The Alfa Romeo 75 V6 was an outstanding car in every respect, and went a long way to mending the somewhat tarnished reputation of the marque both here in Australia and in other markets around the world.
In many respects it was a sports car for the family man, something rare from the typical box-on-wheels approach adopted by more mainstream manufacturers. But being a little different has always come at a price, and for Alfa Romeo that was a lack of cash. The ensuing budget restrictions forced Alfa to evolve the old 1970's Alfasud and Alfetta platforms rather than produce a clean-sheet design from the get-out.
One of the problems with this approach was the relatively small Alfetta platform that had to be used, a platform that started life under the small and nimble GT Coupe. The model line-up, which included the small Guilietta sedan, mid-sized 75 and large luxury 90, all shared the same 2500mm wheelbase.
The challenge was ahead of the stylists to "trick the eye" into making each appear more significantly different, in style and in size. The Giulietta featured a high waist accentuated at the boot line, making the smallest model appear somewhat stumpy.
The design of the 90 featured deep side and front panels with made it look tall and imposing, thus conveying an up-market feel. And prehaps that is why many believed the 75 to be the pick of the bunch, auesthetically balanced and well in proportion.
The motoring writers of the day loved it, David Robertson from the Sydney Morning Herald stating ..."The Alfa 75 is the sports car for the family man, and it just goes to prove you can have your cake and eat it too". Mark Fogarty of the Melbourne Herald wrote "It's a joy just to listen to its musical note. And being a free revving spirit, it encourages you to play tunes on the five-speed close-ratio gearbox." Car Australia declared the 75 "...the most complete Alfa Romeo yet..."
Handling was typically Alfa spirited, featuring the famous de Dion rear axle with Watts linkages, double acting shock absorbers and variable rate torsion bars fitted to the front. The engineers moved the transmission to the rear leaving a transaxle under the rear floor for optimum balance, this layout being already well proven by the likes of many Ferrari's and Lancia's, and even some of the later front-engine Porsche's.
So balanced was the car that Mike Kable of The Australian described it thus..."One word sums up Alfa Romeo's 75 sedan. It is balance. The 75...is balanced to the point of near perfection in its weight distribution and chassis dynamics judging by its steering accuracy, agility, incredibly efficient brakes and the harmony with which it flows through the corners".
The Alfa engineers also went to great lengths to ensure the driving position was well suited to any kind of driver, the steering column being adjustable for both angle and length.
But in reality many complained that the driving position was somewhat awkward, and the dead brake-pedal feel was also commonly criticised. Under the hood the 75 shared the 90's 2.5 liter V6 engine - however this made marketing two almost identical models rather difficult. Obviously one had to be culled, and it was obvious that the 90 was the one to go.
Concentrating on the one model allowed Alfa to introduce 3 distinct models in 1988
, however the gap between V6 powered 75 and entry level Alfa 33 was somewhat large. To address this, a twin-spark 4 cylinder engine was added to the mix, the 2.5 liter V6 becoming "auto only", and a new 3.0 liter V6 was added to the top of the range model, this engine being sourced from the new front-drive 164.
By 1992 the 75 was certainly not a spent force, and the decision by Alfa Romeo to pull stumps suprised many. The resultant drop in re-sale values may have hurt the Alfa loyals for a time - but this was usually forgiven once they got behind the steering wheel one more time.