This Club Italia Edition Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Is A Carbon Fiber-Heavy Lightweight
Photography by Marco Annunziata
Club Italia, a small group of people with big impacts in Italian car culture, was formed in the 1980s by gentlemen drivers, designers, engineers, and other significant personalities that represented Italy’s automotive excellence. Mauro Forghieri, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Gianpaolo Dallara, Jean Todt, Paolo Pininfarina, and Andrea Zagato are counted among Club Italia’s sixty members, and since these people aren’t the idle type, their enthusiast club also develops limited edition car projects in collaboration with Italian manufacturers.
Last year for instance, the club released a special Dallara Stradale completely in carbon fiber, and the scope is not limited to the modern, as the members also own modified and numbered Lancia Delta HF Integrales. And they don’t just dabble in cars for that matter. For enthusiasts who prefer half the wheel count, Ducati has created a handful of special projects with Club Italia to date, over a wide timeline: the Monster 900 in 1995, and the Scrambler 1100 Sport Pro last year.
One of my favorite modern sports cars also received some attention from Club Italia, which created a modified version of the Alfa Romeo 4C in celebration of the 25th anniversary of its official founding date in 1989. Intended exclusively for members, the Club Italia edition of the 4C does not drastically differ from the standard car, opting to lightly sharpen the already eager Alfa with a honing rod rather than taking it to the whetstone.
Parts unique to the Club Italia version include carbon fiber headlight housings (although this example has been fitted with the less controversial looking OEM pieces), along with replacing alloy body components with carbon fiber for the roof, rear view mirrors, and front and rear aero appendages. Further weight savings coming from the use of titanium Akrapovič exhaust pieces, which also provide a small bump in power, bringing the peak output from 237 to 241 horsepower. Aesthetically, the color is the typical red of the Alfa Romeo’s motorsport efforts at the end of the 1960s, while both the exterior and interior have received Club Italia badges and small tricolor flag motifs. The serial numbers—15 coupes and a single spider—are stamped on a plate behind the glass on the driver’s side.
I recently spent some time with for the lone roofless example for this shoot, which was specifically made for a senior FCA executive and is now in the collection of one of Petrolicious’ readers. Stefano is a rare car collector who has already shared some of the cars in his collection, and this is his most recent addition to the array of uniquely Italian modern classics.
“I have only owned this car for a few months now,” Stefano tells me, “and I am just its second owner. When the first one decided to sell it, they hired a well-known dealer to find a home. They didn’t want this car to be published on the internet.” The seller, who was well aware of Stefano’s interest in unique cars and special editions, contacted him privately and they concluded the sale, ensuring the car stayed in the hands of someone who appreciated its ties to Club Italia, and not only the physical alterations.
In Stefano’s case, it also creates a complementary pairing of rare modern Alfa Romeos, keeping his 8C Spider company. “I didn’t want the production 4C Spider,” he says, “I wanted a special edition, and this was the right opportunity, so I didn’t miss it, and I haven’t regret it.
“The 4C and the 8C are two very different to drive. The 8C has an amazing sound, perhaps the most beautiful in the world in my opinion, but in terms of handling it is clear that it belongs to a GT philosophy, and is not suited for particular spirited driving.
“The 4C on the other hand, is much smaller, lighter, snappier. It is really brilliant to use on the right kinds of roads, and I can only imagine sure that it must also be great fun on a circuit, though I have not brought it to one yet.”
In addition to the 4C and 8C, Stefano’s collection also features an interesting selection of all-wheel drive Alfa Romeos, the 164 Q4, 155 Q4, 159 Q4, and 33 SW 4×4. But on the topic of the 4C and its place in the lineage of small Alfa Romeo sports cars, namely the 33 Stradale, Stefano is direct. “I honestly don’t see an obvious connection between Franco Scaglione’s 33 Stradale and my 4C,” he says, “They are conceptually two very different cars, even if some of the same aesthetic appeal is there.
“I am a lover of cars that have a recognizable sound, and there is no doubt that the 33 Stradale is one of the most exciting in this respect,” Stefano continues. “The 4C is part of our generation of cars that are higher-performing in relation to their displacement and weight, but are almost categorically less exciting than what came before them.” When the bars are as unsurmountable as the likes of the 33 Stradale however, there is still plenty of capacity to enjoy the experience of something like the modern 4C. “It’s a car that must be driven passionately to fully appreciate its qualities as a sports car, and as I am a collector who drives his cars, I am sure there will be an opportunity to make such drives with this one,” Stefano says, smiling as his eyes slip away from me to the car.
“The lines of the 4C, especially when seen in real life, fascinate every enthusiast even if they do not end up falling in love with it. There is no doubt about this car’s ability to make an aesthetic impact on people. And mechanically it is a little jewel of a machine, featherweight and innately nimble. The engine cover might not be the most visually appealing, but underneath is a marvel of internal combustion: from just 1750cc, the output is an impressive 240 horsepower.
“Although it is not related to them like the 33 Stradale is, the 4C It is still very reminiscent of a racing car. It’s rather uncomfortable to use in everyday life, but in return you get something that feels special in every corner. It has very direct steering, high-performance brakes, and a chassis that can avoid small animals at speeds that would see other cars going into the nearest roadside ditch. To me this car is a perfect way to have fun in safety, and a perfect example of the magic that can still be found in modern Alfa Romeos. I think the 4C can regarded as a very successful car for the brand. Considering the price and its particularity, I didn’t expect production of a small carbon monocoque sports car to last long, and I think it will have an excellent future with collectors as it ages.”
Since his is a one-off edition, Stefano plans to hold it in his collection, but not to the point that it won’t leave the garage. He drives it, enjoys it, and shows it to likeminded fans, and plans to continue doing so for many years to come.