Do you know – and I’m sure you will find this hard to believe – there was a time when cars built in Italy were considered unreliable and poorly made. Supercars were as fragile and fickle as your ex; regular motors were assembled by chaps with their minds cluttered by feverish thoughts of Vespas, beautiful girls and leather jackets from Schiatti & Co to worry about trivia like quality control.
Today’s article then is about the Alfa Romeo Alfasud. Reader, I owned one. It was many years ago now and the nightmares have more or less stopped. I was reminded of this past folly by a tweet from a Twitter pal. This good fellow, in his innocence, was lusting after the liveried ‘Sud you see above (photo by Peter Mosoni). You can see his point – it appears very desirable; but looks can be deceiving. I can’t show you a picture of my actual car because not long after I purchased it, my Italian dreamboat looked something this:The ‘Sud was one of Alfa Romeo’s most successful models, with roughly a million various versions sold between 1972 and 1983. The car went through two facelifts, first in 1977 and the second one in 1980. Mine was a three door hatchback. It was a late model by which time you would assume they would have got the hang of building the things properly but it was not to be.
I loved that car and cherished it. It had a fizzy motor and was great fun to drive although it was obviously tame by today’s standards. The seating position was clearly designed for Italian lads – who must all have long arms (useful for pinching girls’ bottoms, an old Italian tradition) and short legs. It cornered as if on rails and had fantastic kerb appeal – until you got close up when you would begin to see more cracks in its make-up than an early morning Magaluf milf.
You could stand beside it and watch it rust in real time. I first noticed the disease around the boot lip of the Alfasud and the red devil spread out from there. It became a war of attrition with neither side giving ground as I smothered it with lotions and potions and magic solutions. I got to know the staff at Halford’s very well – invited to christenings, lunch with the manager and the like. Sadly one man can’t take on the might of the Italian car industry and the car went to it’s final resting place, unceremoniously dropped off at a breaker’s yard. Obviously they didn’t want it but the sight of tears meant that in the end they relented.
They say that to be a true petrolhead you must have owned an Alfa Romeo. Well, I’ve owned two. You’d think a bloke would learn, wouldn’t you? These days of course I get to drive many fine motors belonging to other people but I do own a car. It’s a Citroen – and that’s a whole other story.Geoff Maxted