With Boston about to be buried under Blizzard Nemo last Friday, Greg Baracchi needed to act fast. So he fired up his rare Italian supercar, and drove.
In the still hours before Gov. Deval Patrick declared a statewide driving ban, Baracchi was cruising the city's empty streets in his 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C, the snow melting off its fiery red paint and low-slung, hand-built body.
You might expect Baracchi to have slid into a lamppost and written off a $200,000 car -- the 8C has rear-wheel-drive and a ferociously-revving engine -- but he did no such thing. With snow tires and proper respect, the 8C is quite the docile stormtrooper, as his video above shows.
Before talking with Baracchi, I thought whomever was driving this car had to be a lunatic. Automotive journalist Ezra Dyer is known for such stunts, but I knew it wasn't him as he had moved from Quincy to North Carolina. In 2009, Dyer drove an Audi R8 in a blinding snowstorm to Bed, Bath and Beyond. But the R8, fitted with Audi's legendary quattro all-wheel-drive, is designed to be an all-weather supercar.
The 8C, with its fat tires and 444 horsepower, has no safety nets. And it's rarer than Menino speaking in a clear sentence. Alfa Romeo imported just 84 cars into the US out of 500 worldwide. Baracchi's is that last 500th.
"Of all the 8Cs ever ordered out of 500 only two have been delivered with two sets of rims, the second of which [have] snow tires," he told me in an email. "The second owner is a good friend of mine that lives in New York and had the first 8C in the USA and he uses the car as his daily driver as well as in the snow!"
Last year, Baracchi flew his 8C to Europe to participate in the summer's Mille Miglia, a three-day road rally commemorating the historic Italian endurance race of the 1950s, and the lavish Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza. He then drove his 8C through the European winter, a perfect test for his snow tires. "No need to say that I had an amazing time, it's probably one of those things that I will [keep] for life in my memories," he said.
Baracchi's fun doesn't stop with a snowy Alfa. The 24-year-old Harvard grad, who lives in Cambridge, owns a Maserati GranTurismo S and a Ferrari F40, which he's now restoring in his native Italy. Baracchi co-founded a solar panel company with two other Harvard students in 2011 and sold his share after its young CEO died in a home accident last September. He's since moved on to "new ventures."
Of all the cars, Baracchi says the 8C is his favorite.
"It's an amazing car to drive and once you own it it simply grows on you," he said. "As a matter of fact during the first few months of ownership I actually didn't like it at all, but then you learn how to use it."
Clearly, in the fine art of driving supercars through snow, he's a master.
Update: An earlier version of this story said Alfa Romeo had imported 99 cars to the US. The correct figure is 84.
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About Boston Overdrive
|Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
|Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
|John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
|Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
|Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
|George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee