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Alfa Romeo SZ


For some people the fascination with extreme flavours is just that – an obsession with pungency – so they crave incendiary chillies, near-putrid game and other bombastic tastes. They are interested in the outer limits of what is manageable, but the moment you attempt to dilute experience, to them it becomes pointless. Anchovies that make you wince on a pizza? Fantastic. A mild anchovy flavoured soup? Minging.

Strong flavour

I think this behaviour is mirrored in the world of car styling insomuch as people seem more willing to celebrate challenging styling so long as it is underwritten with real confidence. If you are going to do controversial, don’t do half measures. Make it so ugly children will scream and hide.

Like an Alfa SZ.

Alfa 75 donated V6 and live axle suspensionThe press wasn’t kind to the ES30 (experimental sports car 30, as it was known internally) in 1987 and when the covers came off the production version at the 1989 Geneva show knives were drawn. This was the time of the E30 3 Series, the Ford Sierra and W124 Mercedes: a world of conservative, inoffensive shapes. The SZ was massive two-finger salute and immediately earned the name ‘Il Monstro’.

Ego boost

In many ways it was the 8C of its generation. As per usual, Alfa was skint, lagging behind the competition in just about every area and badly needed a publicity injection. At first, it looked like the SZ syringe contained the wrong liquid, because people just couldn’t understand why it had to be so ugly and it possibly damaged the Alfa brand. Then they drove it.

Vast panel gaps all part of the ‘character’And wouldn’t you know it, a shortened 75 platform with race-derived suspension, composite bodywork allowing a 1,256kg kerb weight and a 210hp V6 made for something rather memorable. Apparently much of the credit must go to Giorgio Pianta, the man who developed many of the great Lancia rally cars, because he was the one responsible for the chassis. Alfa claimed it could sustain over 1G lateral cornering grip.

I have only driven an Alfa SZ once. I expected to be profoundly disappointed by it because on paper 210hp seems pathetic these days, and the 225-section rear tyres looked like they might offer too much grip. The car proved me wrong. It wasn’t especially fast, but the motor made music, the gearshift was tight and mechanical in feel and it didn’t feel too stiff. A car which rolls and pitches and allows a driver to use that information to judge grip level is a rarity these days.

Simple interior contrasts with mad exteriorIn for a penny

And I make no excuses for simply loving everything about the design and the styling, both inside and out. For some reason the SZ doesn’t photograph well: it is smaller than you’d expect, and wider – on the page it can look too tall and narrow, and this is not the case in real life.

Cars whose appearance tells the narrative of their conception are among the most enjoyable. The SZ was an early experiment into composite body panels, and just like its contemporary the Ferrari F40, some of the panel gaps are hilariously inconsistent, although in fairness they all look like the bonnet hasn’t been closed properly.

The irony of the ‘experimental’ title in the car’s internal code is that the SZ couldn’t really be more mechanically conventional. As a classic, this surely adds to its appeal because the motor is unstressed and yet dripping with character, but back in 1989 you might have expected a little bit more for your £40,000

Would you really want to be seen in one though?Inside and out

For obvious reasons it’s the SZ’s exterior that snarls all the conversation, but I love the cabin. The seats are, to these eyes, perhaps the best looking ever seen in a production car and there’s a driver-centric simplicity to everything I’ve always thought was a clever juxtaposition to the coachwork which, despite the name wasn’t entirely the work of Zagato. It’s a clever combination, bend as many heads on the outside and recline in soft-hide splendour as you soak up the attention.

So the SZ serves to remind me of two aesthetic tenets that I still cling to – that for some reason I love cars that cut a profoundly different shape among other traffic. That’s why I like the Panamera. And the brave decision to shock can only be executed with full-strength, overproof zeal – this is why I find the modern Zagato Astons so unappealing. They disturb the elegance of the factory styled machines but don’t supplement that disruption with enough madness. In those terms, the SZ is a masterpiece that is yet to be bettered.

Of course it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I am over-romanticising a plastic bodied Alfa 75 that no more deserves to be celebrated than the Arna. Best you tell me if I’m wrong.


Engine: 2.959cc V6

Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Power (hp): 210@6,200rpm

Torque (lb ft): 181@4,500rpm

0-60mph: 6.9sec

Top speed: 153mph

Weight: 1,256kg

On sale: 1989-1991

Price new: c. £40,000

Price now: c. £22,000 upwards

Photos: Tom Wood courtesy of RM Auctions – this car (full details here) sold for £20,720 at RM’s 2011 sale in London; there are three others currently in the PH Classifieds, starting at £22,995.

via Alfa Romeo SZ: Tell Me I’m Wrong – PistonHeads.

2014 Alfa Romeo 4C Reviewed on



The 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C is an all-new model.


Alfa Romeo made a quiet exit from the U.S. nearly 20 years ago. Despite some iconic roadsters and a sporty sedan, Alfas were reliably unreliable and weren’t especially cheap to buy in the first place. The Italian automaker, owned by Fiat, will try its hand at the U.S. market again, this time with the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C.

The 4C is Alfa’s beachhead back into American garages, but it’s actually a follow-up to the car Alfa used to test the U.S. waters last decade, the 8C Competizione. Like the 4C, the 8C Competizione was a two-seat coupe with sensual curves. The 8C, however, wore a carbon-fiber body, made nearly 500 horsepower from its Ferrari-sourced V8 and cost more than $200,000. Fewer than 100 models made it to the U.S. and most sold through Maserati dealers. Alfa’s re-entry to the U.S. was as quiet as its departure.

Alfa has pared the supercar formula for the new 4C, a stubby, midengine coupe built around a carbon-fiber tub, with aluminum used for roof structures and crash supports. All-aluminum engine construction keeps weight down; Alfa claims the 4C will weigh in around a Lotus-like 2,000 pounds. A turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine makes 240 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque with the aid of direct injection. The turbo four — visible through a glass panel, Ferrari-style — will pair with a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

A light body over front double wishbones and a rear strut suspension promises exceptional handling, and the 4C offers two staggered tire packages: either 17-inch tires up front with 18s in back, or 18s in front and 19s in back. A Brembo brake package will also be available, in addition to a race package with more aggressive tires and suspension settings.

We expect to see the U.S.-spec model in November, with a starting price of at least $70,000. Alfa plans to make just 3,500 total units, with 1,200 due in North America by the end of the year. The first 1,000 models produced will be known as the Launch Edition and feature LED headlights, a sport exhaust and special paint. And if you can’t lay your hands on the 4C, don’t fret. Alfa’s long-term plans include an ostensibly more affordable roadster built off the next Mazda Miata platform.

via 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C Review |

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

NBC SportsThe first race in he schedule will be the Rolex Australian Grand Prix. Here is the schedule on the NBC Sports Network:

Friday, March 15- Practice #1, 12:00 a.m.
Alfa-Romeo GP car, 6c2500 - ex-Fangio

Friday, March 15- Practice #2, 1:30 a.m.

Saturday, March 16- Qualifying, 2:00 a.m.

Saturday, March 16- Qualifying Re-Air, 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 17- Australian Grand Prix, 1:30 a.m.

Sunday, March 17- F1 Extra, 4:00 a.m.

Sunday, March 17- Race Re-Air, 1:00 p.m.

12 Hours of Sebring , March 16, 2013 will mark the end of an era !!!!!

This will be the last year LMP1 class that has roots that go back to the World Manufacturers
Championship , that Alfa Romeo competed in and won in 1975 and 1977. It wasn’t until 1975 that it won , after years of trying, that Alfa Romeo won the World Championship for Makes. The 1975 season was one of almost total domination with seven wins in eight races.