You may have read my recent post on the Italian Car Day organised at Brooklands by a group of owner and enthusiast clubs, including the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club. Some asked for more; I am happy to oblige. Let’s start with the equivalent of the ceiling that is under the bonnet of the Sistine Chapel of Motoring, also known as the Lamborghini Espada.
The first car is to address a request from commenter Michael Meredith asking if there were any more Fiat 131 (Mirafiori or Brava in some markets) present. This beige car is 1983 car, fitted with a 1367cc engine. This makes it a series 3 car, with a new overhead cam engine rather than the OHV of the earlier versions. Visually, there was little to separate it from the series 2, the last version sold in North America.
The blue car is a 1980 series 2 1600 Supermirafiori, oddly in left hand drive form and the grey car is a 1980 Mirafiori Sport, fitted with a 1995cc twin cam engine, spoilers, arch extensions, and a short throw close ratio five speed gearbox. There’s another black Sport to the other side of the blue car, just peeping in. All Mirafioris are scarce in the UK now – fewer than 100 still exist, including those not on the road. Blame tin worm, and British indifferent to modest older Italian cars.
There are even fewer examples of the Fiat 132 – around 20 in total. This is a rare bird indeed – so rare that we import them just for car shows, seemingly. This is a 1977-81 series 2 car, distinguished by the larger bumpers, on an Italian registration.
And with a unusual secret ingredient. The bonnet bulge hints at it….
A 2.5 litre diesel engine, giving 72 bhp. This derivative was not sold in the UK; indeed the 132 did not really cut through in the UK at all.
Personally, I suspect the styling, compared with the simple elegance of the earlier 124 and 125 saloons, the indifference of the British to larger Italian cars and the emergence of some stronger competition – the Ford Cortina was an enticing if conservative package to many, as were the newer Opel based Vauxhalls and emerging Japanese brands.
And by 1980, this was starting to look a bit dated as well.
But for a usable and something different classic, supported by good spares availability from the continent and not complex enough to frighten the horses, I can see an attraction.
Another Curbivore favourite – a 1969 Fiat 124 Sport 1.4 litre, and if there was any doubt about its styling, look how elegantly it is ageing.
And alongside a Lancia Beta Monte Carlo (Scorpion). This is a series 2 car, distinguished by the glazed rear buttress and, under the bonnet, a lack of a brake servo in response to braking locking issue seen on the early cars.
How did I omit this from the first volume? A 1962 Lancia Flaminia GT, the sleeker of the two coupe versions of perhaps Lancia’s last great big car. There was a saloon version and a more formal hardtop style but shorter coupe, with strong Pininfarina Floride elements.
The GT was different, shorter again than the Coupe and with just two seats. The body this time was designed and built by Carrozzeria Touring, who also offered a convertible version. 140bhp, from a 2.5 litre V6, derived from Lancia’s and the world’s first production V6, and one of just 2000 produced. And yes, I had to wait to get “no lingering spectators” shot.
This may look like the combination of Peugeot 404 Convertible and an MGB, but is actually a 1962 Fiat Pininfarina Cabriolet 1200, based on the 1957 Fiat 1200 Grand Luce saloon, a perfectly ordinary compact European saloon. That spawned a convertible that was replaced by this Pininfarina designed showstopper in 1959.
Power came from a 1221 cc four cylinder engine – the early cars had around 60 bhp, which was competitive for the time but not enough to atop the 80bhp 1491cc 1500 coming in 1959, and ultimately a twin cam 1568cc version with 90 bhp.
Perhaps surprisingly, only 34,000 copies were sold in seven years; by MGB standards a small number but at least it was replaced by another capable car, the 124 Spyder.
And, now, some Alfa Romeos, as you insist…….
One of the greatest cars of the 1970s? The last truly great Alfa Romeo? Probably the first, the latter is a bit harsh but has a point, and it certainly a stunning piece for a first front wheel drive car. A 1982 Alfasud Sprint 1.5, looking every inch what is – absolutely sell-a-kidney desirable. Hruska’s engineering, Giugiaro’s styling, Alfa’s boxer engine and heritage, Rosso Alfa…nothing more needed really.
