Alfa Romeo GT Cabriolet unearthed as the project that could have saved Bertone

Alfa Romeo GT Cabriolet – Click above for high-res image gallery

The image of wafting around the Italian countryside in an open-air cabriolet is inextricably intertwined with our typical notion of Italian motoring. It's somewhat surprising, then, that there wasn't a single four-seat convertible on offer from Italy's automakers until the relatively recent introductions of the Fiat 500C, Ferrari California and Maserati GranCabrio. But there nearly could have been, if only Alfa Romeo had given this project the green light.

This one-of-a-kind cabriolet prototype based on the Alfa GT was only recently revealed by Bertone. The relatively simple chop-job would have given Alfa a four-seat convertible in its range, and given Carrozzeria Bertone the lifeblood it so desperately needed. But instead, Fiat passed on its production and ended up buying Bertone's coachbuilding operations as the latter comprehensively restructured.

In its place, Alfa opted to go with the Spider as a two-seat convertible version of the Brera, designed by Giugiaro and built by Pininfarina – Bertone's two greatest rivals. And while that model may be the handsomer of the two, both its driving dynamics and performance in the marketplace never managed to keep up. From 2005 to 2010, Alfa sold less than 22,000 examples of the Brera, and from 2006 to 2010 only 12,000 Spiders, while the GT coupe has sold over 80,000 units from 2003 to 2010. Would a GT Cabrio have proven more successful? Impossible to tell now, but Carrozzeria Bertone might still be around if it had.

[Sources: AutoWeek,]

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