The Story

Article first published in the Alfa Romeo Owners Club (UK) magazine Feb 2005.
(Author/Copyright Steve Ball, August 2004

N.B. Some of the photographs shown are of unknown origin, (borrowed from the internet)
if you wish to claim copyright please contact me and I'll amend the article.

What's the Matta?

Perhaps a more accurate title would be "What's a Matta" but thoughts of Robert de Niro or Marlon Brando uttering the immortal line before "cleaning" a rival sprang to mind far too quickly; and the author didn't feel this would be a particularly good start, especially in an Italian car Club magazine!

Enough prevarication and on to answering the question…"Matta" is the nickname for the Alfa Romeo 1900M AR51, meaning "crazy" or "mad old woman", depending on where you read. The "mad" label is not usually applied to cars but it is well deserved in this case and applied at the time because of the mad antics the Matta was capable of such as climbing steps and crossing the odd river or two.

To be more specific about the model name, "AR" means Autovettura da Ricognizione (Reconnaissance Vehicle or "Scout Car") and the "M" refers to Military. The "51" refers to the vehicle's year of design and those built between 1951 and 1953, the last of the cars, made in 1954, were designated AR52. Another explanation for the different denominations is that the AR51 was for the military market and the AR52 for the domestic, this doesn't have much credence when you consider that subsequent AR's continued to at least AR59 as per the Ministry of Defence's specifications but attached to the Fiat Campagnolo. There are some mechanical differences (picture) between some of the cars but to be honest I don't know if they were mid -range changes or simply differences between the AR51 and AR52's although the latter would seem to make sense bearing in mind the change of designation in 1954.