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amarthur 09-29-2006 12:56 AM

South African built Alfas
 
I have a RHD 1978 Spider that was built in SA, exported to California (as a special order by its UK resident working in S Cal) and subsequently imported into the UK when he returned home.
I have tried Googling, and read what I can get my hands on, to find out more about the production of RHD Alfas. The implication is that all RHD Alfas (from around the time of the well-quoted batch built in 1978) were (and are) actually built in SA.
Can anyone shed any light on the details of the SA factory output. Where they kit built, assembled on Italian built bodyshells, wholly manufactured in SA on SA tooling to Italian drawings....? There is a whole history to be had here! Obviously I am most interested in tracing the build details of my own car, but there must be others out there with a curiosity over the history and output of this factory.

dretceterini 09-29-2006 11:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by amarthur
I have a RHD 1978 Spider that was built in SA, exported to California (as a special order by its UK resident working in S Cal) and subsequently imported into the UK when he returned home.
I have tried Googling, and read what I can get my hands on, to find out more about the production of RHD Alfas. The implication is that all RHD Alfas (from around the time of the well-quoted batch built in 1978) were (and are) actually built in SA.
Can anyone shed any light on the details of the SA factory output. Where they kit built, assembled on Italian built bodyshells, wholly manufactured in SA on SA tooling to Italian drawings....? There is a whole history to be had here! Obviously I am most interested in tracing the build details of my own car, but there must be others out there with a curiosity over the history and output of this factory.


As far as I am aware, parts were shipped from Italy and the cars were assembled in various places all over the world; not only SA. I know of no actual manufacturing facility in SA.

GreyGTV6 09-29-2006 11:26 AM

There was a manufacturing plant in SA. The local laws were cars had to have a certain amount of local content and it was mainly a weight factor that was used for calculation. So heavy, expensive, items like motors, gearboxes, axles were imported but there was definately local tooling and assembly. Info I heard (cannot remember how accurate it is) was it was the only Alfa manufacturer outside Italy. I stand corrected on that point.

South Africa 09-29-2006 01:01 PM

Alfa Romeo South Africa
 
Dear all,

There was production of Alfa Romeo cars in South Africa. Over the many years of production in South Africa various 'rules/laws' applied to the manufacture of vehicles in South Africa. Even today there are such 'rules/laws' which have to be GATT friendly. We left South Africa about seven years ago so we are not totally 'uptodate' with these 'rules/laws'.

If my memeory serves me correctly, CKD kits were imported and manufactured/assembled in East London from the late '60's early '70's. Production moved to Rosslyn, near Pretoria and the manufacturing became more intense until its closure in about 1985. Many reasons were given for the closure of this facility ranging from 'not financially viable' to 'embargo on further investments due to the policy of Apartheid'.

With the election of a democratic government in 1994 FIAT/Alfa Romeo returned to reinvest in South Africa in various forms in the 1990's..

The best way to find out if your Alfa Romeo was manufactured/assembled in South Africa is to contact Archivo Storico Alfa Romeo. By providing the chassis/VIN number this organisation will provide you with 'when', 'where' and 'how' the specified Alfa Romeo came into existance.

amarthur 10-03-2006 11:36 AM

Thanks for the above exchange, it certainly adds some more detail to the bones of the story. I am a little confused by the various apparently contradictory facts, though. According to Wikipedia, and a few other Googled sources:

"RHD Alfa Romeo Production post-1960.
In the late 1960's, a number of European automobile manufacturers established facilities in South Africa to assemble right hand drive vehicles for the Commonwealth (I think that this fact is in error and actually refers to RHD, not Commonwealth, - amarthur) markets. Fiat and other Italian manufacturers established factories along with these other manufacturers in Uitenhage, outside of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.
With the imposition of sanctions by western powers in the 1970's and 1980's, South Africa became self sufficient, and in car production came to rely more and more on the products of the Uitenhage factories. In consequence, production levels increased, and many manufacturers including Fiat Spa., Lancia, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo transferring all their right-hand drive production to Uitenhage. Volkswagen AG, Daimler Benz AG and BMW AG followed suit at about this time.
Since then, all right-hand-drive production of Alfa Romeo (and most other European manufacturers) remains in Uitenhage - so that RHD European cars are actually South African in origin, or else have their steering and dashboard assemblies produced there".

