12 September 2020

More than an old car #153: Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Alfa Romeo (AR) has remained a prominent brand among the classic cars circle. Naturally, some models are more well-received than others, but today I would like to give a shoutout to this comparably obscure 1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta Berlina!

The Alfetta was conceived in the face of increased competition from new stylistic trends, and it was recognised that customers would not want the design to deviate too much for their liking. Designed in-house by Centro Stile Alfa Romeo and led by Giuseppe Scarnati, its name was a throwback to AR's sporting glories in the 1951 F1 Grand Prix in a bid to convince customers that the brand was still as strong as ever.

Introduced to the public in 1972, the Alfetta adopted a squarish look but retained the iconic twin round headlights and grille, along with 3 chrome bars flanking it. The rear, however, was quite high: it contributed aerodynamic advantages and large boot space, although it could not be fully exploited as the bodywork could be damaged. The interior was also true to the AR tradition: the driving position aimed to be as comfortable as possible, the instrument panels could be read easily and there was more space given to the front seats by rerouting the gearbox. 

The Alfetta underwent a facelift in 1975, featuring a single pair of headlights. In 1977, new engine ranges were introduced along with the introduction of rectangular headlights that remained until the end of production (with the exception of the Quadrifoglio Oro between 1982-1984). Along the way, changes were made to the bumpers and rubber strips were added as well. This unit was powered by a 1570 cc Twin Cam i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 175 km/h with an acceleration of 11.5 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4240 mm long, weighed 1040 kg and had a fuel consumption of 11.9 litres/100 km

Production of the Alfetta Berlina ended in 1984 with more than 448,000 made, of which 77,103 were the 1.6 litre version. This was 1 of 2 that exists here, with the other being a recent import from 1978. Interestingly, it had been deregistered for quite some time and was awaiting a new windscreen. Unfortunately, I am aware that it had been scrapped/exported recently as the lay-up period had been exceeded. Alfettas were sold here in 1974 by City Motors Sdn Bhd, with a starting price of S$22,490. As can be seen, the steering wheel has seen better days and it sports rare classic Fondmetal wheels: while it bears a strong resemblance to the iconic BBS rims, I have never seen any other car sporting this particular brand.

Given how uncommon it is, I understand that most people would not have been aware of it, especially this unit that hasn't seen the road for a while now. While this has disappeared forever, please do keep a lookout for the other unit: now at least you would know what you are looking at!

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