Alfa Romeo truly rediscovered its mojo with the 156. Handsome, crisp-handling and desirable, the 1998 Car of the Year became an instant best-seller. We celebrate the 156’s 25th birthday with a cross-section of models that highlight its broad appeal.
Restomods are an exciting development and modernization of classic cars. They have been around since the first hot rods appeared and have taken many forms being adopted by the aftermarket companies; as well as, some incredible one-offs being built in backyard sheds around the world.
As one of our two ‘wild card’ brand new car entries, the Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio holds its own with effortless ease. Even the regular Giulia Q would easily have made our Top 12: after all, it is comfortably Alfa’s greatest car of the last decade: Ferrari-developed 510hp V6 twin-turbo; dedicated Giorgio platform with sensational steering and suspension; lightweight carbon goodies; we could go on and on.
You just can’t stop gawping at it. On looks alone, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint deserves its high placing in our ‘Greatest Ever’ shootout. Designed by Franco Scaglione of Bertone, the Sprint was an exercise in the elegance of simplicity, perfect proportion and delicate understatement. This 1950s icon’s shape has withstood every changing fashion with easy grace
Some may question why the Alfasud rates such a lofty position as seventh in our top 12. After all, this is a car that could so easily have a tragic opera written about it, so troubled was its birth and its early life, as it returned to base mineral elements. The reason why the Alfasud is in seventh position – and why the tragedy of its reputation for rust is all the more acute – is because it’s an absolute cracker of a car.
The 1973 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super 1.6 Tipo 105 is here as a representative of our family car class, but it could so easily have joined as a sports car, even in four-door Berlina guise. Much of the magical driving experience you can enjoy in the sportier members of the Alfa 105 family – the Giulia GT coupe and Duetto/Spider – applies in equal measure to the saloon.
So many pre-war Italian cars might have made it on to our Top 12 list: the Lancia Lambda for its pioneering unitary construction; the Fiat Topolino for how it democratised transport; or the Lancia Aprilia for its advanced engineering. Instead, it’s one of the greatest sports cars of all time that has exerted an irresistible pull on us: the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750. Those ‘6C’ alpha-numerals simply signify six cylinders, but in Alfa lore that represents something very special. While there had been Alfa straight-six engines before (the G1 of 1921 and the Merosi-designed RL of 1923), it was engineer Vittorio Jano, who joined Alfa Romeo in September 1923, who catapulted the format to the height of success with his 1.5-litre ‘six’. The new powerplant entered production as the 6C 1500 in 1927.
The battle is on between three cars that exemplify the pinnacle of Italian competition breeding in the 1990s. Which one – Alfa Romeo SZ, Lancia Delta HF integrale or Maserati Ghibli Cup – wins our hearts?