The Alfa Romeo Sprint is a coupé version of the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, produced from 1976 to 1989 by Alfa Romeo. 116,552 examples of the Alfasud Sprint and Alfa Romeo Sprint were built in total. The Sprint was sold in Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Until 1983, the car's name was Alfasud Sprint and after that Alfa Romeo Sprint. It was available with a 1350 cc, 1500cc, and a 1700 cc flat-4 engine, most of which (except the very late 1.7 models) were equipped with double carburetors. The later 1.7 engines were equipped with the same fuel injection system as the Alfa Romeo 33. There were a few prototypes of 2.5 V6 rear mounted engine rear wheel drive Sprints built by Autodelta, but this vehicle never made full serial production (Sprint 6C).
In 1983, the car received a facelift; to coincide with the release of the Alfa Romeo 33. This involved a multitude of changes, notably a change from chrome to plastic bumpers, new headlamps, a new hood and grille, different materials and some changes to elements in the cabin. The Sprint also received a platform upgrade, which was now the same as that of the Alfa Romeo 33 (1st generation). This means that the Alfa 33 (1st generation) and Sprint 83-89 practically share the same mechanics. This is helpful when finding parts for 2nd generation Sprints, since 10 times more Alfa 33s were produced.
Initially the Sprint had disc brakes all around, the front ones being the inboard brake type. At the front there is independent MacPherson strut suspension, and at the rear a rigid axle with trailing beams and a Panhard rod. From 1984 all Sprints got the Alfa Romeo 33 floorpan and modified front suspension and front brakes (no longer of the inboard type). The rear end now had drum brakes. The Alfa Romeo Sprint was one of the best handling small coupes of its time. Although of only average build-quality, they were fun to drive and very predictable. With the engine mounted over the front wheels and a very low center of gravity due to the flat (boxer) engine, it has a unique way of driving in curves.
The Alfasud Sprint has justifiably been criticized about rust and poor build quality, the rust being a result of both the quality of the cheaply-bought Russian steel used for the Alfasuds at the time (which happened to contain quite some impurities), and the method of transporting the unpainted bodyworks through any kind of weather on open trolleys, towards the painting-plant in a separate building. Word has it they often arrived already slightly rusty in named painting-plant, and subsequently still were painted anyway; and without any of the protectives so common nowadays. They were built in a then new car plant in southern Italy, in Pomigliano d'Arco, hence the original 'Sud' moniker which means south. Other Alfa models were still being built in Milano. Alfa Romeo Sprint did not have the quality problems of the Alfasud.
The Sud's penchant for rust gave Alfas in general a bad name in this respect, which until today haunts their reputation; even though their more recent and current cars are not more rust-prone than most other car-brands.
There were a total of 116,552 Sprints produced during its lifespan. 15 of these formed the basis of the Australian-built Giocattolo sports car, which used a mid-mounted Holden 5.0 group A V8 engine.
The 4.02 metres (158.3 in) long coupe has a very low profile and is representative of late 70s and 80s Italian car design. A year earlier than the Sprint but from the same drawing board, although with slightly different proportions, another classic 70s design was created - the Volkswagen Golf.
Until 1983 the Alfasud Sprint had stainless steel bumpers, restyling in 1983 brought plastic and lower bumpers, a different grille, and some other upgrades like 14-inch (360 mm) Italspeed wheels with 8 circles and nonstandard Michelin 340 mm tyres. Depending on equipment, some Sprints had plastic side bumpers and rear spoiler (mainly Quadrifoglio Verde). The most common was the Zender pack add-in, with lower bumpers and sideskirts, sold mostly in the UK and a few other countries.
The Alfa Sprint is a 2+2, with two seats in front and two in the rear. The two front seats came in two versions, an ordinary version and sport version with elongated thigh bolsters. An uncommon feature is the ignition key, which is on the left side of the steering wheel (instead of the more common right). On the middle console there are a few switches for the front and rear fog lamps, the rear window defroster and rear window wiper. Next to this is an analog clock by Jaeger instruments; until 1983, after which it was replaced with a digital one. Underneath are the ventilation control levers, one for hot, a second one for cold air intake, a and third to distribute flow to upper or lower vents. The rear cargo area has a capacity of 425 litres (15 cubic feet), largely due to the high profile at the rear, and it has a leather cover to conceal items from view.
Predecessors and successors
The Alfa Sprint was a coupe version of the Alfa Romeo Alfasud and it had no direct predecessor or successor. The Alfa Sprint was a small coupe, although some revival ideas came through in the last two decades, its nearest current relative is the Alfa Romeo GT (which is derived from the Alfa 147 and 156).
The Alfa Sprint used to be a very popular racing car in the late 70s until 1983. Sprint Trofeo was a well known European GT competition in those years. Still, Alfa Sprints are being used in significant numbers as racing cars, mostly in historic cups or hill climbing races, its popularity mainly due to its good handling capabilities.
- 1.2 Boxer (1286 cc) (75 bhp)
- 1.3 Boxer (1351 cc) (77 to 84 bhp (63 kW) depending on model)
- 1.5 Boxer (1490 cc) (84 to 105 bhp (78 kW) depending on model)
- 1.7 Boxer (1712 cc) (114 bhp, 105 bhp (78 kW) cat. version)
- In a supercar called the Giacottolo built in caloundra in QLD, Australia the Alfa 2.5 V6 (2495 cc) (160 bhp, several prototypes built) was mid mounted in a few prototypes.
- The later versions of these sprint based supercars had a Holden 5.0 Walkinshaw group a V8 as fitted to the VL Commodore group A cars along with a ZF transaxle, giving them a power-to-weight ratio on par with a Mclaren F1.