Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1973-1984 When a car is rare even in its homeland, you know there aren’t many left anywhere. But u...
Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1973-1984

When a car is rare even in its homeland, you know there aren’t many left anywhere. But unlike Brits, the Italians didn’t take to the Alfasud. Proper Alfas were made in the Northern city of Milan, not down south in goatherding country. And they weren’t front-wheel drive, either.

The UK took to the 1973 Sud instantly. The combination of an appealing Giugiaro shape, incredible handling and a rorty exhaust note was just too much when combined with a three-spoke steering wheel and a typical Alfa style dash – the 1974 Ti added five speeds and four headlamps, spoilers front and rear plus another 5 bhp from that revvy little 1200 flat-four.

By 1979, the Sud had provided the lion’s share of a record sales year of around 12,000 cars for Alfa Romeo GB. But by then, early M registration cars were being welded up or scrapped after major MoT failures and Alfa sales began a sharp decline as word spread. The Sud didn’t just rust like an old Escort, it exploded with ferrous oxide. You couldn’t stop it. As I know from painful personal experience, rust appeared in the middle of a panel for no apparent reason, wings practically fell off and terminal rot killed off sills, inner wings and vital box sections. Alfa made a big noise in 1978 about using zincrometal in various places and an improved rust protection process but they rusted out just the same although 1981-onwards Series 3 cars were slightly less disgraceful.

Rusty and worthless, Suds were bought cheap, driven hard and then scrapped when an MoT was too big a hurdle. There are almost no Series One (pre-1978) cars on the road now and no 1973 or 1974 cars on the road in the UK. While the Alfasud showcased what Alfa could do with regards to making drivers’ cars, it showed also just how badly they could be made, and the other ’70s Alfas were equally bad.
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