The Alfasud's successors with Boxer-engine
33, ARNA and 145/146
In 1983 the last Alfasuds leave the production lines in Pomigliano d'Arco. Alfa Romeo wants to bury the rusty past and presents the new compact Alfa 33. From the outside the 33 looks brand new and differs from the Alfasud body with its four doors and a large hatchback-door. But under the new body, most of the Alfasuds qualities remain at their place. The Boxer-engines installed in the new 33 are already known from the Alfasud. Only brakes and suspension have been modified. At first one notices the outboardly mounted front brake discs. The rear beam-axle is now equipped with drums instead of the Alfasud's discs - whose calipers often tended to corrode due to seldom use when driving with only few weight in the boot. A stiffer setting of the springs and shock abosrbers allows Alfa Romeo to renounce of the front anti-roll bar. In 1983 one can opt between three different engines - all equipped with one twin-choke downdraft carburator. The smallest engine (not sold in all European countries) with 1186 cm³ and 68 bhp is followed by the 1351 cm³ version with 79 bhp (75 bhp in Germany). Top of the range is the 1490 cm³ (84 bhp) engine. One can opt between the 1.2, 1.3, 1.5 and the 1.5 QO (Golden Cloverleaf). The 1.5 QO is equipped with some luxurious extras. In the mid-eighties it becomes en vogue to have a 4x4 car in the range of a car manufacturer. Alfa Romeo therefor develops an additional rearwheel-drive (without a centre differential) which can be engaged with a lever in front of the gear lever. The car is called the Alfa 33 1.5 4x4 and is launched at the end of the year 1983. Different coil springs give it some centimetres more room under the floor. June1984 is the month of another important premier for Alfa Romeo: the 33 Giardinetta 1.5 4x4 is born. This time it is Pininfarina who has designed this estate car basing on the 33. In contrast to the Alfasud Giardinetta, the 33 Giardinetta offers four doors and is one of the first so-called lifestyle estates. It can not offer much room in the boot (especially the 4x4 versions) and is meant as a familiy car. In the beginning of 1984 the last Alfasud Tis leave Pomigliano d' Arco - the 33 range still misses a sportive version. But such a sporty 33 comes in the same year. It is named the 33 1.5 QV and has the engine of the Sprint 1.5 QV (two Weber twin-choke downdraft carburators). The car has 105 bhp and offers body-paint coloured bumpers, more sportive front seats, alloy wheels, silver (alloy-look) paint on the dashboard and a more sportive suspension. In November 1984 one can admire the reworked Alfa 33 (MY 1985) on the Turin Motor Show. All engines now breathe through two twin-choke downdraft carburators. Only the 1.3 remains unchanged. The1.3 S now has 86 bhp, the 1.5 QO has 95 bhp. The Giardinetta can now also be bought as 1.5 without four-wheel-drive.
In the summer of 1985 the 1.5 4x4 also gets the 95 bhp-engine, since March 1986 the 1.5 cat can be delievered with a catalyst (without lambda probe). Then, in 1986 the 33-family receives its first facelift. Alfa Romeo gives it a new radiator grille with a redesigned Scudetto, redesigned hub caps and alloy wheels and white indicator lights at the front. The interior surprises with a completely new dashboard, a new steering wheel and new seats with fabrics in new designs. The 33-range grows again. Besides the 1.2, the 1.3 and 1.3 S (and the limited number of 1700 "1.3 Silver" special editions) there now is the 1.5 TI, the 1.5 4x4, the1.5 Giardinetta and the 1.5 Giardinetta 4x4. The 1.5 versions now all have 105 bhp. Im October 1986 Alfa Romeo presents a new version of the Boxer-engine. Its capacity has been raised to 1712 cm³. The new 1.7 litre Boxer is offered in the versions 1.7 QV (114 bhp) and 1.7 QV cat (111 bhp with catalyst). The 1.7 litre has hydraulic lifters. With the launch of the 1.7 QV, the 1.5 QV disappears out of the catalogues. The raised power of the 1.7 QV is