Including vintage examples of a new car during its launch is nothing new, as it imparts heritage and passion onto the new machine, but it isn’t all that often that the oldsters overshadow the new kid on the block. That is what happened in Detroit, when Alfa Romeo brought along a trio of incredible examples from the brand’s past. That’s not because the 4C Spider is anything short of spectacular, rather because of the stature of the historic cars is so staggering.
Perched high atop the display, above a 4C and the new 4C Spider, was a 1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful automobiles ever created, the 33 Stradale is also one of the rarest. Just 18 of the road-going version of the Tipo 33 racing car were hand crafted in Milan between 1967 to ’69. This particular car is an early production twin headlight model. The rarity of these cars means that they don’t change hands very often, but the number $10 Million was floating around among the security guards charged with keeping an eye on the classics.
Next up on the stage is a car that still has me quivering a bit, a 1932 Alfa Romeo P3. 1932 was a pivotal year in motorsports history, as famed designer Vittoria Jano created the P3 which was the very first single seat Grand Prix car. Introduced part way through the ’32 season, the P3 went on to win six races that year including the French, Italian, German and Monza Grand Prix at the hands of the legendary Tazio Nuvolari and Rudolf Caracciola. The car featured a straight eight engine, created by joining two four cylinder engines end to end, and mounted with twin Rootes type superchargers. In 1932!
Alfa Romeo’s racing efforts during the 1920’s were carried out by a young mechanic and driver named Enzo Ferrari, who campaigned the cars, while maintaining his day job with the factory until 1929 when he set out on his own to race under the banner Scuderia Ferrari. A legend had been born.
FAC has not provided any specific historical details of the car on display, but it is very likely that Ferrari, who raced himself until 1932, Nuvolari or Caracciola, might have raced this car.
The history continued on stage left and continues to turn my brain to mush. The #22, 1951 Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta, was raced by Juan Manuel Fangio on the way to his first of five world championships. I just can’t get over the fact that Fangio raced this car. I don’t get star struck by celebrities, but this is a whole different experience.
The 159 Alfetta was also powered by a supercharged straight eight, in this case generating about 420 horsepower from just under 1,500 cc. Not surprisingly, the team’s biggest challenge in 1951 was fuel economy, as the car only achieved about 1.5 mpg, while the competition were around 10.
With all of that history behind it, the hand made 4C Spider looks to be just as special as one would hope. There really is a lot to say about the new car, but my head is still spinning from reading up on the classics. Instead, watch the Detroit reveal and have a peek at the Alfa Romeo press release, which might just be the longest release of the show.
Production version of the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, will arrive at dealerships this summer
· All-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s open-air performance cockpit and mid-engine proportions draw from more than 100 years of groundbreaking and functional Italian design
· Unique carbon fibre windshield frame and available carbon fibre “halo” highlight 4C Spider’s ultralight carbon fibre monocoque and aluminum chassis structures, which enable an incredible power-to-weight ratio and supercar-level performance
· Innovative and unique technological solutions: all-aluminum 1750 cc direct-injection, dual intercooled, advanced turbocharged engine with dual variable-valve timing paired to the blistering fast Alfa TCT (twin-clutch transmission) and Alfa D.N.A. selector with four adjustable drive modes
· All-new available Akrapovic dual-mode exhaust system features dual, centre-mounted tips with carbon fibre surround and signature Alfa resonant sound (late availability)
· Handcrafted in Modena, Italy, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider combines two excellences – the performance engineering of Alfa Romeo and the craftsmanship of Maserati manufacturing
· All-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider arrives in U.S. and Canadian dealerships this summer
January 12, 2015 , Windsor, Ontario – Adding to the Alfa Romeo brand’s legendary racing history and the exciting experience of open-air motoring, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider debuts with panoramic views complemented with a signature Alfa exhaust note, plus the essential sportiness of the award-winning 4C Coupe: handcrafted in Modena, Italy; groundbreaking and seductive Italian style; state-of-the-art Formula 1 inspired carbon fibre monocoque chassis that enables an incredible power-to-weight ratio; advanced technologies, including the all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged engine with direct-injection, dual intercoolers, and variable-valve timing that enable supercar-level performance.
“Adding to the excitement of the 4C Coupe, our all-new 2015 4C Spider expands the brand’s product offering and continues our mission of building great Alfa Romeos,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Alfa Romeo North America. “With a removable carbon fibre hardtop, the 4C Spider takes the Coupe’s supercar level of performance and technology and ‘opens it up,’ allowing the driver to experience the incredible 4C from an entirely different perspective.”
