The Alfa Romeo Scighera was one of the oldest show cars present this year. But this design by Fabrizio Giugiaro, son of the well-known designer and founder of the ItalDesign studio Giorgetto Giugiaro, looks timeless. It's a mid-engined super sports car aimed to connect Alfa's modern technology to their famous racing past. At the time of its introduction at the Geneva Auto Show in 1997 the board of the Fiat Group, of which Alfa Romeo is a part, weren't impressed by it and more or less neglected the car., but in the way time works this was all to change, as you'll see further on.
The Scighera is not just some show car, it's actually fully registered for road use. Even a limited scale production was considered for some time by ItalDesign. It's powered by Alfa's 3-litre V6 from the 164 sedan model, which is boosted to produce some 400 hp by a twin-turbo system. To get this amount of power on the road it features the four wheel drive technology from the Lancia Delta Integrale (which was also offered on the Alfa 155) and a 6-speed sequential transmission. At a vehicle weight of 1200 kg it must be a bomb to drive.
It's an amazing car to look at, but it must have cost a fortune to build and to be honest: I liked the original Nazca better.
The Brera is a more recent attempt by ItalDesign at designing an Alfa Romeo sports car, and it looks to be a more viable one too. It was first shown at the 2002 Geneva Auto Show and remarkably its characteristics are not that much different from the Scighera, they're only more realistic in execution. The Brera is also constructed from lightweight materials, with a body made entirely from carbon fiber, and features 400 hp with all-wheel drive and sequential transmission as well. Only in this case a 4.2-litre V8 of Maserati origin, placed in front of the passengers compartment, is used to obtain a 402 hp power output.
This time the design is credited to Giugiaro senior and the exterior is not so much timeless as it is modern contemporary. It has the "blob" like appearance as shown by a number of concepts by other manufacturers/designers, apparently the current fashion for 2+2 GT cars. But its razor sharp front-end design, the creases on the sides and the pointy rear makes this design stand out in a positive manner. The long, aggressive nose makes no secret of the road-devouring potential of this car, and its width (1.9 m) combined with its low height (1.3 m) makes it seem to have a rock-solid road holding.
What impressed me most about the Brera was not its exterior design, but its interior. What is it with Italian designers that they can make utilitarian objects like buttons, switches and levers look so desirable? The interior is both wonderfully classic as it is uniquely modern. I love it.
Alfa Romeo is contemplating to start a limited production of 1.000 Breras, slightly adapted to mass production at more or less affordable prices. That reminds me of the Alfa Romeo SZ, Alfa's previous attempt to revive times of old. Still, it would make an enticing addition to the current range of Alfa Romeo models.
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