Sbarro Super Eight: A $183K Hot Hatch with a Ferrari Heart and a Pizza Chain Name
Some people want their economy cars to look like Ferraris. Franco Sbarro wanted the opposite.
It's bewildering to think Franco Sbarro somehow hasn't become a household name. Over the last 49 years, the Swiss designer, engineer, and ex-race mechanic has proven himself as eccentric as he is prolific, churning out dozens of bizarre vehicles from race car clones to original one-offs. And one of Sbarro's finest creations of all was a hot hatch that, had it been produced in significant numbers, could've rivaled the wildest rally cars of Group B: the Super Eight.
Sbarro's Super Eight was something of a sequel to his first hyper-hatch, the Super Twelve—a tube-framed, fiberglass-bodied one-off about the size of an Austin Mini, but a foot wider. Mounted amidships were a pair of transversely mounted 1.3-liter inline sixes from Kawasaki Z1300 motorcycles, each producing 130 horsepower and turning the rear wheels through five-speed chain drives. This powertrain gave the sub-ton Super Twelve performance to trounce most supercars of the day but hamstrung it with peaky performance, short gearing, and absurd mechanical complexity.
All these are likely why for the Super Twelve's successor, the Super Eight, Sbarro let an established supercar manufacturer do all the heavy lifting. Rather than fabricate a bespoke spaceframe, Sbarro repurposed the bones of a Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole and took advantage of its existing 2.9-liter V8 and five-speed gated manual transmission. Producing up to 260 horsepower according to a site dedicated to Sbarro, this Ferrari V8 is estimated to have given the Super Eight a top speed of 137 miles per hour, and more importantly, a broader and flatter torque curve than its forerunner's twin Kawasaki sixes, making it much more streetable.
The Super Eight's suitability as a road car has been demonstrated by its only example, whose odometer reads nearly 17,000 miles as of 2020. Also as of this year, the Super Eight is for sale, its seller Speed 8 Classics asking just over $183,000 for the one-off Ferrari rebody. While that's about $100,000 north of what 308 GTB QVs of similar mileage sell for, it's also a fraction what you'd pay for a Ferrari of equal provenance, be it a 250 GT Breadvan or a modern tribute thereto. That kind of cash, however, along with being mistaken for a VW Rabbit GTI at car shows, is simply the price of being more than a face in the crowd at Ferrari meets.
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