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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks.
I am writing a book about the Alfasud and am researching much of its history.
I am curious to know why Alfa Romeo decided not to import the 'Sud forthe American market.
Press reviews were full of praise at the launch and it was a popular seller in Europe (at least until the rust problem got known about) but was it maybe just too small for US tastes, or did it not meet emissions or crash test criteria? Anyone know the real reason?
Also, any stories of the few that did slip through (private imports).
All help appreciated.
Thanks
 

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Alfasud was prepared for the North American market. It was planned to have 1.3 and 1.5 engines with catalytic converters. TI and Spider models considered to be presented in 1978-79.
Two Alfasud TI was officially imported to the USA by Alfa Romeo Inc, they were tested locally at different road conditions.

I can dig out more information for you if you are interested.

Why this model has never been imported? Probably by the same reasons as modern Giulietta (cheap model which is a competitor to Golf, it can spoil a reputation of Alfa Romeo as a premium brand at very important North American market)
1647592
 

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I would imagine that they would have rusted away to nothing by the time they reached America.

BTW: You guys did miss out of a great car. Yes the interior was very cheap (think Alfetta, but even cheaper) and they rusted like I've never seen before, but by gosh they were an amazing drive for their time. Alfa Romeo should have sold as many as VW sold Golfs, and built from there ... a serious case of what if.
Pete
 

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This is how Alfasud Spider supposed to look like. It was planned from the beginning. Rudolfo Hruska in one of his interview back in 1971 mentioned that the full line of the Alfsud models might include Coupe, Wagon and Spider.

In one of the latest interview in 1990 he mentioned that Alfasud line planned to have 4 doors Berlina, 2 doors version of it, Coupe and Spider. Also they wanted to build Alfasud 4x4. The plans have been changed because of the Fuel Crises of the 70s and new management (Satta died because of brain cancer, Luraghi left the company and Busso retired)

P.S. Alfa spent a lot of time trying to sell Alfasud (as a complete project) to Russians which were looking for a new model for Mosvitch. They tried to build a new car by themselves with Raymond Loewy help, then worked with Alfa, and then switched to Chrysler and bought SIMCA 1510 model.
 

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Alfasud was made in 4 door and 2 door versions, and also as the Alfasud Sprint (picture attached), which while not a convertible was far better looking IMO than that sketch.

Also the Alfa 33 which replaced the Sud, was made as a wagon and also 4x4. The same platform was used by the 147 and Arna.

So from where I sit, they executed that plan, just didn't sell enough because of quality issues. Fantastic but ugly engine, and great handling
Pete
picture from: http://www.bwgarage.com/alfettaszsud/1980-alfa-romeo-alfasud-sprint-veloce-15
 

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In 1972 Alfa developed plans for 1976 emission control system for the Alfasud line of vehicles. In 1974 Alfa continued to develop a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine (flat). The development of MY76 included 1.3 and 1.5 carburated engines. For 49 states it supposed to have an air injection. For the California requirements a monolithic oxidation catalyst supplied by Degussa.
For MY77 Alfa planned Bosch L-Jectronic and as a backup carburetors with air injection.
 

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Maybe the inboard front brakes, handbrake mechanism on front calipers, (with need of regular adjustments for a WOF) made them think twice. Lovely little cars, enjoyed working on them and roadtesting. Had a 33, very good car, another one North America missed. See they got some Yugo.
 

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Do remember the "Sud" portion of the name. Alfa was owned by the Italian government and asked to set up the new factory in Pomigliano d'Arco near Naples. The initial reception to the Alfasud was amazingly successful, and with some labor problems thrown in, they sold all they could make.

The car would have been introduced here at the point where smog and safety requirements were not easily met (impact bumpers, NOX reduction); this was the period they were already busy developing the US spec Alfetta which was introduced in 1975 and was far from successful (90 HP!).

The Pomigliano d'Arco factory is now a FCA factory.
 

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A few precisions/corrections on what has been written above.

