Monday, December 14, 2009

Politics of location. Why the Milano became the Giuletta Mk III?

I hope this isn't the reason, but it sure makes sense. With the famous 'Alfa Romeo Milano' now no more than words, the revised badgework becomes necessary. From a business angle moving to Torino makes a lot of sense. But my heart is with Milano I'm afraid.

New Alfa small car mystery | Car News | Hot Hatchbacks | evo
We’re led to believe the reasoning behind it all lies in Alfa Romeo’s decision to relocate fully from Milan (or, indeed, Milano) to Turin, turning its back on 99 years of Milanese heritage. Since Fiat’s acquisition of Alfa in 1986, the company has gradually been moved away from its home, with car production stopped in 2000 and the last group of employees – designers and engineers, mainly – being shifted early next year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rave review of MultiAir and the MiTo

Alfa Romeo Mito MultiAir | Car feature | evo
MultiAir is nothing less than the greatest advance in petrol-fuelled piston engines since Daimler-Benz came up with fuel injection for the Messerschmitt Me109 fighter aircraft. Some of the motor industry’s biggest brains have been trying for years to devise a way of opening an engine’s valves by some means other than a mechanically acting camshaft, hoping to achieve variability of valve timing and lift beyond anything so far coaxed out of a camshaft and tappets. MultiAir has got there.

Slightly more detail on the new Giulietta via evo mag

Alfa Romeo Giulietta | Car News | Hot Hatchbacks | evo
There had been some mystery about its successor, which was set to be called the Milano but had its press release pulled a week ago as Alfa scurried away and changed the name to Giulietta.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

147-replacement Milano-to-be turns out to be Giulietta Mark 3

Alfa Giulietta: Italy’s new Golf rival
Alfa Romeo has unveiled its all-new replacement for the 147 small car, the Giulietta that reaches Australia in 2010.

Friday, September 18, 2009

8C Spider reviewed

Mostly reasonable and fair-minded review of Alfa's 8C Spider at the Financial Times.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Alfa to unleash a MiTo Cloverleaf version? Hope so

Legend returns on MiTo | Auto Express News | News | Auto Express
It looks as if Alfa fans are in for a spot of luck. The Italian firm has announced the latest driver-focused version of its MiTo hatchback, the Cloverleaf.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Car magazine briefly notes the 159 and its engines

Read it here. No analysis, just the facts. More depth soon, perhaps?

A nice crop of racing Alfas.. and the odd interloper

Just stumbled over this nice link to US track cars, excellent pics, classic Alfas and more...

Alfa Romeos to be rebadged as Dodges? And vice-versa?

I guess it's possible, but does it make any sense? Perhaps they will share parts and platforms only?

It's not something I'd get worked up about. If they were close enough design-wise and the Dodge was cheaper I'd buy the Dodge and stick Alfa badges on it...

Slightly more on the new 159 1750 'Berlina'

A link from India on the new Berlina 1750.

Alfa 169 goes Canadian, based on Chrysler 200C

As I said before, it all makes good practical sense.. now tell me, what did the "Alfa Romeo - Milano" label once mean?

Jeep Cherokee to become Alfa CXover/A? Yeeeech

It makes sense to grow a brand, it makes sense to share components. But an Alfa-ised Jeep Cherokee? Oh puke! Please let this not happen... 

Friday, August 14, 2009

The devil's work... Top Gear and the 147GTA Autodelta 328

It's a bit of fun, isn't it?? At least whilst we still have petrol, anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another GTA....! The 8c GTA, no less!

Well this is worth a read, although it's waaay out of my price range and it won't be the greenest car around. "Following in the footsteps of the 1965 Giulia Sprint GTA, it’s a model designed to blur the lines between a no-compromise race car and a comfort-oriented road machine. Alfa has cut no corners: the new vehicle is the most extreme to leave the factory gates."

The Berlina 1750 is back.. although it's called a 159 turbo

Can't say I really miss the Berlina, but the 2.0l did move pretty well for a medium sedan... well now the 1750 moniker is back, but on a 159 instead of the Berlina... or so they say.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No surprises really

Some videos... the 147 replacement is the Milano. And the MiTo GTA is still "go", despite rumours.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Why do motoring journos "love" Alfas yet put them down? Habit? Deeper psychological need?

