A photo for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Montreal

I sometimes think I’m fated to have encounters with unusual Alfas when I least expect to… 

The 2600 duo in Friedrichstadt, the SZ in Dorridge, and the decaying Fadesa Romeo van on the road into Fornells spring immediately to mind.This Montreal was spotted on an unremarkable suburban street in Basel in March 2008. I imagine that the massive rise in classic car prices would make such encounters far less likely now. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Montreal”

Theme: Rivals – The Serpent and the Cat

Alfa Giulia is available to own and steeling to give Gaydon’s finest a lash of its tongue. We look at how it’s faring against its sternest rival.

Image: caradvice.com.au

Wouldn’t it be interesting to spend a day around FCA towers? If only to truly discern the degree of reality evinced by the likes of Big Reidland et al. Because even the big fella must now realise the German trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are conclusively beyond reach. Last year, luxury sector leader, Mercedes-Benz shipped 176,038 C-Class badged vehicles to waiting customers across the European market alone. What hope for Alfa Romeo’s ambitions against those kind of numbers? Continue reading “Theme: Rivals – The Serpent and the Cat”

AD0 16, K-car, J-car, Jags From Mondeos…

And now this. FCA boss Marchionne is going to wring some profits from the investment in the Giulia platform known as Giorgio.

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Future Maseratis, Jeeps and Dodges will use the Giorgio platform. Did they design it to be so flexible? This was reported in Automotive News“Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offset the high costs of relaunching Alfa Romeo by sharing the brand’s Giorgio platform with Maserati, Dodge and Jeep, CEO Sergio Marchionne said.” It’s not going to be quite badge engineering yet it does point towards the Alfa-ness of Alfas and the fussiness of Maseratis being constrained by the need to make the platform compatible with cheaper cars sold as Dodges and Jeeps. This is how they explain it: Continue reading “AD0 16, K-car, J-car, Jags From Mondeos…”

Two Items About Designers

Two designers with long careers provide an insight worth looking at.

Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com
Alfa Romeo 156: autoevolution.com

Two of our regular authors run their own blogs, which we have mentioned before. Mick has taken a look back at the work of Walter de Silva and finds much to praise but also there’s a sore point which is worthy of attention: de Silva’s penchant for absent rear door handles. I will admit to having been swept along on the unthinking currents of received wisdom. Now the point has been made I realise I had not been critical enough. And a ever-present thought that I had ignored now seems as plain as day: that 156 would be perfect were it not for the silly faux-coupé trope. Continue reading “Two Items About Designers”

Better Without Make Up

Alfa Romeo have revealed the standard edition Stelvio soft-roader CUV raised hatch product.

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Based purely on a careful glance of the publicity photos, the car radiates much less of a displeasing character than the full-on range-toppers that have been shown so far.

Much the same applies to the Alfa Romeo Giulia which, in its top-spec, looks slightly grotesque. In its standard form it’s nice enough. Turning to other brands, the AMG versions of Mercedes cars all overcook it. I would wager that if the AMG running gear was transferred to the body-shell of a base model the vehicle would even perform slightly better.

Continue reading “Better Without Make Up”

Ashtrays: 1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8

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.

1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 ashtray open
1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8 ashtray open

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 Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1982 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.8”

A Photo for Sunday: 1992 Alfa Romeo 75

It’s a twin-spark 2.0 and black: I thought they had to be red or white.

1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark
1992 Alfa Romeo 2.0 Twin Spark

The year might be 1992 or a little earlier. Notice the width compared to the Auris. The two cars have much the same interior space. While no beauty, this is the car I tried to represent when I first started to draw cars so I owe it debt of gratitude.

Theme : Sudamerica – Parallel States of Evolution

I write as someone who is far from convinced of the universal wonders of the Free Market, yet I tend to the conviction that state-owned car makers are a bad idea.

badges

I think that’s because I can’t help but regard most cars as rather frivolous things, so I base my prejudice on the feeling that I wouldn’t want to be governed by an organisation that wastes even part of their energies thinking about cars, except in legislating their use. This prejudice soon falls apart. True, most of the cars built for a captive market in the old Communist states of Eastern Europe were disappointing at best, but Tatras were glorious things. The nationalised British Leyland was a reasonably cack-handed enterprise, with sparks of cleverness, but it only got nationalised due to the uselessness of its private management. And Renault, extracted by De Gaulle’s government from Louis Renault at the end of the War in a very murky way, produced their most influential vehicles during its 50 years of state ownership. Continue reading “Theme : Sudamerica – Parallel States of Evolution”

LA Motor Show Shorts 1

This is the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio. You will have seen it elsewhere. They are pitching it as an SUV.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source
2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: source

I am reminded of the images of hamburgers shown over the counter in fast food restaurants and the way the damp wad you are served is somewhat less manicured and airbrushed. Here we are being told the car is a CUV or crossover or SUV (Autocar says SUV) but is it not just a tall hatchback? Take a hard look with the prejudice goggles off. If you were told it was a new Giulietta, would you be able to accept that?

