11/01/2013 Building the New Carrozzeria Touring Disco Volante: Part 1
Carrozzeria Touring has granted Classic Driver full access to each stage in the construction of the first production Disco Volante – the exciting limited-edition model which will debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. In 2012, the prototype stunned the crowds. This year, a handful of collectors will be able to order the gorgeous coupé.
Over the next few weeks, we will show you how craftsmen at the famous Milanese coachbuilder take an Alfa Romeo 8C coupé and clothe it in voluptuous bodywork penned by designer Louis de Fabribeckers. The new Disco Volante (‘Flying Saucer’) embraces the spirit of the famous Touring-designed, 1950s Alfa Romeo original.
The car will only be built to order. The company estimates that up to six examples will be commissioned, all to the exact personal specification of collectors worldwide.
The fully EU type-approved car takes approximately 4,000 man hours to construct, and will be completed in six months from the delivery of a donor 8C coupé.
For those eager to be the very first owner of a 2013 Disco Volante, though, the Geneva show car will be for sale.
De Fabribeckers' intention was to evoke the spirit of the futuristic 50s original, yet make the new car a practical one for ‘continental travel’. The extended tail, with a bigger luggage compartment, is an example. The car also has a panoramic glass roof that replaces the 8C’s solid one, necessitating further re-engineering but adding extra airiness and 'space'.
It’s very much ‘Carrozzeria Touring’ by name, ‘Grand Touring’ by nature.
But we are talking about the finished car – let’s start at the beginning of the process.
The sequence of photos you see here shows a donor 8C arriving in Milan. It is completely disassembled – apart from the chassis, drivetrain and all mechanical parts. All components to be used later are carefully labelled and stored, and the wiring loom partially removed.
It now enters the ‘surgery room’ where it’s subjected to a full scan after positioning on a reference platform. This ensures that everything to be removed is done so to the smallest possible tolerance. Cutting lines are traced on the bodywork and sections are then excised. The chassis will then be carefully modified, re-worked and strengthened as necessary.
In parallel, a mock-up of the new coachwork in high-density resin has been milled to millimetre-perfection. It is then manually smoothed and finished, with the glazed areas filled with contrasting plastic.
This is how the car will look, and it’s used by the panelbeaters as a reference for each hand-beaten section of aluminium.
Certain parts are moulded in carbonfibre, but the majority of the new Disco Volante is made in the long tradition of Italian metalworking: by beating to shape (although nowadays a power hammer has replaced the famous mallet and oak tree stump of yore).
It’s now time for the ‘reference cage’, a latticework structure in mild steel, to be welded up. This covers the mock-up’s contours precisely, and is then used as an exact guide for the final preparation of the chassis – ensuring all new and existing parts are ready to take the aluminium, carbonfibre and glass components that will form the svelte lines of the new Disco Volante.
For the beating and fitting of the bodywork, readers will have to wait for the next instalment…