With no regard to the risk of either opprobrium or canine displeasure, we stop to appreciate a flawed rarity.
While it could never be considered an outright penance, Alfa Romeo ownership could nevertheless be classified as something more akin to a calling, much like medicine, the religious orders, or perhaps, care work. Certainly here at Ireland’s Southern tip, the Biscione tends to be regarded with dark suspicion and their owners with a mixture of pity, mystification and at times, outright horror. In previous, less secular times, some might even have prayed for their immortal souls.
But even by Irish Alfa Romeo standards, a Brera is something of a unicorn. Alfa’s last production coupé was never a regular sight in any RHD market, and with just over 21,600 made over a five year production run, it wasn’t exactly common street furniture upon its native European continent either. This 2009 Dublin-registered example however, looks a well cared for, much-prized enthusiast’s car, being spotlessly clean despite the lowering cloud and seaborne drizzle.
Since there was no badging to denote engine capacity and having neither time nor wit to refer to the tax disc – I was after all in possession of a highly impatient dog whose evening constitutional I was delaying – (he’s a very busy boy with lots of messages to give and receive) – I remain unclear as to what flavour of Brera we’re dealing with here, although the four exhaust outlets do rather suggest benzina rather than gasolio.
Now I should point out at this juncture that there is a single immutable rule to Brera viewership, and it is quite a simple one. Never, under any circumstances, even if asked politely, attempt to view the car in profile. The merest glance is permissible, as long as one can still reach out and touch the vehicle with an outstretched hand, but any further away and one’s bubble is liable to pop in rather deflating a fashion.
We all know the Brera story don’t we? 2002 concept by Ital Design/Giugiaro. Maserati rear-drive chassis and running gear. A masterful combination of sinuous curves, muscular haunches and dramatic, classical proportions which previewed the equally handsome (and just as flawed) 159 Berlina.
Productionised in 2005, shoehorned onto the jointly developed FWD GM/Fiat premium platform, which was, it is believed, intended for a larger E-segment car, meaning that not only was the Brera overweight, it was fatally marred by its odd proportions, truncated dash/axle ratio and short wheelbase. Hence the injunction to avoid viewing in profile.
How Giorgetto must have wept when presented with the platform hard points. I suppose his fee may have been some paltry compensation. The production Brera (from an aesthetic perspective at least) really was something of a tragedy. Viewed from either front or rear three-quarters and it’s a stunner. But the 159 saloon offers a better balanced silhouette and for a sports coupé, that really is an unpardonable sin.
Nevertheless, like so many who themselves stray from the path of righteousness or tempt others to do so, the Brera has its adherents and I’m pleased to note, its defenders. Certainly the owner of this fine example has undoubtedly paid the price of his indulgence many times over. Perhaps a short prayer on their behalf might after all be in order?