Friday, 23 November 2012
Alfa Romeo struggled back to profitability after the Second World War, mass-producing small vehicles rather than hand-building luxury models until the 1960s and 1970s, when it managed a return to sporty cars. Its Italian government parent company, Finmeccanica obliged to make a profit, sold the brand to Fiat in 1986.
Alfa Romeo's position in Italy’s social structure was emphasised in 1971, when it was instructed to set up a new factory making a small car in the south of Italy, an area of chronic unemployment. Giugiaro had a hand in the new model, known, because of the location of the new plant, as the Alfasud.
Alfasuds began life with a modest 1186cc, but the engine was enlarged to provide the Sprint Veloce with 1490cc, giving up to 105mph (169kph) and the best part of 28mpg (10l/100km). The Alfasud scored well, not so much through being fast - compared with many sports cars it was not, but it could be steered with great precision, placed on the road exactly where the driver wanted to go, with little body roll and a flat, even ride that went a long way to make up for the rather mean-looking interior. Even the admired Alfa Romeo mechanically musical noises remained -the Sud's little 'Boxer' engine produced a delightfully discreet rasping exhaust note.
TEXT from Sports Car Classics, Vol1, Dove Digital. Pictures Alfa Romeo 158 of he 1940s and 6C of the 1930s at Goodwood. Alfasud and modern reinterpretation of Alfa Romeo Disco Volante.