Disco Volante flies again

  • 13-Mar-2013 10:02 EDT

Touring Superleggera's 2013 Disco Volante is based on the Alfa Romeo 8C and recalls the 1952 C52 model.

Touring Superleggera unveiled the production version of its Disco Volante model at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, having introduced a full-scale model in 2012. The model makes a clear reference to the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante (flying saucer) C52 of 1952, produced by Carozzeria Touring, the forerunner of Touring Superleggera.

The 2013 Disco Volante is a two-seat grand tourer based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione coupe, powered by a front-mounted 444-bhp (331-kW) 4691-cm³ V8 gasoline engine driving the rear wheels via a rear-mounted six-speed automated sequential transaxle gearbox and limited slip differential.

The 8C’s steel space frame and other structural elements were retained, and the frame members and central carbon fiber cell remain unchanged. The engine bay, firewall, windscreen, cowl, A-pillars, door locks, and hinges were also retained. Internally, the dashboard, instruments, pedals, and steering wheel are all carried over from the original. Modified door frames, roof frame, and C-pillar are used to fit the new shape. Modifications were made to the suspension, too. The all-round double wishbone suspension is combined with forged aluminum hub carriers and additional trailing arms at the rear.

CAD design was used for all new and modified components. To ensure torsional stiffness and sufficient noise reduction, the underbody structure and elements, such as the rear wing and bumper tubular support frames and roll bar joining the C-pillars, came in for special attention. The tailgate hinges, 3D cambered door windows, and the front wheel covers all presented complex design issues.

Many elements were changed at the development stage, such as a raised hood to improve engine bay ventilation. Even so, the original proportions were retained. CFD was used to enhance the airflow and ensure optimal downforce in the rear section, and FEM calculations were made to study resistance and rigidity issues for parts subject to homologation. Body construction uses a combination of hand-beaten aluminum and carbon fiber for light weight, strength, quality, and ease of repair.

Carbon fiber is used for the front bumper, grille, hood, skirts, trunk lid, and integrated rear window frame. Both hood and trunk lid use sandwich construction with a Nomex filler to improve the stiffness/weight ratio and to damp noise and vibration.

Aluminum panels are hand beaten using an epoxy mold and bonded with glue to the carbon fiber panels where required. Body panels are pre-assembled using a jig with a laser measurement platform to ensure the correct tolerances. The body-in-white is used to pre-assemble and fit all trim, brightware, and molding.

To ensure repeatability, the complete production process is documented and digitally logged. Static and dynamic testing includes a functionality test run in a climatic chamber with dynamic testing on the proving ground. The Disco Volante has been given EU Small Series Type Approval under the recent European Whole Vehicle Type Approval regulations.

In keeping with the car’s design philosophy, the interior has been given a "science fiction" feel, with items such as the red LED interior light profiles including those in the seat headrests. Aeronautics are also said to have been the inspiration for items such as the dashboard and instruments.

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