As you can read elsewhere on this site, the 75 is and always has been one of my favorite cars. I bought my 75 as someone who had grown up with RWD red block Volvos and therefore little actual knowledge of the reliability issues for which Southern European cars are known. When I bought it for 17.000 DKK it needed some work done to be ready. I had a couple of issues fixed and for a total of 23.000 DKK I was the proud owner of a four-door Italian pure breed.
As you may know by now, I like modifications and therefore I installed a K&N cold air induction kit, a 2” sports exhaust system (not homemade this time) and a 15” subwoofer in the trunk and component speakers up front.
Not much is left to say about the car as I have written extensively about it previously, but I can tell you a little about how I drove it. I believe Meat Loaf did a song that summed it up pretty well, if you catch my drift…
Speaking of drifting, with a limited slip diff and the best four-pot I have ever driven with the exception of the same engine in a later 156, it was a hoot and I never did a three-point turn. The way to turn 75 Twin Spark around is to turn the wheel, rev it and drop the clutch. Then once the 180 is complete you leave the scene sideways with smoking tires. I assumed everyone thought that was pretty damn cool, I know I did.
I took this car street racing a couple of times. One time I raced it against another red 75 TS. I won, but most importantly the audience got a feel for what an eight-cylinder 75 sounded like, I imagine most of the tuner Fords and Opels present went up for sale immediately afterwards.
The car, of course, developed a number of issues, some of which were fixed and some of which I learned to live with. The beautiful thing about a car like this is that you learn to appreciate what you get; when everything is running smoothly, you are happy. As with human beings who mean something to you, you learn to accept their flaws because you know what they are capable of delivering. I think this is weirdly part of the magic when you own a delicate car that breaks down a lot. Turn signal stalk doesn’t return when completing the turn? Well, do you ditch your friend because he occasionally pronounces a word wrong?
I long for speedy drives on curvy roads in the 75. But being young and having this as my only car, I became increasingly fed up with the issues and lack of reliability. I swore I would never own an Italian car again, but now some 12 or 13 years down the road, I swear I will once again own an Italian car – preferably a 75 V6 or a GTV6.
For my next car, I looked north again. The 75 was sold for 2,500 DKK and scrapped by its new owner immediately after, but I would take care of my next car. Oh, yes you can count on that.
(None of the cars here are mine but found online)
As an Alfa owner myself, I have to agree with Jeremy Clarkson:
Alfa Romeo: As good as a motor vehicle can be…. briefly
There really is something magic in Alfa Romeos that makes them a pleasure to drive….and they get into your blood. You will eventually buy another.
Yeah, that’s pretty spot on. They really are enthusiast cars and some of the only ones to be had on a budget. There’s something special about them due to their heritage and legendary stories. For me that’s a big part of the ownership, although it’s not really something you can properly define. The original MX-5/Miata is a good looking car and I am one hundred percent positive it’s a hoot to drive and it might even objectively be a better drive than your Spider but I’d take the Spider ten times out of ten. It’s just that aura that comes with it.
I don’t pretend to be rational here. If I was, I’d not be driving an Italian car to begin with.
Soon you can have both!
A Fiat engine in a Miata chassis. What could possibly go wrong if Fiat builds the engines, right?
Well, not much, really.
FPT engines, and those are Fiat engines alright, are used in all the equipment you can imagine, all over the globe. And that includes marine engines.
Best wishes to your farmers and contractors who use New Holland and Case IH machinery.
My experiences and having seen others experiences with European and to a lesser degree Japanese mechanical equipment every since I can remember(DOB:1951) has been less than positive. Autos and industrial equipment are the two that I am familiar with. In the early 80’s the company I worked for replaced a 40 year old double end tenoner with a new Italian made one. The problem was that once the temperature went above 80 or below 35 it shut down. The temperature in the building which people had been working in for 100 years would routinely hit over 105 in the summer and below 35 in the winter. Many times I had to chip through ice to get to the water in the water buckets and drank 3-4 gal of water per shift in the summer. The company had no fans for summer and very little heat for employees in the winter and we weren’t allowed to even bring a personal fan in the building. Anyway this new piece of Italian wonder equipment got it’s own personal heating and air conditioning system while every other piece of equipment and people carried on like they had done for years in the heat and cold. And we produced more doors per man per day than any other door plant in the US with our old worn out equipment.
Mark, can you not resist making what has become a Pavlovian comment whenever the word “Fiat” appears? It gets old, and does not reflect well on the person making it. Actually (and I say this unbiased) Fiat engines have a generally very good (to excellent) reputation. It was more an issue with the peripherals and/or things like smog controls and such that caused most of the issues, and which American mechanics were generally not adept at dealing with. In Europe, with rare exception, Fiat engines do not have a bad rep.
That sort of reminds me of what Regular Car Reviews referred to as THE JOKE.
As the owner of a pristine ’81 X1/9 with 205k miles and a problem-free, hella fun 2012 Abarth purchased in May of that year, that joke never gets old…………. really.
