Modernist – AUTOMOBIL REVUE

Transmission via axle, double wishbones with torsion bars front, De Dion axle at rear, Watt compass geared, disc brakes on all sides, twin carburetors, big stem and clean, modern lines: The Alfetta was introduced in 1972, that’s 50 years ago General, definitely updated. The technical effort was unique, as the shape completely broke from what we are accustomed to from Alfa Romeo, perhaps apart from the controversial Junior Zagato, introduced by Ercole Spada in 1969. The Alfetta is named after the first Formula 1 award-winning car in history, the Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta, and it was designed by Giuseppe Scarnati out of his own center in Centro Stile. The Alfetta was built at the Arese plant near Milan, and by the time production ended in 1984, 478,812 units had rolled off the assembly line. One of them, our example in the Giallo Piper in its original condition, first found its way to southern Italy, where it was parked for 28 years after his first career as a sports family car. Today the car is in the small Collezione Centosedici from Bernese Oliver Buzzi and is ready to be driven again and replaced.

70s and Italianità

When the Berne collector was asked which era in Alfa Romeo’s history fascinated him the most, he answered without words. With bell bottoms, a Manchester jacket, and a typical mushroom hairstyle, the Vita owner fits his car perfectly. For some, the 1970s were the heyday of Italy, with the Adriano Celentano or Terence Hill and Bud Spencer films in cinemas, with vacations on the Adriatic and with that laid-back southern attitude slowly beginning to feel north of the Alps as well. Why did Oliver Posey buy this exact Vita? “The Slimed down 1.6, introduced in January 1975, is very rare, and it is difficult to find original examples even in Italy. The streamlined radiator grille with single headlights rather than double headlights is attractive in its discreet objectivity. Many have been upgraded to the 1.8″ twin headlight grille, including this example. The first thing I did was take apart the car,” Alvesta explains.

The car is now largely in its original condition again, but traces of the conversion are still visible. For example, there were 19th century fenders that extended more around the rear of the car, the holes for mounting them in the side of the car are still there, and even on the passenger side, they saved disassembly in favor of partial painting – “this would have done only four screws and work Much less concealment.” , according to the owner. The slightly different color of the old paintwork can still be seen as it is covered by the longer bumper. But overall, this car is a time capsule. Inside, matching covers adorn the original seat cushions, and Pepita’s brown pattern could hardly be more contemporary. Thanks to the Giallo Piper on the outside and brown on the inside, this car has the discreet coolness that most modern Germans completely lack.

The Alfetta saves from the extravagance found on its successors, the Alfa 90 or Alfa Romeo 75, such as the handbrake or the removable bag. The fixtures, tucked away in the panel, are vaguely reminiscent of a Lamborghini, and they look good. Only the horn buttons integrated into the steering wheel sometimes pop out of their mounts. Plastic from the 70s is a topic in itself, some copies are hardly inferior to the original with their insufficiency. But like many things, this is mainly due to time, and certainly not to Alfa Romeo itself.

technology completely

The Vita weighs less than 1,100 kilograms, even with the smaller 1.6-liter engine, and that makes for an impressive line weight compared to the competition. The engine, which is equipped with two Dellorto twin carburetors, produces 108 hp according to factory specifications. The smaller Alfetta was slower than its older sister with 1800-175 km/h compared to 180 km/h. And it sounds like an Alfa Romeo anyway, the powerful crackle of the exhaust pipe, which juts out boldly in the middle diagonally under the rear of the car, was known to every inclined car fan in the past, in Italy every child could probably assign it to the Scudetto, the mark on on the radiator.

