It wasn't often that Anne Bancroft in her heyday got upstaged, but Alfa Romeo's gorgeous little Spider Duetto did it effortlessly in the 1966 cult movie “The Graduate” - and suddenly Alfas were sexy in America.
But that was then and this is now. Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne needs another showstopper to spearhead the marque's return to the world stage, in particular the North American and Asian markets - and this could just be it.
This is Gloria, a concept sports sedan designed by young graduates of the European Design Institute of Turin as part of its Master programme, and she (there can be absolutely no doubt as the gender of that svelte silhouette) will be on display at the upcoming Geneva motor show.
A SYMBOL OF ELEGANCE AND PRESTIGE
The brief was to “conceive an Alfa Romeo sedan to communicate to the American and Asian markets”, since the sedan remains a symbol of elegance and prestige in these cultures, associated with the idea of comfortable space both at the front and the rear, expressed by the length of the car.
The young designers were mentored by the nearby Fiat-Chrysler EMEA Design Centre, from the product brief and the first proposals to the development, in clay, of a full-scale model.
Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Head of Fiat & Chrysler Design, explained: “We asked the students in the Master programme to give us their completely independent interpretation of a new Alfa Romeo sedan.”
What you see here is derived from the work of twenty students on the Master programme from both Italy and other countries. It's the result of a process that simulated a real-world development, from the brief of the Alfa Romeo Style Centre and the style research up to the twenty design proposals developed in 1:4-scale clay models.
“During development, we commented, discussed and guided the projects in order to get the most from their spontaneous expressions of creativity,” said Ramaciotti.
The design centre staff then chose the model that they felt corresponded most closely to the initial brief, and the whole class worked together on the final project in full scale.
The concept is 4700mm long, 1920mm wide and 1320 mm high, on a wheelbase of 2900 mm, with strong lines down the sides and a bold, three-dimensional interpretation of the signature Alfa shield in front. It's intended to be powered by a V6 or V8 biturbo engine.
César Mendoza, director of IED, said: “Developing a concept car in collaboration with the Alfa Romeo Style Centre was a great opportunity to show that the IED is, first of all, an Italian school that aims to generate beauty.
“What better brand than Alfa Romeo to teach our students how form and volume can convey strong emotions? The passion that the brand evokes spurred both students and staff to complete this complex project within a very tight deadline.”
The European Design Institute display at the Geneva show will also offer visitors the opportunity take partv in the design process on a iPad, where they can choose between five body colours and five 20” rim styles - the products of a very similar design project between the IED and motorcycle wheel specialists OZ Racing.
The five rims will also feature in a talent contest that the IED and OZ Racing will launch at the stand via the app and on the web to choose the winning project with the most interesting design.