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1973 Sbarro Tiger

In 1968, Bertone presented the Panther, a prototype designed at the instigation of Umberto Maglioli and Alfredo Belponer, owner of the Scuderia Brescia Corse, intending to compete in Group 6 in the Prototype-Sports Car category.

L'Auto Journal Spécial Salon 1968 presented the Bertone Panther as a coupé which "has a monocoque chassis type light alloy and plastic bodywork. Titanium alloy has been widely used, which explains the relatively low weight of the whole: 650 kg. A fin stabilizer hydraulically increases adherence to high speed, but unlike the Chaparral, its door ahead of the rear wheels."

Unfortunately, at the end of 1969, Alfredo Belponer decided to stop the Panther project, which had become too expensive. This decision led to disputes between various parties involved in the project, which led Umberto Maglioli to keep the car as compensation, according to him. In 1972, he sold the Panther to Franco Sbarro.

Sbarro wanted to produce the Panther in small series. So in 1973, he presented a series of modifications and improvements, including removing the famous fin from the prototype and the Panther and Bertone logos. The dashboard was modified, and the passenger compartment was fitted with carpeting. The engine originally planned by Bertone was a Formula 1 V12 BRM. Sbarro installed a Mercedes 6.3-litre V8 instead. Finally, the car was renamed, Tiger.

For the record, the story could have gone wrong when Nuccio Bertone, warned by Gianbeppe Panicco, was surprised to see "his" car on Sbarro's stand at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show. A discussion between the two men allowed Sbarro to prove his good faith: he is the car owner, which, moreover, no longer looks like it did in 1968. The matter remains at that point.

A catalog reproduced here was published at the time on the Tiger. Sbarro mentions the possibility of installing different V8 engines: Ford-Boss 7033 cc, Chrysler-Hemi 6980 cc, Chevrolet 7380 cc, or Mercedes 6332 cc at your choice. The original ZF transmission is a 5-speed manual, but the catalog says an automatic transmission could be installed. As for the performance, the figures seem optimistic, with a top speed of 300 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of about 4 seconds. But this small-series project never came to fruition, as Sbarro could not obtain the bodywork molds. The Tiger, therefore, remained a unique model. Curiously, the reference book "Franco Sbarro - concept cars" makes no mention of it. The 1973 catalog only shows the Tiger in the form of drawings. Only the pictures of the Sbarro stand at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show the Tiger next to the SV-1.

What happened to this car? The current owner started tremendous restoration work, wishing to put the car back in its original 1968 Bertone configuration, with the original 12 cylinder Formula 1 BRM engine originally planned. Franco Sbarro kept it for a long time before he sold it.


  • engine: V12 BRM F1 (originally planned) V8 Mercedes (for Genève Motorshow1973)

  • configuration: rear mid-engine

  • power: 400-450 cv (V12 BRM), 250 cv (V8 Mercedes)

  • brakes: 4 vented discs

  • wheels: front 8"x15, rear 10"x15

  • dimensions: lenght 4,20 m ; width 1,75 m ; height 1,05 m ; wheelbase 2,40 m ; tracks 1,45 m

  • weight: 1050 kg

  • top speed: 300 km/h

  • production: one-off

Source: Philippe Calvet, July 2020

Images: Sbarro

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