The Alfa Romeo vans

Alfa_Romeo_145Alfa Romeo made a modern van: really, who knew? Scratch that – Alfa Romeo made TWO vans. And now seems that bit less Cuore Sportivo.

It’s actually been doing it for years. The first Alfa van was built in 1954: the T10 ‘Autotutto’ had a bit of a following. They weren’t quite Alfas, mind: simply, ‘Romeos’.

They were built right up until 1983: the 1967 Giulia-engined F12 and A12 models, with their Alfa twin-cam motors, actually sound rather fun.

It’s the modern-era ones that I find incredulous, though. Know the Iveco Daily? That was given an Alfa grille and called AR8. The Fiat Ducato? That got an Alfa grille too, and became the Alfa AR6.

They look as wrong as they sound.

I know, can’t imagine BMW doing this. A Lexus-badged Toyota Hiace? The very thought. It was an early sign of desperation when MG Rover rolled out the ZR Express.

Mercedes can do it, mind. Mercedes can do everything. That’s the breadth of the brand (and it’s something Alfa was trying, rather successfully, to replicate in the early days. How things change).

I reckon MINI gets away with it in the Clubvan too, simply because of the brand’s history here. It’s rather a cool thing to do.

But a sporting brand should not be making vans. Hence my incredulity that it was sullied so in the 1990s. I can imagine the principals were sound but any marketeers worth their salt would know it doesn’t sit right.

Today, sadly, it’s the exact opposite. We don’t have any product diversions: a three-door supermini, a five-door family car, and that’s it. Frustrating.

I just hope nobody at Alfa reads this and get the idea of blanking off the rear windows of the MiTo, though. I’ve reminded people you used to make vans, but please, don’t let it inspire you.

1990s Alfa geeks like me will get my choice of lead image right away, btw. The 145 was chosen because, perhaps understandably, Alfa doesn’t carry any AR6 or AR8 images in its archive.

+ OK, that’s it: VW SHOULD buy Alfa Romeo

+ Sterling effort: how Rover left the world’s biggest car market behind

+ What’s the appeal of an Audi?

>> More on the Romeo vans…