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Alfa Romeo thread

plasticpenguin Apr 24, 2018

  1. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    For all things good, bad or indifferent about Alfas, please post here.

    Here's my take. I've owned nothing but Alfas for 12 years. There are many lukewarm reviews and horror stories connected with the brand. Touch wood I've not had any outside the norm.

    Why do I like Alfas? Many reasons but... firstly, they are beautifully designed, understated but beautiful. I love their Italianness: My dials are deep fluted, and instead of a petrol gauge it says "Benzina". Likewise with the water temperature, it says "Acqua". That's quite cool.

    It has a long throw gear stick. If you asked an Italian engineer about a short shift gear stick, he'll probably say: "Fantastic with pasta".

    The biggest problem with Alfas? Owner ignorance. Any potential owner needs to know what to listen out and look for. The cars need to be serviced at the right time and use the correct oil: Petronas Selenia.

    The V6 Busso engines are fantastic. Giuseppe Busso first designed V6 and racing engines for Alfa around 1948. My 2.0 JTS engine is a smaller version of the Busso engine, and NOT an one based on a FIAT Tipo.

    Above all else they are a hoot to drive: The steering and throttle response is so immediate. They are bonkers

    To sum up: Great to drive - a real drivers car, even entry-level models. Oil and cambelt needs to be changed on regular basis. A bit of owner savvy.
     
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  3. Corb2000

    Corb2000 Million miler

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    I agree they do have characteristics that set them apart from the euro boxes and as a former Saab driver I appreciate some individuality in my cars.

    I bought a secondhand 2 litre 147 3 door manual for my eldest son and agree that owner ignorance is a problem - it needed a fair amount of tlc to sort it but in return it was always fun to drive. We’ve had several Golf GTI’s and an R - all great and efficient but the 147 had more character (and a great leather interior).


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  4. Raiden

    Raiden Well-Known Member

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    I was told steer clear by my dad as they have dodgy electrics and a pain to work on like most french cars :wink:

    I know a guy who sells them and he said there only worth buying new and then when the warranty runs out just sell it.

    Then again some German cars are just a pile of rubbish and the new Focus RS with its chocolate engine
     
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  5. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Without a doubt they have foibles, such poor interior fitting and can have flakey anti-roll bar bushes, compared to a German car. Nevertheless they reward in spades - they have soul.
     
  6. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Firstly, I think you have to buy into the philosophy of an Alfa. Because they are so different one has to have an understanding of how they came about and developed.

    The guy who sells them clearly doesn't have that understanding: I would never buy a Alfa brand new. They depreciate so quickly, like most Italian cars. That mentality, however, appears to be very British. They are still perceived as rust boxes from the days of Alfasuds. That was justified but no longer. Sadly, mud sticks, whether it's true or not.

    In the 12 years of owning 3 x 156s, I've never had an MOT with a failure or an advisory for rust or corrosion.
     
  7. Raiden

    Raiden Well-Known Member

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    Been tempted a couple times over the years but even tho my dad has been dead 12 years I hear his say 'walk away' :suspicion:
     
  8. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    That's fine. It is all subjective. Also love Audis but I can't see a day when I eventually hang up my driving gloves without having an Alfa parked outside our bungalow.

    It looks right, it feels right and it sounds right.

    017 (800x600).jpg
     
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  9. jdp1962

    jdp1962 Grumpy Old Man TFSI Owners Group Team V6 Gold Supporter Team Tornado Audi S4 quattro Black Edition S tronic

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    I got the “petrol head must have an Alfa” thing out of my system Vicariously. I was still in my teens and living at home when my Dad blew his police pension lump sum on a 1975 Alfasud Ti. In engineering terms, this was light years ahead of anything he’d ever owned (or for that matter driven on patrol duty) and he would declare until his dying day that driving it gave him the most pleasure ever in a car. I got to drive it fleetingly and was smitten by it. But yes, it was a 70s Alfasud, which meant that if you went out to the garage late at night and sat in it, you could hear it rusting. He kept it a year before reverting to the relative safety but dullness of an FE Vauxhall Victor 2300.

    A few years later, while still a student, I got my hands on the Alfasud successor, the 33, for 24 hours test drive. The engine still sang as sweetly, but the rest of it felt a bit characterless. It was better made but hardly an advance on the ‘Sud. Even the inboard brakes had been abandoned.

    After that, I never felt compelled to consider buying an Alfa. It took until the late 90s and the 156, Brera and GTV era before they began to regain the style and panache we associate with the marque and by then, I was Audi-bound.
     
