The Alfa Romeo Alfetta (Type 116) is an executive saloon car and fastback coupé produced by the Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo from 1972 to1987. It was popular due to its combination of a modest weight with powerful engines, selling over 400,000 units until the end of its production run.
The Alfetta name (Little Alfa in Italian) came from the nickname of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 Alfetta, a successful Formula One car which in its latest 1951 iteration paired a transaxle layout to De Dion tube rear suspension, like the modern saloon.
Design and dynamics.
The Alfetta introduced a new drivetrain layout to the marque. Clutch and transmission were housed at the rear of the car, together with the differential for a more balanced weight distribution, as used on the Alfetta 158/159 Grand Prix cars. The suspension relied on double wishbones and torsion bars at the front and a De Dion tube at the rear. When leaving the factory all Alfettas originally fitted Pirelli Cinturato 165HR14 tyres (CA67).
The rear de Dion transaxle found on the Alfetta and derivatives- GTV, 90 and 75- provided these cars with excellent weight distribution. The advantages to handling were noticed in contemporary commentaries by motor testers such as Vicar. The transaxle design, in combination with a Watt’s parallelogram linkage, inboard rear brakes and a well-located de Dion rear suspension, resulted in excellent traction and handling. The front suspension design was also unusual in that it incorporated independent longitudinal torsion bar springs acting directly onto the lower wishbones and with separate dampers.
|1.6||I4||1,570 cc||109 PS (80 kW) at 5,600 rpm||142 N·m (105 lb·ft) at 4,300 rpm|
|1.8||I4||1,779 cc||122 PS (90 kW) at 5,500 rpm||167 N·m (123 lb·ft) at 4,400 rpm|
|2.0||I4||1,962 cc||122 PS (90 kW) at 5,300 rpm||175 N·m (129 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm|
|2.0||I4||1,962 cc||130 PS (96 kW) at 5,400 rpm||178 N·m (131 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm|
|2.0 Turbo||I4||1,962 cc||150 PS (110 kW) at 5,500 rpm||231 N·m (170 lb·ft) at 3,500 rpm||GTV 2000 Turbodelta|
|2.5 V6||V6||2,492 cc||160 PS (118 kW) at 5,600 rpm||213 N·m (157 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm||GTV6|
|2.5 V6 Twin Turbo||V6||2,492 cc||233 PS (171 kW) at 5,600 rpm||332 N·m (245 lb·ft) at 2,500 rpm||GTV6 Callaway|
|2.6 V8||V8||2,593 cc||200 PS (147 kW) at 6,500 rpm||270 N·m (199 lb·ft) at 4,750 rpm||GTV8, Autodelta limited edition|
|2.0 Turbodiesel||I4||1,995 cc||82 PS (60 kW) at 4,300 rpm||162 N·m (119 lb·ft) at 2,300 rpm||saloon only|
|2.4 Turbodiesel||I4||2,393 cc||95 PS (70 kW) at 4,300 rpm||196 N·m (145 lb·ft) at 2,300 rpm||saloon only|
The Alfetta saloon was launched in 1972, equipped with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder. It was a three-box, four-door saloon (Berlina in Italian) with seating for five designed in-house by Centro Stile Alfa Romeo; the front end was characterised by twin equally sized headlamps connected to a central narrow Alfa Romeo shield by three chrome bars, while the tail lights were formed by three square elements. At the 1975 Brussels Motor Show Alfa Romeo introduced the 1,594 cc (97 cu in), 108 PS (DIN) Alfetta 1.6 base model, easily recognizable by its single, larger round front headlights. Meanwhile, the 1.8-litre Alfetta was rebadged Alfetta 1.8 and a few months later mildly restyled, further set apart from the 1.6 by a new grille with a wider central shield and horizontal chrome bars. Engines in both models were Alfa Romeo Twin Cams, with two overhead camshafts, 8-valves and two double-barrel carburettors. Two years later the 1.6 was upgraded to the exterior and interior features of the 1.8.
In 1977 a 2.0-litre model was added. Launched at the March Geneva Motor Show, the Alfetta 2000 replaced the outgoing Alfa Romeo 2000. This range-topping Alfetta was 10.5 cm (4.1 in) longer than the others, owing to a redesigned front end with square headlights and to larger bumpers with polyurethane inserts; the rectangular tail light clusters and C-pillar vents were also different. Inside there were a new dashboard, steering wheel and upholstery materials. Just a year later, in July 1978, the two-litre model was updated becoming the Alfetta 2000 L. Engine output rose from 122 PS to 130 PS (DIN); inside upholstery was changed again and dashboard trim went from brushed aluminium to simulated wood. The 2000 received fuel injection in 1979.
