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My introduction to Alfa Romeo came in 1982, when I was at school and found myself a Saturday job as a car cleaner at the local garage – which just happened to be an Alfa dealer.
When I passed my driving test, I was allowed to drive the Alfas and compared to my Morris Marina they were a complete revelation.
From then on I was hooked, and knew that some day I would own one.
I got my first, an Alfasud TiX, in 1990 and have had at least one Alfa – as classics and/or daily drivers – ever since.
In October 2004, having then recently sold my Alfasud Ti Green Cloverleaf, it had become obvious that there was an Alfa-shaped space in the garage (though there was still an everyday Alfa 156 on the drive). Alfa does stand for ‘Always Looking For Another’, after all.
A tip-off from the owners’ club led me to this 75: I test drove it and committed to pay the full asking price. I collected it a few days later on my way to visiting the Classic Motor Show at the NEC.
The 75 was designed at a time when Alfa Romeo had little money for development. Even the doors were directly carried across from its 116-series Giulietta predecessor.
The car was an in-house design, again probably to save money. As such, the 75 is an acquired taste aesthetically, but one that I have most definitely acquired.
Its design was the last before the takeover by Fiat, hence quirky ergonomics such as the electric-window switches above the windscreen and the rather unusual handbrake lever.
My 1991 Alfa 75 is a 2-litre Twin Spark Limited Edition (LE number 3435 of allegedly 3500, but you never can be sure with Alfa), which means that it was one of the last Twin Sparks made.
Standard equipment for the LE included an electric tilt/slide steel sunroof, front foglights and a Recaro interior. For some reason there was also a downgrade to manual rear windows.
It is in the driving experience, however, that the 75 comes into its own. With rear-wheel drive, an all-alloy, 148bhp twin-cam engine and 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution, the handling is a delight.
It had already completed 104,000 miles in its first 13 years with five previous owners, but it was pretty tidy and had recently been fully resprayed.
It is difficult to believe that the 75 has now been a part of our family for over 17 years.
It was originally acquired as an Alfa suitable to go to events as a family but, as the children have grown up, it is no longer really needed.
However, every time I think we should sell it, I just take it for a drive and immediately change my mind.
One of my favourite trips is to the Spa Six Hours classic weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, with friends from the owners’ club.
For six of these past 12 years I have made the trip in the 75 and we seem to find a more scenic route through the Ardennes each time.
In 2016 our group was given the opportunity to take a few ‘discovery laps’ of the circuit. Although this was great fun, I did discover how soggy the 75’s suspension had become over its life.
Therefore, in order to honour the car’s normally impressive handling, I decided to fit a fast-road handling kit (thicker front anti-roll bar and heavy-duty rear springs) and a set of yellow Koni adjustable shock absorbers. For practicality, I decided to leave the ride height as standard.
The discovery laps of Spa in 2018 were somewhat more enthusiastic and enjoyable as a result.
I think the 75 will remain with us for a long time yet, because it is now really part of our family of Alfas, which also currently includes two Spiders (1963 and 2001).
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- Owned by Phil Gotts
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