When it comes to Italian sports cars, the image of a red coupe with a powerful engine that rides on the racetrack immediately comes to mind. Of course, this is the Ferrari. However, the foundations for the production of sports cars in Italy were laid not only by Enzo Ferrari and not at all by Ferruccio Lamborghini, who until 1963 was engaged in the production of tractors and did not want to participate in races.
Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Iso, Ghia, Abarth, De Tomaso are not empty words if you are Italian or know something about cars. And although now some of these manufacturers have already disappeared, and some, including the Ferrari, are owned by the giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, they managed to leave their mark in the history of motorsport. And also produced many sports cars for public roads. In this article, you will learn about ten of the most legendary Italian sports cars. Read on to find out more.
This car was first shown at an exhibition in Paris in 1954. Under the hood, this Maserati had a new 6-cylinder 2L engine built based on the A5GCS and A6GCM racing engines. It was equipped with three double Weber carburetors and had a power of 150 hp. The top speed is 200-210 km/h.
The manufacturer offered four body styles and three gearbox options. For two years of production, 60 units of this model were produced. Although the Maserati A6 did not achieve the same success in the sport as the Alfa Romeo or the Ferrari, until now these cars are among the most beautiful in the Gran Turismo class.
This car was produced from 1965 to 1974. Its name, Griffin, is a reference to the rivalry with Ferrari, Porsche, and Ford Mustang. According to myths, griffins were ardent opponents of horses.
Under the hood, the Grifo had a Chevrolet 327 (5.4 L) V8 with 300 hp, which allowed it to reach a top speed of 256 km/h. Besides, there were versions with Ford 351 (5.8 L), as well as Chevrolet 427 (7.0 L) and 454 (7.4 L). Chevrolet 427 with 434 hp allowed it to reach speeds of 300 km/h, and in first gear, it was possible to accelerate to 112 km/h.
However, despite its characteristics, the car did not become as popular as Ferrari or Lamborghini, and Iso went bankrupt with the onset of the oil crisis of the 70s.
Maserati Ghibli I
The first generation of these cars appeared in 1966. Ghibli I was designed by renowned maestro Giorgetto Giugiaro, who worked at the Ghia atelier and created the Iso Grifo design. Under the hood, the Ghibli had a very powerful V8 (4.7 L) with 340 hp. The cylinder block was made entirely of aluminum and was powered by four Weber carburetors. Also, a 4.9-liter engine with 355 hp was available to the buyer. Acceleration 0-100 km/h – 6 seconds. The top speed is 265 km/h. Transmission – 6-speed manual, or 4-speed automatic.
The Maserati Ghibli I featured a low center of gravity, electronically adjustable four-position independent suspension, and a comfortable wood-paneled interior with air conditioning and power windows. The car had two independent fuel tanks of 50 liters each.
Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada
This vehicle was produced from 1965 to 1968 and was born thanks to the victories of the Ferrari team in races. It was Giotto Bizzarrini who persuaded Renzo Rivolta, director of Iso, to create a racing car to raise the company’s prestige, citing the fact that the name Ferrari constantly appears in the newspapers. Thus, a very successful car Iso Grifo A3/L appeared.
In 1964, Bizzarrini bought the right to produce a lightweight version of the Iso Grifo and began to construct it under the name Bizzarrini GT Strada. Giorgetto Giugiaro worked on the exterior, and the body itself was made of fiberglass or aluminum. In the first versions, the car was equipped with a Chevrolet 327 (5.4 L) with 365 hp. The top speed is 280 km/h. This is how the talented engineer wrote his name in the history of the automotive industry.
De Tomaso Pantera
This car was produced by the De Tomaso during the period from 1970 to 1991. The first car Pantera had an engine Ford V8 (5.8 L) with 330 hp. The high torque of the engine made it possible to install the ZF gearbox, which was already used on the Mangusta conceived as the “killer” of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra. A reference to the fact that mongooses hunt cobras.
At the heart of the body was a steel monocoque. Suspension – independent, on unequal A-shaped levers. Disc brakes, power windows, and air conditioning were standard. The car was very fast, dynamic, acceleration 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, top speed – 260 km/h.
Externally, Pantera looked very sophisticated, in the spirit of the times. The design is an example of what the best Italian car could look like, excellent work from Tom Tjaarda of Ghia Studio.
Lancia Stratos HF Stradale
This auto is considered the first, which was specially designed for participation in the rally. Its final version was unveiled at the 1972 Turin Motor Show. Under the hood of the Lancia Stratos, the time-tested Ferrari Dino 246 GT V6 engine (2.4 L), which was fitted with Weber carburetors.
At the heart of the body was a rigid monocoque section. At the rear, the engine and suspension were installed on the subframe, the front suspension was attached directly to the monocoque. Body parts were made of fiberglass.
Since the Ferrari Dino engines were discontinued in 1974, a total of 492 Lancia Stratos were manufactured.
Lancia Delta Integrale
Another car of the Lancia, made famous by rally racing. For 5 years, from 1987 to 1992, the Italian team dominated the manufacturers’ standings in the World Rally Championship.
The various Delta’s versions have achieved colossal results in the WRC. Lancia also sold road versions of these vehicles, which received the designations Delta HF4WD and Delta Integrale.
These are truly some of the best Italian cars. These vehicles have united many people. All those who today drive other, more modern and comfortable, but not so charismatic cars, remember the period with the Lancia Delta as the brightest in their life.
Alfa Romeo 8C
The legendary series of racing, road, and sports cars that were produced from 1931 to 1939. Designation 8C means the straight-eight engine.
The first model 8C 2300 with a 2.3 L engine was created for racing, but later 188 copies were produced for public roads.
Over 8 years of production, many versions of the car were produced achieving impressive results in endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Spa, Mille Miglia, and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
This automobile is a road version of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 racing cars, which were famous for their resounding victories in endurance races. The Stradale version was first introduced to the public in 1967.
The car’s engine was developed by race engineer Carlo Chiti. It was a 2-liter V8 with an aluminum cylinder block which has a power output of 230 hp at 8800 rpm. Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, top speed – 260 km/h.
It is noteworthy that vehicles with similar dynamics, such as, for example, the Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari Daytona, or Maserati Ghibli had engines about twice as large.
A total of 16 vehicles were built. This is one of the rarest Italian cars.
This sports car has been in production since 2011 and uses the Mercedes-AMG V12 Bi-Turbo M158 engine, 6 L and with 700 hp. Top speed – 378 km/h, acceleration 0-100 km/h in 3.3 sec.
However, the main feature of the Huayra is its active aerodynamic elements. Depending on the situation, they vary the downforce acting on the car, compensate for roll, and thereby improve handling in the most critical moments.
Of course, the Pagani Huayra does not have a racing genealogy, but the technical excellence and attractive appearance of the car make you feel respected.
The era when the personal rivalry between people, passion, and desire to win became the reason for the emergence of outstanding sports and racing cars, has remained in the past. However, we can continue to admire the creations of brilliant engineers and inventors who are in love with their work. Just as we can freely choose which car to drive.