The show car’s interior is full of carbon fibre. I object to this horrible and ugly material as much as others do to wood. Also, it’s a car for 2018 meaning another 13 months from now. By 2018 the car will seem like it has been around for ages. Where is the truly new, surprise car today?

Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models

Autocar, Gearheads and Carscoops reports today that Alfa Romeo promises “up to” nine new cars by 2021. The numbers don’t add up.

A good decade late to market. Alfa Romeo's Kamal concept. Image:digitaltrends
Still waiting. Image:digitaltrends.

As a check on this let’s look back: in February we reported that the plan was for eight cars by 2020. This is what I got out of the last report: – the promises included a mid-size SUV on sale by 2017 (one), by 2017-2020 there would be a ‘full-size’ SUV (two), then come two more UVs (for ‘utility vehicles’ (four).  And by 2021 there would be two more ‘speciality’ models in the vein of the Alfa 4C (making six) Also confirmed by Alfa was a new hatchback (seven). I can’t find reference to car number eight.  Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Promises Delays and Fewer Models”

Estate of Arese – 1986 Alfa Romeo 75 Sportwagon

Missing Links and lost causes – in search of Alfa Romeo’s elusive estate.

1986 Alfa 75 Sportwagon. Image: Alfaroma.it
1986 Alfa 75 Sportwagon. Image: Alfaroma.it

The recent announcement by Alfa Romeo’s Harald Wester that the Italian manufacturer has no plans to introduce an estate version of its latest Giulia saloon was hardly a shock, given that the forthcoming Stelvio crossover will henceforth fulfil that role, being to all intents and purposes a jacked up Giulia hatch. As we know, the European market for upmarket estate cars is shrinking to the crossover contagion and what is left of it is dominated by the German hegemonic trio and Volvo, so it probably makes little sense now for FCA to throw good money after bad. Continue reading “Estate of Arese – 1986 Alfa Romeo 75 Sportwagon”

A photoseries for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint

Amidst the stolid carpark fare of Gaydon’s National Motor Museum, this little gem gleamed.

Image: Driventowrite
Image: Driventowrite

I can’t be certain about the year, but the mesh side grilles flanking the scudetto and the presence of the ornate chromed side repeaters on the front wings suggests this is a late-series Sprint. The car was pristine, looking delicate and almost fragile amidst the bloated moderns in its midst. Continue reading “A photoseries for Sunday – Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint”

A Matta of Precedence

With the reveal of Alfa Romeo’s new crossover only weeks away, we look back at a few they made earlier.

Image: autocar
Mad for road? Alfa’s forthcoming Stelvio. Image: autocar

Alfa Romeo has confirmed it will reveal the forthcoming Stelvio crossover/SUV at this November’s Los Angeles motor show. It’s a highly significant reveal for FCA’s mainstream ‘premium offering’ since it will be the key to the commercial fate of the Alfa renaissance. Failure will not be an option. We’re likely to hear a good deal about how this will be the fabled Milanese marque’s first stab at a production SUV, but while that may be accurate in a literal sense, it won’t be Alfa Romeo’s first off-roader. Continue reading “A Matta of Precedence”

A Photoset for Friday: Alfa Romeo 2600 Berlina

I had high expectations of Friedrichstadt, a perfect little displaced Dutch town in German Nordfriesland, but they didn’t include two Alfa 2600s.

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Their presence was unexplained. No ‘Oldtimer’ gathering, no other participants on a one make outing. I would hate to think that they had just ‘failed to proceed’. The 2600 Sprint’s charms are beyond dispute, but a bit of fact-finding on the Berlina sprung some surprises. Continue reading “A Photoset for Friday: Alfa Romeo 2600 Berlina”

Transitory Twins – 1986 Alfa Romeo Vivace

Alfa Romeo really ought to have made these lovely Pininfarina concepts – well maybe not…

Pininfarina Vivace Coupe. Image: oldconceptcars
Pininfarina Vivace Coupe. Image: oldconceptcars

By the mid-1980s, Italy’s Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale had run out of the two crucial components necessary for their ongoing custody of Alfa Romeo: patience and money. Having come bitingly close to selling the ailing motor company to Ford in 1985, Fiat swooped in and made the Italian government agency a far more palatable offer, both financially and politically. With the storied marque now a part of the sprawling Fiat empire, carrozzeria Pininfarina were quick to see the potential, and for the 1986 Turin show, prepared twin concepts for a new coupé and spider derivative, called Vivace. Continue reading “Transitory Twins – 1986 Alfa Romeo Vivace”

Giulia Shock!