A turbodiesel version was introduced in late 1979, the Alfetta Turbo D, whose engine was supplied by VM Motori. Apart from a boot lid badge, the Turbo D was equipped and finished like the top-of-the-line 2000 L both outside and inside. Therefore, it received a tachometer—very unusual in diesels of this era, but no standard power steering, in spite of the additional 100 kg (220 lb) burden over the front axle. The turbodiesel, a first on an Alfa Romeo’s passenger car, was of 2.0 litres and produced 82 PS. The Alfetta Turbo D was sold mostly in Italy and in France, as well as a few other continental European markets where the tax structure suited this model.
In 1981 Alfa Romeo developed in collaboration with the University of Genoa a semi-experimental Alfetta version, fitted with a modular variable displacement engine and an electronic engine control unit. Called Alfetta CEM (Controllo Elettronico del Motore, or Electronic Engine Management), it was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The 130 PS (96 kW; 128 bhp) 2.0-litre modular engine featured fuel injection and ignition systems governed by an engine control unit, which could shut off two of four cylinders as needed in order to reduce fuel consumption. An initial batch of ten examples were assigned to taxi drivers in Milan, to verify operation and performance in real-world situations. According to Alfa Romeo during these tests cylinder deactivation was found to reduce fuel consumption by 12% in comparison to a CEM fuel-injected engine without variable displacement, and almost by 25% in comparison to the regular production carburetted 2.0-litre. After the first trial, in 1983 a small series of 1000 examples was put on sale, offered to selected clients; 991 examples were produced. Despite this second experimental phase, the project had no further developments.
Fuel injected, US-specification versions of the Alfetta were sold as limited editions in some European countries; one example was the 1981 Alfetta LI America for the Italian market, based on the North American Sport Sedan.
In November 1981 the updated “Alfetta ’82” range was launched, comprising 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.0 Turbo Diesel models. All variants adopted the bodyshell and interior of the 2.0-litre models; standard equipment became richer. All Alfettas had black plastic rubbing strips, side sill mouldings, tail light surround and hubcaps; the 2000 sported a satin silver grille and a simulated mahogany steering wheel rim.
July 1982 saw the introduction of the range topping Alfetta Quadrifoglio Oro (meaning Gold Cloverleaf, a trim designation already used on the Alfasud), which took the place of the discontinued 2000 L. The Quadrifoglio Oro was powered by a 128 PS (DIN) version of the usual 1962 cc engine, equipped with the SPICA mechanical fuel injection used on US-spec Alfettas; standard equipment included several digital and power-assisted accessories like a trip computer, check control panel and electrically adjustable seats. Visually the Quadrifoglio Oro was distinguished by twin round headlights, concave alloy wheels, and was only available in metallic grey or brown with brown interior plastics and specific beige velour upholstery.
In March 1983 the Alfetta received its last facelift; the exterior was modernised with newly designed bumpers (integrating a front spoiler and extending to the wheel openings), a new grille, lower body plastic cladding, silver hubcaps and, at the rear, a full width grey plastic fascia supporting rectangular tail lights with ribbed lenses and the number plate. The C-pillar ventilation outlets were moved to each side of the rear screen. Inside there were a redesigned dashboard and instrumentation, new door panels and the check control panel from the Quadrifoglio Oro on all models. Top of the range models adopted an overhead console, which extended for the full length of the roof and housed three reading spot lamps, a central ceiling light, and controls for the electric windows. Alongside the facelift two new models were introduced: the 2.4 Turbo Diesel, which in most markets gradually replaced the previous 2.0-litre which was instead installed in the marginally smaller Giulietta. There was also a renewed two-liter Quadrifoglio Oro, equipped with electronic fuel injection. Thanks to the Bosch Motronic integrated electronic fuel injection and ignition the QO had the same 130 PS output of the carburetted 2.0, while developing more torque and being more fuel efficient.
In April 1984 the successor of the Alfetta debuted, the larger Alfa Romeo 90. At the end of the year the Alfetta Berlina went out of production, after nearly 450,000 had been made over a 12-year production period.