The 33 is built on the same platform as the Sud, but that's not the case with the ARNA (Nissan Cherry bodyshell assembled in Italy from Japanese parts and fitted with Alfasud engine and gearbox) nor with the 147. Already the 145/146 did use the Sud powertrains (as woth the Arna) on a Fiat platform.

Years ago I happened to interview Domenico Chirico, who had been in charge of the conception of the Alfasud under Hruska guidelines. He stressed that he had to struggle to meet the weight target. I can imagine it might have been a problem with crash test requiements. Satta and Busso were no part of the Alfasud project, to their bitterness. Busso even designed and built the prototype of an alternative engine, 4-in-line, and related car (Tipo 152). He tilted the engine enough as to prove he could get a bonnet line lower than the boxer with a 4-in-line which could be used both on the small FWD and on the Alfetta range. Therefore, Luraghi ousting is relevant to the Alfasud fate, not Satta's premature death nor Busso's retirement.

It is also not accurate to write that the Italian State ordered Alfa to build a factory in the south. Mid fifties, Luraghi then in charge at the parent holding Finmeccanica had a plan for a mass produced mini car to be produced in the South, Alfa owning the Pomigliano former aero engines factory and land tracts. No funding was granted for the project, and when in charge of Alfa directly in the 60s, it was Luraghi himself who resumed the former project of a downward extension of the range allowing higher production. He then seized the bonuses and other advantages the State was granting to anyone investing in the South. At first, the former projects (whose final version was the Tipo 103 prototype) were considered, but soon the decision was to start again from scratch, hence teh Alfasud as we know it. Direct political influence on Alfa came in the early 70s, were the direct cause of Luraghi being fired for opposing the pressure, and materialized eventually in the ARNA factory in Pratola Serra (AV).
 

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Tipo 152 was not a replacement or competitor of Alfasud. It was a model of the same class as Nuova Giulietta.
The engine had very narrow angle between the valves, the whole concept was closer to Scarabeo idea, i.e. the engine was inclined and the main gear was quite similar to Scarabeo.

Yes, the hood line was quite low but not lover than Alfasud.


The next step, the replacement for Alfetta platform, Tipo 156, supposed to carry inclined 4 cylinder engines, 4 and 6 cylinders boxers and V6. The design work was done by Pininfarina and Centro Stile. Basically it is Alfa 164.

Tipo 433/434 cars (replacement for Alfasud) supposed to have boxers up to 2 liters. The design of the cars was done by Pininfarina and Centro Stile and included Berlina, Coupe and Spider. It was scheduled for production in 1990.

Anyway coming back to Alfasud. I will find a pictures of the USA version, they were published in Alfa Owners magazine in late 70s.

Sent from my motorola one vision using Tapatalk
 

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Thanks guys, plenty of information and some speculation, but does anyone know why they were not sold in USA?
Smaller low-horsepower cars tend not to sell in the U.S. There's actually reasonably good reason for this. We have a lot more wide open roads and a lot of high speed freeways. A 1.3L car with 70hp will feel adequate on a winding road through the country but dangerously slow on a 70mph freeway with 4 lanes in each direction. Emissions controls would have only further strangled it.

There's also the point about Alfa being marketed as a premium brand in the U.S. The Alfasud/33 would have been like BMW offering a Civic competitor. BMW sort of did with the 318, and it wasn't that well received. Plus, the economy market space places a premium on reliability, the premium market has a bit more tolerance (as buyers can afford to repair and have access to alternative transport). Alfa didn't (and still doesn't) have the best reliability reputation.
 

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Tipo 152 was not a replacement or competitor of Alfasud. It was a model of the same class as Nuova Giulietta.
The engine had very narrow angle between the valves, the whole concept was closer to Scarabeo idea, i.e. the engine was inclined and the main gear was quite similar to Scarabeo.

Yes, the hood line was quite low but not lover than Alfasud.


The next step, the replacement for Alfetta platform, Tipo 156, supposed to carry inclined 4 cylinder engines, 4 and 6 cylinders boxers and V6. The design work was done by Pininfarina and Centro Stile. Basically it is Alfa 164.

