The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione has won over many admirers, especially for its retro styling, however the former "Stig", British racing driver Ben Collins, has adamantly disagreed: he proclaims the V8 engined sports car to be the "worst supercar" he has ever driven.

First shown in 2003 at the Frankfurt IAA, the Alfa Romeo Centro Stile-designed 8C Competizione concept wowed the crowds at the German motor show and three years later at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile the Italian brand showcased a pre-production version announced the sports car would build to a limited run of 500 units. The production car was fundamentally changed from the more racing-focused underpinnings of the concept and instead it used Maserati-sourced architecture as well as the Trident's brand-new 4.7-litre V8 engine.

The 8C Competizione kicked off deliveries in the autumn of 2007 with a handful of examples also making their way to Stateside to the garages of select customers. The 8C Competizione coupé has generally been regarded as a slightly unfinished package due to the speed at which the production project was carried out. By contrast the 8C Spider, which quickly followed in its footsteps, is regarded as being a much more all-round sorted car as niggling issues had been ironed out by the time it hit the showrooms.

Ben Collins who caused a storm of controversy - as well as a legal wrangle between his autobiography's publisher HarperCollins and his outgoing employer the BBC - when he announced he was "The Stig", a masked character from the Top Gear TV programme, has this week rated the Alfa 8C Competizione as the "worst supercar I ever drove".

"Regardless of how you feel about some people, most of the time you can find a redeeming feature if you dig deep enough. After all, Wayne Rooney can kick a football," writes Collins. "In the galaxy of motoring, however, there are occasions when the only redemption for a machine lies inside a box of matches. I've danced a few tangos with some beautiful belles over the years but I recall driving some dogs, too. I will begin with the worst supercar I ever drove, which was also one of the most beautiful. The Alfa Romeo 8C had the kind of looks that suggested she was wearing a suspender belt underneath that red dress. Her husky V8 voice whispered to you that 450 horsepower (336kW) was ready to tickle your toes with a feather and 100 km/h would come in just four seconds.

"My date with the 8C took place on the Fluela Pass, a high mountain road that snakes across the Swiss Alps via an endless barrage of hairpin bends and cambered sweepers," continues Collins. "You might call it a rite of passage for a car's handling capability, because the constant twisting worked the brakes and suspension hard and the slightest error meant being dispatched into a ravine. Pressing the brake pedal of the 8C was confusing, because the brakes seemed to operate the steering. The suspension was so unhinged that the weight of the car felt like it stayed on whatever wheel it had been leaning on during the previous corner as you entered the next one. Hitting the brakes, therefore, effected a sudden and perilous weight transfer. The stiff suspension reacted violently. The ensuing skid as you entered a corner was jaw-dropping, as the 8C lifted its skirt to reveal not the frilly lace it had promised but, rather, a set of wedding tackle," Collins concludes.

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