Go onto a major car manufacturer website and head for the configurator. Chances are that anything other a fairly default and often very plain colour will now be a chargeable extra. VW charge extra for anything other than off white (sorry, Ascot Grey) on a Polo, Toyota want extra for anything other than a white Corolla and Nissan want a minimum of £250 for any paint on a Qashqai. Alfa Romeo charge more for a Tonale, Giulia or Stelvio that is not red, or Rosso Alfa, and even now, something over half of Alfas are red. But not everyone goes for the same, so, from the UK’s National Alfa Day at the disused but preserved RAF Bicester, let’s take a gentle stroll through the selection of cars that went into the paintshop with a special order tag.
CC has a healthy respect for the Alfasud, such that we need to do it full justice one day as perhaps the best, or at least one of the best, compact saloon cars of its era. This is a 1978 1.3 litre car, known as the 5M, for 5 marce or five gears.
Or perhaps something similar in white?
This is a 1976 Ti, with the 1186cc version of the boxer engine.
How does white work on a Tipo 105 Spider? With the black interior, it perhaps holds it own with the Rosso Alfa car next to it.
This is a 1967 1.6 litre Spider, with the earlier boat tail and a striking dark red interior.
A 1979 Spider 2000, in black with a classic tan interior. I still find it hard to compute that cars like this are probably worth no more than a contemporary MGB roadster on the UK market.
Green or red? Kamm tail or boat tail? One of each?
Zoe yellow was a popular choice for those looking to diverge from Rosso Alfa on a Tipo 916 Spider. Safety in numbers in case the paint police came?
This is a 1955 Giulietta Sprint, fitted with a later 1.6 litre engine and what the Government calls “blue” paint.
Bertone at their best? Discuss.
We cannot ignore Tipo 105 Giulia Sprint coupes. You just can’t. Bertone and Giugiaro at their best?
And together for a compare and contrast.
Based on the Giulia Sprint, but with a very different engine and body, was the Alfa Romeo Montreal.
This is a 1974 car, in a very striking green.
So striking and memorable that this colour is still available now on the new Tonale, and is named Montreal Green.
Concept car for the road? Well, almost.
The Giulia Sprint was a derivative of the Giulia saloon – this is a 1.3 litre example, somehow registered as built in 2002.
It is a 1970-72 (I think) Giulia Super 1300.
The Giulia was allowed to evolve into the 1968 1750 Berlina – a stretch in wheelbase and a reskin removing many of the character lines of the Giulia. The engine grew to that evocative (to Alfisti at least) size of 1779cc.
Later cars went to a full 2 litres as the 2000; both engines served the later Alfetta, 75 Milano and Giulietta well too.
Now, something quite different – a 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900 saloon.
First introduced in 1950, this was Alfa’s first monocoque construction car and its first production line built car – perhaps the first modern era Alfa. Also in the mix were twin overhead camshafts
Styling was in house by Orazio Puliga, and whilst fully contemporary was clearly Alfa with the clear scudetto.
There’s almost a touch of Volvo 121 Amazon about the rear quarter.
The 1900 was also the first left hand drive Alfa.
And another large saloon – a 1984 Alfa Romeo Alfa 6 2.0.
The Alfa 6 was a (slightly distant) derivative of the Alfetta, but lacked the rear transaxle and added the glorious Busso V6. This example is an Italian market 2 litre version, rather than the 2.5 litre offered everywhere else, designed to avoid taxation limits.
Quite a find – there are only 6 Alfa 6 registered in the UK and only one currently on the road.
And, finally something not only not red but perhaps not a real Alfa to many – an Alfa Romeo Arna. The Arna was a joint venture between Alfa and Nissan, and was effectively an Alfasud drive train in the body of a contemporary Nissan Cherry (N12 series Pulsar), built in the Alfasud factory near Naples.
It was also offered as the Nissan Cherry Europe, which fared little better. Just to prove there’s never been a dull moment in Alfa’s history.