Strange Bedfellows or Alfa Kaiser · Tue Oct 10, 07:58 PM by Admin
By Carlos Madero
You let nostalgia get the best of you and buy that cute 2006 Mini ‘S’, thinking that you’ll inherit that Issigonis DNA, right? Think again, the new Mini was designed by BMW and drives on a motor built by Chrysler in Brasil. Same thing if you came across the Argentinean 1960’s Kaiser Bergantin, you’ll dream of Orazio Satta’s 1900, and what you get is a 4 banger flat head Continental 151.
You still can appreciate the lines of the successful Alfa 1900 thinly disguised by a new grill. Under the hood there was the biggest surprise, no aluminum block, no overhead cams, nothing of that exquisite Italian engineering sophistication, instead you’ll find an engine pulled from the Jeep CJ-3, robust & reliable, but not even fit for the 1920’s Alfa Romeos.
How do we get to this point? In the late 1950’s Argentina embarked on an Industrialization Program on a Big Scale. Incentives were laid out for Carmakers to establish factories in Argentina,
and one that heard the Siren’s Song was the ailing Kaiser in the process of being merged under the American Motors Banner. Kaiser was established as Industrias Kaiser de Argentina IKA for short. Their two models were phased out models: The Kaiser Manhattan was re-badged as the Kaiser Carabela, and they procured the stampings of the Alfa 1900 for their smaller model, the Kaiser Bergantin, produced between 1960 & 1962. It came with two engine options: the 4-L 151 cu. In. and the 6-L 226 cu. In. Both came from their utilitarian Willis lines.
Shortly after American Motors was not finding its footing, and sold part of the operation to French maker Renault, the company started making in Argentina a version of the Rambler that was sent to finishing school at the hands of Battista PininFarina, and called IKA Torino.
So do a little research before you let your heart jump of joy on seeing your beloved car coming back…
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