I don't really understand why this happens, and it's so common it's almost universal:

The 159 came here in 2006 sans not only the automatic transmission option — crucial these days if you’re serious about attracting more than a few hundred punters (such as myself) — but also the refinement, efficiency, performance and various other things hoped for by those of us who, against all reason, hold Alfa Romeo in some regard.

Agreed, I prefer a manual too, but many people like the auto (presumably for reasons of simplicity, reliability, lowered skill requirement and/or laziness I guess). But why say that it's "against all reason" to hold Alfa Romeo in some regard? It gets repeated so many times that it's become viral, something that many people repeat, even if they have no personal experience with the brand.

It must be part of that psychological imperative to label things again. Oh, and manuals are (arguably) simpler to make and repair and generally offer more car control with lower fuel consumption. As long as you use them properly. It all goes out the window with EVs anyway so let's not bother arguing about it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How the world has changed. Another take on that Alfa GTV6 brochure #images

Alfa GTV6_brochure_058a
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
I just realised, of course, that the classy driver is in fact a classy passenger patiently waiting for that adventurous pilot/husband/boyfriend of hers to finish with the flying, already, and take her to that trendy restaurant featured elsewhere in the brochure.

I suspect Alfa's marketing is a bit sharper now. I remember it used to tagged with "the line, the style, the power". At least that stuck in my head. I have no idea what tag line they use now, so they aren't reaching me, anyway. And I'm probably in the target market.

In hindsight, a faintly hilarious Alfa GTV6 brochure, circa 1982

Alfa GTV6_brochure_060
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Ah, nostalgia. This brochure is a hoot in many ways, if you want to look at it like that... but it was a serious marketing effort at the time. Alfa Romeo was spinning a tale here, of a car that races the wind, overtaking lesser cars at will. One loses count indeed. It reads like a poor translation from the Italian in parts, giving the impression that the car was actually built for classy women with a penchant for upmarket, trendy restaurants and hooning. I suspect that after she leaves the airfield she completes some nice circle work before drifting into the sunset. Or it could just be my imagination.

As a side note, although I vaguely knew GTVs existed, I saw my first one in the flesh, so to speak at Camden Aerodrome, Sydney, whilst awaiting a flight in a glider. It struck me then as a car that had style, and that I wanted to own. It was the very early 1980s. Maybe there's some truth in this Alfa + flying demographic.

ALFA RL SPORT e Super Sport

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
I've owned several Alfas and along the way have collected bits and pieces... including this set of old ALFA drawings in a red folder. It came from a dealer, when I bought my Giulietta, so I assume as promotional material Alfa was releasing it for everyone's edification.... including yours, if you choose to look.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I can't believe I'm testing another aggregator... Posterous, anyone?

Here we go again... another post-once, post-to-many service. At first
glance it's slick, but without the finer control of some:

Posted via email from gtveloce's posterous

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

200BHP from what size engine?

I did read this right, didn't I?

Starting from April 2009, the new 159 will be available with a brand new engine: a 1750 cc turbocharged petrol engine that conforms to Euro 5 standards and develops 200 HP between 4,750 and 5,500 rpm with 320 Nm of torque at only 1,400 rpm.

Of course it's turbocharged, but it's still a long way from the standard 1750 of yore. The 1962cc twin cam, twin carbed GTV in my garage only has 130BHP. And that was considered pretty good, if not absolutely amazing, not so far back. I do like acceleration, but do we we need this much power? Or will the 159 be made of lead and concrete?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

LeMons, as in lemons. Just a bit of fun with a $239 car

It's what they are for, I guess: driving, and racing. If it moves, a human will race it.

one of the participants is Charleston-based “Team Dog Ciao” – get it? it sounds like “dog chow?” – driving a 1974 Alfa Romeo Spyder.

When the cheap oil is all gone I think we'll still be doing this - racing cars. And this grass-roots racing is much more interesting than that F1 circus money-go-round.

