It is easy to forget the Alfa Romeo of the inter-war years was somewhat of a diverse manufacturing behemoth. Alongside their ubiquitous cars, the portfolio of the time encompassed commercial vehicles, railway locomotives, buses, trams, tractors and even aircraft engines. Unsurprisingly, World War Two proved disastrous for the company but, with post-war Marshall Aid support, car production had re-commenced by 1946. The post-war car range of the 1900 and Giulietta models were soon joined by an innovative 1 tonne van and light truck range.
Given the internal designation of T10, the van range was unimaginatively named “Romeo” with the Romeo Autotutto (all purpose) making its debut in 1954. Clearly Alfa Romeo had taken considerable inspiration from Volkswagen’s Transporter which had been blazing a trail in this market segment for a few years. Despite that, the Autotutto was awash with individual Italianate innovations. Compared to the Transporter the Autotutto’s mechanical configuration was especially intelligent for a commercial vehicle. With a “cab over engine” set up, front wheel drive and torsion bar rear suspension the Autotutto’s interior, from the seats back, was unencumbered by mechanical intrusion. This allowed for an impressively low (35cms) and commodious load bay that Transporter owners must have been very envious of. This approach also facilitated easy conversion to a huge range of body configurations supplied from both the factory and by third party coachbuilders like Boneschi and Colli.
Being an Alfa Romeo product, it may come as no surprise that the engines were pretty special too. There was a choice of a 1290cc petrol engine or a 1160 diesel engine. The petrol was a detuned version of the 750 series unit that went on to power the Giulietta. The diesel was a twin cylinder, two-stroke unit fitted with a Rootes type supercharger. Other Autotutto flourishes included the rear hinged, “suicide” doors and the surprisingly well appointed and stylishly finished cab. An “updated” Romeo 2 was introduced in 1957. It was noted for offering a completely unknown and imperceptible set of “upgrades” in true, post war Alfa Romeo fashion.