Sbarro Challenge. Concrete column

Sbarro Challenge. Concrete column
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Franco Sbarro definitely has a sense of humor. He must have designed the Sbarro Challenge during a screaming laugh. And if it wasn't at that moment, the creative Swiss would at least get one when someone actually bought this freakish creation.


That was even the giggles, because he eventually sold no less than ten copies. Probably of the same types as the exuberant elite who sat almost permanently obscured along the famous catwalks of Paris and Milan, gazing at one after the other idiotic, ill-fitting and impractical creation. Because so was the Sbarro Challenge, idiotic and impractical. But he wasn't bad. The interior was completely tailor-made for the future owner, including the seats. They were not adjustable. They were upholstered in Connolly leather, as was the rest of the interior. There was of course much more to experience, including a real television with VHS video recorder. Now only the thrift shop is happy with that, in 1985 everyone.

Cw value

In that year, Sbarro introduced the Sbarro Challenge at the Geneva Motor Show. Under the skin, this unique supercar was mainly based on existing Mercedes-Benz technology. In the fat ass was such a German V8 of 5 liters mounted, which with the help of a double turbo unleashed a sloppy 350 hp on the rear wheels. However, the transmission came from a Jeep Cherokee, somewhere apparently one had to stay within certain limits. It succeeded phenomenally with its air resistance coefficient: a Cw value of only 0,26 can still be called unique even today and that was of course its raison d'être. Or at least the excuse for its crazy wedge shape.

Expensive joke

The automotive equivalent of a doorstop. And just like the preposterous prosperity-bursts on the catwalk, there was genuine interest in them. What the buyers wanted to convey with it was not entirely clear, probably not even for Sbarro himself. He must also have thought of a joke that got out of hand. An expensive one, but go ahead immediately: Franco asked with a straight face more than 300.000 Swiss Francs for this full-size Matchbox madness. That was converted, without taxes, just 450.000 old-fashioned guilders, then roughly the value of a hamlet. However, glamor did not catch on at all. After all, a Sbarro Challenge was the better option for satisfying the perpetually occurring vanity, a strongly misunderstood condition.

Leave out

That could be mitigated somewhat with the upgraded Sbarro Challenge Ⅱ and Ⅲ. The technology in these later versions came from Porsche, from now on a six-cylinder boxer engine with a turbo of 3,3 liters, with 300 and 400 hp, rumbled in the back. The dashboard was also recognizably of Stuttgart origin, retaining the jokes from the first version. TV and video again, and the extremely progressive rear-view camera was again conspicuously mounted in the convex buttocks in the later versions. The Sbarro Challenge was not the car to hide anything. Except for the wing mirrors, the art of omission did not seem to have been applied consistently to this show-off. But looks are deceiving. Take the two folding spoilers on top of the cabin, as an airbrake. This seems superfluous to the average layman, but in reality it is indispensable on every boulevard. Or a rotating windshield wiper, an absolute necessity for notorious fair-weather drivers. If desired, the immense windscreen could be lowered in its entirety, as an alternative sunroof. But of course mainly to give the people a look at the bon vivant on duty. All bare necessities were therefore present.


Of the ten copies built, number seven is the best known, it is the only version with four seats. But this Sbarro Challenge is mainly known because it has been peddled unsuccessfully on the internet for years. Originally white, this now gray copy has been offered for sale several times, without ever stating an asking price. But apparently nobody dares. The fact that the first owner was none other than Yves Saint Laurent didn't convince anyone either. And how did we know them from? Ah, yes, the catwalk…

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Give a reaction
  1. Sbarro has made several impressive models.
    Personally, I think the Sbarro Lola replica is the most beautiful creation from its range.
    In any case, Sbarro is a creative and productive person of whom there are far too few in this world.

    • In 1969 this Lola replica of Sbarro had no less than 500 hp and a top speed of 310 km/h.
      So, in addition to this Challenge, it was also an expensive toy for the financially better off among us,

  2. Sorry to the writer of this incomprehensibly negative article, but I (as a loyal follower) think this is a fantastic car to see!! And so to read on many fronts, way ahead of its time. Why not an ounce of appreciation?

  3. Reminds me a bit of the Gillet Vertigo. Still being built and sold I believe, at exorbitant prices and also in very limited numbers. Just like the Sbarro, the brainchild of a genius from a small country that nowadays doesn't represent much in terms of car brands… no not Switzerland, but… Belgium!

  4. ....don't dare to read this piece to say: I think it's terrible.... BEAUTIFUL!
    What a beauty of an exotic and making the connection with “the kitcar” as Peter has written before hits my feeling about this car exactly!………. and I drive mine regularly. (Sylva Leader)

  5. The 80s were a wonderful period to indulge in car design by means of kit Cars, often on old Triumph or delivery chassis.
    They were always extreme creations where creativity could do its work uninhibited. Hypermodern or ultraclassic, they were always shockingly beautiful compared to the ugly square ugly 80s models that were for sale at the dealers at the time.
    Unlike this extremely expensive Sbarro, most kit cars were very affordable and rather intended for the general public. Apal, Nova, van Clee, Ruska, Custoca, etc…
    I used to really marvel at these kinds of creations. Unfortunately, in the 90s most initiatives in the Kit car area were cut short.

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