Designed by Wolfgang Egger, the 8C was first shown as a concept in 2003, and was clearly inspired by great Alfas of the past, such as the 6C 2500 Competizione of 1948. While the last special edition Alfa SZ polarised opinions regarding its unusual looks, this new car was universally acclaimed for being one of the most beautiful automotive shapes on the road.
To back up the show with some go, the 8C featured a modified Maserati platform as well as a 4.7-litre V8. This provided the kind of soul stirring exhaust note and performance that puts to rest any notion that modern Alfas are any less characterful than their emotionally engaging predecessors.
Finally released to the public in 2008 and built in limited numbers from 2009 onwards, the 8C is a car that satisfies both the head and the heart, providing the kind of driving experience that can only be engineered into a car through the passion of its creators. Only now, with some added reliability.
Which one to buy?
The 8C was built in very small numbers, 500 Competizione coupes and 500 Spiders were produced in total. To make things even trickier, only 41 were ever officially imported into the UK so availability is somewhat limited.
A modified Maserati 444bhp 4.7-litre V8 engine and six-speed semi-automatic gearbox were the only options for the 8C and they worked well, combined with the powerful standard carbon ceramic brakes. General driving characteristics and balance are exemplary, however on-the-limit handling can be tricky and the 8C requires smooth inputs to extract the best from its chassis. In truth, very few 8Cs will be extended to anywhere near these limits, and are generally found slumbering in climate controlled garage.
Optional extras were abundant, and many cars will have had a fair number of these items ticked. A wide range of colour choices were made available with white and red being two of the more popular choices. The spiders, released a year after the initial batch of coupes, featured a reinforced chassis which added a few kilos, however they also received some shock absorber and suspension modifications improving the ride and handling.
Just in case owners somehow feel short changed by such a fuss-free Italian car, the 8C spiders have a complex roof mechanism that requires some fiddling with plastic panels and clips to get up and down. Boot space on both versions is also ridiculously small and
Performance and specs
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Engine 4691cc 32valve DOHC V8
Power 444bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque 347lb ft @ 4750rpm
Top speed 182mph
0-62mph 4.2 seconds
Fuel consumption 17.9 mpg
Gearbox Six-speed semi-automatic
Dimensions and weight
Curb weight 1585kg
• With a very limited production run and most models having covered as many miles as it took to get to the owners garage, not a lot of data has been gathered on any potential issues that an 8C may have, although they are considered to be largely reliable.
• Most 8Cs have seen very little road use, but a comprehensive maintenance record is still essential as annual fluid changes and general servicing needs to be carried out.
• A recall was issued in 2013 for rear tie-rods that could fail, apparently due to insufficient rust proofing. Replacement parts were fitted at the manufacturers cost. All 41 UK cars were affected so check that this fix has been carried out on the model you are looking at.
• The engine architecture is shared with the Maserati/Ferrari units and few recurring issues have been noted. Crankshaft oil seals and cam covers can leak oil and should be easy to spot.
• Faulty air-flow meters can cause rough running however on most 8Cs the bigger concern will be to ensure that rubber hoses and pipes do not perish from age as the cars tend to be left unused for long periods.
2004: 8C concept car shown for the first time.
2008: Production of Alfa Romeo 8C commences in coupe form. Available with 444bhp Maserati-derived V8 and six-speed semi-automatic gearbox. 41 vehicles earmarked for UK market.
2009: 8C spider starts production
2010: Final 8C is built with production split evenly between 500 coupes and 500 spiders.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.meridien.co.uk – Official 8C specialists
• www.alfaowner.com – Alfa Romeo owners club
• www.alfaromeo.co.uk - Alfa Romeo’s official website
Summary and prices
The majority of 8Cs have very low mileages; the lower the better it seems, especially when it comes to asking price. One 8C Spider that has basically never turned a wheel has been spotted with a £240,000 price tag although most 8Cs tend to trade between £150,000 and £200,000. Perhaps a little surprisingly, there’s not as huge price differential between spiders and coupes, with the majority of cars accruing less than 10,000 miles since new.
It is hard to believe that a modern Alfa Romeo can command such prices but with such a chequered and impressive history it remains an impressively strong brand. These values are already well above the original list price, and as an investment that can stir your soul, the Alfa 8C is up there with the very best pieces of art. Beautiful, charismatic and with an engine note to die for, it’s a perfect example of an Italian thoroughbred.
Words: John Tallodi