rewarded with new ventilated brake discs at the front. A front anti-roll bar is on board, too. A body-paint coloured rear spoiler, body-paint coloured bumpers, alloy wheels and new fabrics in the interior distinguish the 1.7 QV from the ofter Alfa 33s. In the period from 1986 to 1988 Italian buyers can also buy a turbodiesel engine in the Alfa 33 (saloon and Giardinetta). Alfa Romeo uses a longitudinally mounted three-cylinder in-line diesel with a capacity of 1779 cm³ and 72 bhp. A rotating shaft in the crankcase shall reduce vehement vibrations of this VM-made engine. In April 1988 the Giardinetta- versions are rebaptised Sport Wagon. The Sport Wagon is available as 1.3 Sport Wagon S (86 bhp) and 1.7 Sport Wagon QV (114 bhp). Once again the radiator grille is slightly redesigned. In 1988 all Boxer-engines are converted to unleaded fuel. In addition, the 1.7 IE engine with 107 bhp (respectively 102 bhp at the catalyst versions) with electronic Bosch LE-Jetronic fuel injection is launched in the versions 33 1.7 IE, 1.7 IE cat, 1.7 IE cat Sport Wagon QV and 1.7 IE cat Sport Wagon 4x4 QV. 1989 is the last year of production for the "old" Alfa 33. In 1990 it will be facelifted. To promote the "old" 33's sales figures Alfa Romeo offers some special editions. The 1.3 S (86 bhp) is launched in 1989 as Red, Blue Line and in 1990 (in 1990 the soccer world championships take place in Italy) as Italia '90 in Italy. The 1989 1.5 TI S (105 bhp, for the Italian market) offers metallic paint, alloy wheels, a sun roof and a Check-Control system while the 1.7 Veloce and 1.7 Veloce Sport Wagon (114 bhp) are sold in the uk. They are equiped with special body-paint coloured bumpers with air dam and 5-spoke alloy wheels.
In 1990 the 33 profits of a profound facelift of the front and rear end (the Sport Wagon only receives a new front). The body design is adapted to the rest of the Alfa Romeo range. From now on you can also buy your 33 with power-steering. This makes it necessary to lengthen the front. New flushly-mounted front lights and indicator lights (in the design of the Alfa 75), and a new bonnet with contours which follow the form of the Scudetto give the car a new look. The rear end is lifted and therefor offers more boot capacity. Analogous to the Alfa 164 (presented in 1988) there are new rear lights with a red line connecting them. The interior was updated with new seats and trim. The switches for the power windows are integrated into the new door panels now. The heater control now offers round knobs instead of the old system and has the possibility to revent the air in the interior. To distinguish the new 33 from the old, one names the new 33 "Nuova 33" (nuova is new). All Boxer-engines now have hydraulic lifters. An air condition and ABS are available for most of the versions. Besides the known 1.2, 1.3 and 1.5 litre engines there is the 1.7 IE with 107 bhp (respectively 105 bhp with three-way catalyst with lambda probe). In addition to those engines, a new top-of-the-range engine is launched. It is the 1.7 litre 16V engine with 137 bhp (respectively 132 bhp with three-way catalyst with lambda probe). The variety of versions becomes difficult to survey. There is the 1.2 as base, the 1.3 (as 1.3 V and 1.3 VL) and the 1.3 Veloce (only for the uk). Two twin-choke downdraft carburators allow the 1.3 to develop 90 bhp. The 1.3 is followed by the1.5 mit 105 bhp. Then there are the already mentioned 1.7 IE and 1.7 IE cat as 1.7 IE, 1.7 IE S and 1.7 IE 4x4. The 1.7 litre versions are all available with (optional) ABS. The all-wheel-drive is know engaged by an an electromaganetic switch instead of the old lever in front of the gear lever. This change was necessary to allow the quick disengagement of the rear-wheel drive when ABS is operating at hard braking manouvers. Of course the new 16V engine is not offered in only one version. Besides the 1.7 IE 16V (the "IE" did not appear in the official brochures, but it was somtimes called the "Boxer 16V") with