I’ve got a new guest in my front yard 🙂
It’s a 1982 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. Also known as an Alfasud Sprint. It’s basically an Alfasud – it shares the exact same chassis and mechanicals – with a small Alfetta-like body thrown on top.
Regular readers would know that I have one of these on my automotive bucket list but no, I didn’t buy this car. It belongs to my mate Gavin, who’s written on this site a few times. He needed somewhere to park it for a few weeks and I was happy to oblige – so long as I got to take it for a spin once in a while.
So here’s a quick review….
As previously mentioned, the Sprint has a body that mimics the Alfetta, better known as the GTV of the mid-70’s to mid-80’s. Some will remember that I used to have a GTV6 so I’m fond of the shape already. To me, though, the shape looks better in these shorter proportions that what it does on its bigger brother.
This is the earlier, more elegant silver-bumper model. Gavin’s removed the bumpers from the front and the rear and replaced the rear bumper with a pair corner bumpers from another car.
The other modifications are the wheels and wheel arches. The car is now sitting on some very wide 8-spoke minilites from Performance and shod with Kuhmo Ecsta tyres. Very grippy.
The wheels and the flared arches divide opinion. I’ve come to like them, though I wish the car was lowered 30-40mm. It’d look a whole lot better.
In October 2012, the Australian government implemented plain packaging laws for cigarettes. All cigarette companies have to sell their product in the same package – a drab greenish-brown specifically selected because a survey of thousands of people determined it to be the most unattractive colour – in the world.
The colour is Pantone 448C and as you can see, it fits in perfectly with the greenish brown interior of the Sprint.
The seats are quite possibly the most uncomfortable seats in motoring. They have something – a steel bar or maybe a brick – in the seat squab right where your butt wants to be. As a consequence you sit several inches forward from the seat back, positioned as some sort of apprentice hunchback.
The driving position is classic Italian – short legs and long arms. And the pedals are made with ballerinas in mind. Here’s a shot with my size 10 Florsheim on the accelerator to lend some perspective.
In a wonderful piece of Italian design, the small rear hatch has no exterior button to open it. The only way to open it is from a cable-release located inside the car. And in RHD markets like Australia, the cable release is on the passenger side of the car.
The car’s sitting too high. It’s got a hatch you can’t get into very easily from an interior that matches the most unattractive colour in the Pantone palette. That interior wants to turn you into a cripple with its back-breaking seats and freaky pedal and wheel position.
On the driving side, I have to say up front that it doesn’t have much power. And the guys who designed the 1.5 litre boxer engine didn’t learn about torque until they made the 16-valve version of the engine that graced my old Alfa 33’s.
I haven’t quite figured out yet whether the friction surfaces that comprise the brakes are made from suede or cotton. It might be cotton.
But none of that matters.
The Sprint drives like a hormonal teenager with a personality disorder. The secret to getting the most from it is the tachometer, keeping the car one gear lower than you’d expect to. Keep the revs low and you’ve got a grumpy, sleepy teen that’s disinterested in everything around it.
Get it above 4,000 and you’ve got an ADHD wunderkind with an insatiable lust for life, keen to attack every corner in its path. The car comes alive in such a wonderful way that you can forgive every one of its design and execution faults. The sound from the little boxer is almost cartoonish and totally addictive. The pop and crackle on the overrun is just magical.
Put short – the Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint Veloce is more fun than a sack full of puppies.
There are a million reasons to walk away from an Alfasud Sprint. There are two compelling reasons to drive it, though, and that sparkling engine along with its magical handling will keep you coming back again, and again, and again.
My dream of inserting a 16V engine in one of these is alive and well. Slot in some decent recaros, some decent brakes, reduce the weight a little more and maybe convert the 16V to run on carbs and you’ve got a recipe for endless weekend fun.