The 1971 Turin motor show was the dawn of the adventure ofAlfasud sedan, a car that set the ambitions of Pomigliano d’Arco’s Alfa Romeo on the road. The car was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, while the project as a whole is to be attributed to the then general manager of the Biscione Rudolph Hruska. Legend has it that the car was born on a paper napkin in a bar in Turin. The car should have had some key features, right from the first draft: about eight hundred kilos of weight, front-wheel drive, four-cylinder boxer engine, disc brakes on all four wheels. Lots of novelties out of the ordinary for Alfa Romeo.
The smallest of the Alphas (which with over one million units built from 1972 to 1984 is also the best-selling) had different configurations. The letter “L” indicates the luxury version, while the acronym “ti” stands for Turismo Internazionale, that is the name for the sports variant. Today there is also talk of the “N”, the basic 63 horsepower version with 4-speed gearbox. In all cases, the qualities of lightness on this car compensated, in terms of agility, a not too high engine power. The marketing of the 4-door sedan began in 1972 at a price of 1,420,000 lire, which, net of inflation, would now be equal to 12,200 euros. With the passing of the first years of production, various assembly defects and a tendency to rust were discovered that history has directly connected with the high rate of strikes of the workers and with the poor management of the Russian plates, already not qualitatively excellent at the start. . These problems were solved only with the third series.
In Pomigliano d’Arco the first stone of the plant was laid in April 1968, and at full capacity a production of 1000 units per day was expected. The president of Alfa Romeo at the time, Giuseppe Luraghi, explained during the presentation the characteristics of the new Alfasud car and the reasons that had led to certain choices. The displacement (about 1200 cc) had to follow the trend of the markets towards the increase of the displacement itself; the engine with four opposed horizontal cylinders was obtained due to its reduced vertical and longitudinal dimensions; the front-wheel drive allowed for a large interior space without resorting to excessive external measures.
“The car is a four-door sedan with a very “clean” line, characterized by a frontal design with horizontal development and an intermediate type tail between truncated and fast-back. The bodywork was designed in Turin by the stylist Giorgio Giugiaro, who also oversaw the study of the structures and production methods. The interior is very spacious, with five seats, as well as the luggage compartment, of 400 liters. The four-cylinder boxer engine has a single overhead camshaft driven by a toothed belt; diameter and stroke 80 × 59 mm; displacement 1186 cc; compression ratio 8.8: 1; power 73 Hp Sae at 6000 rpm; light alloy cylinder head, monobloc cast iron crankcase with integral liners. 4-speed gearbox; front suspension with independent wheels, rear with rigid axle; four disc brakes (the front ones placed at the differential exit) with double circuit. Wheelbase 2455 mm, length 3890 mm, weight in running order 830 kg, maximum speed over 150 km per hour“, Read the technical sheet published by the newspaper La Stampa at the time.
Today how can Alfasud’s story be summed up in a few words, fifty years after its presentation? Using a pun, it was a ‘breakout’ car: partly because it gave Alfa a taste of the popular car, then rediscovered again in the third millennium with the MiTo; and partly because it turned out to be problematic, not always reliable, and therefore an integral part of the great event following its release on the list. An event that Agnelli defined unavoidable. That is, the purchase of Alfa Romeo by Fiat, including the Pomigliano d’Arco plant.
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