How Alfa Romeo got its mojo back with the 8C Competizione

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We all got hot under the collar when Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia GTA and GTAm, but the 2006 8C Competizione is actually the most important Alfa of this century.

Although just 500 8C Competiziones were made (1000 if you add the Spiders) this most beautiful modern Alfa marked a turning point for the Italians. After years of doing its best to add some spark—usually Twin Spark—to Fiat front-wheel drive platforms, Alfa Romeo went back to its roots. In doing so, it defined its future.

First shown as a concept at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the gorgeous two-seater coupe’s name evoked memories of the brand’s eight-cylinder race cars of the 1930s and its Mille Miglia and Targa Florio glory days of the late ’40s and early ’50s.

In Wolfgang Egger’s styling you could see the influence of the 33 Stradale in the car’s eyes and the Giulietta SZ in its rear, but the whole form came together as forward-facing, not some navel-gazing retrospective.

 

Such was the reaction to the show car that the 8C Competizione was given the green light for production, hitting the road in 2006. Amazingly it was almost unchanged from the concept car, with the exception of a rear-hinged hood, and different headlights and wheels. The glorious curves were crafted in carbon fiber, painted in classic Alfa Red or Black as standard, with Pearl Yellow and Competition Red as options.

Beneath the body sat a “dual frame” chassis made from aluminum and titanium. And then there was the powertrain. Up front was a 4.7-liter cross-plane V-8 built by Ferrari, mated to a six-speed transaxle gearbox with paddle shift and a limited slip differential. With 444 hp at a heady 7000 rpm and gearshifts in just 175 milliseconds, it certainly lived up to the Competizione name.

 

Alfa Romeo received 1400 orders for the run of 500 cars within weeks of its launch. Just 84 cars were designated for the U.S. market, priced at $227,000. At the March 2020 RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction one sold for $270,000, so the 8C Competizione looks like a sound investment for buyers.

More importantly it was a sound investment for Alfa Romeo. On the back of the success of the 8C Competizione Alfa Romeo was able to convince its Fiat overlords that buyers wanted true Alfas. Soon after the Italians launched the lightweight (if somewhat flawed) 4C, the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV and renewed a passion among fans the world over.

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