The Alfa Romeo Alfasud is a compact car made by Alfa Romeo of Italy from 1971 to 1989. It was considered one of Alfa Romeo's most successful models, sold 893,719 examples from 1972 to 1983 plus 121,434 Sprint versions from 1976 to 1989. A common nickname for the car is ’Sud. The car went through two facelifts, first in 1977 and the second one in 1980.
The car was built at a new factory at Pomigliano d'Arco in southern Italy, hence the car's name, Alfa Sud (Alfa South). It was developed by Austrian Rudolf Hruska.
January 18, 1968, saw the registration at Naples of a new company named "Industria Napoletana Construzioni Autoveicoli Alfa Romeo-Alfasud S.p.A.". 90% of the share capital was subscribed by Alfa Romeo and 10% by Finmeccanica, at that time the financial arm of the government controlled IRI. Construction work on the company's new plant at nearby Pomigliano d'Arco began in April 1968, on the site of an aircraft engine factory used by Alfa Romeo during the war. Three years later the Alfasud was shown at the Turin Motor Show in 1971 and was immediately praised by journalists for its styling (by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign) and handling. It featured a 1186 cc flat-4 engine.
Despite its two-box shape, it did not initially have a hatchback. The first production Alfasuds were four-door sedans, with a sporty two-door TI (Turismo Internazionale, or Touring International) model following at the end of 1973.
In 1974, Alfa Romeo launched a more luxurious model the Alfasud SE. The SE was replaced by the 'L' (Lusso) model in 1975. The Lusso model was produced until 1976, by then it was replaced with the new '5M' model, the first four-door Alfasud with a 5 speed gearbox. A three-door station wagon model called the Giardinetta was introduced for the 1975 model year.
In 1976, the Alfasud Sprint was launched. On the same platform, it was a lower, more angular sports model. The Sprint did feature a hatchback, a more powerful 1286 cc 75 PS (55 kW) engine and a five-speed gearbox. The engine was later fitted into the standard Alfasuds, creating the 1300 TI models, and the five-speed gearbox found its way into the basic Alfasud, creating the 5M (5 Marce) model.
A 1490 cc engine was soon made available to all body shapes, originally developing 85 PS (63 kW). By the end of the Alfasud's life, there was a tuned version of the engine developing 105 PS (77 kW) in the Quadrifoglio Verde (Green Cloverleaf) model.
Despite sophisticated engineering, Alfasuds (especially the early ones) had a strong reputation for suffering from rust, possibly due to the storage conditions of the bodies at the plant.
All Alfasuds were upgraded in 1980 with plastic bumpers and other revisions.
A hatchback was added to the original shape in 1981. The Giardinetta was deleted from most markets around this time. By now, most of its competitors were producing a hatchback of this size, although many of them were producing a saloon alternative.
The Alfasud sedans were replaced by the Alfa Romeo Arna and 33 models in 1983. The 33 was an evolution of the Alfasud's floorpan and running gear, including minor suspension changes and a change from four-wheel disc brakes to rear drum brakes in an effort to reduce costs. The Alfasud Sprint was renamed into Alfa Romeo Sprint in 1983, this model was continued until 1989 by sharing the 33's running gear.
- 1971-1983 1.2 L (1186 cc) Alfa H4, 63–68 hp
- 1977-1983 1.3 L (1286 cc) Alfa H4, 75 hp (56 kW)
- 1978-1983 1.4 L (1350 cc) Alfa H4, 79 hp
- 1978-1983 1.5 L (1490 cc) Alfa H4, 85–105 hp (63–78 kW)
- 1987-1989 1.7 L (1712 cc) Alfa H4, 118 hp
Alfasud in motorsport
From 1975, a one-car racing series for Alfasuds was organised. One year later, the Alfasud trophy began in Italy and Austria, and later France and Germany got their own competitions. In 1977 the "Trofeo Europa Alfasud" was set up, in which the best drivers from each country competed. The Trofeo Alfasud was equipped with the 1,286 cc engine with an Autodelta kit. Gerhard Berger is probably best known driver who participated in the Alfasud Trofeo. An Alfasud also made an appearance at the Bathurst 1000 in the late 1970s/early 1980s.