5 Things You Didn't Know About The Alfa 90
You could be forgiven for not knowing the Alfa Romeo 90 ever existed, given it's been in production for just four years, between 1984 and 1987. Over that short period, less than 60.000 examples left the Arese production line, the vast majority of which remained within Italy's borders.
Due to the precarious state of Alfa Romeo's finances, the Alfa 90 was, in essence, a quite comprehensive redesign of the successful Alfetta, retaining the outgoing model's floorpan and body structure but sporting a new, fresher look courtesy of Bertone.
According to Alfa Romeo, around 70% of the sheet metal was either new or modified, and the use of high-tensile steel and computer-aided design tools resulted in a bodyshell lighter by 21 kg. Although well-appointed and engineered, the Alfa 90 proved uncompetitive against its closest competitors and disappeared quickly, so I guess you didn't know these five facts about it...
1. Active aero
The front bumper of the Alfa 90 incorporated an active spoiler that extended automatically once the car reached 80 Km/h. The system was clever in its simplicity, as it functioned solely thanks to the pressure that oncoming air exerted on the spoiler's surface: once it overcame the resistance provided by two elastic mounts, the spoiler deployed automatically, then retracted as soon as the vehicle slowed down, without any intervention from the driver.
2. Pioneering Electronics
During the late 1970s and early 80s, Alfa Romeo conducted pioneering research to preserve the characteristics that Alfa's customers had come to expect from its engines into a future of ever-more pressing emissions regulations. Known under the CEM acronym, which stood for "Controllo Elettronico Motore," Alfa Romeo's own proprietary electronic engine management system was fitted to around 1500 Alfa 90 saloons in 1986.
However, the state-of-the-art system was expensive to manufacture and was quietly abandoned following Fiat's takeover of Alfa Romeo.
3. Anti-lock brakes
In 1985, the Alfa 90 became the first Alfa Romeo model available with anti-lock brakes. The system was supplied by the German firm ATE, the long-standing Alfa Romeo brake parts supplier, and offered as an optional extra on the V6-engined models.
The Alfa 90 "Campione" was a limited-edition model offered by Alfa Romeo's German importer: based on the range-topping 2.5 liters V6 version, it came with five-spoke alloy wheels and was finished in Alfa red with color-coded bumpers and side skirts. It's unclear how many of these were sold.
5. Station Wagon
In 1985, the Italian magazine Auto Capital bought an Alfa 90 saloon and had the Marazzi coachbuilding workshop transforming it into a station wagon. Although it's been rumored that Alfa Romeo looked at this proposal with some interest, the initiative never went beyond the single prototype, which survives to this day in a private Italian collection.