Franco Sbarro. A name regular viewers will recognise as a one-off car designer, a man of singular talent and mindset. While such genius can never truly be replicated, the essence of his design ethos is being passed to a new generation.
Tucked away in a back hall at the Porte de Versailles venue that hosted the 2012 Paris Motor Show was this carbon fibre hot rod, from the Espera Sbarro Montbéliard School of Design.
Established 20 years ago by the Maître Concepteur, Sbarro School offers training in automotive technology, combining theory and practice; they must be pretty bloody good seeing this car was designed and built by the students.
Known simply as the Eight, after the Maserati-sourced V8 engine, this machine was taken from design to reality in just eight weeks. The stunning show car also incorporates a variety of new technologies provided by the students' sponsors and as such showcases some of the latest technology available to car makers, including a driver-facing tablet computer that occupies the space normally housing the dashboard.
Applications such as sat nav, internet, Read & Go for books, Liveradio and Deezer for music and Cinéday for movies keep the driver connected while on the go. The Eight also features a Parrot Asteroid smart car radio powered by Android that features a 6.2" screen and can connect to their online Asteroid Market, mobile phones via Bluetooth, or display videos through auxiliary inputs. Not sure if a headset or PC that offers so many distractions from the road is a good idea, but at least they'll distract from the cheap door trims. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Well, all of this technology is well and good, but the irony (oh, the irony) is that 21st century technological showcase relies on distinctly 19th century technology to propel it; although to be fair, it's a very fine example of the Otto Cycle principle.
The standard-tune Maser V8 engine spins out 360bhp to the rear wheels; more than enough to propel the two occupants at a rapid rate of knots.
Who needs a touchscreen when you can touch the loud pedal and have so much fun?