In Part 1 of this review, I showed some of the highlights of the UK’s Spring Alfa Day held in April, looking at the rear wheel drive cars. Here, we’ll zoom in on the highlights of the front wheel drive cars.
Front wheel drive Alfa Romeos start with the Alfasud. One day, a Curbivore will catch one of these curbside and be able to do justice to Hruska’s and Giugaro’s masterpiece. Was it the best compact European saloon of the 1970s? Even alongside the Citroen GS and VW Golf Mk 1, it’s a strong candidate. This is a 1979 1.5 litre car, but visually it’s very close to the 1971 cars.
There was little to complain about in the interior either, aside from slightly odd (or Italian) ergonomics. Heater fan on a column stalk?
Even if you concede that the Golf was a better (and more durable) car overall, there was no doubt that the ‘Sud was a better car to drive. CAR named it their Car of Decade, 9 years after its launch.
This is a 1979 Alfasud ti 1.5 – the 2 door option with a bit more power and some visual tweaks that came in 1973.
Larger bumpers and lights came in 1980. The white car is a 1982 ti 1.5 litre, the black one 1983, in both cases with the later (1982 on) hatchback rear door. Little change to a car in a long life time often means one of two things – limited funds or no fundamental need for change. You can look at the Morris Marina and Austin Maxi for the former; the Alfasud and Peugeot 205 for the latter.
And in line with tradition, Rosso Alfa was available.
Giugiaro worked his magic again for the 1976 Alfasud Sprint, based on the same floorpan and with the same engines. These slowly grew from 1.2 litre to 1.5 and finally 1.7 litres. The white car is a 1981 1.5 litre.
From 1983, this car was sold as the Alfa Romeo Sprint, as the Alfasud saloon and name were dropped. This is a 1987 car, recently imported to the UK. There was a visual similarity to the larger Alfetta GTV, as seen here
The Alfasud was superseded by the larger but closely related derivative Alfa Romeo 33. Unusually for an Alfa, this was offered in an estate form, seen here in second series 1991 1.7 litre and 1993 1.7 litre form, the latter with a bit of slightly awkward bodykit going on. The Alfasud platform was carried over for the 33, albeit with revised suspension and outboard (and drum rear) brakes rather than all round inboard discs of the Alfasud.
More recent front wheel drive Alfas were well represented. This is a 916 GTV V6. Open the bonnet to display Busso’s V6 masterpiece, sometimes called the Busso violin on account of the tones (not mere noises) issuing from it.
A selection of Tipo 916 GTVs and Spiders, and some Tipo 916 Spider series II Busso action for good luck.
And a 2009 Brera 2.2JTD, with a diesel engine. Doesn’t affect the visuals though.
And to close, some more Busso V6 glory….in an Alfa 156 Sportwagon and saloon.
The styling of the 916 Spider and GTV has aged well. I remember seeing the first photos of the Spider in 1993 and wondering what on earth they were thinking, but its boldness actually works, and it was a dramatic modern step after the ancient RWD Spider. I think that boldness was what Chris Bangle kept trying to accomplish at Fiat and BMW, but there, it almost never worked, and had an art school self-conscious fussiness that I find exasperating. A GTV 3.0 with the optional MOMO interior was stylish inside and out — flawed, but certainly the aesthete’s choice.
The Alfasud, particularly the dual round headlight version, is such an appealing looking car. It is a shame it never made it across to North America.
I’m sure the headlights would have to change, the bumpers would have to weigh as much as the car, the ” anti pollution, bric a brac” would sap the power.. etc etc..
It is a cool looking car for sure though.
I had an AlfaSud. Best car for emptying your bank account. Between unreliability and rust I hadn’t much to show after 2 years. But when it went well, there wasn’t anything better. If only Alfa had solved the quality issues, but like the Hillman Imp (and De Lorean) it was built in a brand new factory with a green workforce and the same results.
Thanks for sharing so much Italian beauty. Unfortunately I have not heard a buso violin in person yet. The Alfasud design so clearly influenced the Honda CRX it cannot be denied. The annual Wheels of Italy car show here in Minneapolis didn’t meet last year so I’m very much hoping it does in 2023 so I can finally hear one.