As They To The Lychgate Draw Near So Waxes Quick The Quiet Fear

Chopping the back off a saloon can lead to unfortunate results.

1979 Buick Century Aeroback

The 1978 A-body cars at GM lost a lot of fat in the downsizing wave of the mid-70s. Half a tonne of car vanished per model. For the Aeroback cars such as this 1979 Century coupe even more metal got sliced off (the same went for the very similar Olds Cutlass Salon). The 1977 Talbot Sunbeam and 1975 AMC Pacer underwent the same sort of radical surgery in the name of making one car out of another. But if you want to Continue reading “As They To The Lychgate Draw Near So Waxes Quick The Quiet Fear”

Leaving Off The Saws

It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.

The demise of Saab, Rover and Lancia

In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.

First, the badge engineering of Fiat cars increased and then swapped around 2011 to the relabelling of Chryslers. The Lybra (1998) and Thesis (2002) count as the last proper Lancias. The Delta (2008) is a superficially restyled Bravo but nowhere near the quality of the 1998 Lybra. The latest Ypsilon is a reworked Fiat 500. As of 2014 FCA gave up rebadging Chrysler (I left one out – which?). And perhaps Alfa Romeo could be added to this chart… Continue reading “Leaving Off The Saws”

Six Degrees of 116

Or, putting it another way, getting the most out of your platform architecture. We count the branches of the Alfa Romeo 116-Series’ family tree.

1972 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Berlina. Image: Autoevolution

Since its post-war reconstitution under semi-state ownership, Alfa Romeo was forced to cut its cloth in ever more inventive ways. Budgets were tight and new model programmes hard-won. Expensive unitary body architectures needed to be well and truly amortised, which led to production runs that in retrospect probably lasted too long. Continue reading “Six Degrees of 116”

Transalpine Hightail

Disappointingly uneven, despite occasional flashes of brilliance, the 1977 Giulietta personifies Alfa Romeo’s 1970’s wilderness years.

Image: wheelsage

The much-loved 105-Series Giulia was the model line that put Alfa Romeo back on a World stage. This compact sporting saloon was a concentrated blend of Portello engineering knowhow wrapped in a highly aerodynamic, if superficially four-square package. Belying it’s ‘boxy’ appearance however, the 105 drove beautifully becoming a firm favourite from its 1962 inception until its ultimate demise 15-years on.

Replacing a car of its stature was no job of a moment, so Alfa not only took their time, but elected to Continue reading “Transalpine Hightail”

Micropost: Alfa Romeo Giulia Has No Rear Centre Armrest Shock

Even the top-of-the-range AR Giulia has no rear centre armrest.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

This is the Quadrifoglio version with a 6-cylinder engine and Brembos all around. An absent rear centre arm-rest is a characteristic of cars from two classss down costing a quarter of the Alfa’s asking price.

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 the French 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.

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Thus we have these exclusive images of the Superleggera Touring Alfa Romeo. 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 an 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”

Micropost – Alfa Romeo 3-Series?

Alfa Romeo’s design chief, Alessandro Maccolini, denies that the new Giulia was inspired by the BMW 3-series. Instead, he cites the 156 as the main reference. 

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I added the Jaguar XE for comparison. My own view is that this is a matter of convergent evolution while also feeling that the resemblance to the 156 is, at best, passing and perhaps coincidental. Those strakes on the Alfa’s bodyside are not very original but the idea is quite generic anyway.

Right. Yes. Indeed. Those Product Plans…Well…

Sometime back we expressed a degree of scepticism about Alfa Romeo’s product plans. What did the good people at Automotive News report on November 4th?

1992-1998 Alfa Romeo 155. Mediocre as this might have been, they were relatively happy times: motorstown.com
1992-1998 Alfa Romeo 155. Mediocre as this might have been, they were relatively happy times: motorstown.com

You can read the rest of the report at Automotive News which saves me a fair amount of cut and paste-work. However, I will find strength to paste this for your comfort and convenience: “FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Oct. 28 that the company is re-examining Alfa’s global expansion because of the slowdown in the Chinese market. Continue reading “Right. Yes. Indeed. Those Product Plans…Well…”

No, Seriously, I Have A Plan: Alfa Romeo’s Question Marks Plotted Out In Detail

The news today is that after the launch of the new Giulia, Alfa Romeo promises, no really promises – and they mean it this time – to launch a new model every six months.

2016 FCA Product Plan: image from Automotive News
2016 FCA Product Plan: image from Automotive News

The table above holds a lot of question marks as soon as it reaches the dim future time known as 2018. The following year’s plan is hard to read because there is a car pasted into the image. Fiat’s plans are rather flimsy. In 2016 and 2017 Fiat dealers will have ‘refreshed’ versions of the 500 and 500L. Did you know that by 2016 the 500 will have been on sale since the death of William Gladstone. It is older than the hills.