Tipo 433/434 cars (replacement for Alfasud) supposed to have boxers up to 2 liters. The design of the cars was done by Pininfarina and Centro Stile and included Berlina, Coupe and Spider. It was scheduled for production in 1990.
I see your point, as indeed the 152 was designed when the Alfasud (and Alfetta) was already on the market, thus it could not be a replacement for the already existing new car. Yet the drawing of the complete 152 mechanicals shows the (possible) bonnet line (marked "Alfettina") and, at the exact same height (thus indeed not exactly lower - mandated on both cars by the air filter, not the engine itself) another dotted line marking actual Alfasud bonnet height. I instead fail to see any relationship with the Scarabeo, which had the gearbox in line with the engine and an angle shaft from its end to the final drive, where the 152 project had the gearbox behind/under the engine.

It is Busso himself who explained in a 90s article in an Italian magazine how he intended the 152 as a sensible project where the Alfa tradition was respected and forward thinking allowed to share mechanical elements (a.o. engine and front suspensions) between the "Alfettina" and the Alfetta range (RWD, longitudinal engines, "as long as the market would accept them" as Busso wrote). Of course, if you consider the timing, that is when the Alfasud is already on the market, any idea of rationalization of elements is a nonsense at that stage and the 152 is a late attempt to vindicate the frustration of the Arese technical staff about how the Alfasud was developped completely beyond them.

The "New Giulietta" came later, and also here under the next generation technical direction, Surace told me about that development in a 2004 interview. The scope was to make a replacement for the Giulia at the lowest possible production cost, which in the end led to the use of all existing mechanical parts from the Alfetta.

The other, subsequent cars you name were products of the next generation of technical directors, Surace first and Chirico next. And yes, Chirico, much later planned the other way round, enlarging the boxer range with a (newly designed) flat four up to 2 litre.

As such, the 156 project of 1980-81 has nothing to do with the 164, except that the Alfa internal design proposal for the 164 body was based on the previously 156 proposed styling, and was eventually discarded in favour of the Pinifarina actual 164. The 156 project was a RWD, with longitudinal engines (4-in-line 1800 and 2000, V6 2500 and 3000, and VM 4- or 5-in-line diesel, plus also the 1700 boxer-4 for the smaller versions - "154" intended as Giulietta replacement - due to the need of using as much as possible the production capacity of the boxer line in Pomigliano, same aim as with the ARNA project ) and front mounted 5- or 6-speed gearbox.
 

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A few precisions/corrections on what has been written above.

The 33 is built on the same platform as the Sud, but that's not the case with the ARNA (Nissan Cherry bodyshell assembled in Italy from Japanese parts and fitted with Alfasud engine and gearbox) nor with the 147. Already the 145/146 did use the Sud powertrains (as woth the Arna) on a Fiat platform.
Thanks. I meant to type 145/6 not 147, but happy to be corrected.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks guys.
I appreciate how these types of forum discussions will inevitably go 'off topic'; as soon as someone writes about one specific thing, someone else has to take that as a starting point for another post and so it goes on, often well past the point where the original question is no longer being discussed.
Maybe there are other places where the origins of the 33/Arna/156/164 models can be debated but despite much speculation so far nobody has answered my question.
Which was, and still is, can anyone tell me WHY the Alfasud was NOT sold in the USA.
Maybe some misunderstood my intentions, I am a long way into much research about this particular model and I too could easily GUESS some reasons, as already mentioned above, but I am trying to find out if there was an official decision either from Alfa Romeo themselves not to sell the car in America, or was there a problem meeting certain rules, ie emissions or crash tests, that decided its fate for them?
Yes, it was a small car, yes some may have thought it not suitable for long drives on the freeway (not true, read the contemporary reports) and yes, it may have cheapened what was perceived to be a premium brand, these are all possible reasons that may have influenced Alfa's decision, but still only speculation.
What I am trying to find out are the FACTS and if there was ever an official statement made as to why in the press, or subsequent interview with the top management.
I have forwarded my question to a contact at the Alfa Museum at Arese but so far, without reply.
Thanks.
 
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