I have read elsewhere that there were "factories" in Ethiopia, so I have little doubt that Alfas were assembled from CKD on a fairly world wide basis. East London, Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage (and now Rosslyn) re-occur regularly when Alfa production in SA is written about. Were they all the same "business" relocating to meet industrial/social pressures, or separate discrete ventures? (I note South Africa's information above, but it is possibly incomplete relative to this question). Are Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage actually the same factory? Equally, whilst I have seen documentation of early (1960s) Guilietta models being manufactured in East London which ties in with part of what is contributed above; I assume that the 115 series spiders are associated with Uitenhage..? The next question.. where does this leave the RHD Alfettas/Suds etc and subsequent... were they all assembled in Uitenhage? Were there periods when some were assembled in Italy?

As I started this by saying, I feel that there is a large piece of unwritten history here concerning the history of the RHD cars (probably kept quiet for political reasons through the period prior to the end of apartheid). Perhaps we need someone from one of the SA Alfa clubs to provide a potted history?

GreyGTV6 10-03-2006 12:54 PM

It may be spltting hairs, but I believe the SA plant was more than a CKD. As has been stated previously, there was local content required. So a CKD would not satisfy that requirement, but large items would have been imported. I personally had occasion to visit the Toyota plant in Durban and their design facilities were busy with plans for LHD BMWs for the US market. Toyota had spun them off as an independant company and were free to secure any contracts they could. I say this as I had to recover the CAD system and the lady told me that, 2 months into the project, she had not taken a system back-up and informed me of the project she was busy with. So I feel there would be local content for all the manufacturers including Alfa. As for the export of the cars, I have no idea or info on that but export to a RHD country would be feasible.

gtv2000 10-04-2006 03:07 AM

I haven't yet posted in this thread as I hate to write when I have the answers somewhere but didn't afford to check them first. Excuse me if I do so in this post.

I have articles on the South African plants that would comprehensively address your questions, but I haven't gone through them as it's for a future article and I have to go step by step. What I can say, from the top of my memory, is that the SA plants were mainly about asssembling CKDs, but indeed there were local part supplies. In one occasion at least they had an engineering initiative: the 3.0 litre GTV6.

The Ethiopian and Erithrean issues are addressed in this thread. No assembly, only repair and maintenance facilities for cars, busses and trucks.

Among the other places where CKDs were assembled after the war, I can quote, again from the top of my memory: Belgium (S.A. Imperia in Nessonvaux), Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa. Also commercial vans in Spain (FADISA then EBRO). And the FNM factory in Brasil, where Alfa trucks and busses, as well as cars devived from the 102-series 2000 were built, first as clones of the Italian 2000s, then developped into 2150 and 2300.

amarthur 10-04-2006 04:09 AM

Thanks GTV2000. When and where are you planning to get your article on the SA plants published? They will make interesting reading, as will the to-be-hoped-for articles on other post war Alfa production outside of Italy...? You certainly seem to have made a good start on researching this subject, I for one would like to see the finished product(s) as it seems that they may answer all of my questions.

gtv2000 10-04-2006 07:19 AM

I started writing down a comprehensive industrial history of the Alfa Romeo company and its factories.

The first chapter is already available online here. I gave explanations and indications for accessing the text and decent illustrations in this thread.

The second chapter is out right now in Het Klaverblaadje, magazine of the Dutch Alfaclub. I'll make it available online within weeks, as I would like the english text to be corrected and edited before.

