Saturday 15 January 2011
The Alfa Romeo 33 is a small family car produced by the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo between 1983 and 1995. It was essentially an evolution of its predecessor, the Alfasud, which was based on the same floorplan, chassis and mechanicals albeit with some minor modifications. The Alfa Romeo Arna was launched shortly after, offering a similar size car but at a lower cost. The 33 was discontinued in 1994 and replaced by the Alfa Romeo 145 and 146, which used the same boxer engines but built around an entirely new platform based on the Fiat Tipo.
The 33 has a unique place in Alfa Romeo history - nearly 1 million of these cars were produced internationally. During its 11 year lifespan the 33 saw a light facelift in 1986 and a significant restyle in 1989.
The 5-door hatchback version was launched in 1983, and a station wagon version (initially badged Giardinetta, later badged SportWagon) was introduced the following year at the same time as a four-wheel drive version of the hatchback. The hatchback was styled by the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, Ermanno Cressoni, while the station wagon was designed by Pininfarina. Unlike the Alfasud, a 3-door was never launched.
The 33 became renowned for its nimble handling and powerful boxer engines, but also became equally well-known for its unreliable electronics and tendencies to rust (a frequent complaint on Italian cars in general at the time). Another issue was its braking and increased unsprung weight — the Alfasud's inboard front disc brakes (mounted on the gearbox) had been moved to the more common outboard discs (mounted on the wheel hubs). The rear discs of the Sud's four-wheel disc arrangement had also been replaced with drums.
The car featured numerous innovations for the company, including an instrument binnacle that moved up and down with the adjustable steering wheel, and a plastic bonnet. The UK launch promoted the sleek design, and the Daily Mail noted its low drag coefficient of 0.36, the lowest of any previous Alfa Romeo, and very impressive in 1983 with only bigger cars such as the Ford Sierra and Audi 100 able to better it.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1712 cc
- horsepower: 118 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 190 km/h