Martin's series I Alfasud Sprint
First series Alfasud Sprint with the "small" 1.3 litre engine with a capacity of 1286 ccm and the brown interior trim with mixed skai and fabric have become quite rare. Only a small number of cars survived. The nearly unprotected bodies died a quick and rusty death and the small 1286 ccm which tended to overrev made its contribution to the early death of this species. Of course the much stronger Veloce-engined Sprints of the series II seemed more worthy to be conserved or restored. Meanwhile there are some early Alfasud saloons which appear on Alfa meetings, some of them perfectly restored, but a series I Alfasud Sprint is still an absolute rarity - and will presumably remain it because it was built in much smaller numbers than the Alfasud saloon. The first Sprints were still embellished with some chrome e.g. around the windscreen and the rear window and around the side windows.
Martin Kruse, classic car-, Italy- and Alfa Romeo-enthusiast for a long time was searching exactly for such an early Alfasud Sprint. Martin, already well-experienced in fine Italian cars made in Milan, already owned a lot of different Alfa Romeos. There was a 1965 Giulietta Sprint some early Giulias, an early Giulia Sprint GT, a 1750 GTV Bertone first series and two Alfettas (both, saloon and GT). He even once drove a Nuova Giulietta series 116. The majority of the cars had been imported from Italy, some by the pre owner, some by Martin himself. In the early Eighties Martin drove an Alfasud saloon for some time. It rusted faster than everything else around but Martin kept some nice memories concerning the road holding and performance of his Alfasud. The only thing he had not yet seen was an early Sprint - even at the largest German Alfa meeting during the "Oldtimer Grand Prix" at the Nürburgring in August or on the classic car fair Techno Classica in Essen in April. "Somehow I simply had to get such a car... (the old instinct of chasing and collecting)!" In the spring of 2004 Martin then found a Sprint on the Italian ebay. It stood in Naples - not far away from its place of birth. At least the photos gave the impression of a good and original condition. After some negotiations with the seller Martin accepted the much too high price of the car. "What else will you do, if it is impossible to trace an alternative?" After the car's documents had been faxed to Martin, the local German authorities registered the car in the documents of his 07-number plate (an interchangeable number plate specially made for users and collectors of cars which are older than 30 years) - something which would be impossible today. Martin bought a one-way-ticket to Naples and started his trip to Italy with a bag full of tools and his 07-number plates.
"I met the seller at ten o'clock in the evening on a parking lot" It was the first time that Martin saw his Sprint. As he expected the car was not in the condition the owner had told about on the telephone. But would you expect something different? The Sprint had already been partly resprayed, the tyres were as old as the car and the car itself showed many traces of age and abuse. At least the original Cromodora light alloy wheels were mounted, even the spare wheel had a Cromodora rim. You do not travel for more than two thousand kilometres for returning without the car. "So I paid the car, fixed my number plates, and off I went to the Autostrada northwards. Only 2000 km awaited me...", remembers Martin. The bad tyres gave no good feeling - "I can tell you driving the car on that tyres was one of the last adventures of our civilisation..." Fortunately only one puncture near Kassel stopped Martins voyage home. The totally worn spare wheel from 1977 made it for the last few hundred kilometres.
After Martin had arrived at home he paid closer attention
to the Sprint's condition. The body had never seen any welding since it had left
Pomigliano d'Arco, that was the good news. But the rear wheel arches were a
masterpiece of work with putty and some parts of the structure showed beginning
rust which had to be stopped instantly. As always it was now the time for the "do
it completely or let it be forever" question. Martin answered it
with "do it completely" - there was no other choice for him. So he disassembled
the Sprint completely, put everything into little bags (this time with some
notes on them - you always learn from your first restoration...),
removed engine and gearbox and gave the seats to a specialist who sewed new skai
to the fabric of the seats and reworked the foam cushions of the seats.
Last Update: March, 9th 2008 Created: March, 9th 2008
© Layout and text by Tim Rauen. Photos by Martin Kruse.