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  10. BarryG79

    BarryG79 Well-Known Member

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    This was like the one I had about 12yrs ago.
    156 JTS 2.0
    [​IMG]

    Only got rid when I got a company car, value dropped like a stone like most Alfa’s lol.
    Never missed a beat though and sounded great under acceleration.

    Been keeping an eye on lease prices for the Guila Veloce 280bhp can’t stretch to the Quadrifoglio unfortunately.

    Got a mate who like the OP is Alfa daft and had them in all shapes and sizes including multiple GTA’s. After a couple of years with an M135i and then an M140i he had an Alfa itch and picked up a bargain price 2yr old Giulietta QV in order to get out of the PCP cycle.


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  11. jdp1962

    jdp1962 Grumpy Old Man TFSI Owners Group Team V6 Gold Supporter Team Tornado Audi S4 quattro Black Edition S tronic

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    Oh, and @plasticpenguin, why does an Alfa-phile have a Triumph Dolomite dash in his avatar? :tearsofjoy:
     
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  13. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Because I love my old Dollies. That dash was only used for two years before they updated it (and made it look worse IMHO).
     
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  14. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    I've actually blagged a test of a new Giulia Veloce. Superb. If only I had the money.
     
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  15. jdp1962

    jdp1962 Grumpy Old Man TFSI Owners Group Team V6 Gold Supporter Team Tornado Audi S4 quattro Black Edition S tronic

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    My best pal at university had a Dolly, not a Sprint, just a standard 1850. Boy did we have fun opposite locking it around Edinburgh’s setts (cobbles for English heathens) in the wet! :smiley:
     
  16. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Practically all the newer models 159, Brera, Mito, Giulietta have a Vauxhall designed engine, based on the Insignia. The biggest problem is they have timing chains as opposed to belts. The achilles heel are the tensioners tend to go wrong and the chain is known to jump the cogs. Like having a cambelt snap it means a top end rebuild. It's a pity because the cars themselves are well built. The only engine not to be Vauxhall based is the 1750 TBI, which was an Alfa limited edition - the same engine used in the 2-seat 4C sports car. Wonderful engine.
     
  17. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Hooligan. :haha::wink:

    They were very good cars in their day. Like Alfas they were owner dependent. That slant four cylinder engines fitted to the 1850 and Sprint, like a Stag, came with a reputation of blowing head gaskets. So a Stag guru Tony Hart produced a supergill radiator, with the notion it would prevent future head gasket blows. Taking his word, a load of Stag and Dolly owners spent their hard earned... they still blew gaskets.

    What Tony hadn't mentioned was the water pump fitted to that slant four and V8 was very weak at pumping water around the engine. You could have a radiator the size of a battleship and it still wouldn't make a jot of difference. The only sensible prevention was to flush the coolant on a regular basis and keep an eye on the hoses.

    I never had a coolant issue with any of my Dollies. Never upgraded the rad either.
     
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  18. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    014 (800x600) - Copy.jpg

    According to Alfa fraternity the JTS was the poor relation to the earlier Twin Sparks. Have say to my JTS is a cracker, hasn't missed a beat since buying it in March 2017. I've owned both and the JTS is the best car yet.

    020 (800x600).jpg

    The only thing my car lacks is a leather interior. Hey-ho.
     

    Attached Files:

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  19. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    My previous Alfas.

    Purchased in 2006, the picture was taken in 2009 on the Isle of Wight. It was the same week as Michael Jackson sadly passed away.
    The next outside our bungalow in 2010. It's a Lusso version.

    The Green one is a Veloce taken in 2014. Both were 1.8 Twin Sparks
     

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  20. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Would like opinion of you guys and gals.

    A couple of days ago I had, let's say, a heated discussion of the virtues of Alfas with a fellow 'Alfa head'. He owns a GTV 3.2 Busso powered, but he has slagged off most other Alfa Twin Spark and JTS engines: He claimed they are underpowered blah blah blah. He also stated a basic Audi TT has 225 BHP with a 1.8 engine, compared to the equivalent Alfa engine which only produces 140 BHP. That's true and for a 1.8 engine the TT's performance is impressive.

    Then I pointed out his 3.2 achieves 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, about the same as 1.8 T Sport TT. Like Queen Victoria: He was not amused.

    The point I was making is that I don't give a monkeys about BHP.... it's how a car makes you feel. Think what Alfa Romeo has proved is that you can have fun with a modest BHP.

    Just for the record: My bros 2004 A4 1.8 T-Sport had a spec of 0-60 in 8.2 secs, while my 2.0 non-turbo (165BHP) SW has a claimed 0-60 in 7.9.

    Am I being over simplistic or deluded when it comes to BHP and a feelgood factor. Are they linked or are Alfas fairly unique in that respect?
     
