Effeffe Berlinetta injects modern sportscar with classic Italian GT flair

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The Effeffe Berlinetta makes its production debut at Top Marques Monaco 2016(Credit: Mike Hanlon/Gizmag)

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As Gizmag's Mike Hanlon explored in his recent trip to Techno-Classica Essen, the classic car world is riding pretty high at the moment. It's been a particularly good run for (super-wealthy) lovers of 1950s/60s sports and race cars. If you have the means, you can add a genuine, newly built 1957 Jaguar XKSS to your collection. Or a high-tech, all-electric Shelby Daytona Coupe from Renovo. Or one of the most expensive cars in the world. And now, too, you can buy an all-new, race-influenced berlinetta hand-built in Italy. The Effeffe Berlinetta is an Italian modern classic so alluring that even Prince Albert of Monaco had trouble pulling himself away.

Brothers Leonardo and Vittorio Frigerio developed a love for fast, beautiful cars racing vintage cars around Europe. Iconic venues like Monza and Nürburgring, and the fierce competition therein, made lifelong memories, but what the brothers' really took away from the experience was an appreciation for the cars, and the meticulous craftsmanship behind those cars.

After taking a level of expertise away from the automotive artisans they spent time around, and honing their skills restoring their own cars, the Brothers Frigerio decided the time ripe to design and build a car all their own. They had no interest in a modern-day sports car weighed down by fancy digitization and creature comforts, but conceptualized a car built in the tradition of the late-50s Gran Turismo, a race car for the road guided by speed and aerodynamics, its beauty both undeniable and fully functional.

The journey started as little more than a question, a challenge to themselves. Could they hand-build a car true to the style and technique of this classic era? The answer stands before you in the photo below.

The Frigerio brothers have created a hand-built, two-door aluminum-bodied coupe that is the spitting image of a classic, 1959-ish Italian GT. It recalls any number of Italian race and road cars from the 50s and 60s – the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, Alfa Romeo 1900 SS Zagato and Maserati A6GCS/53 are a few that leap to mind – but is not an homage to any specific one.

Instead, the brothers have reinterpreted visions and memories of stunning Italian sports cars of generations past into something new and original. Unless we're forgetting a ringer, they've succeeded admirably.

While their approach stresses the passion and technique of a bygone era, the Frigerios haven't abandoned modern technology altogether. They've relied on modern CAD systems in developing the lightweight but rigid steel tube frame of the 1,742-lb (790 kg, dry weight) car.

The front-mid engine, fittingly a 2.0-liter straight-four from the Alfa Romeo 2000, has been tuned to 180 hp and drives the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual. The car rides on an independent front suspension with wishbones and a live axle with trailing arms and a Watt's linkage in back. Disc brakes bring things to a stop.

The two-seat interior is every bit as beautiful as the exterior, hand-worked leather adorning the seats, door panels, shifter boot, dashboard and transmission tunnel. The flat-faced instrument panel includes toggle switches and Jaeger gauges. The driver's hands enjoy the feel of the Nardi steering wheel's warm mahogany and the palm-able comfort of the shifter, and his foot stays busy with the adjustable aluminum pedals hovering just over the wool carpet.

First revealed as a prototype at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2014, the Effeffe Berlinetta made its production (very limited production, of course) debut at this month's Top Marques Monaco. We watched Prince Albert make a beeline for the car upon entering the main hall, chatting with Leonardo Frigerio so long his handlers became restless. He didn't miss the chance to look over every retro inch of the stunning car, including having a good look under the hood.

The Berlinetta drives in the same neighborhood as some very convincing modern Italian exotics, with pricing starting around €300,000 (approx. US$340,000) and rising based upon customization. Compare that to what original 1950s/60s Italian sports cars are fetching at auction, though (many rank on the previously linked list of most expensive cars ever), and it looks much more manageable.

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