Featured: What’s So Lovable About The Alfa Romeo 75?

What’s So Lovable About The Alfa Romeo 75?

By Christer Lundem
September 15, 2015
34 comments

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.

Join the Conversation
Related
0 0 votes
Article Rating
34 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback

[…] What’s So Lovable About The Alfa Romeo 75? • Petrolicious […]

Anders Hagström
Anders Hagström(@andershagstromkonsult)
3 years ago

These are really picking up value in Europe nowadays, with good 3.0 v6 examples going for well over 20 000 EUR. I’m currently trying to get hold of a decent one as I feel that if I don’t get it now, I’ll never be able to afford one. To me, an 80s kid, the design looks just right; angular, purposeful and in the metal it’s so dainty. In comparison to modern saloons it’s about the size of a small hatchback. The balance and feeling is amazing, and as so many have pointed out, the Busso engine is so tuneful and operatic, with a soul all of its own.

Andreas Messerli
Andreas Messerli(@andreas_messerli)
4 years ago

I owned a lot of cars but the one car I never sold and never will is my 75 3.0. No other car is sounding that great (ok the GTV6 sounds also good 🙂 ) and drives that fantastic like this car. I invested a lot of work and money in it. Redid the whole suspension, new shorter gearbox, new hardy discs and brakes. And a paint job. Adding PU bushings to this car does improve the handling even more and the addition of yellow Koni shocks makes a curve craving monster out of it. A good quality tune up done regularly will keep these cars running for ever and unlike the typical italian rust rumors the only parts which were breaking were german parts like the Bosch injection parts 🙂 Besides the 1988 75 3.0 V6 I also own a 1988 Pontiac TransAM GTA with the 350 L98 engine. Man I love the cars out of this time.

Mike Aldridge
Mike Aldridge(@bikingmike)
4 years ago

I always thought these were rather odd looking when they first appeared – as though it’d gotten 3/4 of the way out of the garage and then someone brought the garage door down on it. But 30 years on, while definitely a product if it’s time, that chunky boxy wedginess looks good, and is a good foil for the over wrought designs of today. And as the current owner of a 156 V6 I have to agree about the engine.

Mike Kovac
Mike Kovac(@euroe28m5)
5 years ago

Smith – Says the guy who never owned one. As the long time owner of a Milano / 75, I will tell you from first hand experience this is hands down one of the best sports sedans ever produced. Fantastically balanced, an engine note that puts goose bumps on the back of your neck, and dead nuts reliable when maintained properly (which many people didn’t do).

David Barrett
David Barrett(@david-barrett1)
5 years ago

A long time ago I was invited to Prodrive in the UK where I would be shown how to “drive”.

Of course I was expecting to be lapping their driver training circuits in an Impreza but low and behold, it was a knackered looking 75 stood before me at the start of the day.

One of my favourite automotive experiences ever.

Victor Smith
Victor Smith(@klunkerboy)
5 years ago

Never liked this,it always looked like it had been rear ended before you even drove it off the lot. I knew two people who bought these back in the day, both of them bragging that they were “the best cars in the world” within the three years they were both very tight lipped about them. These were not good cars.

Mihai Picior
Mihai Picior(@conturi-1999)
5 years ago

next to my old school there was one in a driveway and i guess the owner didnt care for it because it looked like it was abandoned, really sad to see such a nice car left in countless winters

Mihai Picior
Mihai Picior(@conturi-1999)
5 years ago
Reply to  Mihai Picior

http://imgur.com/TVZNWf4
i looked on google maps and heres a picture of it lol, it was taken in 2013 but i guess its still there

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne(@madis503)
5 years ago

i have always loved that car, but damn, the price on the spare parts is terrifying , there was one guy here who spent a fortune just for relatively simple spare parts. Dont know maybe the parts are cheaper now, but i doubt it.

Sanne
Sanne
4 years ago
Reply to  Eba Normaalne

Parts are quite cheap actually..

michal dimage
michal dimage(@mdimage)
6 years ago

Despite of what one would think about Alfa, this is the 2nd pick for the most durable car used in 24 hr LeMons.

