Alfa breathes more eas­ily

New air fil­ter and ther­mo­stat re­turn the 145 Clover­leaf to match fit­ness

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Out & About - THEO FORDSAGERS CON­TRIB­U­TOR

2000 ALFA ROMEO 145 CLOVER­LEAF

I took a gam­ble when I bought this car. It came with no ser­vice his­tory and had spent some months laid up, so a lit­tle pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance was im­me­di­ately called for.

Af­ter I re­placed the ka­put bat­tery and changed the air fil­ter, there was only one thing that was clearly wrong with it. The en­gine tem­per­a­ture wasn’t lift­ing above luke­warm, sug­gest­ing that the ther­mo­stat had seized in the open po­si­tion. This was lucky – the two-litre en­gine would have over­heated within a few short miles if it had seized in the closed po­si­tion. Think­ing it could be cleaned and prod­ded back into life, I dug out some tools and set about re­mov­ing it.

This was ac­tu­ally a bit of a pain, since the whole ther­mo­stat hous­ing has to come off, and some dogs­body at the Neapoli­tan fac­tory had cho­sen four dif­fer­ent types of hose clip to fix the var­i­ous pipes. Fruity lan­guage en­sued un­til even­tu­ally the of­fend­ing item suc­cumbed. It was no good though – pour­ing hot and cold wa­ter through it con­firmed that the ther­mo­stat was in­deed knack­ered, as the flow rate was not sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter­ing from one pipe to the other. So two days later (and about 40 quid poorer), I took de­liv­ery of an OEM re­place­ment, which I fit­ted with proper jubilee clips – you know, the ones from the ‘olden days’ that you could ac­tu­ally get on an off with­out a de­gree in en­gi­neer­ing.

With the en­gine now set­tling at nor­mal op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture, I was itch­ing to put some miles un­der the wheels. There’s lit­tle point own­ing a car as frisky as this if you’re not go­ing to oc­ca­sion­ally drive the pants off it, but the lack of ser­vice his­tory was play­ing on my mind. So I had a stern word with my right foot and booked an in­spec­tion with An­to­nio at Auto Sportivo near Bed­ford (07946 548727). He’s nuts about lit­tle Ital­ian pocket rock­ets and seemed gen­uinely ex­cited to be un­der a 145 Clover­leaf again; they are pretty rare nowa­days af­ter all. He re­newed the gear­box oil at my re­quest and iden­ti­fied a weak wish­bone bush, but apart from that An­to­nio was able to give the Alfa a clean bill of health.

A few weeks later I was blat­ting through deep­est Cum­bria, mas­sively en­joy­ing ev­ery sinew of the road. This car re­ally is turn­ing out to be bril­liant... of which, more next time.

The air fil­ter was one of the first things to be changed.

In for a proper checkup at Auto Sportivo.

Dodgy old ther­mo­stat was a swine to re­move, and couldn’t be re­paired any­way.

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