The 1950s and 1960s gave us the most exquisite sports cars and race vehicles ever built. The Italians had Ferrari and Alfa Romeo , the British had Aston Martin and Jaguar , while the French had Gordini and Alpine. Be it grand tourers, lightweight coupes and lightning-fast barchettas, these companies built them all. They showcased them on the streets and on the tracks, drawing the utmost attention during an era in which beauty and speed blended perfectly.
All these cars have grown into rare collectibles that fetch dollars by the millions. Most of them cost more than a brand new Ferrari, while numerous classic Ferraris are pricier than a mansion with a Bugatti Veyron in its huge front yard. It says a lot about the way these cars were built back in the day and the exclusivity that came with most of them. As much as we hate it, those days are never coming back. However, thanks to a number of small ventures around Europe, we can still see classic-inspired automobiles being built in the 21st century.
One of those companies is Fratelli Frigerio. It was set up by brothers Leonardo and Vittorio Frigerio in Vidigulfo, Italy with one purpose in mind: build an authentic grand tourer using coachbuilding techniques and a design inspired from the greatest Italian automobiles ever created. The result is Barchetta SS, an Alfa Romeo-powered coupe that bears an astonishing resemblance to the almighty Ferrari 250 GTO. Although only a prototype as of August 2014, the Berlinetta SS is definitely a project you need to check out.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Fratelli Frigerio "Berlinetta SS".
Ignore the fact that this vehicle was created in 2014 and you got an authentic classic grand tourer on your hands. The fact that the Berlinetta SS pays tribute to the golden age of car manufacturing (read 1950s and 1960s) becomes obvious the second you lay eyes on it. Its sculpted body and rounded shapes are a nod to the numerous sports cars that came out of Italy after World War II. Ferrari is probably the most iconic name the Berlinetta SS can be related to, but Fiat, Lancia and Cisitalia have built similar vehicles as well.
Like most sports cars of the era, the Berlinetta SS’ front end is highlighted by round headlamps, muscular fenders and a larger, oval gaping mouth. A 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWD with a slightly shorter hood and without all the chrome elements adorning its nose, if you will. Around back, the fenders become beefier above the wheels, but slope nicely toward the rear end. A pair of tiny taillights stand on each side of the trunk lid and the absence of a proper bumper enhance the tail’s sporty character.
From the side, the Berlinetta SS exudes pure Italian styling. The low roofline and the fender cutouts take us back to the 1950s, while the fuel cap reminds us once again of the classic Ferraris that used to roam the streets before taking their bumpers off to hit the tracks. The wire wheels and the Dunlop tires are also specific to the era. All told, it’s the kind of vehicle we’d imagine running at Targa Florio alongside the many Italian tourers of the day. Sure, it borrows many of the styling cues we’re already familiar with, but at the same time it manages to blend them perfectly in a sports car that’s unique in its own right.
The interior is equally exquisite to 1960s standards. Crafted by Matteograssi, an Italian company with more than 100 years of experience in artisanship of coach hide and leather, the cockpit is mostly wrapped in high-quality leather and comes with black wool carpets. Everything from the seats, the center console and the door panels are covered in hand-stitched, brown leather. The pattern is complex differs on each surface. Whereas the seats are upholstered in a classic fashion, the center console comes in a diamond pattern.
The red-painted dashboard is simple but classy. Four main gauges are mounted behind the wood-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel, while the center section is adorned by old-fashion indicators and switches. The ceiling is finished in white fabric, while the inner frames of the front and rear windscreens are painted in the same shade of red as the dashboard, which is rounded off by a layer of black leather with white contrast stitching. As far as the cabin goes, a 1960s Ferrari’s has nothing over the Berlinetta FF.
The Berlinetta SS prototype is powered by an Alfa Romeo-sourced, 1.9-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps 170 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. The four-pot mates to a six-speed manual gearbox and enables the coupe to reach top speeds between 140 mph and 152 mph depending on tire specification. The wheels are wrapped in Dunlop rubber, but the Frigerio brothers have yet to release more specs on this matter.
Engine information is limited as well, but our best guess is that the Berlinetta SS uses the 1.9-liter JTS engine that used to motivate the Alfa Romeo 159 between 2005 and 2011. The unit had chain-driven camshafts and variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts and churned 158 ponies in the said compact. Naturally, the engine went through a tweaking process before finding its way into this gorgeous grand tourer, which explains the added 12 horses.
There’s no word as to how many seconds it takes for the Berlinetta SS to reach 60 mph from a standing start, but considering the vehicle’s lightness the sprint should be completed in less than eight seconds.
|Type||Alfa Romeo straight-four 1.9-liter engine|
|Output||170 HP @ 6,500 RPM|
|Top Speed||152 mph|
Since the Berlinetta SS is only a prototype as of August 2014, there’s no pricing information available. The coupe it may enter production over the next couple of years, but we figure the Italians will roll out a highly limited series based on preorders. U.S. availability isn’t likely.
In spite of all the design and construction similarities, comparing the Fratelli Frigerio Berlinetta SS to other classic cars wouldn’t be fair. Thus we have to dig for companies that do the same thing: build classic-looking cars in the 21st century. One such venture is Ant-Kahn , a collaboration between Ant Anstead, the mastermind behind sports car manufacturer Evanta, and Afzal Kahn, the owner of Kahn Design, the British company known for customizing a wide range of crossovers and SUV.
The new joint venture will spawn the 2015 Evanta Barchetta, a retro-inspired roadster that follows in the footsteps of the classic British race cars of the 1950s. While the Berlinetta SS resembles the Ferraris of the era, the Evanta Barchetta features styling cues seen on the Aston Martin DBR1 and the Jaguar D-Type. But unlike the Italian vehicle, the Evanta will come with a more powerful engine. The Brits opted for a C6 Corvette-sourced, 6.2-liter, V-8 that delivers 450 horsepower. That a lot of muscle even for today’s standards.
The Evanta will also feature a Kevlar body manufactured using traditional coachbuilding methods. It’s certainly a lot more impressive when compared to the Berlinetta SS, but pricing will be accordingly, likely in excess $100,000.
Gallery Ant-Kahn Evanta Barchetta
Gorgeous by design and luxurious to 1960s standards, the Fratelli Frigerio Berlinetta SS seems like a great vehicle to own if you’re among enthusiasts that miss the golden age of custom-building and racing. Can’t afford a vintage Ferrari ? The Berlinetta SS can be the perfect replacement if you can ignore the not-too-powerful engine. Of course, this red coupe has absolutely no heritage attached to its name, but it comes with a decent amount of Italian expertise and craftsmanship. The bad news, however, is that the Berlinetta SS is still a prototype. Production is likely, but the lack of details prevent us from considering it more than just a show car. At least for now.
- Gorgeous, classic design
- Hand-crafted body and interior
- Italian heritage at its best
- Still a prototype
- Could use more power
- U.S. availability not likely