Touring Superleggera turns an Alfa Romeo into a flying saucer for Geneva Auto Show

2012 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante teaserIn the 1950s, car designers could do anything, even make a flying saucer. In 1952, Alfa Romeo partnered with coachbuilder Touring Superleggera to build a custom-bodied car that would set new standards in aerodynamics. That car was dubbed “Disco Volante,” or flying saucer, because of its rounded shape. Now, Touring is building a modern version for the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

Teaser image aside, the new Disco Volante will not fly. It will be based on an Alfa Romeo 8C Competitizione. The 8C started production in 2007 as high-performance halo car for Alfa, and only 500 coupes and 500 spiders were made. The original car’s 4.7-liter V8 and chassis will be combined with hand-beaten aluminum panels and some carbon fiber elements.

The show model will not be drivable, but Touring said it will build a limited number of production models. The standard 8C could do 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 4.2 seconds, and had a top speed of 181 mph. With a lighter, more aerodynamic body, the new Disco Volante should be even faster.

The original Disco Volante, known internally as C52, featured a drag coefficient of 0.25, less than that of a Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt, or Nissan Leaf. The project was actually an attempt by Alfa’s competition department to stay relevant after the company pulled out of Formula 1 at the end of the 1951 season.1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante side

The car’s nickname was a no-brainer for the 1950s public, who were as captivated by UFOs as they were by the threat of communist invasions.

The 1952 Disco Volante was powered by a 158 hp 2.0-liter straight-four and, thanks to its aerodynamic body and lightweight chassis, could hit 140 mph. Many believe it was the inspiration for the Jaguar E-Type’s styling.

Touring is known for building outrageous concept cars based on production chassis. Last year, it brought a restyled Gumpert Apollo, called the Tornante, to Geneva. The year before, the coachbuilder made a Bentley shooting brake (think three-door wagon). Touring also designed classics such as the BMW 328, Aston Martin DB4, and Jensen Interceptor.

The new Disco Volante lands next month at the Geneva Motor Show. Pricing for the production version has not been announced, but since all of the cars will be hand-built, it promises to be one of the rarest and most expensive cars on the road, or sky.

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