Back in 2003 Alfa Romeo displayed a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show and it received a great deal of interest even though it was only, at the time, a styling exercise. However the decision was announced to put the car into production with a 4.7 litre V8 engine and a projected top speed in excess of 181 mph. Orders flooded in; and they were reported to have received 1400 of them before they let it be known that they were only going to build 500 of them!
The new car, a two-door coupe, was to be known as the 8C Competizione; a link to the 1948 car of a similar name, the six cylinder 2.5 litre Competizione which won the tough Targa Florio in 1950 and took third place in both the 1949 and 1950 Mille Miglia races. It was clear that this was going to be a fast car which was aimed at the enthusiast market. And when it was actually launched in 2007 those enthusiasts certainly loved the sound of that eight cylinder engine, and with a nought to 60 time of 4.2 seconds and a 181 mph top speed many of them thought they had had their money's worth. That money was considerable by the way; at a claimed £108,000 a time it was hardly cheap!
Although it was officially an Alfa Romeo it was assembled at Maserati's factory in Modina, northern Italy; the engine was a joint development between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari and several of the components of the platform were Maserati units so this car really benefited from the fact that Fiat owned or controlled some of the world's finest sports car manufacturers.
Weight balance was carefully calculated; the engine sat just behind the front axles and the semiautomatic, six speed, computer-controlled gearbox was just in front of the rear axle but even so Jeremy Clarkson of the TV programme Top Gear had one of them taken out on the show's test track to show it's paces; results were disappointing because the handling was claimed to be suspect. Perhaps a little more work was necessary on that weight balance?
Nevertheless Clarkson claimed that it was easily the best looking car that had ever been made and all 500 production models were snapped up despite the horrific price. Disappointed would-be buyers were, however, able to bid for one of just 500 Spiders (ie open two seaters); these were available for a mere £174,000. Needless to say all 500 were snapped up so don't bother trying to order one yourself.