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Discussion Starter #1
Hello: if there is a country whose climate is as antithetical to old Alfa Romeos as Canada, it's Denmark. I live in Aarhus where the only old Alfas I see regularly are a '50s Giulia that shares a garage with my car and a 1965 Giulia 1300 which appears in the summer outside a fancy restaurant in town. Oddly I sometimes see late model 75s which survive here in higher numbers than in Ireland (where I come from) despite the salty roads.
My personal experience of Alfas started when I had a Saturday job as student. My boss had a yard of rotting Alfas: a 2000 saloon (with the Bertone body), a Giulia, a Giulietta (80s), a Giugiario GTV, a 70s GTV6 (rusting so fast it decayed from week to week) and a 75 which he drove into the ground. I learned about the boxer engines, low polar moment of inertia and capable handling.
I wondered if you might like to read this fictional "review" of the Alfetta.
1973 Alfa Romeo Alfetta review | Driven To Write
This gets about one or two clicks a day (but nobody comments). I thought somebody here might appreciate a rosy look back at the golden age of car reviewing. My view is that the current stuff (especially in the UK) is written by people with no hinterland beyond cars. None wear ties, for goodness sake!
If anyone is interested in speaking to a general audience about running an Alfa in Canada, we'd like to head it at DTW. Incidentally, I am not here to "steal" readers but to swim a little against the tide of car websites being ever more specialised. We ran an article about the Jaguar XJ40 and this attracted what I will call the irate members of the Jaguar XJ40 bordeaux-over-tan 3.2 automatic owners' club. They read, disapproved and complained on their own forum about the libel against the world's best car.
Finally: do you worry Alfa will go the same way as Lancia? The European range is very reduced compared to just 10 years ago. The Spider, GT, 158, 166 and GTV are gone. Alfa UK has so few models to sell that their website had a blank space on the front page when I last looked in June.
All the best for now,

Richard
 

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Hi Richard,

Glad to see your post, and I have been viewing youtube recently and there are many videos from a Danish alfa romeo classic enthusiast I believe under name ultimostile.and the cars seem loved.

About climate my father bought our 76 alfetta berlina new in uk and it has been garaged all its life and has no rust after 38 years...but it has been loved and I am sure any car that is loved will be in rust free condition. If left outside in a damp climate or used on salty roads in winter they will have a greater propensity to rust.

Thank you for giving that link to the alfetta review but I have to say reviewers then were to me biased against alfettas from all the reviews I have and not on merit in my opinion most of the time; many cars rusted badly in the 70s but only the alfas and lancias were singled out. Not only that but mechanically the reviewers only had some days with the cars and we have had ours since 1976 so I must say I have different opinions.
After many years driving my fathers car across europe in summer it started every time without issue ever.
The cars mechanicals are very robust and nothing leaks at all contrary to that review. The gear shift cannot be rushed and 2nd gear is not easy when cold to engage but since I always warm the engine before setting off the car is always behaved. Also the propshaft couplings need careful attention but if maintained correctly it is reliable.

Oh and regarding Alfas future, previously under Fiats tenure Alfa has not been given the funding needed to invest in new models and has relied on fiat engineering. The Fiat boss has now if you are aware allowed a skunkworks for new alfa models developed under bosses who are ex ferrari separately from the fiat engineering group to differentiate the cars more and the funding within the group seems to be there so there should be many more new models soon starting next year with the giulia saloon.

Lastly in my opinion this is an alfa romeo forum and therefore the talk should be primarily about alfa and referencing other fiat group cars (fiat, ferrari, maserati) since alfa is now a brand of Fiat and its new 4c is built by maserati and its recent 8c competizione was built with help from maserati/ferrari, and not other brands which have their own forums
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi: Thanks for that response. I suppose I could say that any vehicle dry-stored and pampered with Waxoyl would almost never rust. However, under the normal conditions where ten 70s cars were left outside, it was the Italians and French ones that rusted earliest and worst.The Swedes combatted the problem with thick steel while Audi pioneered galvanisation. Nowadays the problem has gone away. I have seen Alfa 155s with no rust at all; they seem to hold up well; ditto 156s which seem to be very robust.
Has anyone got any reports of running things like 75s and 164s in Canada they'd like to share?
If you were going to launch a new Alfa what sort of car should it be? Jaguar have decided that the 3-series class is the main battleground. Would you axe the MiTo?

