A Photo For Sunday – 1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti

I like to imagine that if you were going to write a review or article about the Alfa Romeo 146 Ti (or any older Alfa) a suitably Italian background would be appropriate.

1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti
1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti

Quite by chance it has worked out the other way and the car and background suggest the feature.

The Ti was the highest level in the 146’s engine and trim hierarchy. These models had colour-coordinated side skirts, a boot spoiler and 12-hole alloy wheels (the car above does not). Two-litre cars had stiffer suspension, uprated brakes, ABS, lower-profile tires and a different steering rack that had a small ratio as on the 156 but a worsened turning circle, something to do with an attempt to deploy pure Ackerman steering geometry.

The Ti designation was a bit of a cheat on Alfa Romeo’s part. The original meaning of the term was turismo internazionale and was applied to some of Alfa’s more prestigious saloons of the 60s. That was a time when one could believe in the idea of international touring, as for example a fine drive from Dublin to Bordeaux or from Bologna to Brittany. To travel then was, I am convinced, actually very interesting and one felt like an alien when one was beyond one’s borders.

Plastering Ti on a small family hatchback, however sporting it may have been, was trading on the name. Such is the power of the Ti badge in its florid italic script, that I have to work hard to try to forget the dull realities of the car as it is.

It’s a nearly worthless two-decade old front-drive, two-litre, in-line four cylinder car, mechanically identical to any Escort, Golf or Astra. And now it’s parked in front of a pizza delivery place where the entire frontage is made of PVC decals, marring the street around it and cutting out light for those who work within.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

2 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday – 1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti”

  1. I like what the owner has done to this attractive car – those wheels (from a Spider or GTV, I think) work very well on it, giving it a more modern and clean feel. One thing, I don’t recall a 157? Alfa was in good shape around this time, and I recall having high hopes for Fiat’s ownership of the marque. I think these were Canterella days and he liked cars, even if, perhaps he was not a great businessman. Which is more than can be said of the current incumbant …

  2. Well spotted. I was thinking of the 156 and have adjusted the text accordingly. Around that time Alfa had a full range of cars and was entirely believable. One would not have thought that from there on it was a stuttering decline to the point where we have three cars (one of which is a halo car nobody buys) and a lot of vapour ware. It has been three months since the last round of “product plans” so there should be some more plans announced quite soon.
    For me the mystery is why Alfa can´t get the ride and handling right. For all their other faults, most of the old-school Alfa´s were a hoot to drive. When did they decided to leave the chassis tuning to someone who doesn´t care too much about it? Or to tune them so they are unremarkable. Too much emphasis at Alfa has been on superficial style when what really attracted people was the engaging driving character. Ford sold a lot of cars based on the Focus 1´s entertaining and usuable blend of steering, handling and ride and yet it was a totally mainstream car. The Giulietta is a completely mainstream car and doesn´t even offer the simplicity of an Opel, VW or Ford ownership experience. I imagine the Mito is dying in the showrooms.

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