Sbarro Super Twelve , 1981


The Super Twelve was unveiled at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show. Up till then, Franco Sbarro was best known for his BMW 328 replica and some very original vehicles: the Stash Coupé; the all-wheel-drive WindHound and WindHawk. All Sbarro’s cars were big. In stark contrast the Super Twelve is a supermini, the smallest supercar made in the eighties. Twelve cylinders developing 240 BHP in 3.1 meters of polyester weighing-in at 800 kg. A concentrated sports machine.


The Super Twelve is roughly the same size as the Austin Mini except for its width. At 1.75 m a shameless 35 cm wider than the Mini! The geometric front blends into a bulbous rear resulting in an aggressive stance which is reinforced by Andréini’s paintwork. The large lateral air intakes, seen two years later on Ferrari’s Testarossa, indicate a mid-engined machine. The car rolls on Gotti alloys (15 in front, 16 in rear) and is shod with Pirelli P7 rubber. The grille is typical eighties Sbarro design. The body-coloured tail lights are integrated into the smooth rear shape which is only broken by four exhausts and an aluminium skid plate punctuated by ten large holes.


The passenger compartment is upholstered in beige leather with a large centre consol separating two Recaro seats and harnesses. A luxury audio system is built into the roof and there is an on-board computer within reach of the passenger.


The rear window pane or hatch has no frame like the Citroën AX. Once opened, the leather engine cover can be removed revealing a 12 cylinder in-line transverse-mounted motor. This unusual power-plant is actually made from two 6 cylinder 1300 cc Kawasaki motorcycle engines. Each retains its own 5 speed gearbox and a special linkage system allows the boxes to be operated synchronously with a single gear lever. Each engine drives only one wheel and is connected to the other engine by v-belts: this minimises variations in engine speed. The car can be run on one engine in case of mechanical difficulties. There is 240 BHP on tap for this 800 kg vehicle. This gives a weight to power ratio of just 3.3 kg/BHP (4.3 kg/BHP for its contemporary, the Lamborghini Countach LP500!). The acceleration is excellent, 0 to 62 mph in 5 s. but has been achieved at the expense of top speed which is nevertheless 125 mph.


Sbarro only built one Super Twelve. Its very special engine makes it a ferocious car and a handful to drive. That's why Sbarro built another version with a more conventional engine. It was called the Super Eight and was introduced at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show.


text Philippe Calvet, translation Justin Bouverie




Sbarro SUPER TWELVE, 1982


12 cylinder in-line (two Kawasaki 6 cylinder)


transverse mid-engined


2600 cc


240 - 250 BHP @ 8000 rpm


rear-wheel drive (chain)


2 manual 5-speed (1 per engine)


800 kg


3,3 kg / BHP


4 discs  


length 3,15 m ; width 1,75 m ; height 1,30 m ; wheelbase 2,20 m


195/50 x 15 front ; 235/50 x 16 rear

top speed

125 mph ( 200 km/h)

0-62 mph

5,0 seconds




Version française