The Alfa Romeo 75 (Tipo 161, 162B), sold in North America as the Milano, is a compact executive car produced by the Italian automaker Alfa Romeo between 1985 and 1992. The Alfa 75 was commercially quite successful: in only three years, 236,907 cars were produced, and by the end of production in 1992, around 386,767 had been built.
The Alfa Romeo 75 was the last model released before Alfa Romeo was acquired by Fiat. (The Alfa Romeo 164 was the last model developed independently.)
The 75 was introduced in May 1985 to replace the Giulietta (with which it shared many components), and was named to celebrate Alfa's 75th year of production. The body, designed by head of Centro Stile Alfa Romeo Ermanno Cressoni, was styled in a striking wedge shape, tapering at the front with square headlights and a matching grille (similar features were applied to the Cressoni-designed 33).
At the 1986 Turin Auto Show, a prototype 75 estate was to be seen, an attractive forerunner of the later 156 Sportwagon. This version was, however, never listed for sale, being cancelled after Fiat took control of Alfa Romeo. The car, dubbed the 75 Turbo Wagon, was made by Italian coachbuilder Rayton Fissore using a 75 Turbo as the basis. Two estate versions were to be found at the later 1987 Geneva Motor Show; one was this Turbo Wagon and the other was a 2.0-litre version named the Sportwagon.
The 75 featured some unusual technical features, most notably the fact that it was almost perfectly balanced from front to rear. This was achieved by using transaxle schema — mounting the standard five-speed gearbox in the rear connected to the rear differential (rear-wheel drive). The front suspension was a torsion bar and shock absorber combination and the rear an expensive de Dion tube assembled with shock absorbers; these designs were intended to optimize the car's handling; moreover the rear brake discs were fitted at the centre of the rear axle, near the gearbox-differential group. The engine crankshaft was bolted directly to the two-segment driveshaft, which ran the length of the underside from the engine block to the gearbox and rotated at the speed of the engine. The shaft segments were joined with elastomeric 'doughnuts' to prevent vibration and engine/gearbox damage. The 2.0 L Twin Spark and the 3.0 Litre V6 were equipped with a limited slip differential.
The 75 featured a then-advanced dashboard-mounted diagnostic computer, called Alfa Romeo Control, capable of monitoring the engine systems and alerting the drivers of potential faults.
The 75 engine range at launch featured four-cylinder 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol carbureted engines, a 2.0-litre intercooled turbodiesel made by VM Motori, and a 2.5-litre fuel injected V6. In 1986, the 75 Turbo was introduced, which featured a fuel-injected 1,779 cc twin-cam engine using Garrett T3 turbocharger, intercooler and oil cooler.
US-market Milano Quadrifoglio Verde, with the 3-litre V6
Rear view of Alfa Romeo 75
In 1987, a 3.0-litre V6 was added to the range and the 2.0 L Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine was redesigned to have now two spark plugs per cylinder, the engine was named as Twin Spark. With fuel injection and variable valve timing this engine produced 148 PS (109 kW; 146 hp). This was an early example of a production engine using variable valve timing, though the first to do so was in Alfa Romeo's own Spider in 1980. In North America, where the car was known as the Milano, only the 2.5 and 3.0 V6 engines were available, from 1987 to 1989.
The North American 2.5-litres were fundamentally different from their European counterparts. Due to federal regulations, some modifications were required. Most noticeable from the outside were the 'America' bumpers, with the typical rubber accordions in them. Furthermore, these bumpers had thick (and heavy) shock-absorbing material inside them and in addition, they were mounted to the vehicle on shock absorbers. To accommodate these shock absorbers, the 'America'-bodies were slightly different from the European ones. Other changes relative to the European model were:
A 67-litre fuel tank which was located behind the rear seats, reducing the boot capacity from 500 L (18 cu ft) to 300 L (11 cu ft).