As a mid-range car, the Alfta – according to the 1976 AUTOMOBIL REVUE catalog at 17,450 francs in this country – was richly equipped, with the hardware in particular leaving nothing to be desired. It’s possible that only fixed belts were no longer updated in 1976, and it’s entirely possible that the Swiss-spec car would have had retractable belts. When it comes to active safety, the Alfetta, with its complex chassis and excellent brakes, is probably one of the best we’ve found since that time. Due to the car’s long downtime, Oliver Pozzi replaced all brake hardware, such as pads, hoses, brake master cylinders, discs and brake calipers, as well as all suspension bushings and shock absorbers. The car is running like new today and there is nothing wrong with treating it. One sees oneself asserting again that some things were previously better or at least not worse. Certainly different and more fun.

the eternal question

Does it have rust? As the owner of Alfa Romeo, you have to deal with this question, as a villain. Indeed, after the first big wave of enthusiasm, it was mechanical problems – the notoriously inaccurate transformation – and rust that stood in the way of the unimpeded spread of the feta. To be fair, the brown plague was rife in even the best of homes by the 1970s. The Vita built in northern Italy may have had the striking rust defects generally associated with the rust produced at Pomigliano d’Arco near Naples: everything that came from Alfa Romeo was unfairly threatened. The fact is that Alfetta has not yet been restored. The body structure is seamless, especially sensitive areas such as affixed windows or front wheel chamber reinforcements for shock absorber mounts, where sheet metal is stacked three times, intact.

However, soon the owner will take over some business. The door cases were already fixed once, but now needed to be worked again. Because, yes, there are rust blisters. But they are honest rust blisters, and their number is manageable. Oliver Pozzi will completely disassemble and repair the Vita this summer. This is a treat for an Alfa Romeo, which should rank very far in the wishlist. A fate the Alfetta Berlines share with the Biscione in the radiator logo, especially when compared to the disproportionately more expensive GT and GTV coupes.

The world is cruelly unfair. Because in a true sports car, the technical effort in the Alfta can still be justified. Not only did the Alfa Romeo deliver better driving performance than a similar Ford Taunus with a 2-liter engine, but it also came from another galaxy in terms of chassis. Its level is just an average feel, which critics might call crazy. Either way, the feta is exceptional. And of course they still exist today, family cars with a sporty character. But these are not everyday cars that carelessly rely on the best technically possible, but frank performance models from more traditional series. Every Alfetta was a sports model – except perhaps the diesel versions, which are hardly known outside of Italy.

How is that?

The question remains why, of all things, at the end of the existence of this car and not forgetting the GTV coupe model, the Milan brand faced such difficulties. So much so that she finally had to seek sanctuary with her eternal rival from Turin, Fiat. One reason might be Alfa Romeo’s fear of their bravery. When the Progetto 116, the middle-class development of the future Alfa Romeo, Alfetta and later the new Giulietta, was launched in the second half of the 1960s, the technical complexity of the new series divided opinions within the management of the traditional Milan company, since 1933 it was a state enterprise. The traditionalists did not want to abandon the genius but slowly persisted in the Julia years and managed to assert themselves. So Alfa Romeo upgraded the Giulia’s older sister, the Berlina 1750, in 1971 shortly before the revolutionary Alvita was launched to the Berlina 2000, and Giulia also stayed in the range and even switched to a Nova Giulia with a plastic grill and a 1974 stretched rear rim. It was only dropped from the model range in 1978.

However, the Alfetta name for the new car was chosen to evoke the traditions of motorsport and the brand’s tradition in general. However, in the mid-1970s, there were three series with similar specifications in the model range, which led to a mutual disassembly. When the Alfetta finally had to survive on its own in 1978, the car, whether modern or not, was already six years old. Introduced in 1979, the Alfa 6 failed as a sedan, bringing at least the Coupé GTV V6 today referred to as the Busso engine and a second spring until it was discontinued in 1986. The Alfetta gave way to the Alfa Romeo 90 in 1984, which captured the Technically the concept, however, despite a design by Marcello Gandini (who also painted the Lamborghini Miura and Countach) seemed completely colorless and was thus replaced by the 164 in 1987.

Today, however, the Alfetta is a pearl in its simplicity, with its uncompromising stance in favor of subtle technical solutions rather than optimum production standardization, in its seriousness as a complete sports family car. And they can be seen exactly in their original version, even if it is reduced in size to 1.6
adjectives. Maybe the new gentlemen via Alfa Romeo should get the Alfetta early, take a few laps with her, sit in front of her at the sidewalk cafe and do some soul-searching.

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