You can take a look at an old product plan here to see that since 2014 the new Spider and new D-class SUV were supposed to have been on sale. What value this new product plan?

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. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper”

Tipo 156 – The Last Alfa Romeo

No, not the one you’re thinking of. This is the last rear-wheel drive Alfa saloon. Or is it?

156.Alfabb.com
A fibreglass styling model of Tipo 156, circa 1983. Image via Alfabb

By 1980, government owned Alfa Romeo was in trouble. The Alfa Sud experiment was unravelling amidst chronic labour unrest and the deteriorating reputation of the model that took its name. In addition, its expensive engineering couldn’t be recouped by its low price and paltry volumes, meaning Alfa was haemorrhaging Lire at a prodigious rate. Continue reading “Tipo 156 – The Last Alfa Romeo”

Looking Back: 2000 Alfa Romeo 147

I had high hopes for this car, the 147. It had 156 underpinnings and a noticeable increase in quality compared to its predecessors, the 145/146 pair.

2000 Alfa Romeo 147: gochecks.org
2000 Alfa Romeo 147: gochecks.org

The 147 appeared in the press in July 2000 and went on sale in October. As well as being a markedly more mature car than those it succeeded, it owed a little to the Tipo platform from 1988. Alfa declared that from the next model onward, the Multipla’s spaceframe system would be used. That didn’t happen. Continue reading “Looking Back: 2000 Alfa Romeo 147”

Alfa Romeo Erases History

Its own to be exact. This week Alfa Romeo announced a new visual identity. The signs are not good.

badge
Alfa Romeo’s new more ‘now’ emblem

It’s invariably worrying when auto manufacturers fiddle with their visual identity. Even if you’re a VW, the fact that you see fit to mess about with your trademark suggests the wrong business decisions are being prioritised and at the very least, the marketing people have run amok.

Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Erases History”

2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia Design Review

Here it is, the long-awaited 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia, nice and official.

2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia design review: original image from The Truth About Cars.
2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia design review: original image from The Truth About Cars.

It has the overall proportions of a BMW 3 from back in the day when these were proper compact sport saloons. The bonnet bulges for pedestrian-safety reasons. This is the Quadrifoglio version; it could look more appealing if there are versions with some more brightwork. What do you think?

Alfa Romeo’s News

According to ANE, the Giulia’s launch date is next year at the earliest.

Almost forty years ago, the 1977 Alfa Giulietta was already showing AR´s key traits of frailty and lack of overall competence. Still a lovely car, if you like rust and iffy plastics.
Almost forty years ago, the 1977 Alfa Giulietta was already showing AR´s key traits of frailty and lack of overall competence. Still a lovely car, if you like rust and iffy plastics.

Some allege the car is derived from the Fiat Viaggio and not the Maserati Ghibli. The anticipated annnual sales are under 50,000 units say some analysts.  Over 6 years that’s 300,000 which is not enough for a car in this sector. It seems to me that projections seem to be based on the idea that sales will be gained left right and centre from other brands in the market. Has this ever happened? Continue reading “Alfa Romeo’s News”

FCA Didn’t Launch the 2016 Giulia Today

Don’t look down Sergio, because the analysts are revolting!

The wait is over. Well, maybe not over exactly... Image via carscoops
Anybody seen my unicorn? Image via carscoops

This afternoon’s reveal of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia will undoubtedly be the day’s big automotive story with the car’s styling and likely chance of success being foremost in commentator’s minds. But it’s worth pointing out this is not an announcement of a production-ready car; more a piece of theatre, aimed at a far more rarefied audience. But don’t take my word for it. Continue reading “FCA Didn’t Launch the 2016 Giulia Today”

Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 1

Unloved and Desirable

Alfa 6 B

In parallel with this Month’s Theme, we will be presenting a few choice options from the dealer’s forecourts. Number one is this example of the scorned Alfa 6. For some reason Alfa Romeo felt obliged to build a large car, but approached it with little enthusiasm, though it was the car that introduced Alfa’s fine V6 engine in 2.5 litre, single-cam form.

This example is being sold by a company called Joker Pilot, north of Paris, who we have come across before. It is a Series 2 version with fuel injection and is genuinely secondhand, with just one owner and 45,900 km to its name.  As such, it would be hard to find a better example on paper, should you be taken with it – which we certainly are.

View it here.

Alfa 6 C

Rearview: Alfa Romeo Alfetta Berlina

FCA could learn something from the 1972 Alfetta, but it’s probably a bit late for that now.

