Journal: This Forgotten Alfa Romeo Homologation Sedan Was Sharpened For Competition

This Forgotten Alfa Romeo Homologation Sedan Was Sharpened For Competition

By Jacopo Villa
July 12, 2016
12 comments

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?

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This Has to be The Most 1980s Alfa Romeo – aBestFamilyJan Robert SorensenJacopo VillaPer Eldhmartin1133 Recent comment authors
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[…] engine was the same as the 155-hp 1.8-liter unit sold in the 75 Turbo, but in reality, it made closer to 170 hp. In race trim, this engine could be tuned to produce around 400 hp. Could you imagine the turbo […]

Jan Robert Sorensen
Jan Robert Sorensen

Just love the Alfa 75. Here is a picture of my Alfa 75 SZ Il Mostro

Per Eldh
Per Eldh

Who wrote this piece? It’s missing the point a bit.
This was a homoligation model, made in 500ex just because they had to.
The roadgoing performance (or tire size) is completely irrelevant, what mattered for Alfa was it had all the important bits for the track there. Adjustable suspension parts, aero aids etc etc.

martin1133
martin1133

The IMSA racing version was incredible, and all 75s have presence, and this…..

I came very close to buying an EVO earlier this year, but couldn´t see myself living with it. I´m not cool enough. And like Carlos Ferreira, I think the best 3.0V6 at half the price could be twice the car.

But you have to love this automotive definition of “jolie laide”. So screamingly flawed that it demands respect.

Per Holmen
Per Holmen

Fantastic but underrated super car – I had one for less than a year. Unmolested, 57.000 km on the clock, upgraded turbo, 3″ straight through stainless steel exhaust with custom built headers. Put out more than 230bhp on dyno and was a scream to drive. Even though it sat on 17″ rims with 888 rubber it would lose its grip when accelerating in first and second when the turbo kicked in.
Miss it like I miss all the classics I let go

HitTheApex
HitTheApex

The 75 EVO may be an Italian car, but it sure isn’t easy on the eyes. It was clearly built for homologation, not a beauty contest.

Mats
Mats

There are very few mechanical differences under the hood, the airfilter is different and the bore is 0,5mm smaller (to get it under the GrpA homologation engine size.) but as far as I know everything else is the same including the head which makes the Evoluzione comp ratio 7.2:1 instead of 7.5:1 in the regular 75t. Fuel system is the same, no dual pumps unless you’re ralking about the in-tank lift pump. The color code is AR555 and not AR501, the 75 only came in 555 (early) and 130 (late). The 501 code was common on the GTV6 but was… Read more »

Hans-Arvid Svellingen
Hans-Arvid Svellingen

Mine ? needs a new paint job. But this car is getting there. It has been run 180K km. An absolute trill to drive

Mike Kovac
Mike Kovac

This car is sex on wheels.

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira

Like every Alfa of the era, it seems undertired. The body kit makes the 15″ wheels look even tinier. And that ride height? What the hell? Still, very cool and funky, and if you have one it shows you don’t follow the herd. I think I’d still prefer a well sorted 3.0 V6 America / Verde though.

Armin Suljaković
Armin Suljaković

I just love the 75… if you ask me, the only thing that i dont like, is the colour of the wheels… to me its perfect… every alfista knows, just by looking at it that it is the “special” one…