Richard
driventowrite.com
 

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Richard, although I cannot speak from direct experience regarding 164 or 75 models, here are some factors that make a comparison between Denmark and Canada somewhat difficult:

1. Alfa Romeo pulled out of North America about 20 years ago. The last models that were sold in Canada were 1993-94 S4 Spider and 164. Support slowly eroded and Alfa owners in the USA and Canada had to fend for themselves. Nowadays, the last of the people who worked in Alfa shops either have retired or passed. The same is true for many owners. Alfa clubs are shrinking because of aging population and young people not being interested in in classic cars that are not Supercars and/or working on their cars. We can barely get one club drive per year together (while the Washington and Oregon clubs seem to be much more dedicated and enthusiastic).

2. The sheer size of the country and its differences in climate make it impossible to make generic statements about car maintenance and survival. Running a car in mild climate of the West coast is completely different from running a car in the prairies or in Toronto and Montreal, where salt and harsh winters eat the cars very quickly.

So, not much input or insights about Canada per se -- but something is hopefully better than nothing. I think that many owners in Canada and around the world would be lost without support forums like AlfaBB that helps the owners or their mechanics finding solutions to problems and keeping the cars on the road.
 

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Richard,

You are right that pampered cars that have been garaged all their life in a dehumidified garage should not rust at all. However in period in the 1970s when the alfetta came out they were used as normal daily drivers and no additional protective measures were adopted by the factory to deal with the harsh winters in north America and Canada. However…my German friend said to me that Bmws of the period and the other prestigious brands like audi and Mercedes were just as good at rusting …indeed while at college in the 1980s in uk my friend had an old 1970s Audi 80 and its bodywork was very poor and rusty but it drove well. My uncle loved Volvos and he had a series of them, the first I saw was the 240 and it also rusted but the cars described were left outside summer and winter and driven in all conditions.
It was however only Alfa and Lancia that were singled out in the uk and in my opinion unfairly especially the alfa nord cars…the alfasud was another story and was not built as well in general which was a travesty because the engineering was second to none.
Regarding more modern alfas I have no history of the 155 but reading other forums regarding the 156 rust is fairly prevalent running under the sill and seats and care also has to be taken regarding inner wings and the crossmember supports of the radiator; however if kept in a dehumidified garage and maintained as they should be then there should be zero rust.

Regarding what Alfa Romeo should produce next Alfa Romeo in my opinion have always made compact sporting sedans/berlinas and this should be realised in the forthcoming new Giulia. The motoring press have already stated that alfa romeo has no intention of building a replacement for the mito but we shall have to wait and see if this is the case or not.
 

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...for me personally if a smaller model were considered then to stand out from the crowd and be driver oriented with a low centre of gravity then an alfasud type format should be made, with front mounted boxer 4 cylinder and suspension also like the sud too using watts linkage. I believe the VW group had a boxer 4 cylinder ready for alfa if they were able to acquire it designed by porsche which goes full circle really since the creator of the alfasud and its boxer engine was Rudolf hruska, ex porsche.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think sills are generally vulnerable. It's a sad fact cars tend to rust from the ground up. The 156s here are not showing any visible rust but Alfa skimped on the badges and the paint flakes off leaving a sad, almost blank disc.
The problems you face running an old Alfa are not unlike those I face running a long-discontinued Citroen XM. Citroen don't support the car and there are fewer mechanics who understand it. The youngest are in their 40s and mostly do newer cars. Mercedes provide spares for everything they've made. Little wonder then that their cars survive and hold their value.
I would not expect FCA to ever do a real Alfa again. I feel they don't have any integrity and few customers grasp the value of low c.o.g. or low polar moment of inertia let alone things like boxer engines and Ackerman steering geometry. What they get is frilly styling and Bluetooth connectivity.
Personally, a Focus/Golf sized car is the smallest thing Alfa should do. I'd be happy with a good stout 4 cylinder inline and firm, pliant suspension along with intelligent packaging.
Richard
www.driventowrite.com
 

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welcome aboard.....my oldest daughter lives in Aarhus....I visit once in awhile...besides some other Danish Alfas,
you will also have Wille with Duettos across from Copenhagen, in Sweden...
 

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Richard,

Why do you say Alfa romeo has no integrity any more? Could you please tell me in your opinion what a "real" alfa means for you? Post Fiat takeover (1986) new designed alfas were certainly built and engineered with a different philosophy but if you ever attended alfa meetings and met alfa 155 or 916 gtv owners you will see a great passion for their cars. I myself prefer the pre Fiat Alfas that were built and designed in house at Alfa in milan the last of which was the 116 alfetta of 1972 (the later 116 giulietta and 75 were just iterations of the same theme using a developed platform since a new one could not be afforded). Yes yes people in general do not care about low c.o.g or the oily bits when they buy a car but more how much it will cost, maintenance and purchase price, reliability and prestige. However the new "skunkworks" should produce not "metoo" products but unusual and cutting edge ones engineering wise like the 4c with a carbon fibre tub, the first sports car in its price range to be produced with one. So I do not believe this car which is the first of the modern alfas in the range envisaged lacks integrity personally...although it needs development to be perfect.

