Alfa Romeo Alfasud

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Alfa Romeo Alfasud
Alfasud orange.jpg
Manufacturer Alfa Romeo
Also called Alfa Romeo Export GTA (South Africa)
Production 1971–1983 (berlina)
1976 to 1989 (Sprint)
Assembly Pomigliano d'Arco, Italy
Brits, South Africa[1]
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia[2]
Marsa, Malta (Car Assembly Ltd)[3]
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (Italdesign)
Body and chassis
Class Small family car
Body style 2-door saloon (Alfasud ti)
4-door saloon
3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
3-door coupé (Alfasud Sprint)
3-door estate (Giardinetta)
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Related Alfa Romeo Sprint
Engine 1.2 L (1,186 cc) Boxer H4
1.3 L (1,286 cc) Boxer H4
1.4 L (1,350 cc) Boxer H4
1.5 L (,1490 cc) Boxer H4
1.7 L (1,696 cc) Boxer H4
Transmission 4- and 5-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,455 mm (96.7 in)[4]
Length 3,890 mm (153 in)
Width 1,590 mm (63 in)
Height 1,370 mm (54 in)
Curb weight 810–865 kg (1,786–1,907 lb) (approx.)
Successor Alfa Romeo 33
Alfa Romeo Arna

The Alfa Romeo Alfasud (Type 901, 902 and 904) is a small family car manufactured by Industria Napoletana Costruzioni Autoveicoli Alfa Romeo-Alfasud S.p.A of Italy from 1971 to 1989, a new company owned by Alfa Romeo and Finmeccanica. The company was based in the poor southern region of Italy as a part of labor policy of the government.

It is considered one of Alfa Romeo's most successful models, with 893,719 examples sold between 1972 and 1983 plus 121,434 Sprint coupé versions between 1976 and 1989.[5] A common nickname for the car is ’Sud. The car went through two facelifts, first in 1977 and the second one in 1980.


Alfa Romeo had explored building a smaller front wheel drive car in the 1950s but it was not until 1967 that firm plans were laid down for an all new model to fit in below the existing Alfa Romeo range. It was developed by Austrian Rudolf Hruska, who created a unique engineering package, clothed in a body styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign .

The car was built at a new factory at Pomigliano d'Arco in southern Italy, hence the car's name, Alfa Sud (Alfa South). January 18, 1968, saw the registration at Naples of a new company named "Industria Napoletana Costruzioni Autoveicoli Alfa Romeo-Alfasud S.p.A.". 90% of the share capital was subscribed by Alfa Romeo and 10% by Finmeccanica, at that time the financial arm of the government controlled IRI.[6] Construction work on the company's new state sponsored plant at nearby Pomigliano d'Arco began in April 1968,[7] on the site of an aircraft engine factory used by Alfa Romeo during the war.[7]

The Alfasud was shown at the Turin Motor Show three years later in 1971 and was immediately praised by journalists for its styling. The four door saloon featured an 1,186cc Boxer water cooled engine with a belt driven overhead camshaft on each block. It also featured an elaborate suspension set up for a car in its class (MacPherson struts at the front and beam axle with Watt's linkage at the rear). Other unusual features for this size of car were four wheel disc brakes (with the front ones being inboard) and rack and pinion steering. The engine design allowed the Alfasud a low bonnet line, making it very aerodynamic (for its day), and in addition gave it a low centre of gravity. As a result of these design features, the car had excellent performance for its engine size, and levels of roadholding and handling that would not be equaled in its class for another ten years. Despite its two-box shape, the Alfasud did not initially have a hatchback. Some of the controls were unorthodox, the lights, indicators, horn, wipers and heater fan all being operated by pulling, turning or pushing the two column stalks.

At the end of 1973 a sporty two-door TI (Turismo Internazionale, or Touring International) model joined the range. It featured a more powerful version of the 1.2 engine, along with a 5 speed gearbox, quad headlamps and rear spoiler. The small saloon now had 100 mph (160 km/h) performance.

In 1974, Alfa Romeo launched a more luxurious model the Alfasud SE. The SE was replaced by the 'L' (Lusso) model in 1975. The Lusso model was produced until 1976, by then it was replaced with the new '5M' (5 Marce, five gears) model, the first four-door Alfasud with a five-speed gearbox. A three-door station wagon model called the Giardinetta was introduced for the 1975 model year.

Giardinetta first series
Alfasud first series

In 1976, the Alfasud Sprint was launched. On the same platform, it was a lower, more angular sports model. The Sprint did feature a hatchback (although no folding rear seats), a more powerful 1,286 cc 75 PS (55 kW) engine and a five-speed gearbox. The engine was later fitted into the standard Alfasuds, creating the Super 1.3 and 1.3 Ti models.