A former doubter takes a thimbleful of humble pie as the Giulia lands…

Image via carscoops
Image: carscoops

In the eleven months since Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia to the world, I’ll admit to being more than a little dubious about the car and its prospects, and with some justification. Not only did it look faintly ridiculous in its early-reveal Quadrifoglio Verde warpaint, also the on again, off again nature of its gestation and introduction did little to lend confidence or succour to those who had waited so long for a competitive, mid-sized Alfa saloon following the demise of the pretty, if portly 159. But now that it’s finally here, perhaps it’s an opportune moment to view it with less cynical eyes. Continue reading “Giulia Shock!”

Ashtrays: 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000

The glory days of the sports saloon and smoking occurred around the late 60s to early 70s. At this time Alfa Romeo produced a car for the determined driver who also enjoyed a rush of nicotine…

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The Alfa Romeo 2000 berlina shown here comes with all that is necessary in a performance saloon. In addition to the five-speed gearbox (when Fords and Opels made do with four), rear-wheel drive, independent suspension and a 1,962 cc four-cylinder engine (132 bhp) the 2000 had a very-well placed and sensibly-sized flip-top ashtray for the driver and front-passenger. The rear-passengers could use bottom-hinged ashtrays placed in the lower part of the doors. This, as we have seen, is probably one of two optimum locations for the rear passengers’ ashtrays, the other being behind the console between the front seats (where there is usually room for a large receptacle). The rear ashtray of the 2000 has a thoughtfully wrought tab on which to extinguish cigarettes. It might suit cigarillos and cheroots but not a larger cigar – a half corona at a stretch. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000”

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Spied

Automotive News revealed spy shots of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio yesterday.

Stelvio Pass: source
Stelvio Pass: source

The image shows a car well-clad in black vinyl sheeting and foam packing that somewhat disguises the vehicle’s finer features. What they don’t hide is the grille or front bumper themes, the rising waistline or silhouette. By and large I’d be surprised if I was surprised by the final form of the Stelvio. I would not be surprised at all if the Stelvio sells in greater numbers than the Giulia saloon. Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Stelvio Spied”

Suspension – (Of Disbelief)

Our editor will be cross with me for appropriating this month’s theme in such an arbitrary manner, but the title did rather suggest itself.

A good decade late to market. Alfa Romeo's Kamal concept. Image:digitaltrends
Alfa Romeo’s 2003 Kamal concept – 13 years later we’ll finally see a production version. Image:digitaltrends

Last year Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia berlina well before it was ready, allowing damaging rumours of engineering issues and rushed development to take hold. FCA management launched the Giulia early to reassure potential investors of the robustness of Alfa Romeo’s expansion plans and to strengthen their negotiating hand in talks with General Motors. So while the reasons for its botched launch are understandable, I’m sure it’s one Marchionne regrets, given the ensuing damage to both his own and Alfa Romeo’s credibility.  Continue reading “Suspension – (Of Disbelief)”

Almost live from Geneva 2016: More Superleggera Touring

Our roving reporter, Robertas Parazitas, has been out with his  Hasselblad to capture some of the vehicles at the Geneva Motor Show. Thus we have these exclusive images of the Superleggera Touring Alfa Romeo.

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Yes, it’s still very fine looking. Alfa Romeo’s own designers are having a very hard time expressing how a modern Alfa Romeo should look. To judge by this, Superleggera Touring have their finger on it. The car is actually deeply retro and yet isn’t at all. This is a first rate synthesis of old and new.
 

It Exists

As a blog with a bit of design focus, it’s always a pleasure to show something that’s interesting and good….

2016 Touring Superleggera Alfa Romeo 8C
2016 Touring Superleggera Alfa Romeo 8C

…and not complain about it. First, I was unaware that Touring Superleggera were still in business. I was not paying attention. With a badge as evocative as theirs I’d be falling over myself to find an excuse to put it on a production car if I was a major manufacturer. Second, this car is lovely in its own right and is vastly better than the car it’s based on. The squared-off wheel arches are nicely handled and I like the flat top to the front arch. Bonus points accrue for that colour blue they chose. Continue reading “It Exists”

A Photo For Saturday: 1995 Alfa Romeo 155 2.0 16V Super

A disappointment when new and thoroughly unloved now, Driven to Write examines a Alfa well past its best.

