My Italian Daily Driver: 2 Years+ of Experience #blogspot
For this post, I would like to talk and share about my Italian daily driver: a ‘95 Alfa Romeo 145. It was given to me from my dad on September 2014. Since then, I have used it as my main vehicle for everyday uses such as going to classes and so on.
Here, I’m gonna talk about the car, what have been done to the car, my experience, what I think and what my plans for the future for this vehicle.
My car is a ‘95 Alfa Romeo 145. It is a FWD vehicle powered by a longitudinally-mounted 1.6 flat-4 Alfa Romeo Boxer engine and have 5-speed manual gearbox. The engine used a single camshaft in each bank and have 8 valves, with 2 valves per cylinder. I don’t how much power produced by the engine right now after all these years because there is no vehicle dyno service near me but from internet searching, the same type of engine with mine produced 103 PS (76 kW; 102 bhp) at 6,000 rpm. Surely it have lose some of the horses by now.
Alfa Romeo 145 is directly related with Alfa Romeo 146 and was produced between 1994 until 2000. It was a successor for Alfa Romeo 33 and was replaced by Alfa Romeo 147. Other than the flat-4 Boxer engine, Alfa Romeo 145 also offered with a 16-valve Boxer engine and a transversely-mounted inline-4 TwinSpark engine.
How I got the car
Well, the car was given to me but the story how my father got it is interesting, if not, funny. When my father bought it, it was basically bought as a junk. While searching for a car, my father found this car, selling for RM8000 (around 1800 USD using the current conversion rate). My father went for a test drive and found out that the car isn’t worth it for the price. The gearbox are dying, power window are busted, the A/C is dead (something you don’t want if living in a tropical country), the driveshafts are ready to go out, the power steering are leaking, the brakes doesn’t seems to work properly and one of the wheel literally fell off during the test drive so my father going to let it pass.
But then, the previous owner was desperate enough to let it go begged my father to take it and my father also said no. Until one day, he offered my father to take it to a scrap yard, weight it and pay for it on how much value it have as a scrap metal based on the weight. My father agreed and bring the car to the scrap yard to be weighted. After calculating the value, my father payed the car for around RM2000 (which according to the current conversion rate, it is just below 500 USD).
After buying the car, he have spent more than a year just to make the car roadworthy again. Being a mechanic, he have done all the work by himself. He calculated that he have spend more than RM5000 on the car but he is satisfied will all the work he have done before passing the car to me.
What have been done to the car
After buying the car, my father decided to bring the car under the knife. First thing to be done is solving the main problems for Italian cars in Malaysia, which is the wiring and overheating. I don’t fully know what have been done but what is told by my father is that he modified the wiring systems with some Japanese car wiring system and modified the cooling system with some other car brand cooling system.
Any major components such as gearbox, brakes and so on that requires replacement are replaced. Luckily enough, the engine is in good condition considering how the car initially looks like. Then, my father also modified the A/C system. Instead of using the original system, most of the parts such as compressor and blower are using Japanese parts taken from a junkyard. Now the A/C system are good enough to use in the tropical weather.
So far, only one major mod that have been done to the car is the installation of an oil cooler. The Boxer didn’t come with an oil cooler unlike the TwinSpark engine. After overheating arise a few time even after the first work, my father had enough and decided to install an oil cooler to the car. This is actually the first time someone decided to add an oil cooler to a Boxer-powered Alfa in my country so we have lot of tinkering and fitting to do before finding the perfect spot.
The result from this installation is very amazing. Before this, the temperature will rise if stuck in a traffic jam during a hot day or during a spirited run. It is actually very common to hear an Alfa to reach 100 degree Celsius in my country. After the installation, the water temperature maintain at 80 degree during a normal drive even in a hot day and 90 degree during a spirited run.
For cosmetics, not much is done. So far, we only replace the dash with a black dash because my father didn’t like the original gray one. For the mismatched bumper, grill and bonnet, that is because I involved in an accident during my first year owning this car. The replacement parts are taken from one of the many broken Alfa 146s at my father’s workshop.
Experience & What I Think
After more that 2 years of driving the car, I can say that I loved the car. The Boxer engine is said to be the least reliable engine among all the Alfa engines but so far the engine never fails me. Most of the time I ended stranded on the side of the road are because the clutch pump fails (which only 2-3 times so far in those 2 years). The engine is actually reliable that I can drive it everyday without worrying too much. The engine also sounds nicer to me compared to the TwinSpark engine (both with stock exhaust) in my opinion.
One more thing that I can say about the car is the engine is also the weakness of the car even though from what I said before. From what I experienced, the engine are too underpowered for the car. During slow speed, you can feel the engine can’t carry the car properly especially somewhere with elevation. The engine is also infamously known to grenade itself at high engine speed (all most all the broken Alfa 146 on the workshop are due to this) among the Alfa community in my country though that mostly occur to inexperienced drivers. To keep the engine safe, the driver needs to keep the engine speed below 5000. That is what my father taught me when he gave me the car. This is hard if you have lack of self-restraint because the car feels like capable of going further than that and tempting you to go faster.
My only plan so far is to repair the radio. There is something not right with the wiring that caused the radio can’t function properly. There is also a thought of taking the double throttle body from the 16v Boxer engine and using it to replace the single throttle body used on my car. Although the engine works nice, the piston rings and engine seals needed to be replace, so an overhaul might be coming in the near future. Another thing that could be done is that the gearbox might be modified, changing the gear ratio and so on.
For cosmetic, repainting is in the plan but need budget right now and we are still looking for a complete black interior panels to completely replace all the grey interior panels. I believe that is the plan for the car right now.
That is what I think I have for now. Thank for reading my post even it might be too long for some. If there is nothing in the way, I will keep this car for a long time. Before I end this post, I will leave with what is the thing that I loved the most in my car. Feel free to leave any comment or question.