This Forgotten Alfa Romeo Homologation Sedan Was Sharpened For Competition
Photography by Federico Bajetti
These days, special made-for-racing “homologation” cars are among the most appealing to collectors and to car enthusiasts. In America, cars like the Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione would be easily known as a “factory hot rod,” a standard car modified by engineers to deliver more performance.
Years ago, these “hot rods” were an easy way to provide privateers with a car that was more competitive when turned into a racing machine, with fewer steps over a regular production model to increase its performance. Not all those who bought the rare 75 Evoluzione were looking for a future collectable or a daily driver—many wanted a car that was only a step away from being a ready-to-race monster.
The ’80s were the high point of using and abusing turbocharging to obtain more performance: it was the opposite of today, where roadgoing turbos are used, in part, to aid fuel economy and improve emissions. Back in the day, “turbo” meant, “cooler than your car”. For Alfa Romeo the turbocharger has been, as with Porsche, a long-lasting affair. In Alfa’s case, that began with an initial experiment on the Giulia GTA SA with the oil-driven forced induction of the Sovralimentazione engine, moving on to create the 33TT12 SC and F1 cars that proved to be competitive and the ideal test bed for the Turbodelta line up of Giulietta and Alfetta GTV road cars.
Despite being quite rare, these two cars paved the way to the production 75 1.8 Turbo America of the ’80s, the car that with tweaks from Squadra Corse would be raced in the WTCC.
With its full and aggressive Rosso R501 paint and distinctive livery, this 75 was born to conquer the world and to be remembered as the last pure sedan ever to come out of the Arese Factory gates as the last homologation special to carry the Alfa badge.
Upon its presentation in March 1987, the 75 1.8 Evo was criticized for its aggressive looks and not-elegant lines. There were some individuals which mistook it for the street racer version of the road car, but it wasn’t. Each of the 500 units produced had the special chassis code 162 B1E and it was a direct competitor to the Ford Sierra and the BMW M3 E30.
It may seem odd, but the straightline performance and power output of the Evo were almost identical to the standard 1.8 America, which is 155 horsepower and a maximum speed of 130 mph (210 km/h). Truth is that many owners always felt that the car had always almost 170 hp, and though it was never announced officially by Alfa, many dyno tested cars showed that these rumors were true.
This was thanks to the different position of the air filter, unique valve timing, and a dual fuel pump, which were in fact responsible for the superior performance. The rear suspension could be also set to one of three different positions, with a ride stiffer and harsher than the standard 75 Turbo.
While now it’s a desirable Alfa, back in the ’80s this was a car purely conceived to help privateers build a racing car for Italy’s national and any of the international touring car championships. True to this fact, Alfa Romeo sold a complete kit to be installed into the Evoluzione, of which 15% were converted to racing cars.
Despite being a great all-around package, the 75 Evoluzione was a difficult car to drive due to the quick transition between under and oversteer, and it suffered against the outright performance offered by less delicate and often more powerful cars like the BMW M3 and the Ford Sierra.
The car you see here is number 132 of 500 (although it is labelled as 142 on the internal number plate, because the first road going spec was actually car number 10), and has covered only 25,000 miles—including the original floor cellophane. Impressive still, are the original wheels, which are often changed to larger ones to better fit larger fiberglass wheel arches.
While being one of the most affordable homologation specials from Italy over the past few years, the recent popularity of Alfa Romeo made the price of the Turbo Evoluzione skyrocket well above 30,000€ (~$33,000 Usd.) and makes this car an instant collectible, not just among Alfa Romeo lovers.
What do you think of Alfa Romeo’s angular competition special?