Alfa Romeo Spider

Last week, we reported that Fiat was open to allowing Mazda to use U.S.-based Chrysler factories to manufacture U.S.-bound Mazda models. Before that, Fiat and Mazda officially announced a partnership in building the MX5 Miata and Alfa Romeo Spider . These two announcements brought about a lot of speculation of Fiat taking the same approach that Ford did, by buying into the struggling, but slowly recovering, Mazda.

After hearing plenty of these rumors, Fiat Chairman, John Elkann, had enough and announced at a shareholder meeting that Fiat is not interested in acquiring any percentage of Mazda Mazda in the future. Fiat does plan on adding a Japanese partner in the future to help expand its global reach, but there is no mention of what companies Fiat is considering.

We would not be surprised to find out that this is simply a rouge to not tip its hand too early. It only makes sense for the two to partner up in a larger sense, as Mazda needs some help getting over the recovery hump and Fiat needs a Japanese partner. It would be a win-win situation, so we’ll see if Fiat’s tune changes after testing out Mazda’s abilities with the Mazda Miata-Alfa Romeo Spider production deal.

Fiat is planning a little bit of expansion soon though. In July 2012, Fiat is planning to expand its ownership in Chrysler by an additional 3 percent, bringing its total ownership to over 60 percent. Over the course of time, Fiat plans to jump its overall Chrysler ownership to 100 percent, giving it complete control over the recovering automaker’s operations and profit.

It definitely looks like Fiat is on the right track here so far. We will keep you updated as its expansion continues.

Ferrari 599XX Evolution

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Northern Italy, leaving behind a number of victims, including Lamborghini , Ferrari , and Maserati who had to stop production because their production plants are just 25 miles away from the center of the quake. Even more detrimental is the fact that 17 people were killed and another 350 were injured) during this natural disaster, but Ferrari is doing what they can to help the victims left behind.

In order to help the victims of the earthquake, Ferrari will hold an auction next week, with the most important unit on the block being a 599XX Evo , the extreme, non-homologated sports berlinetta with a commercial value of €1.3 million (about $1.6 million).

Next to 599XX, the auction will include a number of Formula 1 items, including a V8 engine, racing suits and helmets donated by the Scuderia’s drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, and numerous memorabilia items from the works racing cars from past seasons. The Online Ferrari Store will also dedicate a section to this event, where customers will have the opportunity to purchase auction items, including Prancing Horse watches.

Last week, we let you in on BMW ’s newest creation, the Zagato Coupe , which is obviously based on the 2011 Z4 sDrive35is , sans the ragtop. At that time, we didn’t have any real engine news to give and the details are still pretty spotty at best. We have learned that the engine pumps out a rather impressive-for-its-size 400 horsepower, but that’s not even the most incredible part.

The most impressive part of this Zagato concept is not its power or stunning looks. What draws us in is its impressive sound. This beast does not sound like your typical, comfy BMW. It actually sounds like a purebred racecar just looking for a little asphalt to lay some vulcanized rubber upon. We can now share this sound with you, thanks to a video from Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este of this fantastic Bimmer rolling up to the red judging mat.

One thing that we were waiting for while watching the video was for the driver to get a little randy and accidentally put a little too much foot into it and spray gravel all over the photographers. Thankfully, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este hires only the most professional of folks to drive these display cars and no such thing happened. We are not too sure if we could have resisted the urge to put that 400-horsepower turbocharged beast and the agility of the trailing photographers to the test. And that is why we are not driving cars to the judging mat at these shows!

Enjoy the above video and keep your fingers crossed that BMW will actually release this awesome machine. The video starts a little slow with a series of gratuitous shots of the Zagato’s sexy exterior. You can skip to the 0:57-mark to get right to the piston-pounding action.

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2012 is in the books and one automaker, which was surprisingly not BMW – the sponsor of the event – cleaned up house by taking home four awards, including the most prestigious award. The winner of three of the four awards is a 1933 6C 1750 GS, an ultra-rare specimen from Alfa Romeo . The main prize that this beauty won was the “Concorso d’Eleganza Best of Show” by vote of the jury, which is the top award. In addition to this top prize, the Alfa Romeo also took home the “Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este” and the “Tropheo BMW Group Italia” by public vote.

