It is a fascinating car, this Alfasud. He should transfer the driving dynamism of Alfa Romeo into the compact class, and judging by the design, he could succeed. The company Alfa and the Italian state invest a lot of money into a factory in the South of Italy (Pomigliano d'Arco, province Naples). The production figures of this one car could excel that of all other Alfas taken together. He is presented with a great deal of hope on the Turin car show of 1971. Why did it not work out?
Before dealing with this question, a few more facts. Because the Italian state wants absolutely to promote the less developed south of Italy, he favors this project, which stands in opposition to Fiat, it favors the project (opposite the competitor Fiat), which will then also be called 'Alfasud'. Actually, that even marks the birth of a new car brand. Rudolf Hruska, already involved in the development of the Beetle and also Cisitalia from Porsche, leaves for the new task Fiat. As designer Giorgio Giugiaro will be engaged and the car factory comes into existence in synchronism with the vehicle development, thus it could be adapted to the requirements of the new car. It must have been quite a challenge and a great adventure for the persons concerned.
The outcome is a very modern car with level opposed cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. The engine impresses with its little construction length, causing a short overhang. To expect is a corresponding aerodynamic. Only the mixture preparation is somewhat sparing in the first versions. Many Alfas dispose of a multiple-carburetor system, which would have made even more sense for the Alfasud. But presumably Alfa wants to avoid the fine-tuning sensitiveness and have to think price orientated.
The remaining components of this Alfasud live up fully to the cost saving philosophy, and they are nevertheless constructively absolutely advantageous. The front axle corresponds to the state of the technology. Progressive thereto are the discs, which are moved inwards for the reduction of the unsprung masses. The rear axle is rigid, which does not alter its qualities of running along well. At least, it is equipped with disc brakes, too. The opposed cylinder engine provides yet another advantage, an especially deep center of gravity for the whole chassis.
Just a word about the body. If someone misses the large tailgate, then one must take the not so successful Giardinetta (estate car) a little later. Also there is unfortunately no folding rear seatback with load-through facility. But even for this faux pas can be found an explanation. Because the body is also fairly lightweight for that time and thus keeps the Alfa-typical sportiness, 1200 cm³, despite. Otherwise, the design can surely be described as a success, so much that it is even twenty years later, barely noticeable. Just look at the Seat Leon of the 90s and you know what is meant here.
Why was it that this car did not become a sales success in spite that testers did not criticize much more than the bad - at that time usual in Italy - hand brake effect? Because there is a large quality gap between the construction and the production. It is primarily reflected on the bodywork. Damages to new vehicle-engines would have been hard to conceal, but who is capable of detecting a defective undercoat for brand-new varnished bodywork. We do not want to examine at this point who should have been blamed; in any case, there are cases of Alfasuds rusting through within their first two years. Since at the same time Alfasuds are very popular, production is lagging behind for the immense inquiry, thus, potential buyers can still cancel the order on time.
For sure, this car has done more harm than good for the image of Alfa. Although also a lot against rust in the construction will be done. Galvanized sheet metal is used for the underbody and well meant foaming of the wishbones. The suspicion is that except sloppy handcraft, also sheet metals were used that were very prone to rust. If e.g., the bore for an antenna is not sealed very carefully, the diameter of the bore has grown after one year so far that the antenna falls through. Only someone who travels many miles with the Alfasud, can forestall the rust, because the mechanics is little reason to complain.
Labour disputes are conducted almost traditional with great severity in Italy, and not only on the part of unions. The company Fiat knows a thing or two about that sometimes higher officials will for days, held against their will in the factory. The 'most famous' case in the Alfasud factory Pomigliano d'Arco is the worker, refusing to work out of work safety reasons, but at the same time does not want vacate his workplace.
It could have been a hit, yet remains only scorn and derision for the first Alfasud series, not good for the mother in the north. And if you look around today at the Alfa-classic cars, of the first Alfasuds seem to be left hardly one. 10/11