The story of one of the best-handling front-wheel drive cars ever is also the story of how bad industrial relations can affect a potentially great car's fortunes.

Looking at mobilising post-war Italy, Alfa Romeo's then chief-executive, Giuseppe Luraghi, wanted to build a new small car. Since the company was short of funds, he sought the Italian government's assistance, which he got, but with many strings attached. In its bid to uplift the country's poorer southern region, the government asked Alfa to build the new car in Naples instead of the firm's original base of Milan.

Naturally, the workforce there had no previous experience in building cars, and the fact that they were paid much less than their counterparts in Milan made them extremely indifferent.

If that wasn't enough, Alfa tried to cut costs further by using cheap recycled steel in the construction, leading to the resultant Alfasud (the 'sud' suffix stands for 'south' in Italian) being lethally consumed by rust in a matter of months.

This was a shame, as the Alfasud was an otherwise brilliant car, designed by Giugiaro and developed by the legendary Rudolf Hruska. Beautifully retaining the typical fun-to-drive characteristics that Alfa Romeo was known for, the Alfasud was powered by a free-revving, long-stroke, flat-four engine.

The 1.2-litre mill churned out a decent 63 horsepower. Equipped with independent MacPherson struts at the front and a beam axle with Watts linkage at the rear, the Alfasud gave the competition nightmares with its superb dynamics.

Although rust and build quality issues had a negative effect on its reputation, the model lasted 18 years with more than a million units being produced in various body styles, including two- and four-door saloons, three- and five-door hatchbacks, an estate, and a two-door coupé, the Alfasud Sprint. There was also a sporty Ti version, which many consider one of the best front-wheel-drive small cars of all time.

Prices today can range from as low as Dh10,000 and go up to Dh75,000, but try to stick with later models, which were less prone to rust.