It’s bewildering to think Franco Sbarro somehow hasn’t become a household name. Over the last 49 years, the Swiss designer, engineer, and ex-race mechanic has proven himself as eccentric as he is prolific, churning out dozens of bizarre vehicles from race car clones to original one-offs. And one of Sbarro’s finest creations of all was a hot hatch that, had it been produced in significant numbers, could’ve rivaled the wildest rally cars of Group B: the Super Eight.
Sbarro’s Super Eight was something of a sequel to his first hyper-hatch, the Super Twelve—a tube-framed, fiberglass-bodied one-off about the size of an Austin Mini, but a foot wider. Mounted amidships were a pair of transversely mounted 1.3-liter inline sixes from Kawasaki Z1300 motorcycles, each producing 130 horsepower and turning the rear wheels through five-speed chain drives. This powertrain gave the sub-ton Super Twelve performance to trounce most supercars of the day but hamstrung it with peaky performance, short gearing, and absurd mechanical complexity.