Maybe you now think "What the hell has this car to do with an Alfasud?" Well, infact the Giocattolo is an Alfa Romeo with a powerful Australian heart. The concept shows many parallels to Alfa Romeo's Sprint 6V Group B experimental car which never found its way into production.
The Giocattolo Group B is an Australian super sportscar which was based on the Alfa Romeo Sprint body. The Italian word Giocattolo means toy and as you will see - if you read on - this is a real joy-toy GT. In early 1986, Paul Halstead and Formula 1 engineer Barry Lock started their project of a mid-engined Sprint with rear-wheel-drive. It was planned to integrate the classic Alfa V6 engine with a capacity of 2.5 liters - which was used in the GTV6 2.5 - behind the front seats. By the end of the 1986 the prototype was ready for a first test drive. Engineer Bary Lock had replaced the serial brakes by specially made ones from the famous Italian specialist Brembo. The front suspension stayed mostly Alfa Romeo. To cope with the V6 engine in the center of the car, the entire chassis was reinforced. To put the power on the road, a ZF five-speed gearbox was fitted.
When Lock and Halstead had finished their work on the first Giocattolo, problems occured. Alfa Romeo could not give a garanty for a sufficient supply of 2.5 V6 engines. The Alfa 3.0 V6 which was introduced with the Alfa 164 turned out to be too expensive. So the fathers of the Giocattolo opted for a 5.0 litre V8 with fuel injection which was taken out of a Holden Commodore. Europeans know the Commodore as Opel or Vauxhall Omega. This engine could offer enormous 220 KW / 300 bhp and developped a torque of 500 Nm. With this engine the Giocattolo went into production. Having a weight of 1085 kg it was a real threat for its opponents produced by Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini. The mighty V8 allowed it to accelerate from rest to 100 kph in 5,4 seconds. It covered 400 metres in 13,5 seconds and had an electronically limited top speed of 250 kph. Some people say it was faster than one of the early Lamborghini Countach when accelerating form rest to 100 kph.
With the Giocattolo, Australia could be proud of its first supercar. On the quarter mile it was only slightly slower than a contemporary Porsche 911 Turbo. A limited slip differential, a rear suspension in Formula 1 layout and rear 285 / 40 VR 15 Pirelli P7R tyres on 10" x 8" composite alloy wheels assured traction in all situations. With its high-tech suspension it was said to have a superb handling.
Potential buyers had to spend a minimum of 80.000 A$ to call themselves owner of a Giocattolo. The Sprint's body was fitted with wide front and rear wheel arch extensions made of kevlar. Barry Lock used a lot of kevlar components to keep the car a leightwight racer. So the engine cover and the bulkhead were made of kevlar and carbon fibre. A large rear spoiler on the boot lid should assure sufficient down-force at high speed. Spies Hecker multi-part epoxy paint gave a bright finish. The official sales brochure proudly claimed that the car was tested in hardest conditions at Ayers Rock and Lang Lang Proving Ground for three years before it went into production. The brochure also informed the reader about the fact that the Giocattolo was handcrafted in Caloundra "on Queensland's Sunshine Coast".
The interior offered pure luxury (compared to a serial Alfa Romeo Sprint). The Giocattolo builders used the best components available. So there was a full leather interior. The entire facia, the centre console, the doors and the Recaro seats were leather-covered. Electric windows and an air condition were also on board. The driver could control the car's functions, speed and revolutions on a VDO-equipped board of gauges and instruments. A Momo leather steering wheel, four channel stereo and central locking were standart, too. To have enough room for all the gauges, the Sprint's dashboard received a new instrument panel. The centre console with integrated handbrake-lever was also made by the Giocattolo engineers.
Unfortunately the car did not sell well and so only 15 cars where built.
Later Alfa Romeo stopped the production
of the Sprint and so the Giocattolo production had to stop, too. The
Brisbane Bears for example were the owner of one of these great sportscars
which could reach 200 kph in 11,1 seconds. One was even power-tuned up
to 400 bhp. This made it run from 0 to 100 kph in 3,8 seconds. A Suzuki
Haiabusa is not much faster. Some people criticised the Giocattolo to be too much Alfa Romeo. But
nethertheless, today Giocattoli have become expensive. More than a 100.000
A$ have already been paid for this Australian supercar.
Last Update: November, 16th 2003 Created: February, 18th 2001
© Layout and text by Tim Rauen. The photos of this page are published with the permission of www.twinturbov8.com.