Alfa 145 Cloverleaf
Theo subjects his new Alfa to rustproofing – and not a moment too soon, as it turns out
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.