However modern quest for low Co2 emmissions and safety regulations has had an effect on all cars. I also hate electric steering and flappy paddle gearchange and turbo engines and I learnt to drive in the very late 1980s so I am not old. You are right many car manufacturers in general do not cater for the needs of customers of not far past or older cars like your xm citroen and this is a problem that is being solved by remanufactured parts when support is great enough. However regarding Mercedes Benz...my uncles old w123 saloon was bulletproof like most other german appliances from the 1970s (our AEG washing machine lasted 25 years). in the 1970s cost was no object for Mercedes Benz in build quality and in my opinion in that respext are the best cars ever built period....there are so many still used in africa/middle east from that era as taxis since they are so strongly built. Modern mercedes in my opinion do not stand comparison
 

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but you are right in general German marques...maybe because they have the cash resources too...do cater for the spare parts of their older cars better than most in my opinion
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi: I may not have expressed myself clearly in my post. I think Fiat Chrysler Automobile lacks integrity and indeed, so did Fiat Group before that. I am quite sure the engineers and designers at Alfa would do a much better job if they were not hamstrung by FCA. If it was down to them to spend the money they were would be more Alfa-like Alfas. The way I see it, Alfa should be the core brand for Fiat. With chassis requirements centred on Alfa, there could be less expensive Fiats derived from Alfa platforms. And in parallel (not upmarket as such) Lancias could have spun off too. But since Fiat was the core brand, Alfa had to take their built-to-a-low-price elements and try to make the best of them. That they got cars like the Series 2 Alfa 155, 157, 166, and 145, 146 and 147 out of the Fiat parts bin was a miracle. Since the 158 though things have gone awry.

Richard
Driven To Write | Motoring Matters …………. Or Does It?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi: As I suggested in the previous post, you can´t really think about Alfa without thinking about Fiat and Lancia. I will repost here a comment I made at Car Magazine a long time back:
Lancia´s news from 2006 | CAR Magazine Online
The November 2006 edition of CAR rose to the surface of my clutter. I had a look, not having leafed through it in the nearly three years since it landed on the news-stands. For younger readers, November 2006´s was one of those off-square, truncated editions produced under the reign of Jason Barlow, CAR´s erstwhile editor. "Fiat unfurls its masterplan" reported the bulletin that I found on an unpaginated page. Most interesting among the plans for Lancia, is that by now we ought to have had a Lancia Thesis replacement called the Aurelia which would supposedly eventually spawn a GT version. If all went well, we would have had a Spyder and a HPE version by now.
According to the article, Sergio Marchionne saw Lancia distinguishing itself from Alfa by avoiding "sportiness in favour of style, design, quality and an innate sense of Italian verve." I re-read those words and realised here was a bit of empty brandscape vapourtalk. The only part of that description with any meaning is that Lancia would not be sporty. But how could Lancia offer more style, more design, more quality and more innate Italian verve than Alfa Romeo? What is the difference between style and design anyway? (I suppose style is raw good looks while design implies some level of practical competence). And what is Italian verve? If Lancia has it then so too does Alfa Romeo and so too does Ferrari. Or put it another way, could Alfa Romeo sell a single car without also offering competive quantities of style, design, quality and Italian verve? I can´t imagine Signor Marchionne saying: "Alfa Romeo will distinguish itself from Lancia by being sporting, but it will not focus on style, design, quality or Italian verve. Rather, it will major on practicality, innate international dullness and it will just be competent (but no more) on matters of quality and design. In fact, we´ll make sure Lancia is always higher in quality than Alfa with special teams designed to create artificial differentiation. It´s a pity as this will mean Alfas will never be made as well as BMWs but there we are. We shall uphold Alfa´s tradition of flimsy shoddiness."
That little article reminds me of the false distinction forced on Rover when BMW took over. The only thing they could say about Rover was that it would be "British" and not sporting. Look what happened to Rover. I suspect Lancia is not long for this world. It can´t carve its own niche because in the car market there are few natural niches and Lancia is not in one of them. Conservative good taste is not a natural niche but Mercedes provides that plus prestige and sportiness. "Sporting", "value-for-money" and "prestige" are the three points of the marketing triangle. Lancia is not sporting (Alfa owns that), Lancia is not value-for-money (if that means relative cheapness) because that´s Fiat´s job, and the Germans own mainstream prestige.
 

