Recently I had a chance to be a passenger in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 and took the chance to see how they solved the ash problem.
The ashtray is the sliding lid type, rather cleverly flush with the surrounding surface. That’s done by having the adjacent panel meeting the console exactly where the ashtray slides forward. There’s a small flange to allow the user to push the lid forward to open it. It’s probably not the world´s biggest ashtray but then again it’s a compact car, comparable in dimensions to a BMW 3 (E21 1975-1983) of the same period. It would be a bit much to
expect anything more substantial. The materials and detail design are very much of the period: hard plastics and sharp edges here and there. I have written elsewhere that the Italians and French seem to have had a harder time than others learning how to construct interiors from the new
materials of the 1970s and 1980s. However, with the passage of time this kind of thing becomes less important and the underlying nature of the car comes out. One can see the general theme the designers were getting at plus the fact that they did a good job of carving room for the driver and passenger out of a small volume. They also had more opportunity for fun with fabrics. This car has a cheerful brown and white tweed material covering the comfortable and supportive seats.
I’ll return at a later time to the matter of the rest of the car which served as another reminder of what got thrown away as cars got bigger. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta had a strong sporty character, provided a lot of room and yet didn’t take up a lot of road space. Nimble and agile sums it up and with a light body and a 1.8 litre engine driving the rear wheels it does make me wonder why VAG, for example, never made more of the sporting potential of their small Polo and Cordoba saloons which are of comparable size. The current Giulietta is certainly not a true successor to this car. BMW has done very nicely selling its little BMW 1-series coupe. If it’s done right people will buy a small, sporty saloon.
[Many thanks to F.Kemple for the chance to look at and travel in the Alfa Romeo.]