Tim McRib
Tim McRib(@tommy-twohands)
6 years ago

There’s one of these down the street from me, sitting on the side of a gas station/garage. It hasn’t moved in years, and the Florida sun has reduced the red paint to a now matte orange. I’ve thought about trying to find the owner and making an offer, but who knows what a decade of neglect would cause to an 80s Alfa. I don’t think I have the patience (or wallet) to fix what may be wrong.

Mitchell
Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim McRib

We are starting to see them being restored in Australia, along with the other Alfa’s of the same era. We have just finished a 33 16V and a GTV6 for customers. They were both rescued from back yards and unfortunately there is not much you can leave untouched by the time you are done. However the finished product is well worth it in my opinion, and still a fraction of the cost compared to most other popular sports cars of the era.

Conni Menschel
Conni Menschel(@conni)
6 years ago

Thank you very much for this article. I own 3 of these and drive them with fun and pleasure as often as possible. It seems that the 75 gets at least here in Europe a bit more attention. Last weekend e.g. I was in Arese at the 30 years of Alfa 75 Meeting. Quite a lot participated and in the media the Meeting gets some attention.

Best regards

JB21
JB21(@jb21)
6 years ago

I don’t know, it’s just how this car is. 75/Milano just felt like a proper Alfa, it looks weird and totally lovable at the same time, there’s incredible amount of idiosyncrasies, and absolutely nothing about it is very conventional. In a way Citroen is Citroen simply because, this was Alfa doing Alfa thing, and it works in a totally screwed up parallel universe kind of way. That is a charm that 4C lacks.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago

Never been too keen on the 75’s styling, though I’d say it’s aged well if only for its distinctly 80s boxy/wedginess. The styling has always made the car look a great deal heavier and more ponderous than I imagine it actually is.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo(@fanigbo)
6 years ago

After all these years I still break out in cold sweat at the sight of a Milano. It was my second Alfa and by far my most traumatic automotive experience. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, none of it a fault of the car itself, just a series of bad coincidences (and bad mechanics!) over a 4 year relationship. The best day of my life with that car was the day the accelerator pedal suddenly fell to the floor on a very busy highway; Labor Day 2002. My heart-stopping moment ended with the car catching fire and burning to a crisp on the side of the highway with traffic backed up for miles and a news helicopter flying overhead.

Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews(@darel)
6 years ago
Reply to  Frank Anigbo

A lot of this reminds me of a certain Volvo 1800 I recently purchased!

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo(@fanigbo)
6 years ago
Reply to  Darel Matthews

Oh dear! I’m sorry to hear that. At least it’s better to look at than a Milano.

Luca
Luca(@elstellino)
6 years ago

Those US bumpers are seriously ugly, though.
And on the 75 in general, I never liked the handbrake lever, the window switches on the roof, and the way it rolls in corners.
However, great engines. Pretty much all of them (a part from the 2.4 TD)

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
6 years ago

What’s so lovable about the Alfa 75 … let me count the ways

1) Its the last genuine Alfa Romeo [ the il monstro’s being hopped up 75’s ] ever made . Everything since then being a rebadged and re-bodied GM-SAAB /FIAT / Maserati / KTM X-bow / Dodge Dart / Suzuki SX4 etc

2) It works ! On the back roads … in the twisties .. on the highways and interstates .. in the mountains as well as in the ‘Burbs … the damn things just work ! [ when in fact they do work that is ]

3) Its the very essence of an Italian translation of Jolie laide [ ugly/beautiful ] looks

4) And just to to put a point on number two … it was practical as well

5) Not to mention as stated in number one it was the donor car that became the incredibly jolie laide il mostros .. proving with a tweak here .. a few pounds off there and a sleeker body surrounding it …. it … WORKS … even better !!!

6) And then … just to top it off with a bit of iconic status … the 75’s body being the basis of the completely bat**** crazy insane Turbo’d AWD DTM cars that rivaled F1 in performance back in the day

Which is to say in conclusion … other than the crap reliability as well as the lousy quality fit and finish … all somewhat excusable in light of the above …. whats not to love ? 😀

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

I’d almost have been disappointed to log in and see another comment from Petrolicious’ favourite misinformed curmudgeon.