“4C” and the Legacy of Alfa Romeo
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider name recalls the brand’s great sporting tradition: the acronyms 8C and 6C in the 1930s and 1940s distinguished racing and road cars fitted with powerful eight- and six-cylinder engines. Like the award-winning 4C Coupe, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider model’s designation is a return to “the great Alfa Romeos” and continues this tradition with the innovative all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged direct injection, dual intercooler four-cylinder engine, delivering an impressive 136 horsepower per litre.
With seating for two, panoramic views and the soundtrack of an Italian performance-tuned engine and exhaust, Spiders are among the most exhilarating experiences in motoring – and represent the very core of Alfa Romeo’s DNA and heritage.
The 4C Spider draws from a bloodline that includes some of the most purpose-built performance models that illustrate lightness and efficiency with undeniable Alfa Romeo style: the aluminum-bodied 8C 2900 B Touring (1938); the 1900 C52 “Flying Saucer” (1952), which could exceed 230 km/h (140 mph); and most notably the legendary 33 Stradale (1967) with its mid-engine and magnesium alloy and steel tube chassis “clothed” by groundbreaking styling, which is functional and distinctly Italian. And now it is the 4C Spider’s turn to deliver the driving thrill, performance and unforgettable emotion that only an Alfa Romeo Spider provokes.
Groundbreaking and seductive Italian style
Continuing the groundbreaking theme of technology, performance and Italian style, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider builds upon the brand’s journey, which was embarked upon with the 8C Competizione (2008), 8C Spider (2009), 4C Coupe (2015), and most recently, the 4C Spider Concept, which debuted at the 84th International Geneva Motor Show.
Inspired by the 33 Stradale, the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider transcends this legendary racecar’s mid-engine body forms and follows its purposeful and lightweight performance tradition with sheet-moulded compound (SMC) composite panels forming its seductive Italian design, and “clothing” its state-of-the-art carbon fibre monocoque chassis and all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged, direct-injected engine.
Covering the “beating heart” of this Italian supercar is a deck-lid with three functional heat extractors and an aerodynamically tuned spoiler. And it’s from the 4C Spider’s “beating heart” where every other design element starts: two muscular forms straddle the rear hood and elevate the body above the cockpit’s beltline for visual strength and foundation for the black or available carbon fibre “halo.” The rear fascia and round rear LED illuminated tail lamps blend into the muscular rear wings for a powerful stance, while stylistically incorporating large functional air intakes to cool the engine. Below, dual exhausts are mounted at the corners and highlight the 4C Spider’s supercar stance. Inspired by the 4C Spider Concept, an all-new Akrapovic dual-mode centre-mounted performance exhaust system will be available on the 4C Spider (late availability).
On each side of the all-new 4C Spider, the sculpted air intakes spring a muscular and dynamic form that lead elegantly into the headlamps. Highlighting its exotic monocoque is a carbon fibre windshield frame, which promotes strength and lightness, while providing the attachment points for the removable, stowable cloth roof, or available exposed carbon fibre hardtop (late availability).
Leading from the 4C Spider’s windshield and down the hood are two muscular hood forms, which naturally conclude at the signature Alfa Romeo shield-shaped grille and emblem. Together with the two side air intakes designed in the front fascia, the 4C Spider forms the famous “Trilobo,” a significant facet of Alfa Romeo’s distinctive design.
The all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s cockpit is inspired from racing; purpose built with only the essential driving components stylistically integrated.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider features two composite-framed sport seats with standard leather and an exposed carbon fibre monocoque that exemplifies its race-inspired technologies. Furthermore, a driver-oriented cockpit with flat-bottom, leather performance steering wheel with paddle-shifters and aluminum pedals speak to the brand’s racing spirit. For an upscale look, the fully wrapped premium-leather interior with accent stitching is standard on the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, as are unique carbon fibre vent surrounds. Highlighting the use of advanced technology is a 7-inch full-colour driver information display (DID) cluster, which displays vehicle information through high-impact graphics to keep the driver focused on the road, or track, ahead.
New to the Alfa Romeo 4C lineup is the addition of an Alpine premium radio. Designed for audiophiles, this new head unit enables the 4C Spider to offer its passengers premium sound quality and multiple connectivity and media options, including handsfree Bluetooth® phone, Bluetooth streaming, USB port, iPod interface and CD/MP3 capabilities. In addition, the Alpine radio provides access to HD radio and SiriusXM Radio for high-definition broadcast audio.
A vivid array of colours, materials and design details
Adding to the excitement of owning an Alfa Romeo are the personalization options that each client can select.
Seven exterior colours are available for the 4C Spider, and include: Rosso Alfa, Black, White, Basalt Grey Metallic, Rosso Competizione Tri-coat, Madreperla White Tri-coat and all-new Giallo (yellow).
Complementing the 4C Spider’s exterior are six interior combinations, which include two seat material choices: Black leather with Red accent stitching, Red leather with Red accent stitching, new Black leather with Giallo accent stitching, and exclusive to the Track Package – Black racing leather seats with microfibre inserts and Red or Yellow accent stitching.