I disagree. In northern Europe the Fiat engines, and cars, have a rather poor repuration when it comes to quality.
It’s why I’ve held mine for 22 years and will not sell it, despite lengthy periods of inoperability.
No offense intended but the subject car appears to have been in a rear-end collision, looks like there is an odd curve in the belt, accentuated by the black plastic strip.
Yeah, that’s a pretty old song among the critics of its styling. I can see that it’s no Bertone GTV, but having been a kid in the eighties the styling looks cool to me.
I like it, but… dat plastic strip all around…….
I don’t know what the point was. I do like the way it becomes a spoiler on the trunk lid, but I saw a photo of a station wagon prototype and it was missing the strip – it just looked more clean.
The plastic line upon the sides has a specific raison d’etre: to cover the fact that the doors were unchanged from the model before (check “Alfa Romeo Giulietta 116” ).
Alfa in that period was still a partecipate and for politic and socioeconomic reasons was, year after year, a loss. In the end there were no money…or, properly speaking, no engage to make a better, costlier model.
Make the most with the less was a diktat since the first seventies: Alfasud and Alfetta were the main bases for years to come, until Fiat came in.
And let’s not consider the Duetto…
Thanks for refreshing my memory. I have heard that before but totally forgotten it since.
Thank you for the information, it was unknown for me. In the other had, the following generations of Alfas were really gorgeous. I would be really happy if I could get an 155 or an 146, but after so many years they are as rare as a Chrysler Cirrus in Brazil…
Alfa Romeo : the ideal car to be seen always inside of your garage or at least to enhance your garden at the walkside. Sorry, but this is the current viewcard mostly seen in all villages around, that’s the destiny they owners are seduced for.
Where do you live? Sounds like the scenery is spectacular.
Plenty of 75s at the Alfa Romeo show I visited last year. In black, white and mostly -naturally- in red.
Oh look Mads, what a joy, among them this duo of 75 QVs with the 3.0 V6.
About a year ago I found a British magazine on my local news stand called MODERN CLASSICS. Think of it as a printed version of Curbside Classic but for citizens of the U.K.
Just like Renault, Citroen, and Peugeot, Alfa Romeo started producing really terrific cars AFTER they left the U.S. market.
But the engines? Be it the Twin Spark or the “Busso” V6, Alfa has always had great engines. Assembly quality? Can be iffy, but the designs…great lookers AFTER these 75s were built.
…”great lookers AFTER these 75s were built”…
In 1992 the FWD 155 superseded the RWD 75. The still square-lined 155 looked liked a 75 calming down.
Terrific cars? They were terrific way earlier. If you’re talking build quality, they still weren’t terrific years after they left the US. I’m not even sure they are now.
I love the 75. Would love to own one of these or many other Alfas.
Mads, I totally agree with you when you say “it’s not really something you can properly define”…
Was the 75 the last Alfa before Fiat takeover?
PS: IIRC after the 75 came the 145, and the 155 replaced the 145 !
Anyway for me the demise of Alfa Romeo is a huge huge loss.
The 145 replaced the 33, it was in the same segment as the VW Golf. The 155 did replace the 75.
First of all: I love your profile pic. ZZ Top is a great band.
75 > 155 > 156 > 159 > Giulia. The 75 was the last car constructed independently by AR. I believe the 164 was also constructed before the takeover, but it was a joint venture with Lancia, Fiat and Saab (Thema, Croma and 9000).
I read great things about the new Giulia and it looks pretty good irl, but I don’t consider it as belonging to the same line of cars that they try to tie it into with that name.
Johannes and Mads
Thanks for correcting me.
Mads, tanks for the comment on ZZ Top, my all time favorite band.
I’d really like to see Alfa come back to it’s glory days. Maybe I exaggerated by using the word “demise”. At least the Giulia is not a badge engineering thing ( I hope it isn’t).
I’m skeptic considering that Fiat has pratically euthanized Lancia (which I love too). Even the Fiat brand came to a really bad situation. I grew up in the 80’s when Fiat was something like the second largest auto maker in Europe. if I’m not mistaken. What a shame.
Hope you can have a real Alfa again anytime soon. Here in Brazil they way too rare and expensive.
I find these cars very attractive, that angle trim on the side is just the icing on the cake. Everything that I read about the performance and especially the handling sounds terrific. I really like the earlier designs but they are starting to get pricey, especially the GT. I totally understand the irrational attraction of this type of car as I’m a victim of the same Fatal Attraction myself. Love, it’s what makes an Alfa an Alfa. ( I Can’t get too worked up about a Subaru.)
Sorry if my “defense” of Alfa Romeo struck a sour note with so many here.
My point was to tell folks you can’t condemn a car company based on 1 or 2 models. As far as I know, pretty much every car manufacturer has at least one “stinker” or two in their past.