Fellow Curbivore Tatra87 recently showed us a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia saloon; this is tat car’s later derivative, the Alfa Romeo 2000, in this case a 1975 car, so built three years after the real replacement the Alfetta had been introduced. The 2000, and lower power 1750 sibling, dated from 1967, and were nominally an upward extension of the 1300 and 1600cc Giulia range.
The wheelbase was lengthened, the styling was smoothed over – how successful this was is subjective and it did lose its mini-Edsel features – and the engine enlarged to use that later fitted to the Alfetta.
In some ways, this process matched that followed by Triumph on 2000 and 2500 mk2 – longer, smoother and less characterful styling, although Alfa added larger engines. Is it me or is there something of the Peugeot 2304 in that (revised) roofline?
As a reference (you see, all these Alfas are really here as a public service), this is a 1969 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600. Note the different door skins, roof line, bonnet and wings and rear end. And the simply gorgeous wheels.
And this is a 1969 Giulia Super, just like the car Tatra87 found in Tokyo but in this case evidently prepared for some competition, at least visually.
The cloverleaf emblem was first used in the Targa Florio in the 1920s to bring good luck; initially as a four leaf clover but now three for good Italian superstitious reasons, but is still known as the Quadrafoglio. Obviously.
The coupe version of the Giulia, and therefore the 1750 and 2000, was the GT, sold under many names including GT, GT Junior, Sprint and Veloce. This is a 1972 2000GTV, in a colour BL tried to emulate but which didn’t work anything like as well on a Morris Marina.
There are many people who do not want a convertible classic, and for whom a GTV of some sort would fit just fine, thanks. And they have a good case. This is one of the greatest and most appealing compact sports coupes Europe has ever made, and with engines ranging from 1300 to 2000 and in various levels of tune covered many bases. Undeniably, an all time classic.
An unsung but emerging classic Alfa is the 164 saloon, paired with the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema and more distantly the SAAB 9000. This is a 1989 car, from the first series with the larger headlamps and in fact on the earlier cars to be sold in the UK. Best of all, it’s a 30 litre V6 with the Busso V6.
Alongside it is an Alfa Romeo Brera, a coupe derived from the 159 saloon and built from 2055 to 2010. Truly, one of the great looking Alfas and one which get its own post in due course.
If any manufacturer is going to come in from the left field with a sports car, it’s probably Alfa Romeo, with the Montreal. Take a Sprint GTV, and cloak in a body adapted from a Bertone show car. So far, so good.
Then add a complex, temperamental racing based V8 engine, appalling fuel consumption and 3000 mile service intervals, an impractical and confined interior and flawed handling, and you get one of the landmark Alfa Romeos of the 1970s.
Many of us would never say “No”, unless we were very sure we were alone. But then, you’d turn and look at it, and all would be forgiven. This is a 1972 car; behind is a 145, the 1990s hatchback that replaced the 33.
But perhaps this was the best Alfa Romeo of the 1970s – the Aletta GTV; this is a 1979 car with the 2 litre Alfa twin cam four cylinder engine. The Alfa twin cam engine, de Dion rear suspension, rear transaxle, more Giugiaro styling, and the reputation. Apart from the aftermarket wheels, which are not my choice but that’s a purely personal thing, I see nothing wrong with this car.
Heck, even the number plate seems fitting.
I challenge you to not want it. Please, just pass me the keys!
Of course, no Italian car show could be complete without a Ferrari – my pick is this 1973 Dino 246GT, which technically was sold as a Dino, not a Ferrari Dino. Yes, there were other Ferraris, many more powerful, with V8 or V12 power, but that little boy’s expression says it all. Even after nearly 60 years, the Dino’s shape just does it for everyone.
Like most car shows there was one surprise waiting at the end of the afternoon – a BMW 600, developed by a struggling BMW from the Italian Isetta. This was an long wheelbase, four wheeled version of the Italian Isetta, with a larger BMW motorcycle flat twin engine, of 582cc and almost 20bhp. Not fast, but good enough for one famous energetic driver.
Any country that adds window stickers like this deserves your attention!
(Lunotto antiappannante – anti fog rear window, but you knew that.)