Alfa Romeo

The Alfasud is another of my favourite Alfa Romeos. It is the most dynamically advanced small to medium size car ever produced; now that is quite a claim and I fully expect you to try and correct me on this, so you know my email address, go for it, but before you do let me explain why the Sud is so good.

The car was designed by Rudolf Hruska and styled by Giorgio Giugiaro and was unusual in that Hruska was given a clean sheet of paper to both design and build the car.

The location of the new factory was on the Pomigliano d'Arco site in Southern Italy, hence Alfasud, or Alfa South in English. This was to prove to be somewhat of a double edged sword when it came to the production of the car, but the design itself is brilliant. The project was started in 1967 and it took 4 years to complete. Hruska was an ex Porsche engineer and much of the design was influenced by his early experience there. The car uses a flat 4 engine, the advantages of which are that the weight of the engine is only just in front of the axle line and carried low in the chassis. The other option of an in-line 4 would take the weight of the car further forward and raise the car's centre of gravity. The engine was mounted longitudinally, so negating the need to dampen the torque effects of a transverse engine.

The gear box is mounted in line with the engine but behind the differential. Mounting the gear box along the centre line allows the use of equal length drive shafts which helps eliminate the effects of torque steer while putting the differential in front of the gear box both reduces the front overhang of the engine and reduces the length of the gear linkage. The car, even in its early 1186 cc guise, had disk brakes all round, the front brakes being mounted in board to reduce unsprung weight.

In order to further reduce the unsprung weight of the car, the shock absorbers are mounted up side down which is very unusual. The rear beam axle is quite interesting as it serves two purposes, the first being a very simple way to keep the wheels perpendicular to the road, and the second is it also serves as a roll bar; the longitudinal links twist the axle as it rises and falls and help to control the roll of the car. The axle is located laterally by a Panhard rod.

The engine is designed with maintenance in mind; the cylinder heads are removable in situ and it is possible to do quite major repairs to the bottom end without the needing to remove the engine. The tappets are adjustable with a simple cam and Allen key, while the serrated main bearing caps prevent the engine splitting apart.

The car was released at the 1971 Turin motor show and was an instant success the combination of 63 bhp in a chassis weighing 830 kg gave the car enough performance to be interesting. However, the base model was soon followed by the Ti this pushed power up to 68 bhp and together with a rear spoiler, lower profile tyres and a host of other sports equipment soon made this the choice of the sporting driver. The design was revamped twice with the series 2 getting wrap round headlamps and the series 3 got a proper hatch back. The final incarnation of the Alfasud Ti had a 1500 cc flat four engine producing 105 bhp fed by twin, twin choke downdraft carburettors.

During its life time the Alfasud had a number of different incarnations with 3, 4 and 5 doors becoming available, and even an estate being produced. Probably my favourite is the series 2 1500 Ti; the body being slightly stiffer than the later hatch back and the 95 bhp engine is just slightly less cammy or it may be that I just have fond memories of that car...


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