8C by the Sea

A few months later, I finally wised up and decided I had wasted enough time and that I needed to focus all my efforts and attention on correcting this Big Mistake, and I embarked upon a massive campaign to win back the love of my life.  As if this were not a difficult enough task to begin with, to make the logistics of my campaign even more challenging was the fact that she lived almost 6000 miles away in her hometown of Milan, the birthplace of Alfa Romeo.  Without going into the embarrassing personal details of this international media blitz, suffice it to say that after several months of perseverance, I was finally able to convince her to give me another chance.  I then planned the dream voyage with her that I had romanticized and idealized for so long: the drive up PCH to Big Sur in August of 2010, the centenary of Alfa Romeo.

The 8C seems to be so perfectly matched for this road trip.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Alfa Romeo chose to use this exact road and destination as the setting of their official promo video.  The 8C really has a split personality of both a sports car and a Grand Tourer, while the Competizione in the name is rather a misnomer.  As much as it seems to be begging me to take it on the track and let it loose, I just don’t see the 8C as a competition car.

There are many cars out there that are much better fitted for track use and will outperform the 8C.  But what the 8C might lack in track performance, it makes up in thrilling you with its engaging driving experience.

On the highway, the 8C is extremely well composed and sure footed, even at double the legal speed limit (of course not speaking from first-hand experience, since I obey posted speed limits).  Sixth gear is mostly useless on US-legal speeds, and I spent most of the trip up PCH in fifth gear.  For those times when driving along at around 60MPH stuck behind a row of slow moving cars, downshifting to fourth launches the 8C so quickly that you can swallow up several cars ahead in one quick shot, gracing them with one of the most impressive and awe inspiring engine notes ever heard.

One of my favorite parts of this trip is the hill climb over the cliffs in Big Sur.  Here, the road is twisty, narrow, and single-lane in each direction, with stunning views of the ocean to the west.  For the stretches where you are lucky to not be behind any slow cars, pushing the 8C is a richly rewarding experience.  In Sport Mode, the electronic traction control allows you to get the tail loose just enough to keep you focused on what you’re doing.  And the ridiculously large brakes mean that you can approach those hairpin turns high above the sea cliffs at frightening speed with the confidence that you can vanquish all that momentum in a fraction of a second right before the turn in.  In most cases, though, you’ll reach your passenger’s limits of comfort way before the limits of the 8C.

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