Introduced in 1985, the 75 was Alfa Romeo’s technically promising entrant into the highly competitive sporting saloon segment. Its name referred to the company’s 75th anniversary and the design was an angular amalgamation of past Alfa designs, most obviously the Giulietta, as well as a combination of cutting edge design elements.
It might not have possessed classically handsome looks, like Alfas of old, but that awkwardly proportioned sheet metal made for a quirky looking machine. It was well-engineered too. Thanks to the rear-wheel drive transaxle layout, it offered well-balanced handling characteristics. The 75 was also to be one of the last models before the Fiat takeover, and the wholesale move to front-wheel drive.
Early cars made do with low-powered carburetor-fed inline-fours, with a 2.5-litre Busso V6 in a mild state of tune left to cater to the enthusiasts. More interesting models followed, such as the revvy twin-spark 2.0-litre and sonorous 3.0-V6.
Due to the accumulated effects of three decades of wear and tear, good quality Alfa 75s are thin on the ground. There are still some of these gems out there, and if you know what to look for, a well-maintained Alfa 75 can be a very enjoyable classic.
Which one to buy?
The first Alfa 75s were offered with three petrol-fed carburetor inline-fours with 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre capacities, and the range-topping 2.5-litre V6. Power outputs ranged from 94 to 154 bhp, and while all handled competently, only the 2.5 V6 provided the goods in a straight line. A manual gearbox was standard, and while a three-speed automatic was available on the 2.5 V6, these are thankfully rare.
Later cars offered fuel-injection and more powerful engines, and the two that stand out are the 146 bhp 2.0-litre twin-spark and the enlarged 3.0-litre Busso V6, which produced 185bhp. The twin-spark offers more delicate handling, while the V6 counters with stronger acceleration and an addictive soundtrack, both came with a standard limited-slip differential.
There was also the 75 Turbo, complete with 153bhp from a 1.8-litre engine, which was available from 1986. Very rare, even when new, they were never officially available in the UK, although there are a handful of grey imports about. Even rarer is the 1.8 Turbo Evoluzione homologation car, of which 500 were built. Now a desirable piece for any collector, prices are considerably higher than all other models.
The low price and fantastically balanced rear-wheel drive chassis means that many 75s have been converted into track day toys. Many have been gutted for their parts too. If you are looking for an unmodified example, then you may need to be prepared to wait until something decent comes along.
Performance and specs
Alfa Romeo 75 3.0 V6
||2956cc 12 valve SOHC V6
||182bhp @ 5800rpm
||181lb ft @ 4500rpm
|Price when new
Dimensions and weight
• Servicing and maintaining an Alfa 75 requires specialist knowledge, and it is highly advisable to check the vehicle’s service history for evidence of regular maintenance.
• The propshaft design meant that correct alignment was crucial to ensure smooth running of the engine and when incorrectly set up accelerated wear on drivetrain components may occur.
• The interior will generally show signs of wear and tear, and it is not unusual to find loose glovebox lids, inoperative electric switches and various other Alfa ‘quirks’ which were common in this era.
• Synchromesh rings tend to wear out on second gear, and by now most gearboxes should have been rebuilt. Low mileage cars might still be original.
• Suspension bushes and dampers will also need to be checked, as worn items will have a markedly detrimental effect on the 75s handling and ride.
• While rust-proofing was much improved over older Alfas, the 75 still has its share of corrosion issues. Wheel arches, door drainage holes, jacking points and footwells are particularly prone to the tin worm.
• Engines are reliable if well-maintained. Twin-spark models have a timing chain, but V6 models have a cambelt which needs regular replacement.
1985: Alfa Romeo 75 launched with 108 bhp 1.6, 118 bhp 1.8 and 126 bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, as well as a flagship fuel-injected 154 bhp 2.5-liter V6. A 94 bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel was also offered in left-hand drive markets.
Either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearbox was available and all were rear-wheel drive.
1986: 75 Turbo introduced with 153 bhp 1.8-litre twin-cam turbocharged engine.
1987: 185 bhp 3.0-litre V6 added and 2.0-litre engines receive twin-spark plug design and variable valve timing, power was up to 146 bhp. 500 of the limited edition Turbo Evoluzione built to meet Group A homologation rules.
1988: 1.8-litre engine gains fuel-injection and power is up to 120 bhp. Catalytic converter on 1.6-litre lowers output to 103 bhp. 110 bhp 2.4-litre turbodiesel replaces 2.0-litre unit.
1989: 1.6-litre engine receives fuel-injection and a slight power bump to 105 bhp.
1990: 75 Turbo and 3.0 V6 gain an increase in power to 163 bhp and 189 bhp respectively.
1992: Production of Alfa Romeo 75 ends with approximately 375,000 units produced globally.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.alfaworkshop.co.uk – The Alfa Workshop
• www.aroc-uk.com – Alfa Romeo Owners Club
• www.the-alfa-romeo-specialist-register.com – Alfa Romeo Register
• www.alexjupemotorsport.co.uk - Transaxle Alfa Specialists
• www.alfaromeo75.co.uk - Alfa 75 Forum
Summary and prices
The Alfa 75 is an often-overlooked modern classic, offering engaging rear-wheel drive handling and a couple of great engines in the range. An early four cylinder can make for an enjoyable classic, with prices starting at around £2000 for slightly frilly example. Pay around £5000 for a top example.
The desirable twin-spark 2.0-litre models and 2.5-litre V6s tend to start at around £5000 while mint condition 3.0 V6s command upwards of £10,000 – although there are project cars around for less. Evoluzione Turbos start at £20,000, although delers will ask upwards of £35,000 for low-mileage cars. Verifiable service history is essential in all cases, bide your time as finding a good one requires patience.