A comeback is always warming to see — we all love rooting for underdogs and there are few dogs more under than Alfa Romeo at the moment. If the new Giulia saloon and the Stelvio SUV (name still tentative, but Alfa’s first-ever SUV is coming next month at the Paris show…) don’t hit it off with the paying public immediately Alfa Romeo’s huge investments might lead the brand closer towards the same tragic fate as that other Fiat luminary, Lancia…
Alfa Romeo is banking on increasing sales from 80,000 to five-fold that number by 2020, which is a huge challenge, and it will take eight all-new models to achieve the Italians’ target. The Giulia is one of the main hopes of success, as the first rear-drive saloon with an Alfa badge since the Alfa Romeo 75 launched exactly 30 years ago.
Speaking of which, the promising 75 carried as much responsibility on its boxy shoulders back in the Eighties as the Giulia does today — the Alfa 75 was supposed to go up directly against the E30 BMW 3 Series, but lost out in the sales game even if nearly 400,000 of the things were sold. The BMW was tighter and faster, with a better-handling chassis and crisper gearbox, and you only need to look at surviving numbers to see who won out in the end.
The Alfa on the other hand felt slightly wobbly and featured a notoriously rubbery gear change even if technically, on paper at least, it promised a lot. That transmission for example was a transaxle set-up mounted at the back for perfect 50:50 weight distribution, and you could also have the 75 with the legendary Giuseppe Busso-designed 3.0-litre V6 engine and its unrivalled sound. And you should have it, only settling for the twin-spark four-cylinder option as your second-best choice (because the Turbo Evoluzione versions are unobtanium…)
With performance in the sevens from zero to 100kph the Alfa 75 was pretty rapid for its time, and it cost a bit over $15,000 in its day. The same amount today will buy you a pepperminty mint minter. Now who was it that said Alfas depreciate?