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When I first saw the car, it took my breath away. "Who would do a $65,000 restoration on an Alfetta sedan?" I wondered



1976 alfa romeo alfetta sedan


This rare and sought-after four-door Alfa Romeo Alfretta sedan features new exterior paint and new and correct interior. Its classic Alfa 2,000-cc inline four-cylinder has been treated to a recent rebuild, and it is fitted with dual Weber carbs. All the stainless trim has been restored, while all the chrome bits have been similarly redone. This is a fun, fast, and affordable four-door sports car. The new buyer will suffer no disappointments, as this one runs and drives as it looks.


{analysis}{auto}707{/auto} This 1976 Alfetta Sedan sold for $11,070 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, held January 26-30, 2005.
Introduced in 1975 alongside the Alfetta GT coupe, the Alfetta sedan can trace its roots back to the Giulia TI sedan of 1962. The 1,600-cc TI begat the 1750 Berlina in 1969, which had a longer wheelbase, roomier and better-furnished interior, and a bigger trunk. In 1971, Alfa's two-liter engine was dropped into the package and the 2000 Berlina was born. With a revised interior further continuing the march up-market, and the smoother, torquier engine, it provided even more refinement. The 2000 Berlina didn't appear in the U.S. until 1972, and was superceded by the Alfetta three years later.
Named after the all-conquering post-war Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car, the Alfetta was a markedly different car than its predecessors. It was shorter, lower, lighter and wider than the Berlina, and offered styling by Bertone that was more shapely than the "square-rigged" Alfa sedans of the past. Finally, Alfisti no longer had to make excuses for owning a sedan.
The Alfetta represented a new engineering direction for Alfa as well, and boasted the sophistication of rack-and-pinion steering, a rear-mounted, five-speed transaxle, longitudinal torsion bar front suspension, and a DeDion rear axle with inboard disc brakes. The Spica-injected, two-liter DOHC four of the 2000 series was retained, good for 118 hp in the Alfetta.
Some of these changes to Alfa's proven technology were a good thing, while some weren't. While Alfa sedans had always been a pleasure to drive, the Alfetta took it to a new level, with near 50-50 weight balance thanks to the transaxle. The cars were a pleasure to steer with the throttle, yet still incredibly forgiving. I risked many tickets driving mine much too quickly on any road with S-bends, climbing corners or decreasing-radius curves. The Alfetta was truly a sports sedan.
On the other hand, the remote shift linkage was unfortunately vague, rubbery and balky. This was made even more galling as the ultra-direct Alfa gearbox was already a thing of legend, and Lancia had done a transaxle linkage so much better in the Aurelia way back in 1950. The shift forks could also bend or lose their clips if the lever was forced too quickly.
The other notorious weakness of the Alfetta is its rubber driveshaft "donuts," three couplings that take the place of traditional U-joints. As they age, they develop cracks, which in turn cause driveline vibrations that lead to total failure. Count on replacing them on any car you buy. To make things a bit trickier, the design changed three times during the car's production run, so you must be sure to fit the proper type on your car.
The Alfetta's inboard rear brakes were also problematic, with pads that are difficult to change and a parking brake that greatly increases rear pad wear.
Alfetta interiors are a mixture of fragile materials. The velour sags and wears out, the foam padding dries out before turning lumpy and powdery, the hard plastics are prone to cracking and warping, and the wood veneer is given to peeling and fading. Sedans generally saw more use than coupes as well, so their interiors tend to be more tired. Kits and materials are available for a total re-do of the interior, but are more expensive than those for the more valuable two-door cars.
Rust is a major issue with all Alfas of the 1970s as well. Alfa Romeo used low-quality Soviet steel thanks to a trade deal the Italian government (Alfa's owner at the time) made with the USSR. Although a lot of the rust tends to be cosmetic (around the trim mounting points and window trim, including the windshield) it almost certainly will have
attacked the main structure by now. The pedal box, driver's floor and seat belt mounting points are especially vulnerable.
When I first saw the car pictured here driving into registration at the auction, it took my breath away. "Who would do a $65,000 restoration on an Alfetta sedan?" I wondered. As I got closer, however, I realized I was mistaken. This wasn't a restoration at all, but rather a fairly
thorough "refurbishment."
The paint was fairly thick, with a good amount of orange peel present-not unlike the original finish. The seats and door panels had been recovered with a proper velour kit, but with some sagging in spots. The front seat headrests were missing, and their mounting holes were covered with a patch of seat fabric. The horn buttons on the steering wheel spokes looked slightly melted somehow, and there was black electrical tape wrapped around part of the rim of the wheel. Underneath an aftermarket dashboard cover rug, the usual and expected cracks in the original dash top could be seen. There was no radio, and the car was not equipped with a/c.
The engine compartment was clean, with what looked to be a professional installation of twin Weber carbs in place of the hated Spica mechanical fuel injection system. The cam cover had not been changed however, and the broken brackets for the original air plenum hose were still there.
To top it all off, the car seemed to sit a bit too high, as if it had new springs with incorrect dimensions.
Having said all that, this was still the nicest Alfetta I've seen in at least 20 years. Was the price a Barrett-Jackson phenomena? Certainly, and even more so given what notorious cheapskates owners of Alfettas are. But how much is a good Alfetta worth if you're looking for one? They're not thick on the ground, so perhaps this new and unrepeatable record price will coax some more nice examples to surface. And let's face it-even if the new owner paid twice retail, he's only $5,500 upside- down, less than the cost of a valve job on a lot of the exotics we cover in SCM. Further, he has a four-door sedan capable of hustling down backroads with a family aboard, in keeping with the Alfa slogan for their 1900s, "the family car that wins races."
(Descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.){/analysis}

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