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The 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 marked the end of rear wheel drive for its maker. The car improved upon the much-loved and little-sold Alfa Romeo 75 by carving out more interior space and having a bigger boot but in other respects was an inferior car. The dynamics of the car left a lot to be Continue reading “A Photo For Saturday: 1995 Alfa Romeo 155 2.0 16V Super”

Alfa’s Product Plans For 2018 Or Whenever

Autocar reported on the 27th of January that Alfa Romeo’s product plans have been set back by two years. All their eight cars arrive by 2020. 

1995 Alfa Romeo Spider: wikipedia.org
1995 Alfa Romeo Spider: wikipedia.org

You can read the full text at Autocar if you are interested. I think at this point the whole Alfa Romeo thing has become a kind of extended joke. In comedy there have been two examples of the joke involving something overly prolonged and the tension of the joke running on too long. In Dead Men Don´t Wear Plaid (1982) Steve Martin’s character pours the last grains of coffee out a bag and the grains never quite Continue reading “Alfa’s Product Plans For 2018 Or Whenever”

Driven To Write’s Top 50 countdown – 7b

Ranking in equal 7th place with the Datsun Cherry (N12) is the 1984 Alfa Romeo 33 Green Cloverleaf.

1986 Alfa Romeo 33: productioncars.com
1986 Alfa Romeo 33: productioncars.com

With the Alfa Romeo 33 Green Cloverleaf, the Milanese firm continued its struggle to march back to the front of the sporting pack, to chase the Peugeot’s 305 GT and VW’s Golf GTi. Building on the structural foundations of the 1971 Alfa Sud, the 33 had a 105 bhp 1.5 litre flat-four engine and the same basic mechanicals. This Green Cloverleaf version of the car had stiffer springs and dampers than the standard model; it had extra aerodynamic fittings, a tendency to rust and a noisy, fizzy, raspy exhaust that other makers could only dream about. Unlike the other cars in the 33 range the GC was fun to drive and faster than a Ford XR3i. And inside there were thicker side bolsters on the seats and a leather rimmed steering wheel too. This was no Escort, no Golf. Perhaps only Astra/Kadett owners managed to Continue reading “Driven To Write’s Top 50 countdown – 7b”

A Question of Form

Has Centro Stile Fiat ever produced a design of lasting significance?

centro stile alfa romeo

This is the question I found myself asking having read a recent driventowrite piece on Lorenzo Ramaciotti – (which I urge you to read). Because like many, I held firm to the view that Turin’s fabled carrozzerie were responsible for everything worthy of note. On the other hand, memory can sometimes prove a faulty co-driver, so I did what any self-respecting auto-nerd would at this point and revisited the Fiat group’s styling back catalogue in a quest for answers. So what we have here is a list of significant Fiats of the last 50 years and who was responsible for their styling*Continue reading “A Question of Form”

FCA – State of the Empire – Part Two

The second of a two part examination of FCA’s European operations and the feasibility of Sergio Marchionne’s four-year plan to revive them.

Part two – There will be blood:

0094f_100mm_raised_soft_plastic_badgeSelling Ferrari
FCA’s presentation made a point of telling the financial and automotive worlds just how much Marchionne is prepared to accept for the sale of Ferrari, suggesting the fabled Marenello concern is for sale; despite firm denials from within FCA itself. Some might say that he would be insane to do so – the ‘Cavallino Rampante’ being probably the most valuable automotive brand in the universe right now. But look at it another way. If we believe the hype, everybody wants to own a Ferrari – and as any petrolhead with rosso corsa flowing through their veins will attest, what could be better than that? Continue reading “FCA – State of the Empire – Part Two”

FCA – State of the Empire – Part One

A two part examination of FCA’s European operations and the feasibility of Sergio Marchionne’s four-year plan to revive them.

A_Pantone_VersionNow that the captives have escaped, the presentations are complete and fruit and vegetables been thrown, perhaps it is germane to take a look behind the figures and statistics at the state of affairs facing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Europe as they painfully inch towards their eventual fate.

Continue reading “FCA – State of the Empire – Part One”

Alfa Romeo´s fight-back continues for its third straight decade

What are Alfa Romeo selling? Just wondered.

Alfa´s complete UK model-line up
Alfa´s complete UK model-line up

The image is a screen shot of Alfa Romeo UK´s website. Notice that there is a rather glaring gap to the right. They do actually sell (or try to sell) three cars but only show two. I wondered why this might be. Are they so strapped for cash that they don´t have the resources to insert the third car into the image? Or is there another “third car” coming soon to fill the space? The German AR website at least adds the Quadrifoglio versions to the array to pad things out a bit.

Continue reading “Alfa Romeo´s fight-back continues for its third straight decade”