  21. Corb2000

    Corb2000 Million miler

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    You’re spot on - it’s all about the experience, not the figures. Some of my most memorable drives have been in under powered cars that were either driven to their limits or were just fun to be in. It gets tricky using the full potential of my biggest engined, most powerful cars, and I don’t define ‘best’ as most powerful or most expensive any more.


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  22. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    I've always been of the opinion that if you want a car just to go from A-B, or if you want out and out performance look elsewhere rather than an Alfa.

    IME Alfas are a fairly niche car that majors on driving experience.
     
  23. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Sometime over the weekend I'll write up a 'belt and braces' review of the new Alfa Giulia Veloce that I tested a few months ago.

    Tomorrow (Saturday) I'm off to Brooklands Museum. They have an 'Auto Italia' day. Cars and old aircraft - heaven!
     
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  24. plasticpenguin

    plasticpenguin Active Member

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    Okay, finally in a position to write an honest review of the Giulia Veloce. It's taken me a while for two reasons: Firstly, I had to dig out my notes I made and trying to write a legible way is not easy for a half-wit like yours truly. Secondly, I wanted some sort of benchmark for a similar aged and class compatible vehicle. So last week I tested a same age Audi A4 2.0 ltr S-Line. What you read here is not necessarily which car is best, but my own personal take on each car, both pros and cons.

    Quick specs on both cars: Audi 0-60 in 5.6, while the Alfa is a puny 5.7 secs. Both have 2 litre engines, 4 doors and almost identical boot capacity (all based on the respective brochure specs).

    EXTERIOR:

    Audi A4 S-Line.
    From many of the angles the Audi is a very pretty car. The lines are clean... and just very nice. However.... go around to the front and 'oh dear'. What have they done to the grille? It looked to me like someone had grabbed Wallace (Wallace and Gromit) and stuck a coat hanger in his mouth. Half expected it to say, "would you like some Wensleydale?" To me it looked out of kilter with the rest of the design. But as one drives inside that isn't a deal maker or breaker.

    Alfa Giulia Veloce
    Looks nicer in the flesh than in pictures. It's gorgeous. Look at it, just look at it.

    1alfaromeogiuliaveloce (400x267) - Copy.jpg

    The car I had on test was black with red interior. Very nice until, I suppose, it comes to washing it down. The one in the picture is in Misano blue, and unique only to the Veloce model at an additional cost of around £700. Lovely colour but not sure it's worth the extra outlay.

    INTERIOR:

    Audi
    Once you open the door you immediately notice the quality of the fit and finish. The dashboard and dials are typical German engineering: Hard to fault. The only slight gripe is the silver strip going along the centre of the dash. It looks like a BMW. The technology in the Audi is....well, it went into on ear and came straight out the other. I am rubbish when it comes gizmos and toys in cars. But it seemed to have everything you would ever need.

    Alfa
    Sitting inside you notice, in direct comparison to the Audi, a small shortfall in quality. Not much but noticeable. However, what makes the Alfa different from its German counterpart is how driver focused it feels: Like the older models, the binnacles are deep fluted and the way they integrate the sat nav into the dashboard design is a nice touch, as opposed to having a small tablet stuck on top of the dash. But, the image quality in the Alfa is very low res.

    It's a nice place to sit. It makes you feel cosseted and cozy in a way the Audi doesn't. And given that all UK models have automatic gearbox (or semi-auto), it means you have flappy paddles. They are beautiful. They wouldn't look out of place in modern Lambo: Carved out of aluminium they really are a joy... the 'Stop/Start' button is on the steering wheel, so the whole interior feels - not necessarily sportier - I suppose a little more purposeful.

    alfa-romeo-giulia-21.jpg

    The only slight quibble is the Steering wheel switches could be backlit. I would imagine in the dark you wouldn't want to start playing with them.

    That's part one over with: My fingers are getting sore and I've got wake my daughter as it's school. I'll be back this evening to tell you about each of the cars driving experience and to summarise.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
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  25. pyle

    pyle Member

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    I used to own a 1996 146 TI bordeaux red painted bumpers, built in Belgium very nice car, a lot of thing needed changing but only aged parts , very good car though full of character and fast for what it was. The only car I regret selling..
     
  26. rum4mo

    rum4mo Well-Known Member

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    That Alfa Romeo is probably the best looking car around right now, not tempted though - yet!

    Dolly engines, SAAB sorted out that 1850 engine very quickly, I think all it needed was a quick redesign of the head/block fixing bolts angles, they continued using it in the roughly 2 litre form for many years and with no reliability issues, Triumph could have done that if they had been smarter.
     

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