For a bespoke look, and all-new to the 4C model lineup, a contrasting Tobacco leather with Black accent interior will be available later in the model year. This premium configuration features the dual colour treatment on the instrument, door panels and steering wheel.
With the arrival of the 4C Spider are four all-new wheel designs, which include staggered fitting 17 x 7.0-inch (front) and 18 x 8.0-inch (rear) alloy wheels in Silver or Dark finish. For added style and performance, larger 18 x 7.0-inch (front) and wider 19 x 8.5-inch (rear) forged wheels in Silver or Dark Grey finish are also available. Completing the look are four brake caliper colour choices, including Silver (standard) or available Red, Yellow, or Black.
Mid-engine layout with a unique set of technological solutions
Thanks to its mid-engine layout, advanced technology and compact size, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider demonstrates its precision, agility and performance credentials with a top speed of 258 km/h (160 mph), 0-to-100 km/h acceleration blasts in an estimated 4.5-seconds, 1.1 g of lateral acceleration and 1.25 g of maximum braking deceleration.
Delivering the ultra-lightweight architecture needed for maximum performance and dynamic efficiency, Alfa Romeo engineers looked to Formula 1 and only the most advanced supercars for state-of-the-art materials. The result is a monocoque chassis made entirely of unilateral, “pre-preg” carbon fibre layers that are hand-laid for extraordinary stiffness and strength. At 107 kg (236 lb), the highly exotic carbon fibre monocoque chassis delivers a material performance that is three-times stronger and seven-times lighter than steel. Completing the competition-grade architecture are front- and rear-chassis structures and an engine-mounting frame made from lightweight aluminum.
Thanks to the monocoque’s inherent rigidity, Alfa Romeo engineers were able to minimize structural differences between the 4C Spider and 4C Coupe. For a technical look, header strength and to keep the centre of gravity low, the 4C Spider features a unilateral carbon fibre windshield frame that is adhered and bolted to the monocoque chassis. In addition, a specially contoured aluminum rollbar (underneath the black or carbon fibre “halo”) provides mounting points for the new rear decklid, while unique upper body brackets and a high-strength steel engine compartment cross beam maximize torsional rigidity.
Alfa Romeo engineers continued the use of state-of-the-art materials by creating the bodywork entirely of SMC (sheet moulded compound), a low-density, high-strength composite material that is 20 percent lighter and dimensionally more rigid than steel. Engineers even optimized the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s windshield and side windows by using 10 percent thinner glass to reduce weight by up to 15 percent.
Finally, two sport seats feature a carbon fibre and fibreglass reinforced-composite structure to deliver the strength and seating position needed for performance driving.
The heart and soul — the all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged engine with direct injection
The engine is the “beating heart” of any Alfa Romeo, and for the all-new 2015 4C Spider, it beats to an innovative, all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged and intercooled engine with dual (intake and exhaust) continuous variable-valve timing (VVT) that delivers 237 horsepower – or an impressive 136 horsepower per litre.
To ensure exceptional performance and drivability on the racetrack or city streets, the1750 cc turbocharged engine features cutting-edge technologies. High pressure direct-injection (2,900 psi / 200 bar) with multi-hole fuel injectors provide a more even spray. To increase performance, while reducing oil consumption and emissions, the cylinder head inlet ducts have an optimized design, while cylinder liners are made from thin cast-iron. The addition of an electric thermostat helps the 1750 cc turbo engine reduce warm-up times and tailpipe emissions. Minimizing vibration at higher engine speeds, the engine’s crankshaft features eight counter weights. Last, intake and exhaust systems are optimized for Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s mid-engine layout.
A new generation turbocharger features a pulse-converter exhaust manifold to exploit pressure waves and boost torque at low-engine speeds. A wastegate valve adjusts turbo pressure and improves the engine’s efficiency. Advanced turbo technology enables the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider to maximize torque at low engine speeds and deliver more response to driver input by increasing combustion efficiency and turbine speed, all while eliminating turbo lag. As a result, torque delivery is instantaneous, with a peak of 258 lb.-ft. (350 N•m); 80 percent of which is available at only 1,700 rpm.
Three available exhaust systems, including an all-new Akrapovic dual-mode system
From the 4C Spider Concept to production, the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will offer its most hardcore motorsport enthusiasts an all-new Akrapovic dual-mode exhaust system with Alfa Romeo’s signature resonant sound (late availability).
Developed in cooperation with the racing exhaust experts at Akrapovic, this beautifully crafted titanium system consists of two centre-mounted tailpipes, computer-optimized asymmetrical mufflers with a dual-mode exhaust valve system and link pipe with resonator to eliminate in-cabin droning. For a technical look that emphasizes 4C Spider’s lightweight design, a carbon fibre bezel surrounds the Akrapovic centre-mounted exhaust tips.