Since you mentioned Maserati, the X-bow, the Dart and the Suzuki SX4 in there, I’m going to assume you’re talking about the usual. So to reiterate: The new Giulia has nothing to do with a Maserati. The 4C has nothing to do with the X-Bow. The Giulia is only loosely related to the Dart – and came before it – and no production Alfa has any similarity or component sharing whatsoever with the Suzuki SX4.

It’s easy to appreciate your love of cars – albeit a love that seems fairly narrowly defined, given the extent to which you criticise many vehicles – but your comments would be so much more relevant if they weren’t so hideously ill-informed and you didn’t post this misinformation ad nauseum.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago
Reply to  Antony Ingram

That should have been “not see” in the first sentence. If there’s one thing Guitar Slinger [i]does[/i] get right each time it’s his request for an edit function…

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
6 years ago
Reply to  Antony Ingram

Errrr … Mr Ingram … ahhh … hate to be once again the bearer of bad news today but .. you’ve gotten everything wrong and know not of what you speak when it comes to Alfa Romeo ….

Fact is …

1) Whether or not you chose to believe it .. the 4C is in fact the Dallara built X-bow right down to the last suspension piece with a change here and a modification there as well as the ubiquitous Alfa Romeo party dress and EVERYONE that knows anything … including CAR EVO AW R&T etc and has published that info . Still don’t want to believe it ? Ask a Dallara insider . I have !

2) Several of the FIAT derived Alfas both AWD FWD and including the RWD Dodge Dart/Giulia are in fact built upon the Suzuki SX4’s platform . And again … everyone … but you it seems .. knows that and has known if for years [ common knowledge in the industry ever since FIAT/FCA bought into Suzuki’s Eastern European manufacturing ] Notice I said clearly …. the platform .. not body . I assume you do know what a platform is in todays cars do you not ? And yes the Alfa/FIAT derivatives share a lot more than just the platform underneath with the SX4 including the suspension .. AWD and FWD drive trains etc . And no … best be looking at the dates good sir cause the Dart preceded the ( new ) RWD Giulia by almost a year [ at least here in the US ] As well as the motor in the Alfa IS the Hellcat Dart’s motor

3) The 8C is nothing more than a detuned Maserati coupe with an Alfa Romeo party dress on . Period ! On that note I’ll give you three guesses what the Ferrari California’s based on .

Fact is there is not a solitary new [ as in the last five – ten years ] platform underneath ANY of FCA’s products because FCA and all its subsidiaries do not have the funds to come up with a new platform . And in the case of Alfa ..well .. as stated … there hasn’t been a solitary bespoke Alfa Romeo platform since the 75/Milano ..

Clearly though I can see why you’re so confused by reality when it comes to Alfa Romeo . Your choosing to believe romance over blatant cold hard facts as well as falling for the marketing diatribe hook line and sinker over and above reality . But unfortunately regardless of what you chose to believe or which theory you care to subscribe to your belief system has been crushed by the hard weight of fact .

As far as the word ‘ Love ‘ . You might want to take the time to look up the definition of love versus obsession . To borrow GK Chesterton’s words .. and I paraphrase ;

” GENUINE Love recognizes faults .. loves enough and is brave enough to point them out … and is willing to do what ever it takes to remedy the faults in a given person or item . Whereas obsession glosses over the faults to the detriment of all involved ”

[ sometime take the time to read GK Chesterton’s essays on love .. it’ll enlighten you in this age of obsession , blatant infatuation and entertainment fueled political correctness ]

Genuine … Love … vs Blind Obsession . The only thing in life worse than blind obsession being Blind Patriotism .

