August 15, 2005 The Beach Concours d'Elegance may be the world's leading classic car event, but the 2005 event, which opens is doors on 21 August in Pebble Beach near Monterey, will have a display of prototypes that would put most motor shows to shame and the headline car is one never seen before in public: The Alfa Romeo 8C Spider.
The original Alfa Romeo 8C stunned motor show goers in 2003 and 2004, including at last year's Sydney International Motor Show, but the Spider version, although much hinted at, has never had its existence officially confirmed. Even now, although the announcement has been made that the car will be at the show, no advance pictures have been released.
With the inclusion of the Alfa Romeo G1, the very first ever Alfa Romeo, along with more than 60 classic Alfa Romeo sports cars, design prototypes and road cars, and now the 8C Spider, the display of Alfa Romeos at Pebble Beach is the most complete and largest display of the marque's models even seen in one place.
Designed and developed at the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, the original 8c Competizione, like the new 8C Spider, was designed to provide an icon for Alfa Romeo, evoking the great sports car tradition of which the name is part. In the Thirties and Forties, the '8c' signature identified the racing and road cars that were equipped with the new eight cylinder engine developed by the famous engineer Vittorio Jano. The term 'Competizione' is a tribute to the 6C 2500 Competizione, the sports coupé driven by Fangio and Zanardi in the famous Mille Miglia race in 1950.
Therefore, '8c Competizione' is not an invented name, but a clear reference to Alfa's racing history. And of course the Alfa Romeo legend was created to a great extent by the victories its cars achieved on race courses all around the world. There were so many of them that alone they represent a long, fascinating chapter, made of men and competitive spirit, engines and cutting edge technical ideas.
The Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione is a generously proportioned carbon fibre two seater, as indicated by its measurements: 1900 mm wide, 4278 mm long and 1250 mm high, with a wheelbase of 2595 mm. The body is given extra dynamism by the horizontal furrow cut into the side above the front wheelarch.
In addition to this, the large tyres (245/40 - R20 at the front and 275/35 - R20 at the rear) and the powerful, muscular rear wings accentuate the strong, forceful personality. This does not detract in any way from the elegance of the lines that run smoothly from front to back, to the light clusters set into the integral bumpers. A stylistic balance that has its maximum expression in the daring design of the rear window that covers the rear and partially envelops the rear pillars.
The front elements have been repositioned as they were on the most important Alfa racing cars of the past - the side grilles and the shield are aligned at the same height - a decision of historical and evolutionary significance. But a rapid glance will reveal that the styling of the whole exterior is full of classical references, an ideal opportunity for a modern interpretation of traditional Alfa stylistic cues. For example, the front end recalls the former 33 Coupé Stradale, while the rear sports the characteristic round light clusters of the Giulia TZ.
It is difficult to be indifferent to the '8c Competizione' concept car, because it is the pure expression of Alfa Romeo's concept of the car. And with this new model, Alfa's stylistic language takes a further step forward. Compared to another concept car, the 'Nuvola', which also featured the shapes and surface treatment of the new Alfa Romeo aesthetics, the styling approach of the Alfa 8c Competizione enhances the brand's DNA with a modern hi-tech interpretation of the most famous designs in Alfa Romeo history.
Nor can it be forgotten that the Alfa Romeo sports cars of the past and the present all share a particular feature: the ability to thrill even the most experienced drivers when they take the wheel. And the Alfa 8c Competizione is no exception. Suffice it to say that under the bonnet lurks a supercharged 4.2 litre V8 (90°). This powerful unit delivers over 400 bhp at 7000 rpm and together with a 6-speed manual rear transmission, takes the prototype to a top speed above 300 km/h, accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometres in just 4.5 seconds. This engine commands not only absolute performance and outstanding peaks of power and torque (over 45 kgm at 4500 rpm), but also smooth, effortless delivery even at low speeds. The result is a car capable of exciting performance that is perfectly at home on everyday roads and not only on the racetrack.
The 8c Competizione combines this brilliant performance with extraordinary roadholding and the handling of a true thoroughbred. This is achieved via dual wishbone suspension at front and rear, which ensures extremely enjoyable handling, combining the control expected of front-wheel drive with an exceptionally sporty drive and pinpoint response, which are particularly important on mixed roads. Alfa Romeo chose rear-wheel drive for the 8c Competizione to support the exuberant engine and to deliver truly unbeatable emotional experience behind the wheel