review on SBARRO
Franco Sbarro is an Italian who emigrated to Switzerland
in the 1950s and went on to become that country's design world's most
adventurous figures. His extraordinary work ranges through tiny electric
cars, exquisite replicas of great classics, racing-cars, imaginative one-offs
and innovative super cars. He shot to fame in 1969 when he transformed
a Lola T70 racing car into the world’s fastest road car, but his
name became widely known through a siring of replicas, including BMW .328,
Bugatti Royale and Ferrari P4.
His “Super” series was particularly headline-grabbing. Its
least spectacular members were dying Super Eight, which looked like VW
Golf but had a Ferrari 308 chassis and engine, and a Porsche 928-engined
Golf. The first of the series, the 1982 Super Twelve, was simply with
two Kawasaki six-cylinder motorcycle single engine developing 240bhp.
Another project in a similar vein was the Robur, a very compact, 130 in
(330cm) long car with a 200bhp mid-mounted Audi turbo engine and a fifth
wheel, which proved useful for pulling the real-end into light parking
The Challenge came close to being a mass-production car by Sbarro's lo
date. This uncompromising wedge-shaped car, first seen in 1985, looked
like a slice of Gruyere cheese and was claimed to have a Cd figure of
just 0.25. The doors folded forward for entry. Initially die Challenge
was offered with a twin-turbo Mercedes V-eight engine, but later cars
had Porsche engines mounted in the rear. All were capable of storming
speeds — up to 180mph f290ki) in was claimed.
“Throw out the hubs!”
Proving that extremes did not have to relate lo speed alone, Sbarro's
1987 Monster G was a phenomenal all-wheel-drive concoction. It was not
the four-wheel drive but the wheels themselves that impressed: they were
taken from a being jet! These made the Monster sit some 7ft 5in (2.3 meters)
tall, and die350bhp Mercedes-Benz 6.9-litre V-eight was needed lo get
those wheels moving.
"Throw out the hubs!" exhorted Franco Sbarro at the 1989 Geneva
show when he released on to die world a major innovation: die hubless
wheel. The concept of a wheel without a centre to it had a sound theoretical
basis, as Gordon Murray confirmed. The idea was that the wheel rotated
around bearings -actually in the rim. Having the drive and braking applied
directly to the run meant greater rigidity, less weight, less torque reaction,
less axial and radial strain and perfectly vented braking. Sbarro had
experimented with such wheels on a motorcycle a few years before; however,
it was obvious that much more development was required, and tills innovative
scheme was left on die shelf.
Nevertheless, the Osmos show car, which incorporated the hubless wheel,
was popular at motor shows. Cleanly styled, somewhat soberly perhaps for
Sbarro, it boasted a 12-cylinder engine.
Chrono, Isatis and Oxalys
The 1990 Chrono hinted at its purpose with Swiss watch badges dotted around
the body. This was a car designed to go from 0-60mph (0-9(kph) in the
shortest possible time. Weighing just 1430 lb (650kg), the same as a 2CV,
yet powered by a 500bhp BMW M1 engine, it could do the “sprint”
in 3.5 seconds. In typical Sbarro touch, the whole car hinged in the middle
for access to the engine.
For the 1991 Geneva shows. Sbarro were attached lo die body by six hydraulic
links. In theory, these allowed the body to be insulated from the chassis,
which meant that a supremely comfortable ride was possible without sacrificing
the firmness of the suspension. The body could also be jacked up at will.
Wild by anyone else’s standards but shy by Sbarro’s, the 1993
Isatis was based on the V12-powered BMW 750iL. The main interest lay inside,
its steering wheel featuring a centre-mounted rev counter (tachometer)
The next year came the Oxalys, an intriguing cocktail described as “designed
by the young for the young”. Underneath its smart exterior –
designed by Espace Sbarro students – lay a 340 bhp BMW M5 engine
and brakes. One novel feature of this “back to basics” roadster
was a modern version of a dickey (rumble) seat – a convertible pair
of rear seats.
Issima and Ionos
The main attraction of the 1996 Issima lay under its long, Alfa-badged
bonnet. Nestling there were a pair of Alfa Romeo 3.0 liter six-cylinder
engines joined to make an in-line twelve with 500 bhp on tap. Its smart
styling was admired by Alfa’s own styling boss, Walter de Silva.
According to Franco Sbarro’s students, who designed the 1997 Ionos,
this was how a latter-day Lancia Sbbaro’s joining of two Alfa engines
to make a straight eight, the Ionos and two Lancia Kappa five cylinder
units joined together to make an upturned V-ten layout, with a Porsche
gearbox between the banks. Transmission was Porsche four-wheel drive.
The “crash helmet” window profile was reminiscent of the original
Also at the 1997 show was a pair of sport scars called the Formula Rhin
and Be Twin. They were conceived to teach rich kids how to drive and were
fitted with two sets of controls. The 1320 lb (600 kg) Formula Rhin had
a ferocious 200 bhp Peugeot 3.0 liter V-six engine behind the seats, while
the B Twin, at under 990 lb (450 kg), had a Lotus Élan style backbone
chassis, stressed mid-mounted engine (a 140 bhp 1.6 liter unit from the
Citroen Saxo Cup racer), self ventilating disc brakes and double wishbone