Updated: Nov 9, 2019
If there was one car that could be sideways in its own commercial, it was the unforgettable Alfa 75. That lump of testosterone of an automobile known as Alfa 75 is a firm favorite among enthusiasts, almost in spite of itself.
Developed on an extremely tight budget from older components by a company fighting for survival, the story of the Alfa 75 didn't start off with the best of premises. Yet the 75 managed to blossom into one of those rare cars that ended up being more, much more than the sum of their parts.
Because those parts came mainly from the existing Giulietta, which in turn shared with the Alfetta its sophisticated trans-axle rear-wheel-drive configuration.
In fact, the 75 carried over most of the Giulietta 's body structure and its doors, as Alfa Romeo couldn't afford to develop an entirely new car on its own.
But you'd never tell, thanks to the ingenious work of the Alfa design team, headed by Ermanno Cressoni.
The 75's signature plastic molding that runs the length of the car cleverly disguised the carry-over doors and also served to accentuate its sporty wedge profile.
Presented in 1985, when Alfa Romeo celebrated its 75th anniversary, in my view the model really came into its own from 1987, when two things happened...
The all-new, sexy 164 signaled a bright new future for Alfa Romeo, but also the end of an era: it made clear that the old rear-wheel-drive platform of the 75 was on borrowed time.
But what a time it would be... The arrival of the Twin-Spark engine really put the 75 on the map, emphasized its sporty character and made the 75 a true spiritual successor of the much loved Giulia Super from the 60s.
As the 1990s dawned, the 75 was an anachronism-of-sorts, with its comically wide panel gaps and cramped interior. Its boxy look clashed with the bio-design in vogue at the time... But nothing drove like it, and it was clear nothing would again.
The ASN (allestimento sportivo numerato) of 1991, available with either the 2L Twin Spark or 1.8 Turbo engine, fitted with split-rim alloys and Recaro seats, spoke directly to the heart of the enthusiasts.
They were kind of the 75's swansong, as 1992 brought the 155.
A car that made its Fiat underpinnings perhaps too evident for its own sake, but would go on to have a stellar competition career.
Alfa Romeo dealers in Italy had no trouble clearing the last stock of 75s, as many wanted to buy what they considered the last true Alfa. The very last one built went straight into the Company museum's warehouse, where the red, fuel-injected 75 1.6 rests to this day.