Alfa Romeo 145 – 146 Boxer (1994 – 1997), the swan song for the Milanese flat-fours, from € 1,800

It is an understatement to say that we did not appreciate Fiat’s acquisition of Alfa Romeo at the end of 1986. Ford was up and running, and the Italian giant, after hearing about the transaction, did everything to get it back. at a lower price. However, the case is not so bad for the Milanese house, because the Turines have much more modern technical bases than the blue oval. Starting with the future Tipo, which was released in 1988.

It will be used for many models, especially at Alfa, first the 155, which in 1992 replaced the antidiluvian 75. But there is also an urgent need to replace the 33, technically obsolete (it comes from Alfasud … from 1971). So we’re recycling a project that was originally planned for … Lancia. In fact, Chris Bangle, then a designer at Fiat, had started working on a replacement project for the Lancia Delta. Fiat’s styling director Mario Maioli saw it and left it to Alfa. Walter de Silva’s team completes the car and turns it into a 3-door: it becomes 145. Later, they will emit a 5-door, 146. The first is presented in April 1994, the second in October 1994.

When it was released in 1994, the Alfa Romeo 146 surprised with its aesthetics, incomparably more modern than the one of the 33 it replaced.

Under the bonnet, the flat-four of the 33 is renewed but modernized, in 1.3 (90 hp), 1.6 (103 hp) and 1.7 (129 hp). It is the only motor installed lengthwise in the Tipo platform. Two finishes are offered on 1.3 and 1.6, normal and L. While power steering and airbag are standard on both, only L is entitled to electric windscreens, steering wheel and height-adjustable seats or even painted shields. To this is added 1.7 ABS, alloy wheels and sporty decoration.

Air conditioning remains an option no matter what happens. Another era! In 1995, prices ranged from 81,300 F for 145 1.3 to 117,600 F for 146 1.7, and passed through 94,600 F for 145 1.6 L. These are € 17,600, € 25,400 and € 20,400 respectively. The prices are well placed for these original cars, but the high weight that the platform induces confuses the engines somewhat. The amateurs will not accept it and these cars will not sell very well. The boxes will also be replaced in 1997 by Twin-Spark blocks of Fiat origin, but reworked at Alfa and … more powerful.

Note this hook at the bottom of the door window, which adds character to the line on the 145.
Note this hook at the bottom of the door window, which adds character to the line on the 145.

How much does it cost ?

Cheap. For € 1,800 you can find a 1.3 in good condition, totaling under 150,000 km, and for € 2,000 you get a 1.6 with comparable mileage, while 1.7 l will go up to € 3,000. Under 100,000 km you can easily add 500 €.

The 146, which appeared in late 1994, seems a little less original than the 145. Here a basic version with unpainted shields.
The 146, which appeared in late 1994, seems a little less original than the 145. Here a basic version with unpainted shields.

Which version to choose?

With the low price difference, we will be tempted by the 1.7, but it is very rare. So we can fall back on the 1.6 without fear as the 1.3 has a really hard time pulling.

1.7 16V is the most powerful of 145-146 with Boxer motors.  It is the most collected of them all, though the Fiat-sourced block 2.0 Quadrifoglio is more capable.
1.7 16V is the most powerful of 145-146 with Boxer motors. It is the most collected of them all, though the Fiat-sourced block 2.0 Quadrifoglio is more capable.

Collector’s versions

There, quite frankly, it will be the rare 1.7, especially at low mileage.

Note the front longitudinal position of the engine, a specificity of 145 - 146 among Fiat Tipo chassis cars.  The reliability is excellent.
Note the front longitudinal position of the engine, a specificity of 145 – 146 among Fiat Tipo chassis cars. The reliability is excellent.

What to monitor?

The proven Boxer engines proved to be very reliable in these cars. Only they have two timing belts each that need to be renewed every 80,000 km, which has a certain price. There are also cases of capricious idle actuator, but nothing serious. The gearbox is also solid, although the synchro on 2 and 3 after 150,000 km start to squeak a little.

Nothing special to report on the suspension side, which ages normally while the corrosion is well under control on these cars. Given their age, an inspection of the rocker panels and the rear wheel arches will obviously not be superfluous.

Admittedly a little flattering, the cabin withstands time well, even though false contacts may occur.

Driving

On the road, the Alfa 145 and 146 (above) enjoy rigorous handling, though the weight hampers performance.
On the road, the Alfa 145 and 146 (above) enjoy rigorous handling, though the weight hampers performance.

It is true that the cabin of 145 1.6 L is neither particularly happy nor well-transferred. But the table is well laid out, and the excellent driving position. At startup, we recognize the typical melody of Boxer Alfa, and that alone makes you smile! Flexible and soft, he always shows goodwill, even if we feel that the weight cuts him a little over the wings. Be careful, this block always welcomes its character and its propensity to shift, while giving the 145 a special atmosphere.

The chassis? It’s Tipo, so it’s very good for its time. Consistent and precise steering, faithful front axle, good overall balance, well-calibrated damping: more power would be welcome! For its part, the brake is very decent.

Rest consumption: 145 1.6 gives 8.5 l / 100 km on average, which is correct for a car of this generation.

The Youngtimer option

Alfa Romeo 33 (1983 – 1994)

Alfa 33 at launch in 1983. The line was already very special and the 146 was inspired by its rear end, giving the body a 2.5 volume type.
Alfa 33 at launch in 1983. The line was already very special and the 146 was inspired by its rear end, giving the body a 2.5 volume type.

As a replacement for the remarkable Alfasud from 1983, the 33 incorporates its technical essentials (platform, suspension, engines), but simplifies certain aspects such as the brakes. More spacious and practical, however, it is not as fun to drive due to its higher weight and soft suspension. But its excellent boxer engine still sings just as well!

From the small 1.3 l of 79 hp to the powerful 1.7 l of 137 hp, which appeared in 1990, the 33 benefits from a performance that is often superior to the competition. Improved in 1986 (chassis, presentation) and then thoroughly redesigned in 1989 (front and rear redesigned). It was available as a 1984 Giardinetta station wagon and benefited from a drivable 4×4 transmission. The Italians will even be eligible for a version equipped with a 3-cylinder turbo-diesel VM.

Old-fashioned but constantly improved and benefiting from a varied selection, the 33 will finally sell well until it expires in 1994. It’s in the old pots … Nearly 980,000 units will be manufactured: not bad! From € 2,500.

The front passenger seat of the Alfa 145 benefits from a very comfortable footrest, although it is not seen here.
The front passenger seat of the Alfa 145 benefits from a very comfortable footrest, although it is not seen here.

Alfa Romeo 145 1.6 Boxer (1995), technical specifications

  • Engine: 4-cylinder flat, 1596 cc
  • Power supply: electronic injection
  • Suspension: McPherson struts, coil springs, wishbones, roll bar (AV); trailing arms, coil springs roll bar (rear)
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • Output: 103 hp at 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 134 Nm at 4,500 rpm
  • Weight: 1,140 kg
  • Maximum speed: 185 km / h (manufacturer data)
  • 0 to 100 km / h: 11 s (manufacturer data)
Passive safety explains the weight gain of the cars, Alfa 146 like the others.
Passive safety explains the weight gain of the cars, Alfa 146 like the others.

To find a used Alfa Romeo 145 or 146, go to La Centrale’s website

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