Almost forgot; we have an Alfa sub-theme this week, which so far is pretty Alfetta-rich. We covered the seductive Alfetta Coupe on Monday, and here’s the sedan it shares its underpinnings with. As is commonly the case, the sedan appeared first, and the Alfetta made quite the impact when it arrived in 1972. Its superb chassis promised to be the best balanced in the world, other than an exotic. The Alfetta had BMW centered in its gunsight, and it seemed at the time that it would give them a real run for the money. But it all came to tears, and BMW cleaned up that segment of the market. If only…
Alfa Romeo’s brilliant Gulietta series, which dated to 1954 – 1955, was always praised for its fine handling, even though it sat rather high on its coil-sprung but excellently-controlled solid rear axle.
The basic chassis (and engine, of course) had “legs”, and was continued with little change for the 1962 Gulia, as well as the coupe and spider variants. And its offshoot, the 1750/2000 Berlina also shared the same chassis. For over twenty years, it was the the Alfa Romeo recipe, and a very tasty one.
In order to top it, the goal for the Alfetta was a perfect balance weight distribution, and the way to accomplish that was by mounting an additional spare on the trunk locating the transmission to the rear, by the differential. This of course necessitated that the differential could no longer be part of the live rear axle.
But rather than go with a independent rear suspension, Alfa chose a De Dion real axle, where a solid hollow tube connects the rear wheels, and to the locating members. It’s essentially a very well-located solid axle, but minus the un-sprung weight of the differential. Since most irs setups at the time were still rather crude and over-steer happy, the de Dion was a popular solution for high performance and racing cars.
The result was as intended, and the Alfetta was praised for its perfect balance and fine manners. There was no better handling sport sedan at the time. And in Europe, the 2 liter Alfa four delivered more than adequate power. The challenges with ever-tightening emission regs in the US hit the Alfetta where it counted.
But the biggest problem was Alfa’s disastrous decline in quality during the seventies. Alfa’s once enjoyed a rep for robust design and build. That now all went to hell in a rusty hand basket. Alfa wouldn’t fully recover from its misdeeds of the seventies and eighties until it was too late, in the US anyway. So here sits the only Alfetta sedan I’ve seen in decades, in very august company.
Interesting scrapyard. Incidentally, that Citroen ID Break may very well be worth more than all the other cars together. Prices on station wagon Citroens have skyrocketed in Europe the last couple of years.
Sadly, I think that Break is beyond saving; its floor has buckled. But I suppose anything can be fixed.
I think you’ve misidentified that car; that’s clearly a Broken, not a Break.
That reminds me of the Corgi Toys version that I played with as a kid. It was originally my dad’s. I think it was the 1964 Olympics version, but it got a lot of use and by the time I got it, all the decals and most of the paint was gone. Several years ago I restored it in navy blue with a white top and new tires and gave it back to him. It actually has a small gear on the bottom and you can fold the rear seat down. Pretty neat!
I loved those details on ’60s Corgis. Their Renault 16 had reclining front seats by the same method.
That’s funny, cfclark. I concur, that Citroen is clearly a Broken. I wonder what happened to the other guy…
The problem with Citroens, and I will get to that in time, is that they rust from the inside out. The boxes in the the box-section super-structure seldom gets ventilated, hence, moist gather on the inside, rusting inside out. Especially if it lies down on the ground like that. If I ever saw a Citroen with a more broken spine…
You mean Citroen DS station wagon/estate?
Are we nitpicking? To my knowledge, there has never been a DS station wagon, they were all officially made under the ID designation. Though, yes, when speaking about them, it is simpler to call all of them DS for the sake of simplicity.
What an interesting set of cars. I’d love to meet the owner! The Alfetta also had a horrible, rubbery shift quality to the transmission which was a big disappointment after the classic Alfas.
That Citroen looks like parts car material … if that. Shame.
“…the goal for the Alfetta was a perfect balance weight distribution, and the way to accomplish that was by mounting an additional spare on the trunk…”
This literally made me laugh out loud.
That Alfa trans-axle is a beautiful!
Whats scrap metal going for these days?
More than scrap rust, I bet.
Looks like there’s a 53-55 Studebaker sedan in the background. Too bad these cars weren’t stored in a barn; they’d be in better shape.
Where were these pictures taken? The surrounding area looks so bleak it might be Tierra del Fuego!
Just north of Eugene, in the flats of the Willamette Valley.
Paul you should attend the Northwest Classic Rally, which always starts at Monte Shelton Motors in Portland (Thursday night check-in & tech inspection, Friday morning start), and then roars off to some Oregon or Washington locale for the weekend. Next year it is headed for Bend. It is run by the Oregon Alfa club and just about every model of Alfa will be seen there. http://nwclassicrally.org/
I just checked this page when looking to see if the Alfetta Berlina had been covered in CC. I owned a blue ’75 like this one (as well as the Corgi Citroen wagon). Picture of my Alfa attached, at Sears Point (aka Sonoma Raceway) in 1978, shortly before spinning in the Esses and getting t-boned by a Honda Civic. The Alfa was 3 years old and already rusting despite being a California car.