Effeffe Berlinetta: beyond the restomod
Exclusive, charming and handbuilt. But mostly, younger than it looks.
Such a name makes it sound like something straight out of Maranello. Same for its shape, only sixty years back in time. Truth is ‘Effeffe’, sounding like ‘FF’ in Italian, stands for Fratelli Frigerio, an Italian niche car manufacturer owned by the Frigerio brothers. And the car is indeed a berlinetta by-the-book. Also, this is not a perfectly restored barn-find oddity: you can buy a brand-new one today.
Instead of restomodding a classic car, why don’t just build a new one that looks like a classic? That’s what the Frigerio brothers probably asked themselves. The result is an astonishingly good-looking 2-seat coupé, so classy and retro to be presented at the Concours d'Elegance Villa d’Este in 2014 without clashing with the other classic cars on show. It’s hard to deny those ‘Series 250’ vibes, if you think about the Ferrari 250 MM or, you won’t say, the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, honestly.
The Effeffe Berlinetta on show at Auto e Moto d'Epoca 2020 in Padua, Italy
Furthermore, the Effeffe Berlinetta not only looks like a classic but it’s also built like one.
The chassis has been designed with modern CAD software, allowing to perform all the need virtual tests and simulations, but apart from that, the Berlinetta is – deliberately – a masterpiece of craftsmanship, handmade according to the standards of the Fifties. The aluminium body is hand-hammered. All the details, like grids, frame strips, and handles, are entirely hand-made, often over Fratelli Frigerio’s designs. Same from the interiors – the lovely Jaeger tachometer with 10,000 full scale being a nice exception.
© Officine Fratelli Frigerio
The lightweight ensemble rolls over front independent double-wishbone suspensions with push-rod coil spring shock-absorbers and a solid axle rear suspension with Watt’s linkage and coaxial spring damper. The Effeffe Berlinetta is equipped with four disc-brakes with lightweight callipers but there’s no ABS and no power-steering. Heating and air-conditioning are available on request.
The standard engine is an Alfa Romeo-derived four-straight, DOHC 1962 cc overhauled and tuned to reach 180 HP@6500 rpm on the dyno, feed by two horizontal Weber 45 DCOE double choke carbs. Five more optional engines are offered, up to a 3000 cc - 230 CV Busso V6. The front-mid engine allows for an optimized weight distribution to improve the car handling – a much welcomed feature in such a car, where there isn’t any electronic trick and it’s all up to the driver to keep the four wire wheels on the track. And, according to the Frigerio brothers, that’s where the fun begins.
© Officine Fratelli Frigerio
Now, the downsides.
Alleged price for the Effeffe Berlinetta was 280.000 € at its launch in 2014, which matches today’s quotation of a mint Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA Junior 1300 on the Italian classic cars market, for reference, or of an 8C Competizione. Lacking the Biscione’s pedigree. Also, outstandingly disguising as an oldtimer won’t make the too-young Effeffe Berlinetta eligible for many of those races it was inspired by – 1000 Miglia and so on – if not as a guest. And there perhaps goes part of the fun.
The Effeffe Berlinetta represents quite an expensive showpiece of Italian handicraft but, given the current interest for vintage-looking models – I’m thinking about the recently announced Ares Design Wami Lalique Spyder, not to bring up the more blazoned Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar C-Type - maybe there is a place for it as well.