and without catalyst (137 and 132 bhp) one can buy the 1.7 IE 16V QV S (also available as "cat"-version) with sportive trim. In October 1990 the range is completed with the 1.5 IE and 1.5 IE cat with 97 and 95 bhp. The Sport Wagon which also had profited of the facelift loses the "33" name and is now only called Sport Wagon. This was meant to seperate it from the 33 saloons. It is placed as a luxurious and sportive livestyle estate car. It is available as 1.3 Sport Wagon, as 1.3 Sport Wagon L (each with 90 bhp), as 1.7 IE Sport Wagon, as 1.7 IE Sport Wagon cat, as 1.7 IE Sport Wagon 4x4, as 1.7 IE 16 V Sport Wagon and as 1.7 IE 16 V cat Sport Wagon. Again Alfa Romeo offers a reworked 1.8 litre turbodiesel in the 33 and Sport Wagon. It is now named 1.8 TDi. The "i" stands for "intercooler". This new intercooler allows the engine to develop 84 bhp and a torque of 18,1 kgm - more torque than the most powerful petrol engine. In 1991 further variations of the 33 and Sport Wagon are offered. Alfa Romeo wants to have a powerful and sportive 4x4 version of every car they offer. Remember the 164 Q4 and 155 Q4. So, the 33 Permanent 4 is presented to the public at the Geneva motor show in 1991. It is again abvailable with or without catalyst. The only engine is the 137 / 132 bhp 1.7 IE 16V. In May 1992 the car is rebaptised 33 Q4 cat - the Q4 can only be ordered with catalyst. Now one also gets the Q4 in Sport Wagon form. In contrast to the old 4x4 this new Permanent 4 system is much more complicated: it is controlled by a great number of electronic sensors, a visco-clutch now regulates the amount of power which is given to the front and rear axle. The electromaganetic clutch (which is meant to disengage the rear wheels) of the old 4x4 system remains on board. It is necesary for the ABS which is serial equipment at every Permanent 4. In April 1991 a new engine derivate is launched. It is the 1352 cm³ 1.3 litre. It is now equipped with an electronic fuel injection - this time developped by Weber IAW. A catalyst is standart on every 1.3 IE. the engine is available in the 1.3 IE cat, 1.3 IE L cat, 1.3 IE cat Sport Wagon, 1.3 IE cat Sport Wagon L and 1.3 IE cat Sport Wagon 4x4. In Germany one calls the 1.3 IE 1.4 IE. In May 1992 the Sport Wagon's equipment standart is raised and the prices are lowered. The old 4x4 versions are still offered. And again, Alfa Romeo offers a flood of special editions for the Nuova 33. The first ones are the GT Sprint with 1.7 IE 16V engine and the 1.3 Veloce in May 1991, both are only sold in Spain. One year later the 33 1.5 IE Milano is offered in Spain. In Italy one can buy the Sport Wagon 1.3 Firma and the Sport Wagon 1.3 Explora in the same year. The Firma can also be ordered as 4x4. In October the 1.3 IE Imola is launched. In Germany it is known as the 1.4 IE Imola. In the end of 1992 the 1.3 IE Sport Wagon L Loden stands in the showrooms of the Italian dealers. In January 1993 one can buy the 1.3 IE L Sport Wagon Brio in Italy. In May 1993 two special editions are presented: the 1.3 IE Privilège and the 1.7 IE Absolute. In 1994 there are even five special editions - the 33 is in its last year of production. They all have the 1.3 IE engine. They are bapised Hit, Feeling and Imola 3 (which only differs from the Imola by the new interior trim). The Sport Wagon is sold as Tender and Flag. The Flag can be also ordered as 4x4. Between 1983 and 1994 866.958 saloons leave the production lines. The Giardinetta / Sport Wagon is only sold 122.366 times from 1984 to 1994. Now it is time for a new compact Alfa Romeo. The concept of the Nuova 33 had already been criticised to be old-fashioned in 1990. At that time other car brands offered already much more modern concepts with improved saftey and comfort. The sucessor of the 33 will not have a bolt in common with the Alfasud (except its engines). Surprisingly, the Alfa 33 couldn't challenge the Alfasud in terms of produced units. The Alfasud stays the only million-seller.