Alfa Romeo Alfasud dashboard
Alfasud second series by Polizia di Stato

In 1978 the Sprint and Ti got new 1350cc 79 PS (58 kW; 78 hp) and 1490cc 85 PS (63 kW) engines. These engines were soon made available to all body shapes.

Rusty Alfa Romeo Alfasud (about 6 years, and 88,000 km old)

All Alfasuds were upgraded in 1980 with plastic bumpers, new instrument panel, headlamps and rear lights as well as other revisions. The Ti version was now fitted with a twin-carburetor version of the 1490 cc engine that had been fitted to the Sprint the previous year, developing 95 bhp (71 kW; 96 PS) A three-door hatchback was added to the range in 1981 in either SC or Ti trim and the two-door Ti and Giardinetta were deleted from most markets around this time. Belatedly in 1982 the four-door cars were replaced by five-door versions as by now, most of its competitors were producing a hatchback of this size, although some also produced a saloon alternative. The range was topped by the five-door Gold Cloverleaf, featuring the 95 PS (70 kW; 94 hp) engine from the Ti.

In 1983 an attempt to keep pace with the hot hatchback market, the final version of the Alfasud Ti received a tuned 1490 cc engine developing 105 PS (77 kW) Now named Quadrifoglio Verde (Green Cloverleaf) this model was also fitted with low profile tyres on 14"rims as well as an enhanced level of equipment.

Despite sophisticated engineering, Alfasuds (especially the early ones) had a strong reputation for suffering from rust, possibly due to the storage conditions of the bodies at the plant.[1]

The five-door Alfasud saloons were replaced by the 33 models in 1983. The 33 was an evolution of the Alfasud's floorpan and running gear, including minor suspension changes and a change from four-wheel disc brakes to rear drum brakes in an effort to reduce costs. The Alfasud Sprint was renamed into Alfa Romeo Sprint in 1983, this model was continued until 1989 by sharing 33's running gear. The three-door versions continued for a further year before being replaced by the Alfa Romeo Arna a joint venture between Alfa Romeo and Nissan.

Foreign assembly[edit]

The Alfasud was also assembled in Malaysia, by City Motors in Ipoh (although the plant was located in Kuala Lumpur). Malaysian cars received the 1.2, 1.35, and 1.5 litre engines and all had the four-door bodywork.[2] In South Africa, meanwhile, Alfa Romeo's local subsidiary built the Alfasud in their plant in Brits. Beginning in June 1981, the Alfasud was renamed the Alfa Romeo Export GTA and received the 105 PS (77 kW) version of the 1.5 litre flat-four. The Export GTA has the five-door bodywork.[8]


  • 1971–1983 1.2 L (1,186 cc) Alfa Romeo Boxer H4, 63–68 hp
  • 1977–1983 1.3 L (1,286 cc) Alfa Romeo Boxer H4, 75 hp (56 kW)
  • 1978–1983 1.4 L (1,350 cc) Alfa Romeo Boxer H4, 79 hp (59 kW)
  • 1978–1983 1.5 L (1,490 cc) Alfa Romeo Boxer H4, 85–105 hp (63–78 kW)
  • 1987–1989 1.7 L (1,712 cc) Alfa Romeo Boxer H4, 118 hp (88 kW)


From 1975, a one-car racing series for Alfasuds was organised. One year later, the Alfasud trophy began in Italy and Austria, and later France and Germany got their own competitions. In 1977 the "Trofeo Europa Alfasud" was set up, in which the best drivers from each country competed. The Trofeo Alfasud was equipped with the 1,286 cc engine with an Autodelta kit. Gerhard Berger is probably best known driver who participated in the Alfasud Trofeo.

An Alfasud Ti contested the 1980 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst in Australia, placing fourth in the Up to 1600 cc class.[9]

Alfasud Caimano[edit]

Concept car based on Alfasud's platform and engine, named Caimano

Famous conversions[edit]

  • Gian Franco Mantovani Wainer produced a one-off Bimotore version, with two 1,186 cc engines and four-wheel drive for rallying. Wainer also produced a turbocharged Turbowainer model in 1983.
  • The Alfasud was the basis of the Minari kit car designed by Andy Borrowman and Sean Prendergast. Approximately 120 cars were sold throughout the 1990s.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Alfasud International". Archived from the original on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  2. ^ a b Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. pp. 28–29. ISBN 88-7212-012-8. 
  3. ^ "Around the world : Malta". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  4. ^ Daily Express Motor Show Review 1975 Cars: Page 5 (Alfasud). October 1974.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Alfasud". Archived from the original on 31 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  6. ^ "News". Motor: page 91. 17 February 1968. 
  7. ^ a b "All About Alfa: factory set-up". Autocar. 128. nbr 3772: page 62. 30 May 1968. 
  8. ^ Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985, pp. 31-32
  9. ^ Bill Tuckey and David Greenhalgh, Australia's Greatest Motor Race, Second edition, 1990, page 310
  10. ^ "More About the Minari Kitcar". Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 

External links[edit]