Abarth Honors Its Legacy By Ruining The Alfa Romeo 4C

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Image for article titled Abarth Honors Its Legacy By Ruining The Alfa Romeo 4C
Image: Stellantis

The Alfa Romeo 4C, an unappreciated midengine sports car that lived longer than anyone ever expected it to, is getting a proper send-off in the form of a one-off, coachbuilt special edition built by Abarth. Unfortunately, it looks terrible.

It’s called the Abarth 1000 SP. While Stellantis doesn’t outright say this thing is a 4C under the skin, it really couldn’t be anything else, considering it contains a 1.7-liter, 240-horsepower four-cylinder, and carbon-fiber tub chassis. The 1000 SP is intended to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the very successful Abarth 1000 Sport Prototipo from 1966. While I fully realize I’m about to utter one of the coldest takes in the history of human existence, I think I prefer the original.

Image for article titled Abarth Honors Its Legacy By Ruining The Alfa Romeo 4C
Photo: Stellantis
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The primary issue is that the 4C’s bubbly haunches and tall, narrow frame clash with the original Sport Prototipo’s sprite-like proportions, and Abarth could only do so much to obscure that. From the front, the new car looks like a happy but utterly clueless fish. I realize the slotted vents on the hood are a direct reference to its predecessor, but they don’t really meld with the rest of the aesthetic, and the lower grille comes off as an afterthought.

There’s less to say about the side profile. Abarth’s designers ditched the intakes that contribute so much to the 4C’s poise, and are prominently integrated in its sight lines. The lack of negative space provides an empty, bulky feeling.

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Image for article titled Abarth Honors Its Legacy By Ruining The Alfa Romeo 4C
Photo: Stellantis

It’s when we get to the rear that whatever the 1000 SP had going for it totally falls apart. Perhaps it’s not helped by the photo op staging the tribute next to the original car, but the one-off appears so damn tall and brick-like. The 4C is not a big car! It just looks it here. The engine compartment is very high up there, as is the rear deck, making the rollbar look like it’s slowly sinking into the sheetmetal. The painted portion of the rear bumper below the exhaust pipes also does nothing to visually distract from the car’s height.

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The only feature of the 1000 SP’s design that I really dig is the weird shape of the side windows, which sharply cut down in sort of a stair-step manner to meet the area right behind the cabin. That’s it; that’s the lone compliment I have to offer.

Image for article titled Abarth Honors Its Legacy By Ruining The Alfa Romeo 4C
Photo: Ferrari
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The more I study the front of the 1000 SP, the more I see the face of another, far sillier-looking Italian concept: the 1993 Ferrari Conciso. Penned by German designer Bernd Michalak, this platypus on wheels was curiously granted the Ferrari seal of approval, as evidenced by the fact they let Michalak adorn the car with prancing horse badges. The Conciso isn’t an awful-looking sports car overall — I mean, it’s basically a bar of soap with wheels, so there isn’t much to hate. But of course the placement of the headlights at the tip top of the plastic wheel arches ruins the whole party.

The 1000 SP doesn’t elicit the same laughter, but it I can’t say it does the 4C or its spiritual predecessor any favors, either.