What is “interesting” is that after Mercedes-Benz put ribbing on a few models (admittedly, very low down on the car’s body and often body colored) GM put it on Pontiacs to a very poor effect, and here it is on an Italian car….up at the window line. Yet folks castigate Pontiac, and now Alfa, for using this ribbing, but forget about Mercedes use of it.
I didn’t like it on the Mercedes either!
Happy Motoring, Mark
Always a bit of a left field choice compared with a 3 series or A4, but oh so much more characterful and involving. Maybe less able in some or many respects but it made up for in character – like a happy puppy compared with a wise old sheep dog.
The V6 was always one the true enthusiast would want, but couldn’t afford, and the Twin Spark was a good substitute. Paul is right about the reliability – it’s part myth and legend, part detail items and part completely wrong.
I used to own a black 75 TS. Loved it to bits. I had it lowered by adjusting the torsion bars. A little bit to low as driving over sleeping policemen was an hazardous adventure where getting stuck was possible. But boy, did it look good. And as I was in my early 20’s at the time that was all the matters. Leaving the scene with a little wiggle of the tail. Trying to drift (and sometimes ending up in the fields or the other way around..). This car gave me a really special feeling. Had huge trouble replacing the rubber bushing in the rear axles triangle, which meant taking of the exhaust and disconnecting the driveshaft. Unique interior though as well. My was a rather good example of the reed as well. Sold it way too quickly and way too cheap, but I had to at the time. Lived in a small city apartment in the middle of The Netherlands, and somehow accumulated a small collection of cars and motorcycles. (Renault 5, BMW E3, company car and 2 Honda CB’s) decided to put all up for sale as I could or find enough reliable parking space (only one permit per household allowed) close by. Of the cars I have owned this one is in the top 3. Now 20 years on, I am in a different phase in live and am looking around for a nice ride for the weekend to enjoy with the family. Somehow I find myself scanning the ads for a 75. But the good ones have become so darn expensive…
Brother from another mother it seems.
Saint Guibo protect us.
I’m on my second Milano – US version of the 75 – and it’s not just that the looks have grown on me so much as I’ve pretty much come to love them. It’s like some Armani suits I’ve seen: Just exactly enough “wrong” to be a tiny bit jarring, and ultimately endearing. What would make mine near-perfect would be the Twin Spark engine if I could just get one – the V6 is a lovely thing, and the only one of those I know that actually sounds really good – but with close enough to the same horsepower and a whole lot less weight up front I can only imagine how much sharper the handling would be. My first one startled me with the razor sharpness of its turn-in on the Michelins it came with, then scared the crap out of me when I tried the same attack in the rain … so I put on a set of the Sumitomos someone had suggested, and while the turn-in on dry pavement was now only KNIFE-sharp, a bit of water made no real difference.
They have their quirks and crotchets, like that control panel that gets all panicky about brakes or oil pressure, and my current one came with ABS that malfunctioned and tried to set the rear brakes on fire. Well, it actually did, but the Fire Dept. showed up in time to save everything but calipers and pads. My very knowledgeable shop quickly converted the system to the conventional sort. That ran into some money, but I’d paid only $2500 for the car.
And now it’s funny … I was about to say that we’re getting a new Giulia, and so I had decided to sell off the two semi-moderns (Milano and 164S) and find a decent pre-1974 Berlina, one that would not have to pass California’s biennial emissions test. Does that not make perfect sense? And yet just talking about that Milano reminded me how deep my affection for it is, sticky damn electric windows and all.
Another great piece. Loved the tie-in with the human condition (“you learn to live with their faults…”) as a metaphor for your Alfa.
I owned a 131 new in 1975 and it did have engine issues… Not in the block, but in the electrical components, specifically points and fuel pumps. Just kept it a year. But it did put me off FIATs until I started to collect them three years ago.
Meanwhile, I have a co-worker who also bought a 131 new, at the point it had taken on the “Brava” handle. She said she drove hers without problems for many years until it rusted out from under her.
I drove the twin-spark engine in a friends’ wild-looking front-drive GTV. Now, though he loved his “Italian racing car,” (knew not a thing about cars) this friend was an hilariously inept driver, and a very large man, who simply didn’t fit this car he had to have. For that reason, I assumed his horrid clutch-slipping and motoring about suburbia in one gear too low was a combination of mechanical deafness and the fact his knee was practically touching the ceiling, until I drove it. The twin spark was in one way a lovely motor, smooth and revvy, but it literally had no power below 3,000 rpm; you really did have to use that much to move off. And to stay in motion, not fall much below it. I’ve often wondered if his example was typical, not in the sense of bits breaking or losing all its value within sight of the showroom (it ofcourse did both), but the lack of torque? (Perhaps you can’t answer, Mads Jensen, as you only drove yours at 7,000 rpm…)
I didn’t care for the looks of the 75/Milano when I was younger, but I’ve warmed to it over the years. The break in the trim is a bit daft, but it’s a good looker altogether. I’d best never drive one as I might become a full convert!