Monday December 2, 2019
One of the few times that I ever encountered a new Alfa Romeo Alfa 6 in the metal was at a car dealership in Salisbury circa 1984.
It was certainly an impressive-looking machine albeit faintly dated, redolent more of 1972 than a car launched in 1979. It also appeared to share its doors with the smaller Alfetta saloon.
And that was indeed the case, although the 6 was designed before the Alfetta. The previous six-cylinder Alfa Romeo saloon, the 2600, had ceased production in 1968 and Project 119 was initiated shortly afterwards.
The new model was intended to make its bow in 1974 as a major rival to Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
However, production was delayed, ostensibly because of the 1973 Fuel Crisis, but also because of the company’s financial issues and certain directors being rather un-keen on giving the new model the green light.
However, when the 6 finally debuted there was considerable interest in its engine, a new 2,492cc V6 with six carburettors. There was also ZF power steering, a limited-slip differential, electric windows, central locking and adjustable steering while the interior was a symphony in velour.
As a sign of the times, the Italian-market 6 could be specified with bulletproof glass and body panels. Alfa Romeo GB only imported the 6 in automatic guise, which was probably a wise decision, given its intended market.
‘No-one can say the Alfa 6 is lacking in character’, thought Autocar in 1980 but at £11,900 not only was it an expensive car but for just £243 more, you could have owned an Opel Senator.
Car claimed ‘In many ways the Alfa is an inadequate car’ but ‘on the open road it is very good. One up, with 100miles of B-roads to cover and no time to waste, keen drivers will find it excellent.
Fast, clean, precise and inspiring’. The 6’s looks may have been a sales drawback and compared with the likes of a Ford Granada Ghia Mk. II it did look narrow and slightly elderly, but it had the potential to be a genuine Q-Car.
1983 saw a facelift with square headlamps and a Bosch fuel injection replacing the carburettors. The 6 could also be specified as a 2-litre and a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel, but these engines were never offered to British motorists.
The launch in 1984 of the 90, which was essentially a modified Alfetta with the option of the 2.5-litre injected unit, made further inroads into the already limited sales of the 6.
Production ceased in 1986, as Alfa Romeo was preparing to launch the 164 and in Italy unsold stocks of the older model could be found in dealerships alongside the latest “Tipo 4”.
The company planned to sell 10,000 units per year, with 3,000 ear-marked for overseas but a mere 12,070 6s left the factory.
Some 128s found their way to the UK and dealers apparently liked to claim that this was an ‘exclusive’ car for the discerning executive; you were certainly unlikely to find another one in the same district.
In 1983 Motor Sport thought it was ‘a car of considerable character and it will appeal to those who like a rare car; the only other one I have seen was at the last NEC Motor Show’.
And I am willing to bet that the ambassador in that Ferrero Rocher advertisement had a chauffeur-driven Alfa Romeo Alfa 6…
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