To say that the Alfa 75 is an enthusiasts' darling is perhaps an understatement. The Italian Alfisti worship this car, and there are plenty of good reasons for doing so.
Introduced in 1985 and manufactured until 1992, the Alfa 75 was arguably the last old-school Alfa Romeo, and it's also been the last rear-wheel-drive saloon until the arrival of the 2015 Giulia. So naturally, this makes all 75s collectible, and prices have been steadily rising over the last decade.
Well over 300.000 Alfa 75s were made, though, and not all were created equal: this achingly beautiful example, resplendent in the classic Rosso Alfa 130 color, is one of the most coveted models of all: it's a 1991 Twin Spark ASN, which stands for Allestimento Speciale Numerato.
The end of the line
Known outside Italy as either Limited Edition or Podium, it was kind of a sendoff, a farewell to two of the most beloved versions of the Alfa 75 as this model's production began to be wound down: the Twin Spark mentioned above and the Turbo Quadrifoglio Verde.
The collector's appeal of these run-out models, whose mechanical specification remained unchanged, primarily resides in their relative rarity, as only 3500 Twin Spark ASN and 1000 Turbos ASN were made, each carrying a plaque on the dashboard with the example's progressive number. Secondly, I must admit that these are perhaps the best-looking 75s of all, as the ASN package adds the finishing touches to a shape that's already got plenty of character and a unique personality.
As the most knowledgeable Alfisti will certainly remember, the Alfa 75's body structure was mostly carried over from the outgoing Giulietta, apart from the longer rear overhang due to the horizontal location of the fuel tank and spare wheel. Even the Giulietta's doors were retained, but the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, then headed by Ermanno Cressoni, came up with these plastic trim pieces that slightly raised the beltline and disguised the doors' provenance. The way these trims are then used on the rear quarter panels to emphasize the car's aggressive wedge profile is simply brilliant.
This little rear spoiler, together with the side skirts and wheel arch extensions, was part of the look that characterized the 75 Twin Spark since its launch in February of 1987. Although I've covered the TS engine in detail in another video, it's worth underlining once again its role in the 75's success.
30 years on, the seemingly random disposition of the secondary controls is charmingly amusing and forms part of the car's identity
The 1962cc inline-four uses the same aluminum block of Alfa's classic twin-cam, but the party piece was the new cylinder head design.
The Twin Spark head's two valves per cylinder were inclined at a much tighter angle for better thermal efficiency and a straighter inlet port.
Two spark plugs instead of the usual central one allowed to increase the diameter of the intake valve and better-controlled combustion, leading to a smoother engine running at partial throttle openings. The package was then completed by variable valve timing on the intake camshaft and a Bosch Motronic fuel injection system, and to say it was a success is an understatement.
With its 145 HP at 5800Rpm and a peak torque of 186 Nm at 4700 Rpm, the Alfa 75 2.0 Twin Spark was a world apart from the previous 2.0 liters car, equipped with the carbureted twin cam engine. Equipped with a 25% limited-slip differential as standard and looking like it's doing 200 Km/h while standing still, the 75 Twin Spark truly put Alfa Romeo back on the enthusiasts' map.
As I mentioned previously, the '91 ASN models didn't bring any change from a technical standpoint, just a lovely set of Speedline 14" alloy wheels whose design replicated the rims of the SZ. However, the 75's alloys are a one-piece design, and these bolts, made out of plastic, are there just for show. So other than this beautiful red, the Alfa 75 Twin Spark ASN could be had in black (which could be either solid or metallic), silver, and white, with the rearview mirrors painted to match.
If you have even a drop of blood in your veins, there's something about these Alfas that's impossible to resist
For how much I admire the work of Ermanno Cressoni and the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, I admit that the logic behind quite a few choices made for the 75's interior is questionable, to say the least. Mind you, 30 years on, the seemingly random disposition of the secondary controls is charmingly amusing and forms part of the car's identity.
I mean, you can't help but laugh while you reach for the electric window switch on the roof, of all places, or when you grab the comically oversized handbrake lever.
Luckily, the Twin Spark engine sounds great because the radio is simply invisible and near-impossible to operate while driving, as it's tucked away in front of the gear lever. Meanwhile, the cigarette lighter falls easily to hand, right where it proudly says "Alfa 75." As if you could ever forget where you are.
The 75 ASN came with a leather steering wheel and gearknob as standard, but much more importantly, with these beautiful Recaro LSC seats, just like those fitted to the Milano Verde sold in the USA. The upholstery, black on the bolsters and with a gray diagonal pattern in the middle, wasn't specific to Alfa Romeo but was taken directly from the Recaro catalog. Allegedly, this was done to clear the stock of Recaro interiors left after the Milano was discontinued in 1990, but that's just one of many unsubstantiated rumors doing the rounds among Alfisti.
If you have even a drop of blood in your veins, there's something about these Alfas that's impossible to resist. Moreover, the fact such cars now command non-trivial prices seems right to me, as it ensures that survivors will be preserved and maintained as they deserve. Because, for better or worse, they really don't make them like this anymore.