Cizeta, The Most Outrageous Supercar Of The 1990s, Returns

Cizeta, The Most Outrageous Supercar Of The 1990s, Returns

Can’t work out if the stock market bubble is about to burst? Fear not, because the return of the Cizeta V16T hypercar may have just done the hard work for you.

The outrageously extravagant Italian hypercar brand first launched with great fanfare in 1989, just as the stock market peaked, and it finally ran out of money and collapsed in the mid-1990s after building just 12 cars.

Now Italian entrepreneur Antonio Mandelli is trying to revive Cizeta, with an all-new two-seat chassis, but an updated version of its four-turbo, 16-cylinder engine.

Based heavily on the styling of the original Cizeta V16T, the new version will use a carbon-fibre tub to house the 6.0-liter V16, right about the time more and more observers are calling the top of the market.

In 1989, Cizeta’s founders Claudio Zampolli and Oscar-winning composer and music producer Giorgio Moroder followed a wave of ultra-expensive hypercars, like the Bugatti EB110, the Ferrari F40, the Porsche 959 and the Jaguar XJ220 into the market.

This time around, Cizeta will follow even more hypercars, with at least 20 of them either in the works or already on the street, and from established sportscar legends, cult heroes and emerging players alike.

Some of the foes are pure EVs, too, marking a turning of the hypercar page into a more sustainable future, like the Lotus Evija, the Rimac C_Two and the Pininfarina Battista.

Then there are the hybrid hypercars, like Ferrari’s SF90 Stradale, the AMG Project One and the Koenigsegg Jesko, Regera and Gemera.

There are also pure combustion-powered holdouts, like the oft-delayed Aston Martin Valkyrie, the Lamborghini Essenza SCV12, the Bugatti Chiron, the McLaren Speedtail and the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50.

Into this maelstrom marches Mandelli, who has been contacted for comment, but is believed to be waiting on an endorsement from the designer of the original Cizeta V16T, the legendary Marcello Gandini.

Mandelli runs a luxury Italian import and trading business in Frankfurt, Germany, and has told potential investors and customers that he has bought the scattered remains of the long-dead Cizeta Automobili SRL in Modena, Italy, and revived the brand.

He told a group of enthusiasts last week that the “new” Cizeta had secured €40 million in seed funding from Deutsche Bank and that its new prototype had already covered its first 50km to test the installation of the powertrain.

Moroder is in no way involved in the new project, and even pulled out of the original supercar company, which was to be branded Cizeta-Moroder, after just a year, taking one of the 205mph hypercars with him.

Mandelli plans to use an updated version of the V16, quad-turbo motor.

A brave piece of engineering even in contemporary times, the engine was effectively two Lamborghini Uracco P300 V8s stuck together, nose-to-nose, and bolted in across the engine bay of the Cizeta.

The arrangement made the car phenomenally wide, giving the 3748lb chassis a 105.9-inch wheelbase ad 81 inches of width.

Besides the Lamborghini’s cylinder head and crankshafts, the V16T motor shared the Uracco’s bore and stroke dimensions, too, with the turbochargers giving it 540hp and 400lb/ft of torque.

That was all three owners ago at Lamborghini, which wasn’t enthusiastic about helping out in the first place, and so Mandelli has turned to the original Cizeta technical suppliers to cast the aluminum-alloy engine block, with its two steel crankshafts meeting in the center.

The power from the monster V16 was fed by a pair of gears into a five-speed manual gearbox, and it only drove the rear wheels.

Unlike the hand-welded, chromolly tube-framed V16T, the comeback car will be based on a carbon-fibre tub, with a body that has already been designed.

Of the 12 confirmed Cizeta V16Ts ever built, two of them went to the Sultan of Brunei’s collection, and the last time a Cizeta snared headlines here was when one of them was seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2009.

But engine philosophies were not the only things Cizeta took from Lamborghini, because the entire front-end design was Gandini’s original design for the Lamborghini Diablo. After Chrysler came in as Lamborghini’s parent (Lamborghini is now owned by Audi), his design was softened off to the point where Gandini felt free to put his original design on the Cizeta.

The Cizeta V16T listed for US$650,000 in 1992, and the bankrupted company was reborn in Los Angeles as Cizeta Automobili USA.

Remarkably, Zampolli, who died in July last year, insisted as late as 2018 that the cars could be built again as they were originally designed.

There remains a website that, to this day, offers an order page for the original car, even though it is not legal to own or drive in the US.