Like the 4C Coupe, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will also offer the standard exhaust system and a racing exhaust system. Similar in design, the optional racing exhaust removes the muffler, and instead integrates a uniquely designed asymmetric Y-shape system after the catalyst. For added style, the racing exhaust system features integrated dual concentric exhaust tips.
Advanced technological solutions: Alfa TCT twin-clutch and Alfa D.N.A. selector technologies further make the 4C Spider an extension of the driver
Teamed to the all-aluminum 1750 cc turbocharged engine is a paddle-shifting Alfa TCT (twin-clutch transmission) tuned specifically for the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. With its uniquely calibrated software that adjusts with the Alfa D.N.A. selector system, the Alfa TCT’s gearshifts are designed to become most aggressive in the Dynamic and Race modes. Further making this Alfa Romeo an extension of the driver are rev-matching paddle shifts and precise gear changes as quick as 130 milliseconds at full throttle.
For driving convenience in Dynamic, Natural or All-weather modes, the Alfa Romeo TCT gearbox can utilize an “auto” mode.
Instantaneously optimizing the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s level of performance is the brand’s innovative Alfa D.N.A. selector. With four modes, including “Race” mode, the Alfa D.N.A. selector can optimize the engine, transmission, Alfa Electronic Q2 differential and electronic stability control (ESC) calibrations to the levels needed by the driver. With a touch of the Alfa D.N.A. selector, the driving dynamics of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider can be changed to (in order of increasing capability):
All-weather – designed to ensure maximum control in adverse weather conditions and enables gentler accelerator input and special engine and brake control logic to match road speed and prevent skidding
Natural – enables grand touring comfort and smooth drivability for the Alfa TCT gearbox
Dynamic – enables improved driving performance via a more aggressive powertrain calibration and less intrusive ESC setting
Race – Available while in Dynamic mode, Race mode is the most extreme performance mode, putting the driver in total control of the car under race conditions. ESC and anti-slip regulation (ASR) are deactivated to allow the driver to control traction through the accelerator pedal. The Alfa Electronic Q2 differential control system remains active for fast exits out of corners or bends
In Race mode, launch control can be activated, allowing the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider to deliver 0-to-100 km/h acceleration blasts as low as 4.5-seconds as soon as the driver releases the brake
Maximum road-holding suspension
The all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider adopts race-derived solutions to ensure maximum agility and road holding performance. The front suspension is comprised of a “superimposed” double wishbone configuration for direct and unfiltered feedback. At the rear, an advanced MacPherson suspension ensures superb road-holding attributes – even in the most extreme of manoeuvers. Both front and rear suspensions are made from aluminum and high-strength steel. For the North American market, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is designed with stiffer springs, larger front- and rear-sway bars, and re-tuned shock absorbers.
For maximum handling performance, the all-new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is available with the Track Package. This package includes high-performance shock absorbers with larger front- and rear-sway bars, larger and staggered fitting 18 x 7-inch (front) 19 x 8.5-inch (rear) forged-aluminum wheels with available Pirelli P-Zero “AR Racing” tires, performance flat-bottom steering wheel with microfibre inserts, carbon fibre exterior mirrors and carbon fibre gauge cluster bezel, plus the availability of Black leather performance seats with microfibre inserts and Red or Yellow accent stitching.
Enthusiast-desired “manual” steering
In line with the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s ultra-lightweight design and desire for maximum agility and road feel, the conventional power steering system is removed altogether. Through a manual steering system and 15.7:1 quick-ratio steering, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider provides the driver with maximum feel-of-the-road. Furthermore, an appropriate steering-wheel load is maintained thanks to the low overall weight of the car.
Powerful stopping power – up to 1.25 g of braking deceleration
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider’s brake system is designed for track use, where decisive braking, even under the most intensive conditions, is required. To deliver maximum stopping power and 1.25 g of braking deceleration, this Alfa Romeo is equipped with four self-ventilating perforated discs and Brembo four-piston aluminum calipers at the front axle.
Excellence handcrafted in Modena, Italy
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider combines two excellences – the racing and performance know how of Alfa Romeo engineering, plus the craftsmanship and manufacturing expertise of Maserati.
The very best technical and industrial expertise of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands were used to develop the 4C Coupe and all-new 4C Spider. Teamwork between the two brands included the integration of the Alfa Romeo Centro Stile with the well-known craftsmanship of the Maserati brand’s Modena workshop. In addition, the Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe and 4C Spider are boosted by the technological contributions of Italian suppliers, who are international leaders in manufacturing high-performance components.
This is a distinguishing trait of Alfa Romeo, a brand with a century of history that continues to be one of the most famous and popular ambassadors of Italian products around the world.