Kissinger said what? Oh, FIAT and Chrysler again

FIAT and the US car makers. It has a tail a mile long and it's a tale worth telling, but let's hear from Henry first:
Even Henry Kissinger spoked about a “very good wedding, a perfect alliance between two firms very different from each other but at the same time complementary”.

I thought Ford looked shakiest 2 years ago, but GM has out-done them by going closest to the edge and looking deep, deep into the void. Let's not forget that GM did a tie-up with FIAT, too, that cost them a packet to get out of. And now sick and sorry Chrysler, having failed to make merry with Daimler Benz, is looking for FIAT for salvation. My guess is that FIAT will get more out of this deal than Chrysler.

I think they meant to say...

You just have to read this translation, presumably from Ancient Latin to early Sanskrit... the pics are worth it, too:

Earlier this year, Alfa Romeo announced that in observance of the 46th anniversary of the Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo or ‘RIAR’ for small, it would start off a particular number form of the MiTo that would be produced in a bare 46 examples for the members of the supranational cudgel. RIAR has at present started to receive orders from its members for the circumscribed sprint MiTo that is powered near a 155HP 1.4-liter Turbo engine.

Launceston's 1923 RLSS runs just twice a year - and it did so yesterday

A famous car in a nice spot...

A RARE 1923 Alfa Romeo RL Super Sport was the centre of attention yesterday as it was driven around the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery car park, Launceston. QVMAG curator of history Jon Addison said that the car was one of only five remaining in the world. This was the first time the Alfa had been driven for about two years, but it is started twice a year as part of its regular maintenance program.

It's a bit like my '82 GTV, which also seems to run just twice a year (oh, OK, maybe 6 or 7 times a year).

How to sit in a car and drive it

It's really quite simple. To control a car properly you need to be close enough to the pedals to easily and quickly operate them, and close enough to brace yourself (with the footrest and your knees) when cornering. Which is quite close. Indeed, it means your legs are splayed and braced against the door and the centre console. If they are too straight you cannot brace and will be unrestrained in a corner. Instead you will roll from side to side.

Now you also need to control the steering wheel, so you need to be quite close to that, too. Forget the straight-armed F1 look from the 1940s and 50s, that may look cool - or stupid - but it doesn't give you leverage on the wheel. So you should be close to the steering wheel with legs splayed. You'll find that position is perfectly attainable in most cars but especially so in older Alfa Romeos. They are made to be driven.

However apparently most people prefer to keep their legs straight, and older Alfas typically don't allow that as an option, at least not if you are taller than about 5feet eight inches or 180cm, whichever comes first. Which is why we get silly comments from car reviewers who don't understand how to actually drive a car:

Sit inside the 147 and the memories of Italianate driving positions that we grew up with in Alfasuds and Giuliettas are banished forever. Seat, pedals, steering wheel, gearstick and mirrors all appear to be positioned around an anthropomorphic figure of a human being rather than a gibbon (as was the case with the old 145).

One day a 'reviewer' will actually seek to explain this, rather than just expose their personal misunderstanding.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Renault and Alfa... from the distant past

Whilst contemplating FIAT "buying" 35% of the disabled Chrysler I stumbled over an interesting previous arrangement that Alfa (now owned by FIAT) had with Regie Renault: The 8 design looks very similar to the Alfa Romeo front-wheel drive prototype tipo 103[1] (1960), because Alfa Romeo and Renault had a business relationship in the 1950s and 1960s. Renault was marketing Alfa Romeo cars and Alfa Romeo was building the Renault Dauphine (1959–1964), Ondine (an up-market version of the Dauphine) (1961–1962) and R4 (1962–1964) under license in Italy. In total 70,502 Dauphine/Ondine and 41,809 R4's were built by Alfa Romeo.[1]

If I knew that, I'd forgotten it! I do remember the Alfa and Nissan (ie ARNA) tie-up, and the FIAT and GM deal (that FIAT drew most benefit from, methinks.)

Nice Mito review - but otherwise rubbish

Nice review of the sensibly-sized 1.4l Mito Benzina but why do they ruin it with unsubstantiated generalisations like this:Take a look at the 2300B and 2900B tourers from the Thirties to see what I mean. It had another brilliant run in the Sixties with its production car-based GTAs, but it all went wrong in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. Alfas weren't pretty any more. In fact, to be honest, they were rubbish.

