There are few automotive brands as laden with heart and soul as Alfa Romeo. Founded in 1910 in Milan, Italy, Alfa Romeo has built a rich, exciting history made up of some of the world’s most desirable cars. The name Alfa Romeo comes from “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili” of which “anonima” meant “anonymous”. This was legally something required, as the company did indeed have anonymous investors. The Romeo part, however, comes from a non-anonymous founder; Nicola Romeo. Now in its 111th year, Alfa Romeo still shines as one of Italy’s greatest automotive names. Sure, not every car has been a winner (looking at you, Arna) but for the most part, the offerings from Alfa’s factory have always been highly desirable.
What makes Alfa Romeo so special, though, is the company’s ability to make even ‘normal’ cars feel exciting and exclusive. Yes, the company has made some incredible, rare machines, but you still feel just as special behind the wheel of a 159 saloon. The Alfa spirit doesn’t get diluted. The top-flight, high value cars have the same expressive Italian soul as the more ‘civilian’ saloons and hatchbacks. And it’s with that in mind that we have put together this list of five Alfa Romeo cars. From the sub-£1000 runabout to the six-figure supercar – there really is an Alfa Romeo for every budget. And as such, there is no excuse to not experience one for yourself.
The Alfa Romeo 159 – From £500
If you’re looking for your first step into the Alfa Romeo world, you can’t go far wrong with a 159. A fiercely handsome machine, it’s sure to still turn heads. But then, when has a car with six headlights not turned heads? You can get a 1.8l model, or spend a bit more and you get one of the 2.2 models. There’s also a soulful 3.2 V6 as well, but don’t expect to find one of those for £500! The diesel engines were decent, too. Especially the 2.4 five-cylinder. The 159 really is all things to all drivers. You can even get it in estate ‘Sportwagon’ guise, which is arguably one of the best-looking load luggers ever produced. Yep, if you want a bargain Alfa, the 159 is the way to go.
The Alfa Romeo 164 – From £5000
You can probably get a 164 for less than five grand, but trust us when we say you want to spend a decent amount of money here. There is no such thing as a cheap 164, so instead dig deep and get one that has good history and ideally the glorious Busso V6 under the bonnet. Introduced in 1987, the 164 enjoyed an eleven year production run. It could be ordered with a 2.0 twin-spark engine, but it was the 3.0 V6 that really made this car stand out. A gorgeous engine, laden with power and torque, it was the perfect fit. In Europe, there was a turbocharged four-cylinder and a turbocharged 2.0 V6, but they’re seldom seen here. Buy a V6, embrace the solid, chunky lines of peak ’80s Pininfarina design and enjoy. Sure, a BMW or Mercedes of the same era would be more reliable, but where’s the fun in that?
The Alfa Romeo 75 V6 – From £15,000
If you want an Alfa Romeo that will make you giggle every time you take it for a drive, you need a 75 V6. Perfectly balanced thanks to a rear-mounted transaxle, and with exceptional suspension design, the 75 V6 was and still is the kind of car that will make you fall in love with driving again. Admittedly, it’s not the most beautiful Alfa Romeo ever penned, but looks aren’t why you’re buying this. You’re buying it for that electric, connected, hairs on the back of your neck driving experience. The Busso V6 singing, the chassis responding with gleeful eagerness to your every input. Cars like the 75 V6 are a glowing example of just how utterly spot on Alfa Romeo could get it.
The Alfa Romeo GT Junior – From £30,000
To offset the boxy face of the 75, how about something altogether more beautiful, namely the GT Junior? Penned by none other than Giorgietto Giugiaro who was at Bertone at the time, the 105/115 series Alfa Romeo coupe ended up being one of the most beautiful cars of all time. A light, delicate design that offered clean, flowing lines with a welcoming, remarkably spacious cabin. As for the drive, this model never saw a V6, but don’t fret. The four-cylinder twin-cam engines, especially the 1750 and the 2000 were more than capable of delivering a welcome turn of speed. And as you would expect from the Italians, those engine were never shy – the bark and snarl of an Alfa twin-cam is instantly recognisable. Even today.
The Alfa Romeo SZ – From £50,000
Let’s end this list with something completely bonkers. We could have gone with an 8C, or a Montreal, but where’s the fun in that? If you’ve got deep pockets and you want an Alfa Romeo, how about an SZ? It was a joint project between Alfa Romeo, Zegato and Fiat. Designed by Robert Opron, it was and still is an unapologetically bonkers two-door coupe with lines like nothing else. Six headlights, high rear quarters, wedge-like doors, it was mad. And it was fast, too, thanks to a tuned Alfa Romeo 3.0V6 residing under the bonnet. In fact, a lot of the running gear was based on that of the Alfa Romeo 75, meaning it was an utter joy to drive. Yes, we know, it’s an acquired taste with those looks. But come on, if you’re going to go big with an Alfa, the SZ has to be the one, right?