Ligne particulière façon break de chasse et moteurs Boxer caractérisent l’Alfa Romeo 145 lancée en 1994.

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

It is an understatement to say that we did not appreciate the takeover by Fiat, at Alfa Romeo, at the end of 1986. Ford was in the running, and the Italian giant, having heard of the transaction, did everything to recover it… at a lower cost, moreover. The case is however not so bad for the Milanese house because the Turinese has much more modern technical bases than those of the blue oval. Starting with that of 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 antediluvian 75. But there is also an urgent need to replace the 33, technically outdated (it derives from the Alfasud… of 1971). So, we recover a project originally planned for… Lancia. Indeed, Chris Bangle, then designer at Fiat had started working on a replacement project for the Lancia Delta. Fiat styling boss Mario Maioli saw it and reassigned it to Alfa. There, Walter de Silva’s teams finalize the car, and transform it into 3 doors: it will be the 145. Later, they derived a 5-door, the 146. The first was 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 that of the 33 it replaced.

Under the hood, 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 engine to be installed longitudinally in the Tipo platform. Two finishes are offered on the 1.3 and 1.6, normal and L. While power steering and airbag are standard on both, only the L is entitled to electric front windows, steering wheel and height-adjustable seats, or even painted shields. To this, the 1.7 adds ABS, alloy wheels and sporty decoration.

The air conditioning remains an option whatever happens. Another era! In 1995, prices ranged from 81,300 F for the 145 1.3 to 117,600 F for the 146 1.7, passing through 94,600 F for the 145 1.6 L. That is €17,600, €25,400 and €20,400 respectively. Prices well placed for these original cars, but the high weight induced by the platform somewhat muzzles the engines. The amateurs will not accept it and these cars will not sell very well. The Boxer will be replaced from 1997 by original Twin-Spark blocks fiat but reworked at Alfa and… more powerful.

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

How much does it cost ?

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

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

Which version to choose?

Given 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, the 1.3 having really trouble pulling its weight.

The 1.7 16V is the most powerful of the 145-146 with Boxer engines.  It's the most collectable of them all, although the Fiat-sourced block 2.0 Quadrifoglio is more capable.
The 1.7 16V is the most powerful of the 145-146 with Boxer engines. It’s the most collectable of them all, although the Fiat-sourced block 2.0 Quadrifoglio is more capable.

Collector’s versions

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

Note the front longitudinal position of the engine, a specificity of the 145 – 146 among Fiat Tipo chassis cars.  The reliability is excellent.
Note the front longitudinal position of the engine, a specificity of the 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 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, even if, after 150,000 km, the synchros of 2 and 3 begin to creak a little.

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

Admittedly unflattering, the passenger compartment resists time well, even if false contacts may occur.

Driving

On the road, the Alfa 145 and 146 (above) enjoy a rigorous handling, even if the weight hinders performance.
On the road, the Alfa 145 and 146 (above) enjoy a rigorous handling, even if the weight hinders performance.

It’s true that the cabin of the 145 1.6 L isn’t very joyful or well finished. But the table is well laid out, and the excellent driving position. At startup, we recognize the typical melody of the Boxer Alfa, and that alone makes you smile! Supple and soft, he always shows goodwill, even if we feel that the weight is cutting his wings a little. Be careful, this block always delights with its character and its propensity to take turns, while giving the 145 a special atmosphere.

The chassis? It is that of the Tipo, so it is 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 braking is very decent.

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

The youngtimer alternative

Alfa Romeo 33 (1983 – 1994)

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

Replacing the remarkable Alfasud from 1983, the 33 incorporates its technical essentials (platform, suspensions, engines) but simplifies certain aspects such as the brakes. More spacious and practical, it is however not as fun to drive because of its higher weight and its softened suspensions. 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 performance that is often superior to that of the competition. Improved in 1986 (chassis, presentation) it was then extensively restyled in 1989 (front and rear redesigned). It was available as a Giardinetta station wagon from 1984 and benefited from an engageable 4×4 transmission. The Italians will even be entitled to a version equipped with a 3-cylinder turbo-diesel VM.

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

The front passenger of the Alfa 145 benefits from a very pleasant footrest, even if it is not seen here.
The front passenger of the Alfa 145 benefits from a very pleasant footrest, even if 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, anti-roll bar (AV); trailing arms, coil springs anti-roll bar (rear)
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • Power: 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 cars, the Alfa 146 like the others.
Passive safety explains the weight gain of cars, the Alfa 146 like the others.

To find a used Alfa Romeo 145 or 146, go to the website of The power plant

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