Alfa 145 Clover­leaf

Theo sub­jects his new Alfa to rust­proof­ing – and not a mo­ment too soon, as it turns out

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - THEO FORDSAGERS CON­TRIB­U­TOR

OWNED SINCE DE­CEM­BER 2016 MILEAGE SINCE LAST RE­PORT First re­port TO­TAL MILEAGE 98,800 LAT­EST COSTS £252

2000 ALFA ROMEO 145 CLOVER­LEAF

Ilove this car. Buy­ing it was a bit reck­less, but I don’t re­gret it for a mo­ment. For two years I’d han­kered af­ter an Alfa Romeo 145 Clover­leaf, one of a dy­ing breed of ‘modern clas­sic’ hot hatches from yes­ter­year.

I’d par­tic­u­larly lusted af­ter the frisky 2.0-litre Twin Spark en­gines and rear styling straight out of Star Trek Voy­ager. And dur­ing those two years, sur­viv­ing num­bers dropped from about 180 to just 130.

So it wasn’t ex­actly with a level head that I went to see this 98k-mile, un­mod­i­fied ex­am­ple in North Lon­don. I tried to adopt a se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion as I poked around its oily bits, but to be hon­est I was only go­ing through the mo­tions – I re­ally wanted it.

Fly­ing home in the out­side lane, I was soon sat­is­fied that I’d made an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally solid de­ci­sion and set­tled down to my new life as an Al­fista. But there was one nig­gling con­cern at the back of my mind. The seller had given the 17-year-old Alfa its first round of weld­ing to get it through its lat­est MoT. Now, I’ve poked my head into enough whee­larches to know the ru­ina­tion that con­cealed rust can cause, so my fun was in­evitably go­ing to be curbed un­til I’d done some­thing to pre­vent my new snazz­i­est car from grad­u­ally dis­solv­ing. For­tu­nately, I knew a cou­ple of guys who would help me out. Last year they set up a rust treat­ment cen­tre near Dud­ley, us­ing a new­fan­gled ‘Krown T40’ cor­ro­sion in­hibitor. I say ‘new­fan­gled’ be­cause it’s quite a nov­elty in this coun­try, but Krown ap­par­ently has a 30-year his­tory in its na­tive Canada, where I imag­ine the win­ter roads are pretty ruth­less to ex­posed me­tal.

In short, I was in­trigued. We booked a date, and early one Fe­bru­ary morn­ing I set off on the 200-mile round trip – not ex­actly lo­cal, but it turned out to be an­other canny de­ci­sion. That’s two in a row – I must be on a roll.

Watch­ing the treat­ment process at Krown UK (www.krown.co.uk, 0121 557 3874) was a great op­por­tu­nity to learn about the Alfa’s struc­ture and me­chan­i­cals and to get a proper idea of its struc­tural con­di­tion.

The rust in­hibitor is a trans­par­ent oil-based coat­ing that’s ap­plied as a fine mist and even acts as a lu­bri­cant (very dif­fer­ent to the tra­di­tional sol­vent-based layer which will peel if it’s not ap­plied prop­erly), so it can be sprayed over ev­ery­thing – ca­bles, wiring, lock mech­a­nisms, in­ter­nal door cav­i­ties, en­gine bay, wheel arches, floor pans – the lot. Cru­cially, they even went to the trou­ble of re­mov­ing the wheel arch lin­ers, lamp units and sill cov­ers to en­sure proper cov­er­age in­side the car’s cav­i­ties. This re­vealed a sneaky rust hole de­vel­op­ing in se­cret be­hind one of the Clover­leaf-badged sill cov­ers, leav­ing me dou­bly grate­ful for the care­ful ser­vice. Alfa 145 bodyshells may be gal­va­nized, but they’re not in­fal­li­ble.

As you can tell, I was im­pressed, and that was be­fore they pol­ished the car and told me to come back in six months for a free top-up treat­ment. Down­sides? Well, the coat­ing prob­a­bly won’t last more than two years, which most of the black gloopy prod­ucts usu­ally will if they’re prop­erly ap­plied (though they of­ten aren’t and don’t, as my old Land Rover Dis­cov­ery will tes­tify). But con­sid­er­ing that Krown UK charges about half what a tra­di­tional un­der­seal treat­ment will, I’d hap­pily come back in 2018.

You know that smug feel­ing you get when you’ve just done some­thing re­ally sen­si­ble that no one will know about un­til you ca­su­ally drop it into con­ver­sa­tion over a pint when they’re com­plain­ing about some­thing rub­bish that’s hap­pened to them be­cause they’re not as sen­si­ble as you? Yeah, I now have that feel­ing.

Re­mov­ing the sill cov­ers turned out to be sen­si­ble. Yes, that’s a hole on the right.

The Krown team with an old Ital­ian car that should now be con­sid­er­ably more rust-re­sis­tant than most of its ilk.

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