This week’s film had us paying a visit to France to spend an afternoon with a young couple infatuated with vintage Alfa Romeos, and Tristan Bani-Ombrouck, the owner of this 1972 Alfetta, shares an enthusiasm for what he terms the golden era of the brand with is wife-to-be, Manon. Since purchasing this charming green sedan, he’s also acquired a 105-series “Bertone Coupe,” while she’s been keen to get a 1750 Berlina—should the right car present itself.
The first-generation Alfetta shares the same basic facial structure as the Bertone coupes though it was drawn in-house by Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, and in its boxy, geometric form you can see the incipient ‘80s design language creeping in on the rear half of the car—whereas the nose retains the brand’s identity from the late-‘60s and has a more creased and folded angularity to it, the rear’s boxiness is made up of simpler, starker shapes. It’s not a messy look though, not by any means, and the crisp little sedan retains just the right amount of sportiness in its presence without hiding its seating capacity for five.
And indeed, they were no slouches when it came to driving dynamics. As with so many vintage machines, acceleration times and other quantifiable measures of performance will be laughable by modern standards, but for those that understand the importance of how a car feels to drive, an Alfetta is a unique experience. That’s due in large part to the fact that it was the marque’s first road car to feature a transaxle. By putting the clutch and transmission in the rear of the car with the differential, the weight distribution of the twin-cam four-cylinder Alfetta was more akin to a dedicated sports car than a small sedan. An interesting note here is that the Tipo 159 Grand Prix cars used a transaxle layout in the early 1950s in order to achieve better balance for the front-engined racers.
This is all well and good for the Alfetta’s overall status—they were quite popular in period too, offering a lively rear-wheel drive experience in a relatively light and powerful package that saw them frequently used by both the police and the perps they were after—but in the instance of Tristan and Manon, it was really the color that sold them at the end of the day.
They’d been looking for months and months at what they call golden-era Alfas from the late 1950s through to the ‘70s, and there wasn’t any one model that was the focus of these efforts. Alfettas were always on the radar though, and eventually Tristan came across a promising one listed for sale in the Netherlands. The numbers stamped on this first-year Alfetta place it as just the 115th to come off the line in the company’s Arese factory, and today it is one of the oldest examples registered on the road in Europe, or anywhere for that matter. Before they knew this though, the couple decided, somewhat on a whim, to go to the Netherlands with the intent to purchase. Upon arrival they finally got to the see the Verde Pino paint with their own eyes, as well as meet the Alfetta’s owner: an 85-year-old man who’d kept the car in storage since 1999.
It wasn’t the nightmare that almost 20 years of idleness could have been, and though it wasn’t absolutely perfect it was clear that it was a solid, honest car that was worth the interest. The owner had given the Alfa a quick tune-up before Tristan and Manon came to pick it up—just simple things like oil, other fluids, and a fresh battery—and it did a fine job of transporting the two back to their home in France without a hiccup along the way. The car has been good to the couple, and in turn they’ve shown it plenty of love too. Tristan says it will be with them when they’re married and forever after that, and his passion for this Alfetta is such that we have to believe him.