The 6C 1750 GS was part of a series of road and race cars that Alfa Romeo manufactured from 1929 through 1933. While all of the models have their own special place in automotive history, this 1933 6C 1750 GS is especially rare. This model was designed by Figoni coach builders and boasts a 1,752 cc in-line six-cylinder engine, which cranked out a then-impressive 102 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 126 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm.

In addition to the 6C taking home three awards, Alfa Romeo took home yet another award. This prize was handed to the 4C , as it won the “Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes,” which is voted on by the public. This sleek and sexy sports car takes its styling cues from the 8C Competizione and boasts a 200-horsepower 1,750 cc turbocharged four-cylinder engine. An official at the event was quoted “…the 4C represents the essence a of true sports soul in accordance with the brand’s values: performance, Italian style and technical excellence for maximum driving pleasure in complete safety.” And we certainly agree with that interpretation.

In closing, we tip our hats to Alfa Romeo and impatiently await the release of the 4C’s debut in the U.S. in 2013.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

You know when a car is getting some serious love from places you wouldn’t even think of? When a country that specializes in some of the fastest cars on the planet decides that they want first dibs on a special edition model of the said vehicle.

Over in Italy, Japanese automaker Toyota will launch their new GT 86 sports coupe by releasing a limited number of models bearing the "First Edition" name. Limited to only 86 units, the 86 First Edition will bear a few styling distinctions, including a Lightning Red paint finish with black adhesives running along the hoof, up the rear wing, and on the bottom of the sides. In addition, these models will also carry a numbered plate that will be engraved with the name of the owner.

Speaking of these buyers, the lucky 88 that will be getting a piece of the 86 First Edition will also be entitled to participate in the 86’s GT Academy.

The 86 First Edition won’t have any performance modifications so expect the sports coupe to carry a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated flat-four engine that produces 200 horsepower and 151 lb/ft of torque.

The 86 First Edition has been priced at €29,000, which is around $37,000 based on current exchange rates.

UPDATE 05/29/2012: Toyota Italy has unveiled a pretty cool video showing off the design details of their new GT 86 First Edition. Enjoy!

German automaker MINI has essentially turned special edition models into an art form. These guys have done special edition models so much in the past that they’ve pretty much got the whole set-up down pat.

For their latest offering, MINI is releasing a special line of exclusive vehicles, called the Ray Line, which will only be available in Italy. Why they chose Italy, we don’t know. But what we do know is that these models are pretty cool dressed in touches of neon garb.

The Cooper Hatchback Ray Line features a sporty profile that is enhanced by the rear LED lights that gives the car a more dynamic stance. Add that to the plethora of exterior modifications and you have a car that’s itching to stand out from the rest of the pack. As part of the Ray Line, this special edition model will come with fluorescent staining on the bonnet, roof, side mirrors, and hubcaps. Customers have a choice on what kind of neon shade they’d want, ranging from Alien Green, Lemon Yellow, Flash White, Energy Pink, Vitamin Orange and Shocking Blue.

Not done with all that neon, MINI is also offering special badging, and a new set of 17" MINI Yours Soda Spoke Twin Blade wheels in two different styling options.

MINI’s new Ray Line of models, which are exclusive to Italy, offers customers a fresh new option to enjoy the open-air feel of the Cooper Cabriolet .

Not only does the Cabrio Ray Line come with unique aesthetic modifications, but MINI also went ahead and gave minor tweaks to the interior, particularly the aluminum roll bar that has been deliberately lowered behind the headrests to give drivers an enhanced feeling of freedom as they breeze along the open roads.

But the most important modification done on the Cooper Cabrio Ray Line is giving the car even more visual depth, thanks in large part to the fluorescent staining that allows customers to choose from six different shades of neon. The colors range from Alien Green, Lemon Yellow, Flash White, Energy Pink, Vitamin Orange and Shocking Blue, each of provides even more spunk to a car already brimming with attitude.

