BRAVO, ALFA!

Theo bonds with his 145 on a spec­tac­u­lar Cum­brian drive

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - CON­TRIB­U­TOR

2000 ALFA ROMEO 145 CLOVER­LEAF

Def­i­nitely much bet­ter at go­ing vroom.’ That was the ver­dict of a friend of mine com­par­ing my Alfa with his mod­ern Vaux­hall as we high­tailed it down a nar­row Cum­brian lane. His anal­y­sis ended there ( he’s not re­ally a petrol­head) but I ap­pre­ci­ated the sen­ti­ment.

The oc­ca­sion was a soggy bank hol­i­day week­end in the Lake Dis­trict. I had as­sem­bled a few like-minded hill walk­ers for an as­sault on some of Eng­land’s pointi­est parts, and de­cided that the Alfa had earned the ad­ven­ture. It was to be my first long run with it on twisty roads – the per­fect chance to put the car through its paces. The first stint was a trou­ble-free jaunt from north­ern Cam­bridgeshire to our in­terim stop-off at a cosy yurt in the Peak Dis­trict. The next morn­ing, with our party now fully as­sem­bled in Bux­ton, we stuffed our two lit­tle cars with bags and boots and whizzed up the M6. Few peo­ple seem will­ing to trust an old Alfa with the abil­ity to per­form for any more than a few min­utes at a time, but this 145 Clover­leaf ( bought for a song last win­ter) was turn­ing out to be a cracker. With 155bhp on tap, mo­tor­way cruis­ing was ef­fort­less, if not par­tic­u­larly re­lax­ing. The rev nee­dle edges be­yond 3500rpm at 70mph, beg­ging you to push it on cam and hang the speed limit. It’s very im­pres­sive, but the mo­tor­way just doesn’t feel like its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Branch­ing off through Ken­dal and squir­relling into the depths of the Lakes, it all came to­gether. That 2.0-litre Twin Spark engine re­ally is some­thing. It sang and whirred and de­liv­ered its ec­static fizzes right through the cock­pit (which soon be­came scat­tered with trail mix and peanuts). It feels trim too. I love the rapid steer­ing lock, the way the nose tucks so smartly into an apex, and the del­i­cacy with which you can tickle its lim­its of grip – all without in­ter­fer­ences like trac­tion con­trol. Be­ing a rel­a­tively mod­ern hatch­back, it’s even vaguely prac­ti­cal, comfy and roomy up front.

A month later, an­other hik­ing trip to the Bre­con Bea­cons saw me test­ing the rear seats too, as I at­tempted to get a night’s kip in a Welsh layby. As a mo­torhome it was, well, pretty poor. But as a pocket rocket for a quick blast across lumpy land­scapes it was, once again, spec­tac­u­lar.

There aren’t many cars that can de­liver this much fun for less than a grand. I ruddy adore it. And I miss it to death be­cause, de­spite the magic of our fleet­ing love af­fair, I’ve just sold it.

I’m an id­iot.

The last mo­ments of Alfa en­ter­tain­ment. Will Theo re­gret sell­ing it? Alfa takes a breather af­ter all that ec­static fizzing, whirring and squir­relling.

Stuffed front and back with soggy peo­ple… and beer.

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