As Harris tests the Alfaholics GTA-R, TG looks back on another excellent, classic Alfa…
Well, that’s… striking.
Whether or not you like the way it looks – and coincidentally, we do – then that’s entirely your business.
What you can’t argue is that the Scighera had a raft of clever touches that have resurfaced in some of the most desirable modern metal around. Wait… what are we saying? It’s the internet. Of course you can argue.
We maintain however, that this lesser-known concept was actually a bit of a pioneer.
I’m sure I’ve seen the Scighera before…
Quite possibly, if you’re a fan of early ventures in the Need for Speed franchise. You’ll likely have spotted the Scighera in Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit as the Italdesign Scighera – that’s because it was designed by Fabrizio Giugiaro – son of Giorgietto – while working for Italdesign.
So, how do I pronounce it? Ski-gair-ah? Shi-gair-ah? And how did it go about being an homage?
Not really, no; it’s pronounced ’She-geer-ah’, or thereabouts, which sounds to us like Bagheera from The Jungle Book, one of the most excellent children’s books ever.
Scighera translates as ‘mist’ in the local Milanese dialect, apparently. No definitive answer on whether it’s a nod to the phenomenon of Scighera Rosso, but it is an homage to Alfa’s historical reputation on the track.
Well, the bonnet was inspired by Formula 1 racers’ front wing, incorporating a low front lip and integrated buttress wing to create front downforce. It’s a method that’d be revisited by Pininfarina in the rather lovely Fittipaldi EF7.
The exceptionally raked windscreen took its inspiration from racing Alfas from the 1950s and 1960s and even revisited the cockpit-canopy window motif. Smashing.
What about inside?
Ever heard of Connolly leather? It’s about as good as it gets, and the Scighera’s interior was covered in it, from the dashboard to the door pulls.
Connolly was the luxury leather supplier of choice for all the big names back in the day – including Jaguar, Aston, Ferrari, Maserati – so its inclusion in the Scighera is a tactile link between the past and the then-present.
So it’s just an elaborate history lesson?
Er, not as such. While there were nods to the past, the Scighera was bang up-to-date in many respects and pretty pioneering in others.
The doors had a unique opening mechanism where the windows were roof-hinged, so they opened vertically in a kind of clamshell arrangement, but the doors were front-hinged and opened like a regular saloon car. And, if you wanted to, you could turn the Scighera into a targa top by removing the glazing altogether. Kind of like a Koenigsegg, come to think of it.
Inside, the seats are fixed in position, with an adjustable steering column and pedal box. Very spiffy.
And while the very historical Busso V6 – one of the all-time great engines – could trace its history back to 1979, it wasn’t exactly in sepia-spec. The Scighera used a 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged version, mid-mounted, with a six-speed gearbox bolted to the front. This meant that the gearbox housing sat in the cabin, between the driver and passenger – underneath some soundproofing and leather, of course.
Even though the engine was turbocharged, it was still a free-revving Busso in the extreme – with a 7,500rpm redline and peak power arriving at 6,200rpm. Power was a very healthy 400bhp and 327lb ft, good enough for 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and in excess of 186mph. Sounds pretty brisk for 1997.
It most certainly was. And even now, when turbocharging and high-pressure direct injection are yielding outputs that we wouldn’t have dreamed of 20 years ago, raw numbers don’t tell the whole story.
For instance, a naturally aspirated Busso V6 is incredibly strong, all the way through the rev range. We don’t have dynamometer charts to hand for the twin-turbo version, but we imagine it’d have one of the punchiest power curves in the business.
Also, be right back… just trawling for a 3.2-litre from the 147 GTA.
Oi. Not so fast. Tell me something else before you go.
You got it – Italdesign really did want to put the mid-engined, twin-turbo, four-wheel-drive, aluminium/carbon-fibre supercar into limited production.
They also wanted to take it racing – hence this delicious slice of wholly carbon-fibre exotica.
Unfortunately, neither ended up coming to pass and a modern mid-engined Alfa supercar still eludes us. Or does the 4C count?