What’s So Lovable About The Alfa Romeo 75?
Photography by Christer Lundem
During this photo shoot in downtown L.A., a black SUV stopped suddenly in front of us, a move you only really see in action movies. Far from threatening, however, were the Italians who jumped out, turned to the Alfa, threw their arms up and shouted, “Che bella!”
The Alfa Romeo 75 is just that kind of car.
These days, and in this condition, it’s a rare bird. The 188 horsepower 3.0-litre model was sold as the 75 Amerika in Europe and the 75 Milano Quadrifoglio Verde in the U.S., with ’75’ to celebrate Alfa’s 75th year of production. Technically, it was nothing new from the previous Alfetta range, except for the 3.0-liter engine. In many ways, that was a blessing in disguise: the car was already nicely balanced, thanks to a mechanical layout that borrowed from racing convention. Engines were straight fours and beautiful-sounding aluminum V6s, but the hot 192 horsepower QV never made it to the U.S.
Inexpensive today, it’s probably the most undervalued enthusiast’s cars available. It may be not much to look at, but boy, does it drive.
Turn the key, and the Giuseppe Busso—designed V6 comes alive. The engine block is cold, so it runs a little lumpy, but with a few prods of the throttle it clears its throat, and the sound is absolutely magic. To tell the truth, many Ferraris do not sound this good, and musical experts have told me that an Alfa V6 at 3,500 rpm sings the note F.
And sing it does, after a little coaxing. I’m being careful to warm up the car before starting to lean on it, moreover, the 75 was not made for motorways but for winding mountain roads. The somewhat bulky gear change then works perfectly, with a little assistance from heel-and-toeing.
The 75’s handling is positively neutral, and when you finally get it a little sideways, it seems to help itself out of trouble. Behind the wheel, here an aftermarket MOMO Prototipo (as-used on Porsche race cars in the ’70s), you feel like you’re driving a much more expensive car.
I’m having the time of my life. Maybe not more fun than I would have had in a Porsche 911, but for sure no less.
This car’s former owner, Alfa Romeo guru and mechanic Dorian Valenzuela, was beside me as I stretched its legs, with the permission of its enthusiastic new owner, Tim Gregorio.
Tim is very cool and laid back with us borrowing the Alfa, and he has a knack for lyrically describing the 75´s handling when cornering hard through a nearby onramp. We listen, smile and nod: that is what Alfas do to you. They make grown ups behave like teenagers. It may be bad, but sure feels good.
Dorian and I can’t fathom why these cars are not more popular. It may look like a brick, but drives like a ballerina. This is a mountain-carving brick that can be bought for pennies.
My advice? Go buy one before more people realize what great cars these 75s are. Its lineage is from motorsport, and you can bring the family along for the ride.