Although Italian designers and carmakers have created some of the most stylish and collectible classic cars, time has driven some of them into the woodwork. The Italian sports car scene is not only about the Ferraris, Maseratis, and the Lamborghinis that we all know and love. Italy is also home to the Alfa Romeos, the Lancias, and the De Tomasos, all of which have built some truly iconic models. These cars were the pacesetters for many of the sports cars we have on the market today.
Popular carmakers back then sometimes got different coachbuilders to create beautifully styled and more individualized versions, often limited-run, of sports cars most people haven't heard of. While some made it to the big time, others were not so lucky and were forgotten by even the hardcore enthusiasts due to a myriad of issues. In an attempt to bring these cars back to life, here are 10 incredible classic Italian sports cars every gear head should know about.
10 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS
Designed by Franco Scaglione, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS is a small sports car that was built between 1959 and 1966. The production version was unveiled in June 1959 at the Monza race track, 2 years after the first prototype was shown at the Turin Motor Show.
Power was supplied by a 1.3-liter inline-4 engine that sent 100 hp through a 5-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels. With a curb weight of 1900 pounds and a drag coefficient of 0.28, the little sports car could attain a top speed of 124 mph.
9 Lancia Kappa Coupe
Thirteen years after discontinuing the Beta and Gamma coupes, Lancia launched the Kappa coupe, which was more of a GT car, in 1997. Thanks to its bland styling, the Kappa coupe was not the most beautiful car out there and was 8 inches shorter than the sedan version.
It was available with several engine choices, including a 2-liter turbocharged I-5 that could take it to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 151 mph. When it was discontinued between 1996 and 2000, only 3,263 Kappa coupes were built, making it a rare model indeed.
8 ISO Grifo
The ISO Grifo is a grand tourer that Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. manufactured between 1965 and 1974 in a limited production run of 413 cars. Built to compete with Ferraris and Maseratis, the first models were powered by a 5.4-liter Chevrolet V8 engine rated at 300 hp.
While the Grifo gained a 435 hp 7-liter V8 engine in 1968, the Series II, introduced in 1970, came with 7.4 liters V8 engines. Two years after introducing the Grifo IR-8, Iso S.p.A. went bankrupt in 1974, a casualty of the '70s oil crisis.
7 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
While Ferrari built several benchmark models in the 1960s, few, if any, could match the sheer beauty and performance of the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso. Unveiled at the 1962 Paris Motor Show, the prototype was nearly identical to the 350 production versions that were built between 1962 and August 1964.
Under the hood, a 3-liter V12 engine churned out 240 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque for a top speed of 150 mph. Apart from being the fastest touring car of the period, the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was also the most luxurious.
6 Ferrari 275 GTB
The 275 GTB, built between 1964 and 1966, was a beautifully designed grand tourer that featured design elements from the 250 GTO and the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1964, it boasted a long plunging hood, covered headlights, signature Ferrari grille, and a truncated tail.
Under the hood, it housed a 3.3-liter Colombo-designed V12 that sent 280 hp to the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual transaxle. Apart from being the first production Ferrari with a rear-mounted gearbox, it was the first Ferrari road car with an all-independent suspension.
5 Lamborghini Miura P400SV
Presented in 1971 at the Geneva Auto Show, the P400SV was the last and the most powerful version of the Lamborghini Miura. The transversely positioned rear mid-mounted 3.9-liter V12 engine was enhanced to produce an output of 380 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Mated to a 5-speed manual synchromesh transmission, it sent the P400SV to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. Although it had an original MSRP of $21,000, its rarity makes it a highly sought-after model with a 6-digit price tag.
4 Maserati Ghibli Spyder
The Ghibli Spyder is a sexy 2-seater sports car that was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and built by Maserati between 1969 and 1973. With its steeply raked windshield and long hood, the Ghibli Spyder was a head-turner, featuring one of the most aggressive designs ever.
Powered by a 4.7-liter V8, it was capable of hitting 156 mph, while the 4.9-liter V8-powered Spyder SS could max out at 169 mph. Of the 125 Spyders built in the 5-year lifespan, only 45 were powered by the bigger engine.
3 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Speciale By Boano
Designed by Boano and built on the Alfa Romeo 1900C SS chassis, the 1900C SS Speciale was one of the most futuristic and most beautiful 1950s cars. Featuring its landmark design, it was the brightest star on the Boano stand at the Turin Auto Show in 1955.
The elegant classic boasted a split rear window and was powered by a 1.9-liter inline-4 engine that delivered about 115 hp through a 5-speed manual gearbox. Since its unveiling in 1955, it has changed hands several times, and in 2018 it sold for $1,270,000 at the RM Sotheby's auction.
2 De Tomaso Vallelunga
First shown as a prototype in a Barchetta body style in 1963, the Vallelunga coupe was unveiled in November 1964 at the Turin Auto Show. The Vallelunga is an oddball that used an engine from Ford Cortina, a transaxle from Volkswagen Beetle, and a steering from Renault.
Built on a fabricated steel backbone, a few of them were aluminum-bodied, while the 50 cars assembled by Ghia were made from fiberglass. Weighing only 1600 pounds, the meager 104 hp produced by the 1.5-liter straight-4 engine was more than enough motivation for it.
1 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500
The 6C 2500, built between 1938 and 1952, was one of the most beautiful 1930s cars and the last 6C road car. After the Second World War, the first models that were built were a continuation of the prewar cars and featured more aerodynamically efficient bodies.
Built on a steel ladder frame chassis, it was offered with three wheelbase lengths and was powered by a 4.5-liter inline-6 engine. The interior, which had room for 3 persons in front and 2 at the rear, sported ivory control knobs and was tastefully upholstered in soft leather.