overkill. None of its competition had even got as far as using a single overhead camshaft let alone two of them, and in some ways, this counted against it as it was viewed by some as over-complicated. However, the use of such an advanced engine design gave the Matta masses of torque which is exactly what an off-road vehicle needs. The engine was de-tuned to 60 bhp for use in the Matta from the 100 bhp it produced in Alfa Romeo's road cars of the time, giving the Matta a top speed of 105 km/h. To drive a Matta it feels quite heavy and slow by modern standards, however, it is similar to vehicles like the 80 inch Land Rover and the Willy's jeep of the period. The torque of the engine and the low ratio gearbox gives it the ability to tickle along at a couple of kmh and this helps immeasurably off-road.
Alfa Romeo produced 2075 Mattas of which the vast majority were AR51s however they did produce around 50 AR52s for the civilian market, these were used for such purposes and snow ploughs and forestry commission vehicles and as such, they did sterling work.
|No of Cylinders
|Drums all round
|4 forward, 1reverse + dual range
|Wheel Base (mm)
|Max Speed (km/h)