5 Things You Didn't Know About The Alfa Romeo 145/6
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Although it seems like yesterday, the Alfa Romeo 145 was presented over a quarter of a century ago, in July of 1994. Sales to the public started in September the same year, and the model's distinctive styling was very well received: over 220.000 units would be sold until production ended.
Yet the 145 and its sister model, the 146, seem to have been largely forgotten, even by the Alfisti community. Time to make our weekly trip down memory lane and discover five things you probably didn't know about the Alfa Romeo 145 and 146.
1: The Boxer
The 145 and 146 have been the last Alfa Romeos powered by the flat-four engines introduced with the Alfasud in 1971. But few people know that Alfa's boxers were actually supposed to die with the 33. However, since Fiat couldn't produce enough inline-four engines for all the Group's brands, Alfa's boxer engines were retained for the 145 and 146 until 1997.
The base 1.3 liters and the range-topping 1.7 liters 16-valve engines were carried over from the outgoing 33 with little to no modification, while the 1.6 liters flat-four was derived from the outgoing 8-valve 1.7 liters via slightly smaller cylinder bores.
2: Different layouts
The 1.3, 1.6, or 1.7 liters boxer engines and the five-speed manual gearbox were installed longitudinally in the 145's bodyshell, whose platform was shared with the Fiat Tipo. However, buyers could also opt for the diesel versions of the 145 and 146, equipped with a turbocharged 1.9 liters in-line four-cylinder. In that case, the cars had their powertrain placed transversely. This detail makes these Alfas rather unique, as only a handful of modern vehicles have been available contemporarily with longitudinal or transverse-mounted powertrains.
3: Cost Cutting
As we all know, the long history of Alfa's boxers came to an end in 1997, when the 145 and 146 received the new Twin Spark 16-valve inline-four engines. The entry-level engine, a 1.4 liters unit rated at 103 HP at 6300 Rpm, wasn't shared with any other Alfa or Fiat model and would be quietly discontinued at the end of the 145's run in 2000. Why?
To save on production costs: the smallest of the Twin Sparks had its own specific cylinder-head casting, so getting rid of it simplified engine production.
4: "Looks like an Alfa"
Car design legend Chris Bangle is credited with the Alfa 145's striking shape, but few people know that his design was initially intended for a Lancia 4 door hatchback, a replacement for the Delta.
However, Fiat's "design boss" Mario Maioli saw it was an Alfa, so the project went to the Centro Stile, then directed by Walter De' Silva. There, the 145 became the three-door hatch we all know, and it gained its signature bonnet design and wider front fenders.
5: Limited 500
Alfa Romeo's German subsidiary released in 2000 a special edition of the 145 called "Limited 500" to stimulate sales of what was, by then, a run-out model. Sold in 500 individually numbered units, all painted black and fitted with Zender "Le Mans" alloy wheels and a rear spoiler, the 145 "Limited 500" could be had with either the 1.4 and 1.6 liters Twin Spark engines or the 1.9 Turbodiesel.
Inside, each "Limited 500" came with a fake-aluminum console, aluminum gearknob, pedal covers and handbrake handle, leather steering wheel with red stitching, and, of course, the example's progressive number on the console for all to see.
This special 145 model was well-received, so Alfa Romeo Deutschland repeated the trick shortly after with the "Edizione Sportiva," identical to the "Limited 500" except for the paint color, Alfa red instead of black.