So good sir . Once again thou comest up short in the reality department . But hey .. I love a good knock down drag out debate .. although in the future your coming armed with a few genuine and verifiable facts would at least make it a little more … how shall we say this … challenging

And err .. as far as the ‘ narrow ‘ quip ? Pardon me for being an educated , experienced , discerning , thinking , logical and rational adult when it comes to cars . Shame on me … expressing discernment and sorting out the facts rather than falling for the myths being perpetuated both by ignorance as well as intent . Such a terrible person I am . How do I [ and my loving wife ] stand myself ? …

…. Hmmmmnnn …

Conni Menschel
Conni Menschel(@conni)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

This is wrong. Only the no longer built Fiat Sedici is a Suzuki SX4 with a Fiat Label. No other current or past Fiat shares the mechanics with Suzuki.
The US Dodge Dart based on the Plattform of the current FWD Alfa Giulietta. You can find several pictures of Dart Mules with adapted Giulietta bodies.
The new Giulia based on an own Plattform. Future US Models will use this Plattform too. The V6 Engine is not based on the pentastar Dodge engine.

Best regards

Dominic Nicandri
Dominic Nicandri(@fb_10204668292487130)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Yeah I have to completely agree with Conni Menschel, Guitar Slinger you are BEYOND left field with most of your assertions. Nothing in this article speaks if blind infatuation as you indicate the author is influenced with, and your statements about shared platforms and engineering are laughable.

AR Dellorto
AR Dellorto(@alfa-romeo-ricambi)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Your sources are so wrong.

Dallara is only producer of monocouqe and thats it. Engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes, steering, everything is different on 4c comparing to X bow. Find the pics and see for yourself.

SX4 has nothing with the giulia, dart or giulietta. Nothing. Giulietta underpinnings are modified fiat bravo with different suspension. And dart, well dart is italian car with american badge, its a giulietta with ass.

8C, yes 8C is a maserati with very little modifications here and there. Thats true.

Giulia is a completly new car, its a proper middle class rwd car, and sx4 is a small suv with fwd/awd the proportions of platfrom are completly different. There is no car in FCA that is similar to giulia. Not even maserati ghibli that is based on modified chrysler 300C platform. Giulia is completly new platform, new suspension, brakes, steering, engines, etc. Maybe some future cars in FCA will share something with giulia, maybe not. V6 on giulia is a ferrari engine longitunaly mounted. SX4 drivetrain is to weak to handle with that power, its a lower class car with weaker suspension, drivetrain, etc.

Its true that from alfa 75 there is no alfa unique platform, mainly are fiat platforms and saab platform for brera and 159, that saab never produced. But, alfa or fiat always find the way to build a good car, with modified or completely different suspension, steering, engines and that made a car, not a platform. Audi TT and skoda have a same platform, but they are completly different cars to drive.

Conni Menschel
Conni Menschel(@conni)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Point 6 is wrong, neither the Body of the Alfa 75 nor its mechanics are related to the 90ies Alfa Romeo DTM cars, their Body is based on the Alfa 155, the Basis of the engine is related to the Montreal V8

Best regards

Szymon Bana?
Szymon Bana?(@fb_10207593797585354)
6 years ago

Great article and the car (I own 1.8 version). There is a bug though – the name for US market was “Milano”. QV was only the version.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
6 years ago
Reply to  Szymon Bana?

Yup ! I always felt it was stupid for Alfa to rename it the Milano here in the US … [ btw we never got the QV ] .. Alfa then taking the Milano moniker one step worse by giving us the Silver , Gold and Platinum editions …. talk about marketing pretense at its worst …ugh !

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo(@fanigbo)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

I always thought that QV meant Quadrifoglio Verde and roughly translates to 4-leaf green. And since the 3.0 Milano (which I owned) had the green 4-leaf clover badge rather than the silver (or is that platinum) or gold, that made it a QV.

Was there another model that is specifically the Milano/75 QV?

Conni Menschel
Conni Menschel(@conni)
6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

You have the 75 3.0 QV in the US, its the Alfa Romeo Milano Verde with the 3.0 Motronic Engine. The Body and mechanics are the Same, only the Interieur is differente with the Recaro seats in the US version

Best regards

Kevin Redden
Kevin Redden(@alfahoser)
6 years ago
Reply to  Conni Menschel

Actually it uses the L-Jet, not Motronic. The 164’s (which use the same engine in the 12 valve trims) use Motronic. Also the article says the Verde is 188 HP, it is actually 183. The Verde is my favorite Alfa that I’ve owned & raced!