The Alfa Romeo ARNA is Alfa Romeos attempt to offer a compact car below the Alfa 33 range. At the time when the ARNA is planned in the beginning of the Eighties Alfa Romeo can not afford huge investments into completely new designs because the problems with the Alfasud's quality have financially weakened the company. On the search for a fiancially strong partner one gets into contact with Nissan and agrees to design and build a new compact car for the European market together. The 9th of October 1980 is the day of the foundation of the Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli (abbreviated ARNA) in Tokyo. A new plant is build in Pratola Serra near Pomigliano d'Arco. Alfa Romeo hopes to improve the build quality with the know how of the Japanese company and expects a boost of its image on certain markets while Nissan hopes to have found a more simple and successful access to the European market with this cooperation. The result of the cooperation are the Alfa Romeo ARNA and the Nissan Cherry Europe, a classic badge engineering. Both cars only distinguish by different radiator grilles, steering wheels, fabrics etc. In the contract the companies agree that Nissan will produce 20 % of the parts for the ARNA / Cherry Europe. Among those 20 % are the entire body and parts of the interior (e.g. the rear suspension, the dashboard, and parts of the seats) which are all produced in Nissan's Japanese plants and then shipped to to Italy in containers. Alfa Romeo delivers the rest of the components. So, the ARNA becomes an Alfasud with a new body shell. Engine, gearbox and front suspension are taken from the Alfasud 1.2. The rear suspension is a Nissan design with indenpent wheels. The ARNA is launched during the 50th IAA motor-show in Frankfurt in 1983. There are two versions, one five-door "1.2 SL" and one three-door version "1.2 L" which both have a tailgate and the 1.2 litre 63 bhp Boxer-engine. In the beginning one plans to produce 300 units per day. One year later, 1984, the ARNA-range is extented by four new models. There are the ARNA 1.3 SL with 71 bhp which is available with three and five doors and the sportive three-door models ARNA 1.3 Ti and ARNA 1.5 Ti with 86 and 95 bhp. The 1.5 Ti version is also available as Nissan Cherry Europe GTI. With the launch of the stronger engines, the 1.2 liter versions receive some modifications and a new carburettor which increases the power to 68 bhp. The power-pack and the suspension of the ARNA may be brilliant but the body's design is not that what Alfa Romeo's clients want to have. So the ARNA becomes the biggest flop in Alfa Romeo's history. Although the engines are reliable and the rust-protection is better than ever, the ARNA becomes a difficult to sell used car. Nethertheless, the sportive Ti versions are fun to drive. Retrospectively the ARNA was the last stab with a dagger for the already strongly wounded but still independant company Alfa Romeo. As a result the owner of Alfa Romeo, the IRI sells Alfa Romeo to Fiat in the end of 1986 where it is melted with Lancia into the newly created company Alfa Lancia S.p.a. Logically, the contract with Nissan is no longer continued. After 53.047 units the ARNA's production ends in 1987.
On the Turin motor-show 1994 Alfa Romeo presents the successor of the 33. Alfa's new compact car, the 145 is born. It is only available with three doors and hatchback-design. It inherits the engines of the Alfa 33. The 1.3 IE and 1.3 IE L e.g. have the 90 bhp engine of the 33 1.3 IE. Again, this version is named 1.4 IE / 1.4 IE L in Germany. The 1.7 16V has lost 3 bhp to fullfill the EURO 2 emission standarts and now develops 129 bhp. Between the 1.3 and 1.7 litre Alfa Romeo positions the new 1.6 IE /1.6 IE L with a capacity of 1596 cm³ and 103 bhp. The all-new 145 can now finally offer an improved (passive) saftey concept: side impact protection in the doors, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and a driver's airbag are standart in most European countries. The 1.3 IE L, 1.6 IE, 1.6 IE L and 1.7 16V have ABS as standart equipment. A passenger airbag is available as option. Fiat ads FPS - the Fire Prevention System. It cuts of the fuel pump after a crash or roll-over. The dashboard gives the front passenger more leg room and the side airvents are integrated into the doorpanels. Alfa Romeo offers an air condition for all versions as option. Quickly (still in1994) there is a new diesel, the 1.9 TD (L-equipment is standart). The engine with a capacity of 1929 cm³ develops 90 bhp. In 1995 the range is completed by the new 145 2.0 QV with 2.0 Twin Spark 16V engine (150 later 155 bhp) which is already in use in the 155 at that time. It delievers more power and torque than the old Boxer 16V. The Boxer-engines have to work hard in the 145 and can not really cope with the higher kerb weight of the 145 (a 145 weighs at least 1140 kg). 1995 is also the year of the launch of the Alfa 146 - a five-door liftback version of the 145. It offers all the equipment and engines of the 145.
1996 an era ends:
all remaining Boxer-engines are replaced
by a new generation of four cylinder in-line Twin Spark 16V engines with a
1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 litres. The Boxer-engines can not cope with the risen
demands to power-output, torque and exhaust fumes anymore. In addition to that,
the new TS engines are already in use in every other Alfa Romeo and therefor
they are cheaper in production. The engine block is a Fiat design also used in
the Tipo and Tempra. With the introduction
of the TS-engines the 145 and 146 receive a little facelift in 1996. They
get a reworked cockpit and modified trim. In 1999 they are again modified. Now, front sidebags,
optional wood- or carbon trim and the 1.9 JTD diesel engine (which was
presented in the Alfa 156 in 1997) are available. The 145 / 146's career
ends in the year 2000 when the new Alfa 147 is introduced. In contrast to the 145
and 146 it can take half a year and more till the buyer can collect his
car at the Alfa-dealer, just like in the seventies when the Alfasud production
could not cope with the vast amount of orders.
Last Update: April, 19th 2006 Created: February, 13th 2002
© Text and Layout by Tim Rauen. The photos on this page are published with the permission of Alfa Romeo S.p.A. Italy.