Diesel Bizzarrini previewed a sports car future that never was

by Antony Ingram
15 March 2022 2 min read
Diesel Bizzarrini previewed a sports car future that never was
Photos: Gallery Aaldering

Diesel is a useful fuel, and therein lies its problem for car enthusiasts. It powers vans and tractors and heavy machinery because diesel engines are efficient and hard-working. But it is also clattery and low-revving and does not, typically, power vehicles designed for entertainment or joy. You’ll not find a diesel Ferrari, which some may suggest says it all.

You will find a diesel Bizzarrini though, and the sole example is currently for sale at Gallery Aaldering in The Netherlands. The Bizzarrini Kjara was a one-off project developed by Bizzarrini in conjunction with the Technical University of Rome, and debuted at the 2000 Turin Motor Show, a window into Giotto Bizzarrini’s vision of a modern sports car.

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Two things made it special, and both related to its powertrain. At its heart was a 2.4-litre, five-cylinder turbodiesel sourced from the Fiat group – specifically, from Lancia as the badge on the cam cover indicates. The other was that the Kjara was designed as a hybrid, the 2.4 paired with a quartet of electric motors to fire it down the road.

This would have made it unique at the time, with hybrid technology in its production nascency – only Toyota and Honda offered hybrid production vehicles in 2000, and neither brand offered the technology in anything particularly racy.

The listing notes that the electric component of the Kjara is currently disconnected – though the diesel engine apparently still runs, starting without issue.

Whether the car moves under its own steam isn’t mentioned, but even if it doesn’t that’s not necessarily a problem: This is, after all, a concept car, and if there’s one thing concepts are good for it’s making an impact even while stationary.

The Kjara certainly does that, with a dramatic wedge-like profile dominated by large cooling intakes on either side, and by its spider-style lack-of-roof arrangement with double-bubble fly screen ahead of a cabin that makes Lotus track specials look well-equipped. The Lancia five-pot is mounted amidships, under a rear deck fashioned by someone with a penchant for triangles.

Bizzarrini was far from the only company to preview a diesel sports car – the Volkswagen Group in particular tried a few times, with cars like the VW Ecoracer and 2008’s R8 V12 TDI – but given the motor industry’s current direction, it’s unlikely we’ll see its ilk again.

Read more

10 diesel classics that mix fun with frugality
Freeze Frame: Mercedes’ record-breaking diesel C111
Bizzarrini is back with former Aston Martin boss behind the wheel

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