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2008 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Preview


 

 

After a more than decade-long absence, Alfa-Romeo is ready to make its return. The Italian automaker pulled the wraps off its 8C Competizione, on Tuesday, the limited-edition coupe that will herald the brand’sU.S. revival.

The Competizione is based on a concept car first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003, the twin-seater designed to herald Alfa’s grand racing heritage. The 8C nameplate was one of the first to gain real credibility among aficionados, while the designation, Competizione, is a nod to the 6C 2500 Competizione driven by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Alex Zanardi at Italy ’s Mille Miglia in 1950.

 

The coupe unveiled at a preview in suburban Detroit is powered by a 4.6-liter, 90-degree V-8 making 450 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. Alfa has settled on a six-speed, electronically controlled manual gearbox that can operate in five different modes, including auto-shift.

 

The sweeping body, with the vaguest hint of retro, is made entirely of lightweight carbon fiber, and mounted on a space-frame chassis. It sits atop a double-wishbone front and rear suspension. The overall package has a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. Weighing in at just 3100 pounds, expect the 8C to launch from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds and top out at around 190 mph.

 

Much of the 8C Competizione’s technology is racing-derived, the company claims, including the suspension and its aluminum brake calipers. The huge Brembo brakes sit behind 20-inch wheels and tires.

 

Only 500 of the “highly collectible” 8Cs will be built, noted Jim Selwa, who will oversee the return of Alfa to the U.S. market. Of those, only 100 will be earmarked for the U.S. , he added, at a price “north of $200,000.” Selwa, whose primary job is as CEO of Maserati’s U.S. operations, quickly noted that all 100 “are already sold.”

 

The goal, company officials acknowledged, is to give a high-profile push to the Alfa brand. It won’t be easy, despite a small but dedicated bunch of Alfa-cionados.

 

Nostalgia is history removed of the burdensome weight of reality," said Maserati spokesman Jeff Ehoodin, adding that “The ’90s were a bad time” for Alfa.

 

Plagued by quality problems – and declining sales – the automaker abandoned the U.S. market in 1995, a decision company officials have admittedly regretted ever since. The challenge has been finding a way to bring the brand back. Not that the Italians didn’t try.

 

Alfa’s return was to have been a key element in the aborted relationship between its parent, Fiat, and General Motors. But now, it appears, the company has decided to go it alone. Or, more precisely, to stage a comeback with the assistance of its sister marque, Maserati. That luxury brand, in turn, owes its own revival to Fiat’s top-line division, Ferrari.

 

“We’re doing for Alfa what Ferrari did for us,” noted Ehoodin.

 

The 8C Competizione will make its return to the U.S. in the second half of 2008, about a year after the car careens into European showrooms. More conventional Alfa models, said Selwa, “will come back (to the States) sometime in 2009.”

 Related Articles

 

Maserati Wants to Import Alfa 8C by TCC Team (4/9/2007)
Beautiful coupe could make its way to the U.S.

 

2006 Geneva Motor Show, Part VIII by TCC Team (3/1/2006)
Porsche 911 Turbo, Alfa Spider, Bentley Diamond Series.

 

At Maserati, Tank is Half-Empty — or Half-Full? by TCC Team (2/13/2006)
Brand is selling more cars, but still short of 10k targets.

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