Alfa Romeo isn’t the only one that makes concepts for Alfa Romeo. In the past several years alone, so have Pininfarina, Bertone, Sbarro, Touring and the IED.
Go to a major European auto show and you'll see new concept cars sitting alongside their production counterparts. But the automakers themselves aren't the only ones designing these concepts. Some are penned and crafted by independent design studios that can often overshadow the manufacturers. There are few automakers the carrozzerias love designing for quite as much as Alfa Romeo, as evidenced by these concepts penned in recent years by Pininfarina, Bertone, Touring, Sbarro and the IED in Turin.
First up we recall the 2uettottanta by Pininfarina. Unveiled at the 2010 Geneva show, the 2uettottanta was created to celebrate both Pininfarina’s 80th anniversary and Alfa’s 100th. It recalled the classic Alfa Duetto that was popularized in "The Graduate", but reinterpreted in modern form with a long nose, narrow headlights and a two-seat Barchetta layout. The design was so beautiful that it won the Car Design of the Year Award when it was unveiled, and is still used by automotive publications (this one included) to illustrate what the new Mazda-built Alfa roadster could look like. We can only hope.
While Pininfarina was revealing the 2uettottanta, arch-rival Bertone presented the Pandion, representing a very different take on what a centenary Alfa could look. Based on 8C Competizione, it retained its sonorous 4.7-liter V8, but in a radically different form. While the shape itself was avant-garde in its own right, the Pandion’s party trick was its dramatically impractical door setup. Making Lambo doors or Gullwings look ordinary, the Pandion had rear-hinged apertures that extended the entire length of the car’s bodywork, stretching skywards by about four meters when opened.
One of our favorite coachbuilt Alfa designs of recent memory is the Diva. Created in collaboration between the Sbarro design school, the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo and Fiat’s Elasis research center, the Diva (in retrospect) laid the groundwork for the Alfa 4C that would follow. Presented at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, the Diva concept drew its inspiration from the 1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. Its compact form placed a 3.2-liter V6 in the middle of a highly modified 159 chassis with styling that blended classic Alfa highlights with those of a racing car.
The reborn Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera has only created a handful of concept cars since arriving back on the scene a few years ago (which we featured on these pages just the other day), but one of them was a rather striking Alfa Romeo concept. Sharing its name and drawing its stylistic reference from a 1952 Alfa prototype, the new Disco Volante - Italian for "flying saucer" - appeared at the Geneva Motor Show last year, but will be returning to the Swiss expo again, only this time in functional form with the same Maserati/Ferrari-built 4.7-liter V8 as the 8C and Pandion.
Rounding out our list is the Gloria concept, a project of the students at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin and Alfa's own Centro Stile . Envisioning a sleek new four-door for the marque, the Gloria concept is supported by OZ wheels and was supervised by Pininfarina’s lead designer Luca Borgogno and Fiat's Lorenzo Ramaciotti. The design incorporates a sweeping greenhouse with contrasting pillars and leather bonnet straps, a retro touch in an otherwise thoroughly modern design. Past projects undertaken by previous IED classes have included the Cisitalia 202E, Abarth ScorpION and Maserati Chicane, included here for reference.