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Alfa Romeo Alfasud and Sprint (1972 - 1989)

3

Alfasud Sprint 1.5 Green Cloverleaf

reviewed by PortJac on 29 May 2014
3
Overall rating
4
How it drives
4
Fuel economy
4
Running costs
2
Cost of maintenance and repairs
3
Experience at the garage or specialist
4
How practical it is
3
How you rate the manufacturer
2
Overall reliability

Stylish and great to drive but appalling rust

My car was a 1985 Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint 1.5 Green Cloverleaf in black. It was one of the best and one of the worst classic cars I ever had, both at the same time. The best things about the car was it’s style and driving enjoyment, and the worst things were severe corrosion and poor quality.

The Sprint looked fantastic, and like all good designs still looks great today, unlike the Alfasud which now looks dated. My mid 1980’s model sported the plastic Green Cloverleaf body kit with plastic bumpers and side mouldings, with green plastic inserts where you might have expected chrome trim. Very 80’s, very cool in a retro way!

The interior was also a visual feast. Low slung Recaro seats with fishnet head restraints that were the rage at the time, and a striking green diamond and black patterning. The carpets were vivid green throughout, which really gave a wow factor when you opened the door and looked inside. The driving position was Italianate with laid-back posture and outstretched arms. . The dashboard was stylish but effective. The three spoke alloy and leather deep dished steering wheel was beautiful to behold and hold. There was no power assistance and quite a bit of torque steer to contend with when accelerating through corners.

Unusually the ignition key was on the left hand side of the steering column which took a bit of getting used to, but added character. The gear change was rubbery. The pedals were small and too close together, a number of times I found myself pressing on the accelerator and brake pedal at the same time. However, driving the car was always a pleasure. The boxer engine had lots of brio, and the car accelerated briskly, making that wonderful boxer throbbing noise, plus of course spitting and crackling at the exhaust on the over run.

There were plenty of quirky design details. To open the doors you had to first of all counter-intuitively press the door switch inwards then pull the door out at the same time. Finding the heater fan was impossible unless you knew, you had to turn one of the steering column stalks.

However, by far the worst part of owning the Sprint was the appalling rust, literally every metal panel of the car rusted. The tops of the front wings bubbled up, the front of the bonnet perforated, the inner wings disintegrated. I was able to poke my fingers through the sills as if through cream cracker biscuits. One day when washing the car I went to pull back the windscreen wipers and they nearly came away in my hand as their bases had rusted out – likewise the roof mounted aerial. The rear windows would no longer wind down as the internal mechanism had corroded. I could not jack the car up as the jacking points had perished. The rear fuel tank nearly fell on the road as one of the flexible metal straps holding it in place snapped.

Poor build quality was very evident inside as well. The internal door handle and window winder had poorly secured plastic trim pieces which soon fell out, the handle itself was only plastic and eventually snapped leaving only a stump with which to open the door. The upper plastic door trim had not been properly moulded and the solution at the Alfa factory was for a worker to cut a slot with a Stanley knife to make it fit around the quarterlight – or so it looked! The plastic moulding at the bottom of the gear lever split so you could see the shaft underneath.

To sum up, I loved the look of my Sprint and really enjoyed driving it, but the poor quality and losing fight with rust made it a nightmare to live with. If you are thinking of buying one check everywhere for rust. There are very few left, so if you find one that’s been cared for never let it out in the rain or drive it during a British winter. I hardly think it’s worth the expense of restoring a poor one, as they don’t seem to have appreciated in value enough to make it worthwhile.

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About this car

Top speed103–105 mph
0-6010.0–12.0 s
Power84–93 bhp

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