The need for speed. And Scigheras.

Blame it on a lack of sleep after struggling with an on and off again cold, blame it on the traces of cold and flu medication I’m on that gives me very strange dreams and make me forget when I went to bed, blame it on the moon’s alignment – whatever the culprit is, it’s causing me to have some strange thoughts while trying to wake up in my 5am shower.

And this morning I pondered the very important question in the hot water: How come I’ve never heard of the Italdesign Scighera car outside of the notoriously awesome Need for Speed 3 on PC?...

I still play this today. Because it's brilliant.


A LITTLE BACKGROUND IF I PLEASE 

In a mystery still yet to be solved, somehow years ago my brother Guy came home with a copy of Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit - which was kind of like Lily Allen rocking up your house completely naked with a slab of your favorite brew under each arm. You see way back when before the series got silly with Porsche specials, boost, ugly body kits, neon lights and pimped out VW Sirocco’s ala Fast N Furious (and the truly god awful Need For Speed: Shift), it was a smashing game of sinking the boots into exotic cars in exotic locations in races to prove how big your wang is and trying not to be caught speeding by the local constabulary – a pretty simple formula that worked so well due the combination of great looking graphics, an entertaining exotic car list, decent responsive controls and fun tracks to hurl yourself around while avoiding spike strips.
Couple that with its unprecedented scope for modification (the NFS3 community were very busy beavers churning out every other car that wasn’t in the original game and making them available for download – including Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, The Supra from TFNTF 1 and vehicles from Star Wars to name a few) and you ended up with a game that I still enjoying playing to this day (having turned my copy of Need For Speed: Shift into an ashtray) – apologies to it’s original owner (whoever you were) because you’re not getting it back. Ever.



AND IT HAD LOTS OF SHINY SHINY CARS TO FANG AROUND IN (AT THE TIME).

Lots at the time (remember this was before the glory days of the Gran Turismo series and PGR). 

Street-legal models

  • Chevrolet Corvette (C5)
  • El Niño (bonus car)
  • Ferrari 355 F1 Spider
  • Ferrari 550 Maranello
  • Ferrari 456M GT
  • Jaguar XJR-15
  • Jaguar XK8
  • Jaguar XKR
  • Jaguar Sports XJR-15 (bonus car)
  • Lister Storm
  • Lamborghini Diablo SV
  • Lamborghini Countach
  • Mercedes Benz CLK GTR (bonus car)
  • Spectre R42

Spectre R42

Exclusive Models

  • Aston Martin DB7 (PC version only)
  • Ford GT Falcon (PC, Australian version only)
  • HSV VT GTS (PC, Australian version only)
  • Italdesign Scighera
  • Mercedes Benz SL 600

Police Models

  • Pursuit Chevorlet Corvette
  • Pursuit Lamborghini Diablo SV (bonus car)
  • Pursuit El Niño (bonus car)

The made up El Nino had the best handling (unless you tweaked the cars with an editor of course) but as kids, we were more than happy to put every one of those cars normally out of reach (for those earning 10 bucks a week at the time) through its paces.
The police hated me when I raced past in the Diablo SV. They didn’t stand a chance. The Corvette caused a lot of dust off road and the XK8 didn’t like sharp turns as much as I did.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SCIGHERA?

Good question. It’s the only car in the list (the El Nino being made up of course) that I never saw ever again, anywhere. Not on TV, in gaming, in a newspaper or car mag, even on Top Gear being raced by Richard Hammond. Even the Lister Storm turned up in GTR2…which begged the question: Did it die a horrible death? Or to put it better ‘What the hell was it and what happened?’

Wait...

TURNS OUT…IT WAS AN ALFA

Well an Alfa Romeo concept car pretty much, bolted together by the wiz kids at Italdesign-Giugiaro S.p.A back in 1997. Mid mounted 4WD twin turboed V6 6 speed two seater fun that weighs about the same as my RX7 and looks like Robocop was wired into it.

Still not that pretty though..

And because it’s a concept car, you’ll have as much chance of seeing one in action as you do of everybody in the financial riots peacefully meeting for tea and crumpets to settle things.
As for what happened to it? Only Italdesign knows. They did plan to release it in very small numbers, but it never got off the ground. The original is probably in a garage in Italy somewhere, brought out once in a blue moon in a game of ‘Need for speed: Real life’ where if you get caught by the cops, you do actually go to jail.

SO THERE YOU GO

Pity Youtube wasn't around in this game's heyday as it would have saved me years of head scratching - someone's uploaded it's original presentation video! (And it's in English!)



I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t going crazy and it does exist – I can enjoy my showers in peace before my next stupid question pops up. I’ll never see one in the flesh in my lifetime…but at least with the CD ROM at home, I can still outrun the cops in the safety of my spare room…

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