Alfetta-1

While FCA’s Italian engineers have undoubtedly being imbibing industrial quantities of Alfa lore as they develop their forthcoming saloon, they’re unlikely to have this print ad posted up on their mood board. Perhaps they should, because journalistic hyperbole aside, it illustrates as eloquently as anything I can say not only how far Alfa Romeo has fallen since the early 1970’s, but how steep a climb FCA’s engineers now face. Continue reading “Rearview: Alfa Romeo Alfetta Berlina”

A Photo for Sunday: 1990 Alfa Romeo 75 Twin Spark

Alfa Romeo first showed the 75 in ’85. It replaced the Giulietta. 

1990 Alfa Romeo 75. Not very rusty.
1990 Alfa Romeo 75. Not very rusty.

Alfa Romeo’s in-house styling department handled the exterior and interior which explains the marked eccentricity. It does have a lot of lines down the side (not much parallelism) and most versions had a black plastic strip running along from nose to tail. I’ve only seen one 75 with no plastic, a base model French-market car.

Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1990 Alfa Romeo 75 Twin Spark”

Theme : Benchmarks – The Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlina

Is this really the progenitor of the modern sports saloon?

Alfa Giulia 6

In the early 1960s, the average British driver on an average income would have ended up with a leaf-sprung wheezer, comfortable maybe, but hard-pushed cruising above 70 on expanding and unrestricted motorways, a handful in a panic stop and an entertainment-free and potentially scare-laden prospect on corners. If you had a bit more to spend, and fancied something with sporting pretentions, then pretentions were certainly on offer with bits of real wood, a bigger carburetor, a rev counter and oil pressure gauge, fog and driving lamps and maybe a chrome strip up the side. In the UK, an affordable, mass-produced car, offering five seater bodywork on a coil sprung, rear-drive chassis, a free-revving, light alloy, twin-cam engine, a 5 speed gear box and disc brakes all round would have been a dream template for a future sports saloon, maybe for the 1980s, even the 90s. But not in Italy, where all this was available in the 105 Series Alfa Giulia Berlina. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – The Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlina”

Alfa Romeo is the new Fiat

Sergio Marchionne has been reported by Automotive News as saying that Fiat will not be a mass market brand. Instead it will focus on its 500-series small cars and let Jeep and Alfa Romeo compete in other sectors. 

2015 Fiat 500L: the future of Fiat?
2015 Fiat 500L: the future of Fiat?

Rather surprisingly, given Alfa Romeo´s very limited and lacklustre range, Marchionne thinks AR will be able to grow and supply cars in the C and C-D class along with a mooted SUV. Given the steady steaming of vapour ware from this brand, and the poor reception of the current cars, this is a very tall order. The other worrying thing is Continue reading “Alfa Romeo is the new Fiat”

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. Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday – 1996 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti”

Theme : Aerodynamics – Release The BATs

Aero could be fun too…

The three BAT cars - photo via carnewscafe
The three Alfa Romeo BAT cars – photo: carnewscafe

Aerospace iconography permeated everywhere throughout the 1950s, particularly car styling. So when Alfa Romeo commissioned a series of concept cars, science fiction melded with aerodynamic theory, creating the extraordinary BAT cars.  Continue reading “Theme : Aerodynamics – Release The BATs”

Fiat Punto 1.3 “Alfa Romeo”- Edition, Engineered By Ferrari

How much can a brand be stretched? Should Alfa Romeos carry an ‘engineered by Ferrari’ badge? Or shouldn’t Alfa’s engineering speak for itself?

Image: thanks to Autocar. They seem to have put a huge card saying "Autocar" inside the test car.
Image: thanks to Autocar. They seem to have put a huge card saying “Autocar” inside the test car.

While trawling other news sites, I read at Autocar  that Alfa Romeo’s forthcoming SUV will be based upon the Maserati Ghibli. That bit doesn’t surprise me so much as the remark that “….there have also been unconfirmed rumours that the top of the range Alfa engines will feature ‘developed by Ferrari’ sub-branding.” This has all the hall marks of an idea designed to appeal to Sergio Marchionne. It also reminds me of Silvio Berlusconi’s idea that Fiat could sell more cars by badging them as Maseratis. You might as well Continue reading “Fiat Punto 1.3 “Alfa Romeo”- Edition, Engineered By Ferrari”

Reasoning à la Marchionne

Not just since Luca di Montezemolo’s dismissal have arguments about the merits and demerits of FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne’s style of conducting business been rather heated. And now we are being presented with a particularly poignant case in point.

Signore Marchionne undoubtedly knows his stuff when it comes to numbers and figures like few others in the business. Which is why nobody was surprised when he – somewhat proudly, it has to be said – explained that the series production Alfa Romeo 4C’s extremely ungainly headlights were his very own responsibility, as their decidedly cheap appearance helped lowering production costs by a few millions. Car buyers, he seemed to believe, don’t really care about details, even particularly blatant ones. Continue reading “Reasoning à la Marchionne”