The Milano deserves the full Curbside Classic treatment, but when I encountered one at Bonello’s Pizza on a Tuesday lunch run, I didn’t have a camera, just my cell phone. The resulting pictures don’t do the car justice, but it would be a shame to toss them, so I’ll share what I have. The shots make the car look stubby and misshapen, a sin for any Italian manufacturer. In the flesh, the car looks quite pleasant despite that odd kick up behind the rear door. Typical for the time, the Italians offered up a stylish and well equipped car, but when it came to US sales, the cars were completely transparent.
This shot captures the lines a bit better, but now emphasizes that odd character line running northwest of the rear wheel arch. I’ve seen that look on a few other cars, but only because of major body damage. Still, they say one of the attractions of Italian cars are those little quirks that set them apart.
In Europe, this car was sold as the 75, in celebration of Alfa Romeo’s 75th year in business. Reading up on the car, I discovered it included some interesting technology. The driveline uses a front mounted engine driving a rear mounted transaxle. This design provided even weight distribution, but the engineers mounted the clutch on the transaxle. A quirky design choice, this meant the driveshaft spun at engine speed even when the car was sitting still.
This must have been one of the last cars to receive a blue plate, since California went over to white and black plates in the mid-eighties. The Milano came to America in 1985 as an ’86 model, and was sold through the ’89 model year. The best year for the Milano was ’87, when Alfa moved 3,198 cars. Two years later, sales dropped to 1,443.
This interior picture may help explain why the US lacked enthusiasm for the Milano. For the first two model years, the car only came with a five-speed stick. Hey, I’m a fan, but folks who buy mid level luxury cars expect an automatic on the option sheet. A shiftless option finally appeared in 1988, but by then the die was cast. You know, sometimes those Italian quirks led to reduced sales.
I grabbed this interior shot off the internet so you could see one more quirk- That U shaped parking brake lever. It reminds me of the automatic transmission selector levers in ’68-’72 Chevelles, but the lever in the Milano pulls up instead of sliding back and forth.
I hope you enjoyed this Alfa despite the poor quality pictures. It’s always nice to see someone running errands in a Curbside Classic on a weekday afternoon, rather than keeping it in the garage waiting for a sunny Sunday afternoon.