1963 Alfrezza Potenza GT - Cars in History 4
car by @BF94387
A Sicilian design studio, BF9 Design, was responsible for the 1963 Potenza GT by Alfrezza. It is not a well known car but it oozes that raw sixties Italian flair. It’s big double headlights and the floating thin-pillared roof are the most eye-catching. Produced in limited numbers for only two years, we at The Exhaust Note are grateful to be able to drive the car and give your our impressions.
Created in 1932 - with a hiatus during the war - Alfrezza produced in small quantities a number of rather unremarkable but quintessentially Italian light sports cars. The Potenza and the coorperation with BF9 Design house was its throw at the bigger stage. Introduced on the 1963 Paris autoshow, it received positively for its styling, but with the aim of breaking through in the grand tourer market it fell short of the expectations. Production was cancelled less than two years later.
Technically, the car was not really ready for production. Notoriously hard to drive and uncomfortable for a grand tourer, its troubles started with an unreliable, loud and heavily vibrating 3.2 liter V6. Large for a European sports car at the time, it produced 200 horsepower, making Potenza at least living up to its name in terms of the figures. Weighing in at just over one ton, it was fast in a straight line. Nobody knows exactly how fast though, because over 180 km/h it becomes highly unstable.
The Italian quirkiness does not stop with the engine. From its 180mm wide special made wheels, to its headrests in the rear, which are part of the design but not actually attached to any usable rear seat, the Potenza is a classic car that looks rushed. It did result in a bit of a cult of appreciation for surviving examples.
We went to Italy to get the opportunity to drive the Potenza on home territory, on windy mountain roads. And we can confide in you that we started our drive terrified, having read up on comments of its oversteer, its lock ups on braking - especially of the rear wheels, its unstability. But by the time we exited the city and were on the open mountain roads, we had grown understanding of the cult following of the Alfrezza Potenza GT.
It is, in fact, a tourer. It might lack the size and comfort of a typical one, but the drive should be experienced as such. Going into high rev ranges and taking turns sportively, not anticipating braking sufficiently ahead, you could feel where the negative comment come from. But driving the GT sedately, the engine is neither loud nor rickety; it rumbles softly between 2 and 3 thousand rpm while you go to through the manual 4-speed. Driving with anticipation, the handling is neither unpredictable nor dangerous, but the Potenza glides along the road.
This is not a sports car. This is a Sunday lazy drive tourer. What you lack in comfort, you gain in experience as the engine rumbles lazily but with some kind of old airplane character. It is to be driven as it is to be admired for its styling; somewhat detached, as if you were glancing though a book on Italian car design, with a cigar and scotch in hand. Nothing ought to be rushed, nothing too intensely experienced, just the slow meaty rumble of the engine in the background and your slow determined movements preparing for the next upcoming corner.