Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper

The Alfa 166 had a nine year run. The unfortunate front had a redesign in 2003 but the rear stayed much the same for almost a decade.

1998 Alfa Romeo 166 rear view: Wikipedia.org
1998 Alfa Romeo 166 rear view: Wikipedia.org

I can’t visualise how Alfa Romeo got around to signing-off on the rear bumper of this car. The rest of it has some very eccentric detailing too. But I will concentrate on the bootlid and rear bumper. As the photos show, the bumper seems to mate with the body-in-white in an rather odd way. At the sides the upper and lower edges meet along a horizontal plane. But in the middle of the car, the bumper is tucked behind the bodywork.

I don’t know how the two different approaches are resolved in between. I imagine it twists between the centre and corner of the car. The line of the bumper-to-body join is not itself aligned on a simple plane. It is slightly –just slightly higher – in the middle under the bootlid. It is hard to imagine the bumper line looked like this on a drawing.

I have marked out the lines on the sill and at the front wing. Note the metal strip between the sill and the door shutlines. And note the small vertical line behind the front wing: quotazioni-auto-usate.motorionline.com
I have marked out the lines on the sill and at the front wing. Note the metal strip between the sill and the door shutlines. And note the small vertical line behind the front wing: quotazioni-auto-usate.motorionline.com

On the credit side, the rear wing does not have a welded tab of metal under the rear lamps. That is a commendably deep pressing.

If one examines the sills one sees the expected separate sill going from front to back. Oddly, above that is another piece of body work between the sill and the door shut line and this ends with the kind of vertical cut you see on cheaper cars, where the sill meets the front wing. And then take a look at the A-pillars. And then look at the shutline of the rear door.

1998 Alfa Romeo 166 crudely reworked. I moved the door shutline and deleted the metal strip under the doors.
1998 Alfa Romeo 166 crudely reworked. I moved the door shutline and deleted the metal strip under the doors.

All over the car are the kinds of design solutions that seem to be the product of designers who did not look very hard at other car companies’ best practice.

In spite of all this, the 166 is an immensely charming car, inside and out. This seems to be of a piece with the car’s unorthodox approach to fitting and assembly.

Author: richard herriott

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

3 thoughts on “Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper”

  1. The rear bumper treatment is rather odd, I agree. Well spotted! I can’t really make sense with your description, though. For me it looks like the following:
    At the sides, the bumper and the wing are essentially flush. Under the bootlid there is a very small upward curvature of the bumper. I think it’s supposed to meet the plane of the bootlid. Now the strange thing is how the outer parts of the rear junction are resolved. The curvature (or groove) in the bumper seems to continue outwards and the rear (tabless!) parts of the wings just seem to fold over it. Im still not decided if I find it pure genius or just sloppily done…

  2. THAT’S what made me hate the rear of the 166! I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for years. It looks so untidy and amorphous, denying the shutline its continuity and making the bootlid seem flimsy.

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