All of the '70s Bertone-bodied cars, the Spiders, the Alfasud, the sleek Alfasud Sprint, the lovely Alfettas (especially the GT and GTVs)... to call them all rubbish says that this writer has (a) no idea and (b) will write anything just to stir things up. Add on top of that the GTV6, the 164, the 156, the 147... sure they had some duds, too, but they were never as bad as the press made out (unless they completely rusted away, which admittedly did happen at times).

It would have been a decent read, otherwise.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Alfa 159 gets a refresh

Sales down, Alfa resorts to crisper sheetmetal.. Of all the cars in the world, the Alfa 159 is one of the last we would have thought needed a refresh. Unfortunately, the sedan's styling hasn't translated into a market success for the Italian automaker, so they've opted for a facelift. Thankfully they haven't messed with the near perfection of the 159's lines too much, sharpening up the already razor-sharp lines in the hope that the updated 159 will help the brand hold down the C-segment in Europe until the Giulia that's set to replace it rolls around late next year.

Chrysler? Some goss on what FIAT and Alfa are planning...

Oh dear. Maybe this Chrysler deal is for real.

Testing of the Milano is in its final stages ahead of a launch at Geneva in 2010. This prototype, snapped recently, appears to have a stubby gearlever. It carries an AMT designation on a window sticker, which refers to a dual-clutch transmission that Alfa is developing. Documentation released recently by Chrysler to support its claim for funds from the US government lists dual-clutch transmissions as one of the technologies it is hoping to ‘borrow’ from the Fiat Group. The Milano is also understood to be based on an all-new platform, rather than a highly modified Bravo chassis. Alfa’s replacement for the 159, the Giulia, will be built on a long-wheelbase version of the platform. It is due in late 2011. Chrysler’s planning document suggests that Alfa’s 166 flagship will make a comeback as a platform variant of the rear-drive 300C, a car based on the mid-1990s Mercedes W210 E-Class.

OK, so Milano replaces the 147, the Giulia replaces the 159 and the 166 comes back from the dead based on the ugliest block of metal on the planet (OK, maybe the Nitro is worse) the 300C. I'm definitely not in that market, anyway!

New from Alfa - "multair" electro-hydraulic valves for "Milano"

Well it may not be totally new in concept, but at least FIAT is trying to pack as much efficiency into its petrol engines as it can... Alfa Romeo will pave the way for a major overhaul of its range in 2010 and 2011 by revealing its Multiair direct-injection petrol engines at the Geneva show. The Multiair units will be seen first in next year’s replacement for the 147 hatch, due to take on the name Milano.

So the new 147 will be called "Milano"? As in an Alfa 75-replacement? We shall see.

Some MiTo GTA pics

Worth a look if you like small, hot cars... MiTo GTA.

Ahh thatt's better - small and almost affordable


Externally, the Veloce can be distinguished by red brake callipers, a rear spoiler, a sports rear bumper with an air-extractor, and exclusive 17-inch alloys. And you can distinguish the 155 version from the fact that it is probably pulling away from you. Press the DNA button forward and wait for Dynamic to kick in - it's not instant - and you can feel the revs change as the throttle-response is re-geared, as if a miniature after-burner has been ignited. And the thing is, you know it's meant to feel that way. Compared to, say, the VW Polo, which is first and foremost a rather passive city car beefed up for the GTi version, the Alfa Romeo Mita strikes you as having been born a 155 Veloce, and then developed into milder versions to satisfy a compliance officer in his small, germ-free, risk-assessed office somewhere in the corner of the factory. I guess the lesser models are for regular blood-donors - you would have to be a few pints short not to choose the 155.

Skip the GTA, go for the MiTo Veloce 155 then?

Well it looks great but how much will it cost??

I'm not sure my budget will stretch this far....

The cover has finally come off of Alfa Romeo's hyper hot hatch. The high-performance Mito GTA concept will take the stage in Geneva with aggressive styling, less weight, a stiffer suspension, and 240 horsepower.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Driven - Alfa GTV V6

Have I shared this one already? It's worth watching over and over...