“Storie Alfa Romeo”, 9th episode: – 8C Competizione, Between Tradition and Future

8C Competizione also meant a return to its roots and a kind of laboratory for the future, it showed its identity, values and stylistic and technical references: optimal weight/strength ratio, perfect balance, and precision control

The motto of the world, faced with the challenge of the third millennium, stops for a moment to admire the new jewel of the Alfa Romeo brand: “It was called 8C, and I think it is simply the most beautiful car ever made” … Jeremy Clarkson stated with conviction on BBC television.

In other words, he summed up the essence of the Alfa Romeo brand, starting with the name: it refers to the “eight-cylinder” models of the 1930s, and the Competizione model of 1905, the winners of the Le Mans and Mille Miglia races.

The history of the brand serves as a stylistic inspiration: 8C celebrates spaciousness, clean lines, and all the recognizable characteristics of the brand, enriched with sophisticated details.

Indeed, it became a natural reference point for all models after it, including cars from large series, such as the MiTo and Giulietta models. And it had a very close relative in the 4C model, a compact technological and sensual supercar.

In short, a success and a milestone: 8C attracted 1,400 orders from around the world in just a few weeks, and the expected 500 numbered copies were sold long before they were made.

Between past and future

8C Competizione: a return to the roots and a laboratory for the future. It was created in the midst of a process of deep reorganization in the automotive sector as it prepared to face the new millennium … and became the banner around which Alfa Romeo redefined its identity and values – a stylistic and technical starting point for planning future products.

In early 2006, Sergio Marchionne signaled the start of industrialization and series production of the “concept car” that caused such great excitement during the 2003 Milan Motor Show. Alfa Romeo’s style center and design facilities, led by Wolfgang Egger, have redefined the original design in just eight months. Presented in its final version at the Paris Motor Show, the Model 8C collected 1,400 orders from around the world in just a few weeks, and the expected 500 numbered copies were sold long before they were made.

The essence of the Alfa Romeo brand

The story of the 8C Competizione begins with its name. The 8C refers to eight-cylinder cars designed by Vittorio Jano … cars that won races around the world during the 1930s (four wins in a row at Le Mans, and three at the Mille Miglia race). Competizione on the other hand was the name of the 6C 2500 model, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950 Mille Miglia race.

Made as a synthesis and renewal of the essence of the Alfa Romeo brand, the 8C is a reflection of technical themes that have been dear to the brand from the very beginning. Like lightness, enhanced by a “double frame” and the use of aluminum, titanium, carbon, and composite materials. Like the balance in the weight of the front and rear, achieved by the “transaxle” system (longitudinal front-wheel drive and gearbox on the rear axle). Like driving precision, perfected through the use of a suspension system with double wishbones on both axles.

The 8C had a lavish engine (4.7-liter V8 with 450 hp) – but above all, it marked a return to the gearbox on the rear axle, which has been missing in Alfa road models since the early 1990s. The result was a car with an optimal weight/power ratio, which could accelerate to 100 km / h ( 62 mph) from standstill in 4.2 seconds.

A homage to the history of car design

Then there is something called – style. “It’s called the 8C, and I think it’s simply the most beautiful car ever made”: this is how the host of the show “Top Gear” described it on BBC television. The hood as muzzle looked as if biting the asphalt. Its profile is soft and wavy. The horizontal protrusion unites the arches above the wheels, connecting them with the “muscular” appearance of the rear fender. The rear window was bordered by supports, which continued backward until they aligned with the tail.

It looked like a sample for a quiz from the history of the brand. His “eyes” are from the model 33 Stradale, a little more than the hood line; its rear end was reminiscent of that of the ’61 Giulietta SZ, the first docked tail car in motoring history; circular taillights pay homage to the Giulia TZ, another queen of racetracks. The 8C has played fantastic games with the past as if the Alfa Romeo Style Center paid homage to an entire era of car design.

Creativity and science

Since the 1930s, designers and manufacturers of the body have begun to improve aerodynamic penetration, which is essential for making their racing cars more competitive. The first step was to smoothly install the exterior elements, such as the fenders and headlights, into the chassis profile. Then they developed ever softer, more connected, and more aerodynamic shapes.

This was a challenge that stimulated the imagination of great designers – convinced, naturally, that everything that is beautiful must be efficient. Using their creativity and skills, they made some of the most beautiful and successful cars ever made, and many of them were Alfa Romeo models.

Alfa Romeo “Trilobo”

We know unmistakably that the Alfa Romeo is a view from the front: everyone immediately recognizes the central “shield” and two horizontal air intakes on both sides. This combination (perhaps the most famous “face” in the world of motor vehicles) is called “Trilobo and was identified in the 1930s.

Before that, the style was given little space: the “snout” of the car consisted of a radiator with headlights on the side, and (sometimes) protected by a gravel grate on the road. On the other hand, as soon as the shapes began to soften, the Alfa Romeo shield appeared – and when it became too small to cool more and more powerful engines, two transverse air intakes appeared, which enthusiasts immediately named “mustaches”.

The Trilobo, previously modest, has been officially adopted as a symbol of the brand starting with the 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro model. Like all symbols, it has evolved over time, reflecting what is beautiful in taste and modern – but always remaining unique and infallible. It was wavy and imposing on the 1900 model, thinner on the Giulietta model. It was aerodynamic and tense on the Giulia model, angular and almost perfectly equilateral during the 1907s and 1980s. It was minimalist and stylized during the 1990s, but with the 156 and 8C models, it returned to its natural leading role, which it has retained in all subsequent models ever since.

Legacy of the 8C Competizione model

The 8C Competizione summed up the most classic canons of the Alfa Romeo style, and became a natural inspiration for all later models, even for models from large series like the MiTo and Giulietta. The 8C also had a close relative: the “younger sister”, the 4C, a compact technological and sensual supercar – apparently related to the 8C but unencumbered by limited production.

With the 4C, Alfa Romeo has returned to the compact sports car market, offering state-of-the-art materials and technological solutions, combined with maximum lightness and exceptional dynamic qualities.


Alfa Romeo designers decided not to get the most out of power, instead, they decided to reduce the weight: a little more than 1,000 kilograms while driving, with a weight/power ratio of less than 4 kg/hp. Two values that guaranteed maximum agility and exciting performance.

Polyester and fiberglass elements were also used to achieve the desired lightness. But the most innovative component was a cradle-like monocoque frame, made entirely of carbon fiber and made with technology derived from Formula 1. The material, which consists of unidirectional fibers, was pre-soaked with a special resin that went through a process called “Cooking”: with this treatment, the cradle could be made in one piece, without assembly, and was perfectly capable of fulfilling its structural tasks despite weighing only 65 kilograms.

The 4C’s engine was ultra-light: an in-line engine with 4 cylinders and 1750 cubic centimeters of volume, made entirely of aluminum, develops 240 hp. To ensure optimal power distribution, it is placed in a transverse rear position. The construction of the gearbox had a system of the double dry clutch.

Its suspension systems were prominently sporty: a double-folded front triangle, with shock absorbers, mounted directly on the monocoque, and the evolution of the classic McPherson strut system on the rear axle.

The 4C achieves top speeds of over 255 km / h (158 mph) with incredible acceleration: from 0 to 100 km / h (0-61 mph) in 4.5 s.

Torino, June 17, 2020 – FCA

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