William Stopford recently put the question out as to what he should choose as his next COAL. There was such a strong response for the Alfa that I had to push this article to the front of my work queue. I was not even aware of the AWD version, so the technical guff will have to be discussed by minds more capable than mine. However, in order to persuade William of the delights of Alfabreakisti, I have put together a selection of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Despite a long history, it wasn’t until the 1980s that Alfa Romeo made a serious effort to produce a wagon out of their own factory. Before then, they had dabbled with a few models, but they were the domain of the carrozzerie–the Italian coachbuilders–who built them as one-off or short-run series.
We begin with this delightful bundle of woodness, based on the 1900, built by Viotti of Turin in 1952. They also produced a Fiat 1900 with a similar estate body, but the peak of their efforts appears to be the Lancia Aurelia B51 five-door woody. Farina, Monterosa and Paris-Niza created wagons around this time, and most likely even earlier.
Next we have a jumble of the not-so-pretty. I can’t tell you much about these. To the left is a 2500 6C ambulance by Colli, the middle is a 1900 by Colli and the right is a Ghia wagon. As with the above Viotti, online information on these is scarce and contradictory, so if you have any more info please speak up.
This is the Giulietta Promiscua, of which 91 are reported to have been built by Colli around 1958. The 101 saloon basis for this was never the prettiest Alfa, so this wagon has a hard job improving the aesthetic.
Of note is its single piece side-hinged rear door.
Boneschi’s Giulietta Weekendina doesn’t have such a superb name, but is a more pleasing solution to the wagon brief. The rear door was a smaller one-piece hinged at the top.
When visiting one of many garages to cure my Fiat’s ails, I got talking to an old-school mechanic. He told me that when he came to Australia in the 1960s, he was given one of two Giulia wagons for road servicing. A couple of years later, I captured one of these at a car show in Melbourne.
Also called the Promiscua, this 1968/69 Colli Giulia wagon featured a closed-side or fully-glassed greenhouse. These were used by the Polizia, the Carabinieri and other government services. This Promiscua was apparently not available to the public, however it appears Colli might have made up kits of their wagon stampings so other carrozzerie could produce their own versions for private customers, and Alfa themselves produced some in-house wagons of the Super. Overall, numbers are estimated between 200 and 500. Other carrozzerie associated with body this are Giorgetti, Grazia and Introzzi.
Much, much rarer than the rare 105 Giulia wagon was the 105 1750 wagon by Pavesi. There’s not much I can tell you about this apart from an asking price of 2,650,000 dollars–sorry, lire–when new. Nice sunroof.
The Alfasud Giardinetta (roughly translated as ‘for garden use’) was introduced in 1975. Initially penned by Italdesign it was, at the request of Alfa management, extensively changed to the extent that Giugiaro does not acknowledge his paternity. 6000-odd examples were built at Pomigliano d’Arco near Naples alongside the saloon and Sprint variants through to 1982, as well as an estimated 200 in Brits South Africa during 1982 only. A ‘Furgone’ closed side van was also produced, with 17 examples thought to exist.
And now we come to my favourite, The Giulietta Folk by Moretti. As far as I can tell only one of these was built, and it is the best looking of the coach-built wagons, with apologies to Viotti. Introduced at the 1978 Turin show, all I can get from ‘World Cars’ is that it had electric windows. If anyone has this to sell, please let me know and I will go and marry an heiress.
The Alfetta 2000 Station Wagon by Zagato was a lost opportunity. Ermanno Cressoni’s Giulietta and the Alfetta were a triumph of aesthetics and visual cohesion. But, for some reason, it appears whoever penned this wagon (Zagato or Alfa Centro Stile) could not match this success. If the baseline of the rear side windows had matched that of the doors, maybe I wouldn’t be so picky.
The 1983 Alfa 33 was a reworking of the FWD Alfasud concept. The saloon was also designed by Ermanno Cressoni, head of Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, and the Sport Wagon was the work of Pininfarina. I do know a 4×4 version of this wagon was produced, but alas all variations seem to have disappeared from the roads here in Australia. When the 33 was updated, so too was the wagon version. This marks the second serious effort by Alfa to build a production wagon.
With the success of the 33 wagon, Alfa Romeo had this Sport Wagon prepared for the 75; the continuation of the Giulietta model. Rayton Fissore also produced a turbo version and both were exhibited at the 1986 Turin Show, but the programme was cancelled after Fiat took over Alfa Romeo. It’s interesting to note how clean this looked without the saloon’s plastic strip along the side.
I will rush through this series of GB&U, clockwise from top left. Alfa 90 wagon built by Marazzi. Alfa 6 wagon of unknown provenance; might just be a render. Alfa 155 Q4 prepared jointly by Walter de Silva at AR and students from the Sbarro design school. Alfa 164 wagon built by enthusiast Tom Zat with rear end donated by a Ford Taurus.
Alfa’s fortunes were boosted by the success of the 156 range launched in 1997. Walter de Silva did a magnificent job with this model. All dissonance had been banished and replaced with an almost note-perfect melody, my only quibble being the gimmick of ‘hiding’ the rear door handles in the C-pillar. This marks Alfa’s first attempt to productionise a larger wagon, and led to the even more gorgeous 159 wagon…
Que bella figura!
Triple ‘headlights’… so ambitious and so successful. In this world of same-same, here is a design that communicates all the desired menace of this svelte road beast, one that brooks no equivocation, one that immediately identifies this marque as no other, one that takes the Spinal Tap philosphy of ‘one more’ and makes it work so utterly and completely.
And apparently its going to be replaced by something with a front end looking like this.
So William, here endeth my paean. The Alfa wagon has a history of glorious successes, abject failures and the odd meh. Right now, their design fortunes are waxing, but as to the future–who knows? Please buy an Alfa 159 Wagon so that I might live vicariously through your posts.