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Richard,

Interesting article thank you however....small correction first of all...from about mid 90s or earlier when all Alfa Romeo staff were moved to Turin Alfa Romeo "died"....as a marque it was dead in 1986 but still remnants were engaged in alfa 75 and alfa 164 improvements still at arese (milan) until they all moved to Turin and the fiat beancounters stopped production of the transaxle 75 (too expensive to produce) and made the fwd 155...not my cup of tea and one which hampered alfas market share in europe. So in other words all present engineering is in Turin using Fiat as basis and alfa romeo engineers are just fiat group ones with alfa badges on them in my opinion since alfa is now just a brand....eg fiat will now decide whether the new mazda co produced spider will be an alfa or abarth or fiat....just brands.

Secondly I view your statement about the desire that Alfa should be the core brand in Fiat as something I am in total agreement and which I have been championing to all I meet. Yes building from the top down with Alfa as the core and spinoffs rather cheaper of Fiat and Lancia would have been great; Lancia rally type cars would be evolved too since they for me provoke the biggest sentiments having been a teen when they won all those rally championships with the integrale.
The Fiat Alfas based on Fiat cars were not in my opinion a worthy match for bmw in the 1990s, alfa 156 included ...just in my opinion, using fwd and modified fiat suspension and engines.
I remember I rented the VW passat in 1997 (basically an Audi A4 underneath quite different to previous generation VW passat) was superb and VW thought to build economies of scale to make the car and its parts viable economically, building from the top down so to speak....much better solution than Fiat has done in the past....which is why i am optimistic about the new skunkworks to distance alfa from fiat engineering under ex ferrari bosses.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That´s pretty true about the 156 but it also competed against Fords, Peugeots, Mazda and other FWD mainstream cars. I think generally we can extract the lesson that you can build down but you can´t build up from a brand. So, you could take Alfa hardware and cost-cut until a Fiat comes into being and you could take a Jaguar and make it into a Ford. The other paths leads to Cimarrons, Alfa 155s and Jaguar X-types. Nobody is really fooled. That said, the Alfa 166 and Lancia Kappa had nothing much to do with any other Fiat car and they were both pretty good machines (point proved!)
 

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Richard,

As much as auto magazines compare Alfa with Fords and Peugeots its true competitor post 1945 has always been BMW and to a lesser extent also mercedes and porsche in my opinion...however the fiat based alfas again in my opinion were far less worthy competitors.
Oh and the 166 and Kappa I think you will find did have everything to do with Fiat cars...and alfa romeo cars.....in the engines which are the heart of every alfa. The 16v twin spark engine has a Fiat block with different Alfa heads and not a true twin spark as the alfa 75 twin spark was in the best alfa tradition. The 166 of course also used the venerable v6 Alfa engine as an option. However regardless in my opinion FWD left it compromised.

Secondly thank you for posting your latest Alfa Romeo article but I take issue with one point you made in saying there is no talk of a 166 replacement...not true at all!
I maintain our 116 alfetta and the 166 (bmw 5 series size) replacement has been reported many times in recent months as being named alfetta ...with the top models sharing the top of the range maserati/alfa v6 twin turbo 500bhp+ engine and RWD and presumably getting a front engine and rear transaxle like our car.

Again Fiat before in recent years has tried in my opinion to talk up the Alfa brand with grand plans but the cash has not been there. However chrysler under Fiat has been a big success and now differently to before Fiat does have the necessary cash available to develop some interesting Alfas more in keeping with the past
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I suppose I was saying that the Kappa and 166 were not paired with an equivalent Fiat. They did use Fiat group engines. The Kappas got some interesting five cylinder engines
Theme – Engines: Throbby, thrummy quints | Driven To Write. And I didn´t know this until recently, there was a V6 2.0 litre for the 164 (which wasn´t offered on the 166, I believe).Theme – Engines: The road less travelled | Driven To Write
My biggest worry is the width of the car and the fact they won´t give it the kind of steering the 156 had (proper Ackerman geometry).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi: Thanks for stopping by at DTW, by the way!
Does anyone here have an Alfa 90? I was trawling the used car ads and found a mint one for €10,000. Given the car´s status this figure amazed me. It also shows that unhappy characteristic that is Alfas get hammered in the press, often neglected in the showrooms and then 20 years later mysteriously emerge is lovable and high priced rarities!
 
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