The South African plant should be addressed in the third or fourth chapter, so it might be necessary to wait a couple of years or so, sorry...

amarthur 10-04-2006 07:29 AM

GTV2000, I shall look forward to reading what you have produced so far; thanks for the links. At a quick glance it looks fascinating. Unless someone is able to contribute anything else on the subject of the SA Alfas, I will just have to be patient and wait a year or two for your full story!

GreyGTV6 10-04-2006 10:25 AM

[QUOTE=gtv2000]In one occasion at least they had an engineering initiative: the 3.0 litre GTV6. QUOTE]

Was the GTV 3.0 litre not an Autodelta development? If memory serves me correct (I use that expression a lot more in my grey hair days), it was developed by Autodelta, then dropped due to the tax laws in Italy. All Alfa SA did was import the parts and install them in the cars. Rumour has it the final cars were 2.8 as the 3.0L cranks had run out so they simply used the 2.5 crank with a bigger bore. It was a rumour so they would never have sold them as 2.8, and the owners would never have been told. Short of pulling the motor apart, it could be checked by measuring the stroke.

GreyGTV6 10-04-2006 10:50 AM

Oh! Forgot to add that the 3.0L beat the snot out the BMs on the track.

mulato 10-04-2006 07:56 PM

Ok guys...you are talking with the right chap hear....I started to work in the Alfa assembly line in 1970....in Rosslyn-Pretoria...SA...under Datsun Nissan Plant...The Alfa production cars that were manufacted at the time was Guilia ti 1300/1600 Super..GT Juniors 1300/1600 and 1750gtv and Berlinas 1750 and 2000... NO Spyder....However latter on in the late 70s Alfa Open its own Plant in Britz..Pretoria and my brother worked for them...the cars built was;Guilietta 1600/1800...Alfasud Ti and Sprint..1.5/1.3/1.2...Alfa GTV 2.5 and 3.0L also Alfetta 1.8/2.0...No Spyders.....My brother is also in the States today and has well is brother in law...he was the Maneger for the Purchase Dep of the plant....the Plant shut down in 1982 if i am correct. So keep in mind that if ever Spyders were built in SA....maybe in East London...SA. I do not remember now for sure because i was working for GM in Port Elizabeth..SA. So give me a call and we can go more into detail.
-Luis #615-791-8176

South Africa 10-05-2006 08:40 AM

'South African' Alfa Romeo Spiders
 
Dear all,

To the best of my knowledge no Alfa Romeo Spiders were built in South Africa. As discussed before, there were many rules/laws which 'regulated' vehicle assembly/production over the various years in South Africa.

At some point in time, in South African history, motor vehicle manufacturers/assemblers could import 'additional' items if their 'local content' exceeded the minimum. What Alfa Romeo was doing was exceeding 'local content' on the locally 'produced' Alfas and importing the Spider 'fully assembled'. Alfa Romeo could import the Spider without wheels and tyres, put these onto the vehicle in South Africa and claim local content. On occassions the formulas used to calculate local content were rather complex and tedious. At one point in time you could produce a container load of brake discs for Alfa Romeo, for example, export them claim your 'export credits' and import a few spiders.

We own a few Alfa Romeos, two spiders amongst the 'lot'. The 1968 Duetto was produced in Italy to Right Hand Drive(RHD) specification exported to South Africa and then to England. The 1969 Spider Veloce has a similar history.

Maybe there is an exception that can disprove what I have said above?

amarthur 10-05-2006 09:14 AM

So, if I understand this correctly, it would seem that the well quoted (Original Spider and elsewhere) final batch of 300 RHD spiders was quite probably manufactured and assembled in Italy then exported to SA for addition of very minor final parts. As to which plant they were sent... seems that it could have been East London. From SA they were either sold for SA consumption or exported. This leads to the question, as spider sales were considered to be slack in this period,were they only ever meant for SA consumption or was there an intention to market worldwide? The economics of sending largely complete cars to SA for completion with the intention for onward export doesn't really make sense unless there was a trade off elsewhere, or if a significantly better profit was realised through sale from SA rather than Italy?


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