Showing posts with label Italian Concept Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian Concept Cars. Show all posts

Italdesign Aztec

Italdesign Aztec 1980s Japanese concept car

The Italdesign Aztec came with dual cockpits. A 2-seater, driver and passenger were ensconced in separate 'compartments'. It was a concept car, after all! The Aztec was made to commemorate Italdesign's twentieth anniversary. Its designers never envisaged it on the open road. A group of maverick Japanese businessmen, however, had other ideas!

Giorgetto Giugiaro was chief stylist for the Aztec. As a rule, his work was far from flamboyant. Indeed, he had penned many a family runabout. Who knows - maybe it was just time for him to let his creative hair down. At any rate, Giugiaro was immensely proud of the Aztec. And - certainly, from a visual point of view - it was nothing, if not striking. Slick and sophisticated - and with a silvery sheen - showgoers' eyes were riveted. The Aztec's rear end was seriously high-tech. Wrapped around the wheel arches were 'service centre' panels. They housed a raft of gizmos and gadgets. There were coded door locks, built-in hydraulic jack controls and engine fluid monitors - just for starters. Somewhat more down-to-earth features included a torch and fire extinguisher. Not forgetting a petrol cap! The Aztec's interior was equally cutting edge. Communication between the two cockpits, for example, was via electronic headsets!

The Aztec's engine was a 5-cylinder Audi unit - turbo-charged and transversely mounted. Transmission was Quattro 4-wheel drive. A dual-canopy body allowed easy access to the bay. The Aztec was unveiled in '88 - at the Turin Motor Show. Among the enraptured onlookers were the aforementioned suits. They were sure there might be a market for the car back in Japan. With the rights to the Aztec safely in their pockets, they set about putting it into production. 50 replicas of the prototype were due to be built - though less than half that number would roll off the line. The bodies were made in Italy. They were then shipped to Germany. There, they were entrusted to engine tuners Mayer MTM - who installed the Audi powerplants. Finally, they arrived in Japan. When transportation costs had been factored in, the Aztec retailed at the yen equivalent of $225,000. That was a lot of money. Each car, though, came with an added extra. Giorgetto Giugiaro signed every Italdesign Aztec personally. He was indeed proud of his outré creation!

Alfa Romeo BAT 7

Alfa Romeo BAT 7 1950s Italian classic concept car

The Alfa Romeo BAT 7 was a concept car out of the house of Bertone - an Italian coach-building firm, par excellence. The BAT 7 was the work of the young Franco Scaglione - a rising star of the Bertone team. It was one of a series of cars he designed - which also included the BAT 5 and BAT 9.

BAT stood for 'Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica'. As the name implied, airflow was a key concern. Scaglione's goal was to decrease cornering drag - while simultaneously increasing frontal downforce. That tied in with another performance box Scaglioni wanted ticked. That 125mph be extracted from a mere 100bhp engine. All these technical criteria were achieved with flying colours. The BAT 7's drag coefficient was 0.19 - a figure a modern-day supercar would struggle to match. And that, from a car built in '54! Okay, so it helped that the BAT 7 did not come with roadster-style baggage attached. That said, its sibling - the BAT 9 - did put real miles on the clock.

The BAT 7 served only to strengthen the bond between Alfa and Bertone. The latter had designed the bodywork for the Giulietta Sprint GT - now an established product in the Alfa range. The insights gleaned by Bertone from the three BAT cars had been vital in the GT's development. Not least, the BAT 7. From its rakish low nose - to the folds of its 'tail-fins' - air-pressure did not stand a chance. In time, Bertone's lessons in shape-shifting would be learned by other automotive designers. Few of their creations, though, would have the allure of the Alfa Romeo BAT 7. A manta ray on wheels, the BAT 7 took metalwork to a whole new level. Young Italian coachbuilders - take notes!

Alfa Romeo Carabo

Alfa Romeo Carabo 1960s concept car

The Alfa Romeo Carabo is one of the most influential concept cars ever created. Think Lamborghini Countach, for example. The Carabo was the ultimate in wedge-shaped styling. As diagonal lines go, the one from the tip of its nose - to the top of its roof - was about as dynamic as it gets. That was in sharp contrast to its cute stub of a tail. Not only did that combination look cool - aerodynamically, it was bang on the money. Show car though it was, the Carabo had a top speed of 160mph. It was, after all, kitted out with a 230bhp V8 engine.

To be fair, the Carabo did not stint on real-world parts. Many of them were honed at the racetrack. Its chassis was spawned by Alfa Romeo's Tipo 33 competition car. There was double-wishbone suspension all round - as well as disc brakes. For a car that was not built to be driven - at least, not in anger - the Carabo came pretty high-spec.

Marcello Gandini - of design house Bertone - was chief stylist. Certainly, the scissor-doors set-up he drew would become a supercar trademark. When fully flung up, they were not just visually stunning - they were an engineering tour de force, too. The car's finish was fittingly flamboyant. Metallic green paint was set off by orange highlights. The lightweight glass used - by Belgian firm VHR-Glaverbel - was copper-tinted. It was a gimme that the Carabo wowed the Paris Motor Show, in '68. Nuccio Bertone - and his Turin-based studio - had delivered. Lamborghini lovers, especially, will be forever indebted to the Alfa Romeo Carabo!