In 1980, when the FISA announced the introduction of the new Group B class due to begin in 1982, many manufacturers wanted to jump onto the new popular rally scene, thus the engineers went to work. Alfa Romeo’s first bid for a Group B car was with the Alfasud Sprint 6C and the project was originally set to be ready to compete for 1983. The Autodelta redesigned Sprint 6C prototype sported a very stylish new front and rear sections, wider fender flares, louvers, and a lip spoiler. Two prototypes are rumored to have been built; one more to the specifications of a road car and the other a bit more evolved.
What is most special about the Sprint 6C is that Alfa Romeo stuffed the drivetrain from the GTV6 behind the front seats, quite similarly to Renault’s “quick recipe for success”, the R5 Turbo, that converted a front engine car to a mid-engine rear wheel drive layout. The GTV6 engine had already proven itself in the European Touring Car series, developing around 220 HP, so it was the logical choice to power the new prototype rally car.
The “first” Group B prototype was presented to the press at the Monza circuit and subsequently to the public at the 1982 Paris Auto Show. Rumor has it that this prototype was just for publicity purposes: which is substantiated by the odometer that still sat at zero.
The “two” prototypes can be differentiated from one another in the following ways; the “first” prototype has a black grille, two small round door mirrors, black rear screen louvers, a spoiler with “Sprint 6C” decals, and a large oval center exhaust pipe, while the “second” prototype has a chromed center grille, auxiliary lamps fitted underneath the front bumper, one large squared door mirror (driver side only), molded body colored rear screen louvers, a spoiler with an Alfa Romeo badge also featuring cooling intakes (for an oil cooler and engine air intake), different license plate position with a meshed vent (for the oil cooler), recessed tail lights, a redesigned rear bumper cover with auxiliary stop lamps, and twin exhaust pipes.
Both version featured a “thermo-acoustic” glass partition between the cabin and rear engine bay. The louvers effectively replace the rear screen and provide much needed venting. However, the interior of the “second” prototype was barer and more suited to a true competition model.
The “second” prototype was fully functional although it remained in an early unrefined test bed form. It featured an all new suspension setup with dual wishbones. The mid-engine and longitudinal rear transaxle can clearly be seen, including a rally style twin damper setup:
Weirdly enough, although the potent V6 engines of the touring cars were of 2480 cc, Alfa had planned to homologate the 6C with a revised displacement of 2503 cc, therefore putting it in the 2500~2999 cc class regulations instead. Although this seemed like a bad move at first, it was actually quite cunning as the 9C weighed in at 990 kg (2,180 lbs) and better matched the minimum 960 kg (2,115 lbs) weight of that particular class.
The higher engine class would allow the use of wider tires and the possibility of the “evolution” engines (that would power the rally cars) to be increased up to 2999 cc for much more power and torque. The homologation 2.5L road cars would have a rating of 160 HP but the “evolution” 3.0L engines were planned to produce anywhere between 240 and 300 HP, both normally aspirated. It is most likely, yet unknown, that this prototype featured the normal 2492 cc GTV6 engine rather than the planned homologation 2503 cc one.
However, for reasons publicly unknown to this day, the Alfa Romeo board of directors decided not to go forward with the Sprint 6C project and settled with the Alfetta Turbodelta instead. It must be noted that Alfa Romeo was undergoing financial troubles at the time, which can be an hint. Sadly, even though all agree that the 6C could have become the “Italian R5 Turbo” and be a commercial success, the cancellation robbed the world from a spectacular machine that would have sat very well parked alongside a Lancia 037 Stradale in the Tuscany countryside.
Experts disagree if one or two cars were built since the first prototype shown could have been upgraded to the second prototype. Some say that even more were built but proof has yet to be presented.
|Year of conception||1982||# built: 1 or 2|
|Type||GTV6, V6, SOHC 12v, gas||mid-mounted, longitudinal, 60° V6|
|Displacement||2492 cc||planned for homologation: 2503 cc|
|Output power – torque||158 HP @ 5600 RPM||157 lb-ft @ 4000 RPM|
|Materials||block: N/A||cylinder head: N/A|
|Type||rear wheel drive||5 speed manual|
|Differential ratios||N/A||ZF longitudinal transaxle|
|Type||based on “Sprint” model steel monocoque chassis, 3 door hatchback, steel bodyshell with polyester bonnet, rear hatch, and bumper covers|
|Front suspension||Independent, double-wishbone, coilover hydraulic damper|
|Rear suspension||Independent, double-wishbone, dual coilover hydraulic dampers|
|Brakes||Front & Rear: Vented Discs||N/A|
|length: 4024 mm (158.4 in)||width: – mm (- in)||height: – mm (- in)|
|wheelbase: 2455 mm (96.7 in)||front track: – mm (- in)||rear track: – mm (- in)|
|Rims – tires||Speedline 15 inch||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||990 kg (2180 lb)|
In 1986, years after the Sprint 6C project cancellation by Alfa Romeo, it was somewhat revived by Barry Lock of Giocattolo Motori (a short lived auto company out of Australia). The company bought a few Sprint chassis to recreate the original 6C prototypes. The car was simply named the “Group B”. The GTV6 engines were expensive to import and were subsequently replaced by Holden 5.0L V8s. Fifteen prototypes were built until the company folded just 3 years later in 1989.
(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner & author
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