In addition, MINI also added a new special badge on the car signifying its special edition designation, as well as a number of options and accessories, including chrome surrounds, a fluorescent hub cover, bonnet stripes with fluorescent piping, black caps on the bi-xenon headlamps, and a new set of 17” wheels that come in two different styles.

Ever the company that specializes on all things quirky, MINI has come out and given credence to their reputations one again with the release of the neon-clad MINI Ray Line.

Exclusive only to Italy, the three models - the Cooper Cabrio , the Cooper Hatch , and the Clubman - all sport some eye-catching gear that once again allows MINI to stand out from the rest of the pack.

For the Clubman, MINI decided to give the model even more luggage space to take advantage of the car’s bigger dimensions. Two special storage units have been added, the first of which is the Clubdoor, which was placed behind the front passenger and can be opened agains the direction of travel. Then there’s the Splitdoor, which replaces the Clubman’s traditional door in favor of two panels that pay homage to the wooden frame of the Mini Classic.

Another distinguishable quality of the Clubman Ray Line is the fluorescent staining, which can be customized courtesy of six different neon shades, including Alien Green, Lemon Yellow, Flash White, Energy Pink, Vitamin Orange and Shocking Blue. The model also carries a special badge on a hexagonal grid of the model as well as new plaques of side scuttles. Other modifications for the Clubman Ray Line include bonnet stripes with a fluorescent profile, a fluorescent Profile Roof Stripe roof, black caps on the bi-xenon headlamps, a fluorescent hub cover, and a new set of 17" wheels that come in two distinct stylings.

What is sports car manufacturer Porsche to do when it becomes bored with its own testing grounds, Weissach, and the Nürburgring just doesn’t allow its cars to reach their full potential? Buy a new testing facility, silly… Yup, Porsche lumped down an undisclosed sum of money – which is certainly more than we could imagine earning in a lifetime – to purchase Europe’s longest circular track, and everything else that comes with it.

That’s right; Porsche has officially purchased the Nardò Technical Center in Italy, which houses not only a 7-mile, four-lane oval track whose banks allow for speeds of up to 240 KM/h (149 mph), but also seven additional tracks that test various parts of vehicle, including: dynamics, multiple pavement response (cobblestone, potholes, uneven, etc.), high-speed noise, handling, off-road performance, and braking.

This really puts Porsche in a position to not only beat out its competition while saving money on testing fees, but it also allows it to better hone other brands that it is linked to, like Volkswagen , Lamborghini , and Bugatti . This also gives Porsche yet another revenue stream, as Nardò is one of the more popular testing tracks in Europe.

The thing about Porsche vehicles is that though they are much faster than your average cars, they are not about top speed, when compared to the likes of Lamborghini , Ferrari , and McLaren . Could this mean that Porsche may start pushing the limits on its upcoming vehicles and maybe flirt with the 200 mph mark? Not likely, but it is definitely a sweet idea to consider. Likely, this track is going to be the testing home for racing models, but we may catch the occasional 911 stretching its legs a little.

Audi’s auto racing influence is felt in a number of racing series all over the world. And while they don’t count themselves as part of the Formula One grid, the German automaker’s presence in the touring car series is unmistakable.

For the 2012 season, Audi is bringing a pretty snazzy race-tuned sports car to Italy’s version of touring car racing, called the Superstars Series. Similar to the UK’s British Touring Car Championship, the Superstars Series is made up of a grid that features a plethora of automakers, Audi being one of them.

Looking to return to past glory that saw them cop the 2007 Driver’s title and the 2008 Drivers and Constructors titles, Audi will be bringing a race-tuned model of the Audi RS5 back to the series. This model has been carefully fitted with an aggressive aerodynamic body - the intimidating grilles are a sight to behold - and a V8-powered engine that produces a mighty 450 horsepower.

All in all, three RS5 models will comprise the 2012 Superstars Series grid, including one from German tuner MTM, one from Audi Sport Italia, and one from Swedish team KMS.

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