The Alfa Romeo GT is a beautiful-looking car. Yes, it’s really rather restrained for an Italian coupe, but its neat styling and solid proportions make it very pretty. To my eyes, at least.
But the suave Milanese suits in charge at Alfa in the mid-2000s clearly didn’t have as much affection for the GT as I do. They never gave it the best drivetrains. It might have had a V6, but not with the same output as the sporty the 147 and 156 GTA. And then, to make matters worse, Alfa went and built another coupe, the more exuberant and more modern Brera, and sold them alongside one another.
Every time I spot a GT, I think it’s a car that deserves better. It deserves an engine and chassis to really match its looks. Then one day, on a mundane trip while following a GT down the A426, deliberating what might have been for the Italian coupe, a Ferrari F430 swanned past in the other direction. That was it. I realised what the Alfa needs, no matter how ludicrous it might seem, is a mid-engined Ferrari drivetrain.
A bit of research later, probably while I was putting off doing some actual work, it turns out there’s only 5mm difference in wheelbase. I began wondering…
If I had a pot of unlimited money, enviable skills with a welder and vast reserves of time, that’s what I’d do. I’d pop an Alfa GT body on a mid-engined Ferrari. But why, in this fantastical situation, should I stick to an F430? Why not go for a 458? There’s only another 4mm extra in the wheelbase – as if that actually matters. I wouldn’t want just any 458, it’d have to be a Speciale and all the bits that make that car so speciale too.
And in this magical world, where I am plucking engines, chassis and drivetrains and throwing any old body at them, why just have one fantasy amalgamation?
So let’s suspend reality completely, just for a moment. Forget whether there’s space in the engine bay for your ideal engine, whether your pretty body of choice would be strong enough for your selected drivetrain, or if the driver’s seat would end up split in two by the exhaust (ouch). Forget all that and think about your perfect drivetrain as if it’s one from an RC car; just a backbone with an engine and transmission nestled in the centre and the wheels and suspension hanging from it. Forget the word monocoque even exists.
And your body? Well, that’s like an RC car’s too. Something you can plonk on top and fix in place. But unlike the flimsy moulded body of a remote control car, with bulky fixings that hold it in place, the result of your life-sized mash-up looks factory fresh. Better than factory in fact, because it sits at the exact ride height you desire and the doors actually open.
So what are you going to try out? Me, even with these free-flow rules, my body and engine combos have clear links. My imagination simply can’t break out of the ingrained automotive knowledge my brain has been absorbing for decades.
You see, in my garage would be a DC2 Honda Integra Type R under a Lancia Fulvia body. The rules don’t dictate that I’d have to keep the Lancia front-wheel drive, but, for some reason, I want to. A smooth bumper-less 365 A coupe over the workings of another Porsche; a 997 GT3 RS 4.0. How sublime would that be?
How about an Ur-Quattro with the latest V10 R8 underneath? Not just because they’re both Audis, but a Quattro without four-wheel drive is just plain wrong and it needs five cylinders, or multiples of five, at the very least. By all accounts, it should be turbocharged too, but there’s no way I could argue that. Not once the V10 is spinning at 8,500rpm and firing that noise straight to your core. No turbos, no thank you.
Even if I introduce the engines from race cars I can’t shake wanting some historical or mechanical link, no matter how obscure. I’d combine a Mk1 Lotus Cortina with a Mercedes-Benz 190 E DTM car running gear – there’s a very tenuous Cosworth association which makes that mix feel so right.
How about something more utilitarian? A bay-window VW panel van with a drivetrain from another rear-engined car, and that really is the only tie between these two: a Dakar-spec Porsche 959. Actually, make it a camper so the curtains in the rear can swing about at wild angles during hard cornering.
Is your imagination wilder? Or, like me, is there a greater satisfaction when there’s some sort of connection in your ideal car fusion, no matter how vague that relationship might be?