Friday, March 28, 2008

The Alfetta GTV rear transaxle

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Another Alfetta feature is the diff and gearbox in combo with the clutch. Yes folks, this is a production sedan, yet it comes with in-board discs and rear mounted gearbox, like an F1 racecar from the 50s, or a front-engined Porsche from the late '70s. The rear mounted gearbox gives 50:50 weight distribution and the resulting 'weight at each end' polar moment of inertia gives a very controllable feel to sideways driving. Nothing sudden here.

You can see the in-board discs on either side of the transmission. Yes, they are out of the cooling wind but for road applications the rear brakes don't do a lot of work anyway. And this arrangement lessens unsprung weight in the suspension.

Underneath the rear end

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Alfettas aren't just pretty faces with lovely engines, they are technically interesting underneath as well. In this shot you can just see the rear wheel (by famous bike component maker Campagnolo), the coils, the de Dion tube, the Watts linkage and the inboard Brembo (or is it ATE?) disc brake. An expensive solution that lightens the unsprung load on the rear wheels, so the wheels track the road much better. And keeps the rear wheels perpendicular to the road at all times for maximum grip.

Most cars compromise with rear wheel movement, mounting brakes on the hubs and allowing wheels to easily lift off the deck or go to extreme angles to the road surface, compromising contact with the road surface. This Alfa solution (used in Alfa's earlier 159 GP cars and several other road and race cars from the 50s and earlier) does result in a bit of understeer as the rear end can be hard to break free.

Top Gear GTI W12 650

Obscene yet amazing, it's barely able to lap faster than a 147 GTA.... but it's a bit of fun, eh?


That sinking feeling... and then "my brakes are gone... nothing...". Hmmm. A hot road car at twisty Wakefield Park... not that surprising, is it?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Alfa Romeo 159 GTA - maybe?

Is it, or isn't it? It's not exactly hiding, is it? It's rough around the edges... and has no plates?

Ahhhh, the twists and turns

Of global car manufacturing, I mean. I just read this: The ongoing international saga surrounding Jaguar and Land Rover may be gaining an Italian player in the not too distant future. Italy's Fiat, one of the automakers approach by Ford when it first put its British luxury brands on the block, is interested in collaborating with Tata-owned Jaguar/Land Rover.

I had just written this, elsewhere: An iconic powerhouse like Ford is dumping its prestige brands one by one, raising cash for a last gasp attempt at survival, or just getting rid of failing brands. Does this say anything about the US economy, or US car companies in general, or US car company management vision? Probably a yes in all 3 boxes. From Fairfax: US automaker Ford has agreed to sell its luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors for more than $US2 billion ($A2.2 billion), a source familiar with the deal says. So what does this say about India's economy, or the growth of Tata (a company that has fingers in many pies and plans to sell a super-cheap small car around the world)?

So Ford sells off its prestige brands to an up-and-comer in India, who presumably sees profit in the deal (hoping to buy street cred and brand awareness, perhaps?). Ford shrinks back to core competencies, like building gas-guzzling fat cars that will sink like a stone when global warming really kicks in. And FIAT? Well for starters they could do with a big real-wheel-drive platform like the big Jag's, and a 4WD platform like Landrover's for Alfa. Maybe.

Maybe what they really want are dealerships in the US, through which to sell US-bound Alfas? And maybe it ties in somehow with this idea: According to the Financial Times, Fiat Group's chief executive says the company is discussing potential build of Alfa Romeo cars in North America with GM, Ford and Chrysler but as yet, no partner has been selected.

Or maybe not: Fiat SpA could choose BMW as partner to produce its Alfa Romeo model in the US as of 2011, the daily MF said, citing sources close to Fiat.

What a prospect. The Alfa Mi.To is launched into head to head US sales competition with the BMW-built MINI... and Alfa team up with BMW to manufacture cars in the US. Maybe even the Mi.To...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is the Mi.To for real?

Wow. Now that's a classy small car. 

I thought it was a joke at first. Mi.To? As in "me-too"? You have got to be kidding me! Oh dear. Name aside, at least the car looks good, and it's the right size (at last - haven't I asked for a REAL small ALFA for years!?!). But that name! It apparently stands for Milan.Torino, reflecting Alfa's heritage location as well as the more recent reality of production at FIAT's works in Turin. But dear oh dear, please change it before selling it. (Interestingly got a bit confused about all of this foreign geography and said: "The name, Mi.To comes from the two designers for Alfa Romeo, their names being Milan and Turin". Hmmm, does it really?)

Fullboost said nice things as well (although they must stop printing gushing press releases as copy - or is it just a bad translation from Italian?): The Alfa Romeo Mi.To’s family heritage can be seen in the grille, headlights and LED taillights, along with the frameless side windows endowing it with a coupe appearance. It could genuinely be called a mini-Alfa Romeo 8C. Technologically, the Alfa Romeo Mi.To promises to be highly innovative with the debut of the Alfa Romeo DNA system, the next generation of electronic stability control and a first in this class. Controlling the engine, brakes, steering response, suspension and gearbox, the Mi.To can be set to offer a super-sporting dynamic range of responses, a normal setting for city use and a special high grip setting for snow, ice and mud conditions. This remarkable new technology will set a new safety standard when allied to VDC, ABS brakes and a design developed to achieve the highest EuroNCAP crash test rating.

And yes, Alfa have a blog on the subject as well. And carscoop have more pics.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

8C Spider star of Geneva show

Well so says the press. It looks OK, but I prefer the coupe myself. But I always prefer the coupes!