I had a 1974 Alfa Romeo Alfetta. It was red. I bought from a guy who owned the little truck stop casino west of Reno where highway 80 starts to turn up into the Sierras near the California border. He had raced it and was selling if for $5000.
Alfas are very Italian. They are stylish, temperamental, and emotional, meaning they are wound too tight spec-wise and break all the time. Too much precision and tricky design in a machine makes it unreliable. A little slop means less stress and easier to fit and build.
The red Alfa had De Deone suspension with a front engine and a rear clutch and transmission. It was great stuff back in the days of racing when the monster German Mercedes with all the horsepower ruled the motorsports and the Italians and British had to make do with cars that handled better and had better weight distribution. On a civilian car it is too much finicky technology. The driveline spins at the motor RPM, has to be precision balanced, and has big rubber donuts in it that take up differential torque so the gearbox doesn’t explode when you shift gears. The donuts last about 20,000 miles, tops. You have to mark the bolts when you replace the torque absorbers to go back in the same spots, or you have to rebalance the entire driveline.
The rear brakes are inboard next to the transmission. The discs are too hard and cannot be turned when the brakes are done like normal discs. They have to be replaced every time. The speedometer cables have a design flaw and break regularly. The high pressure fuel injector pump for the direct injection has leather seals. If you let them dry out when you remove it they have to be replaced. Except that they charged a $300 core on the rebuilt pump on top of the price, or an $1100 core if you opened the pump to replace the seals.
Then there is the sweet little DOHC engine. It has free standing piston cylinders clamped between the head and crankshaft carrier on the bottom of the engine. They have to be shimmed precisely, or the head leaks water into the oil.
Don’t as how I know all these things. But, I am a good mechanic can tell you about BMW issues and Volvo issues… Learned the hard way, all of them.
When Alfas are running they are great. The steering is “notchy” at low speed, like a Ferrari, but at about 90 mph they lock down on the highway and everything clicks into place. That’s when they are happy and all the work is forgotten.
I was driving in the deep desert on the way to Las Vegas in the little red Alfa with a new blueprinted engine when the fan belt went over the hill. I limped into Vegas with the engine clunking from the overheating and pulled into a gas station on the Strip. Vegas then was a ‘Merican town, with ‘Merican cars and “Merican mechanics. “Go see John at the 76, he does foreign cars,“ or whatever his name was in whatever gas station.
Thin and blond John dressed like James Dean cowboy, held court and a cigarette to the rapt appreciation of surrounding acolytes. Eventually he deigned to step down from his stool slash throne and saunter over to look at my car with a few remora attached. He found a fan belt that worked and I got it on. All that was missing was Sergio Leone western movie music.
So much for desert characters and this story.