Side-markers in the bumpers
Exhaust silencer sticking out from under the bumper at the r/h side of the vehicle instead of the centre
Reinforcements in the doors and boot lid
Hooks underneath the bonnet, to keep the bonnet in position in a crash
The North American cars also had different equipment levels (depending on the version: Milano Silver, Milano Gold or Milano Platinum). L/h and r/h electrically adjustable outside mirrors, electrically reclining seats and cruise control were usually optional in Europe. The car was also available with a 3-speed ZF automatic gearbox option for the 2.5 V6. Other, more common options such as electrically operated rear windows and an A/C system were standard in the USA. The USA-cars also had different upholstery styles and of course different dashboard panels also indicating speed in mph, oil pressure in psi and coolant temperature in degrees F, and as a final touch the AR control was different, including a seat belt warning light.
The European-spec 2.5 V6 (2.5 6V Iniezione or 2.5QV) was officially sold only between 1985 and 1987, although some of them were not registered until 1989. Relatively few of them were sold (about 2,800 units), especially when the 155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp) 1.8 Turbo got launched, which in some countries was cheaper in taxes because of its lower displacement. To create a bigger space between the V6 and the inline fours, the 2.5 was bored out to 2,959 cc's to deliver 188 PS (138 kW; 185 hp) and this new engine was introduced as the 3.0 America in 1987. As its type designation suggests, the 3.0 only came in the US-specification, with the impact-bumpers and in-boot fuel tank. However, the European 'America's' were not equipped with side-markers or the door, bonnet and boot lid fortifications. Depending on the country of delivery, the 3.0 America could be equipped with a catalytic converter.
In 1988 engines were updated again, the 1.8 L carburetor version was replaced with fuel injected 1.8 i.e. and new bigger diesel engine was added to the range. In the end of 1989 the 1.6 L carburetor version was updated to have fuel injection and 1990 the 1.8 L turbo and 3.0i V6 got some more power and updated suspension. The 3.0 V6 was now equipped with a Motronic system instead of an L-Jetronic. The 1.8L turbo was now also available in 'America'-spec, but strangely enough not available for the USA market. The 3.0 V6 did make it to the United States, and was sold as Milano Verde.
2.0 Twin Spark
2.5 6v Q.V/Milano
Front of the Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione.
Alfa Romeo 75 2.0 with Turbo Evoluzione-style wingkit
500 examples of the Turbo Evoluzione were produced in spring 1987 to meet Group A requirements. The car had many modifications compared to the normal
turbo model. The engine was down-sleeved to 1,762 cc (normally 1,779 cc) and while the claimed power is the same as in the standard turbo, this engine is better suited for power upgrades than the standard 75 Turbo engine.
Australian driver Colin Bond, winner of the 1975Australian Touring Car Championship and 1969 Hardie-Ferodo 500, had been racing the GTV6 model since 1984 and stayed loyal to Alfa Romeo, running a Caltex sponsored Alfa 75 in the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship to replace the GTV6. Bond's new 75 was built by the Italian Luigi team, but Bond found the engine it came with only produced about 200 bhp (149 kW; 203 PS) instead of the 320 bhp (239 kW; 324 PS) it should have. This saw him finish a distant 9th place in the championship while the team's engine builder, Melbourne based Alfa expert tuner Joe Beninca, tried to claw back the extra power. This was achieved after the car was converted to right hand drive which allowed an exhaust system to be fitted that didn't wind its way around the steering rack. Bond also drove the end of season endurance races which included the Bathurst round of the WTCC. After Bond qualified the car in 21st, co-driver Lucio Cesario destroyed the front of the 75 in a crash at the top of the mountain on lap 34 of the race which forced the cars withdrawal from the Calder Park and Wellington rounds of the WTCC. The car was repaired in time for the Australian Grand Prix support races in Adelaide where Bond qualified a fine second and finished 5th in the race in the cars 'down under' swansong as Bond, the only driver to embrace the 75 in Australia, switched to race the all-conquering Ford Sierra RS500 from 1988 in a bid to return to the winners circle.
The British Alfa Romeo Dealer Team ran a pair of cars in the 1986-87 seasons with drivers Rob Kirby and John Dooley. Initially the team raced the V6 version of the 75 alongside their older GTV6 before upgrading to the 75 turbo. While a match for pace in Class B with the Ford Escort RS turbos, once Frank Sytner's BMW M3 appeared they were rendered uncompetitive.
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