Auction Car of the Week: 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina
Everybody wants a BMW 2002. They're great cars, and we love the two-door sedan bodystyle, but for our money, the 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina is the 1960s sedan to own. Five-speed, dual overhead cam, four disc brakes and SPICA fuel injection make it a real sleeper amongst 1960s European cars. We scour the auctions every week, and Alfa is one of the brands we hit on a regular basis. The listings are usually crowded out with either Spiders -- which are fine, but about as plentiful as Mercedes-Benz SLs -- and GTVs -- which are gorgeous, but the opening ante has gotten ridiculous. PHOTOS: See More of the 1971 Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina
(Ed. Note: The car in the photo above is only for representation. There wasn't a good front 3/4 in the auction photos. The rest of the photos here are of the actual car up for auction.)
The Berlina, on the other hand, is super-rare, a blast to drive, and still priced at the point where any schmoe with a job can buy one.
There's a lot to love in these cars, and all Alfa Romeos, to be honest. When a lot of sportscars were still plugging along with four-speed transmissions, Alfa Romeos were equipped with five-speed manuals. The finicky multiple carbs of most imported sports cars were replaced with SPICA fuel injection way back in the late 1960s on Alfa Romeos.
Everything about the driving position is perfect. It's upright, and despite being a sporty car with good lateral support, the seats are comfortable and forgiving. Modern manufacturers could take a lesson here. Not everything should feel like a Recaro. The dash is laid out well, and that tall greenhouse gives you a clear view 360-degrees around.
These cars are exceptional handlers. It's true the Berlina has a "live" rear axle, but it's a De Dion tube setup that's about as sophisticated a live rear axle as you're going to get. Unlike most fully independent suspension setups, a De Dion setup has no camber changes on axle loading or rebound. As a result, you get most of the benefits of a fully independent rear, with the relative simplicity of a solid axle.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1967 Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint GT Veloce
Berlinas are based on the gorgeous Giulia, and here in the United States, became their replacement. Bertone styled the body and provided a stately, sophisticated sedan that has a bit more flair and personality than a BMW 2002.
This one is in solid condition. The seller has been careful to point out the flaws, including split upholstery on the top of the rear seat, and an indication of rust in the spare tire well. But honestly, this is Texas rust, not New England rust, and we're not sure it would steer us away if the price is right.
Berlinas featured a 1750cc, twin-cam four-cylinder up until 1971. From that point to 1977, the Berlina got a 2000cc engine.
PHOTOS: See Photos of the 1971 Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina
At publication time, the bids were only up in the $4,600 range, with six days to go. Four-door sedans from Italy don't tend to bring record numbers, so we'd expect this to be in the $10,000 to $12,000 range if it sells.