Alfa Romeo’s Baby Supercar
Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Motoring with Morgan begins alfa-betically with the awesome Alfa Romeo 4C.
As someone who loves Alfa Romeos, this Alfista must apologise in advance for any bias towards the brand. Alfa Romeo do not make Lamborghinis, Ferraris or Maseratis, that is to say, all out supercars. More like Ford, they focus more on Fiestas than GT40s but this Italian brand does share a significant history with each of their supercar siblings.
From the Formula One Grand Prix racing days against Maseratis to Enzo Ferrari’s Alfa Romeo racing team, long before Enzo set up a sports car company, Alfa Romeo's legacy evokes the smell of petrol and burning rubber.
Even the race driver Enzo Ferrari put tractor manufactured Ferruccio Lamborghini on the road when the agriculturist didn't like Ferrari’s attitude towards the farmer’s knowledge about building sports cars and Enzo challenged him to build a better car.
Lamborghinis, Ferraris and even the Jaguar E-Type could easily be mistaken for some of Alfa’s bold concept designs. Sadly most of Alfa’s designs are resigned to history as the company produces smaller, more practical cars despite the Italian heritage of being as unreliable as a supercar.
Pictured right is a 1952 Disco Volante coupe which looks like a 1960's Jaguar E-type.
Unlike the concept cars pictured above, Alfa is famous nowadays for small cars but let's look at Alfa's little bambino.When I say baby, I do of course mean their baby supercar, the Alfa 4C.
Is there such a thing as a baby supercar and what exactly is a supercar?
Stepping up from sports car to supercar to Bugatti hyper cars, you would need more than a pay rise to afford the effort of running a supercar and while a sports car can be driven everyday, these two door coupes, are an investment and a status symbol so don’t expect to find seatbelts and baby seats in the back. Sometimes you won’t find much more than a motor in the back and little luggage room in the front of these V8, V12 monsters.
Unlike the mighty V8, V12 motors you expect in a Ferrari, some companies opt for a compromise between the power of a V8 and the weight of a V12 engine and install V10 power plants.
Unlike the Alfa Romeo 8C, the 4C does not pack a 4.7 V8 engine but a compact in-line four.
Like a jockey on a diet, the Alfa 4C requires less horsepower to sprint home at Cheltenham.
This isn’t a Toyota MR2 wearing a Ferrari disguise. This little car has a carbon fibre chassis built by Maserati. Light weight, yes but this car is no featherweight when it comes to pulling punches.
Behind it, is enough power to propel it to near 8C speeds and both cars have the heritage going back to the early days of Gran Prix racing, more than a 100 years of history, a loyal following of fans and in my humble opinion, the new Alfa is a 21st Century Dino.
Maybe I am as much putting it down to the styling as anything else and the Dino’s T Bar option but the Alfa 4C is not going to be confused with Citroen’s c4 as it is much more like the plastic explosive c4 than the french car.
The 4C has made an impression on people and quickly became known as a baby super car.
So let’s look at the requirements for a supercar, not a sports car but a super car.
I’m talking about the Italian legends, Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini equivalent.
Well lets try badge, heritage, history and emotive value.
It´s an Alfa. Alfa represents Gran Prix racing despite their recent absence. Only recently returning to Formula 1 after a 30 year absence. Alfa know how to make great cars and always have, despite any reputation against the brands build quality and the 8C racks high up on Top Gear’s 100 most beautiful cars list.
Pictured right: I photographed this beautiful 8C at Top Gear Live in Dublin.
Considering that the original 8C comes from pre-war era, that’s impressive. Significantly lower down the list, near the top ten, the 8C re-appears with the 2007 model making an impression on the Top Gear team.
Alfa Romero has a glorious racing history and I’m sure their design studios have inspired Jaguar E-Types, Lamborghini Countach and even Ferrari along the way.
Not only do I make a comparison with the Classic Dino, Ferrari’s parentage has to look at the Italian, FIAT connection and the fact that Enzo Ferrari made his name racing Alfa Romeros. Not only did he race Alfas but he led a team in which his famous prancing horse appeared on the iconic yellow shield.
It is not for me to compare the legendary Dino by Ferrari to the new Alfa supercar with such a small engine, it should not be considered a supercar considering the engine at 1.75 is no bigger then that found in a Mito or 147. But back in the day, the Dino would have been considered a baby supercar despite its styling, speed and heritage.
Named after Enzo Ferrari’s son and with a V6 engine, the Dino was not a full super car either and they left the factory without Ferrari´s yellow shield of approval. Most people added a Ferrari badge of course but the Dino stood out in its own right.
Back to the baby Alfa, the car's super power comes not from its engine but by shedding weight.
catapulting the car to a top speed of about 260 kilometres.
This is more Ariel Atom than Rolls Royce as it doesn't take much for the car to pull its own weight.
Alfa have had some glorious designs and concept cars but I find it hard to believe that the same man who designed my Alfa 147 is now having Lamborghini reject his ideas for being too outrageous and the cockpit styled Lamborghini Egoista sadly won't make it into production.
Brainchild of William de Salvo, the Lamborghini Egoista like the names suggests, has room for only one person and looks like a hybrid F1 Stealth Fighter.
Unlike the big Italian Supercar siblings of Maserati, Ferrari, and Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, like FIAT are better known for producing small cars so I think it very fitting that they have a Baby Supercar.
The 4C is a fantastic flagship model for Alfa Romeo and with the 8C resigned to the history books, like the 1970´s Montreal, the 4C is a real treat from a company producing very few variants.
The 8C is history but if you look at Top Gear's top 100 cars, historically you will actually find the 8C surprisingly listed twice. Even if the 4C is half the car of its big brother. It will have made history.
ALL GO: This article was penned for a Motoring with Morgan magazine section that never got off the ground. The aim of my motoring column was to focus on electric/ hybrid vehicles which I predicted would become a growing area offering more and more attractive cars with electric or hybrid options but a small engined supercar was worth discussing first. The column was sadly scrapped.
What is it about Alfa and electronics? Unfortunately all my own photographs of the 4C which I took at the Alfa Romeo Giulia car launch were lost on a corrupted SD camera card.