Rare Rides: A 1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Styled Like a BMW

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1979 alfa romeo alfetta styled like a bmw

Which sedan has the looks of a BMW, but without all the tedious reliability that comes standard from the Bavarian offering? Why, it’s the Alfa Romeo Alfetta, from 1979.

Launched in 1972, Alfetta was the midsize sedan offering in Alfa Romeo’s lineup, designed to replace the old 1750 and 2000 sedans. The new offering drew its name from the Tipo 159 Alfetta, a Formula One car from the 1950s. Like the Alfetta racer, the sedan version featured a transaxle layout and a De Dion tube rear suspension. Both of these features were departures for the company’s road-going models. The developments lent themselves to a better weight distribution, which in turn meant the Alfetta had better handling.

Pleased with their technological development, Alfa endowed the later GTV, 90, and 75 models with derivations of the same setup.

The Alfetta was only available in four-door, notchback sedan format — “Berlina” in its home language. Only one trim level existed for the first few model years, with one engine: a 1.8-liter inline-four. Trim offerings expanded in 1975, when a 1.6-liter engine entered the lineup and Alfetta gained a new base model. Further enhancements to the model lineup occurred as the years went on, with the addition of a sporty 2.0-liter version called the 2000, as well as an upmarket turbodiesel trim called Turbo D. That type of power plant was a first in any Alfa Romeo passenger car. Throughout its life, the Alfetta offered only inline-four engines paired with a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic.

Alfa offered the Alfetta to customers in the United States, just not for very long. Available between 1975 and 1977 in its original format (called Alfetta Sedan), for 1978 and 1979 Alfa rebranded it as Sport Sedan. That latter offering was a version of the 2.0-liter model sold throughout Europe.

Alfetta continued with frequent revisions for a few years as Alfa Romeo prepared its successor. By 1984 the new 90 made its debut, and Alfetta production wound down at the end of the year. Over the 12-year life of the model, Alfa produced over 450,000.

It proved too difficult to find an American-market Alfetta with usable pictures, so today’s Rare Ride is from Italy. It’s a base 1.6-liter example with a manual transmission. With just under 75,000 miles, the sporty blue sedan asks $9,900.

[Images: seller]

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  • OliverTwist78 OliverTwist78 on Jan 31, 2019

    "Launched in 1972, Alfetta was the midsize sedan offering in Alfa Romeo’s lineup, designed to replace the old 1750 and 2000 sedans." No, the production of 2000 Berlina continued until 1977. Alfetta is more like a sporty GT version while 2000 Berlina more of executive car.

  • YellowDuck YellowDuck on Feb 01, 2019

    My mom had this exact car, in a kind of purple colour. Dad had boring company cars and so had mom driving stuff like a restored TR3, and Alfa GT junior, and then this thing. Unfortunately my brother rolled it in a ditch as a new 16-year-old driver, having borrowed it without Mom's permission one evening. One weird thing I don't think the article mentioned - it had one brake disk in the rear, located in the middle if the axle if memory serves.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).