Alfasud’s success streak

Alfasud’s success streak


An evolution of the Alfasud, the 33 refers to a series of prototype racing cars that won championships in the seventies. The 33 emerged in 1983 with an angular design that is rooted in this “eighties” style, like the 75.

Alfa doesn’t have enough money to renew everything. So we took a flat four-cylinder engine, a chassis, a solid rear axle, brakes… For the bodywork, Ermanno Cressoni, Alfa’s style director, designed two and a half volumes that have all the practical elements of a small. 5-door hatchback.



The 1.3 l represented the entry level 33 in 1983. The engine was based on the 1.2 l from Alfasud. Stellantis’s photo

Inspired design

Ermanno Cressoni is no stranger; we already owe him the Alfa 75 sedan, part of the 145 made by de Silva and certain Fiats such as Barchetta, Cinquecento, Bravo of 1995; he also led the Fiat Coupé design team. And the angular design of the 33 will have people talking when it comes out, in the summer of 1983.

33 was assembled at the Pomigliano d’Arco factory near Naples, where the Alfasud was built.


The last Quadrifoglio Oro was the top version with 1.5 liters of 84 hp in 1983, then 95 hp.  Stellantis's photo
The last Quadrifoglio Oro was the top version with 1.5 liters of 84 hp in 1983, then 95 hp. Stellantis’s photo

In terms of mechanics, good and bad

The first version of the 33 comes with two engines: a 1.3 l boxer of 79 hp and a 1.5 l, first in 84 hp then in 95 hp. The two versions are only distinguished by the available equipment, such as the Quadrifoglio Oro which receives a silver-colored grille, high-quality fabric and a wooden steering wheel with matching gear lever knob.

The 33 has incredible mechanics with its flat-four, but the Watt’s parallel rear axle is outdated, while the rear drum brakes admit their weakness very quickly, especially on the muscle versions.


The interior of the 33 and its wooden steering wheel which was part of the top finish (Quadrifoglio Oro);  a ruffle that tended to lighten with UV.  Stellantis's photo

The interior of the 33 and its wooden steering wheel which was part of the top finish (Quadrifoglio Oro); a ruffle that tended to lighten with UV. Stellantis’s photo

1984 to 1986, few changes

Desire 33 began in 1984, when Alfasud disappeared from the radar. The entry-level version (86 hp and 167 km/h) arrives at the same time as the QV 105 hp (Quadrifoglio Verde – “four-leaf clover”) with a 4×4 version (Torsen differential and rigid rear axle). A compact 4×4 that will thrive in alpine countries.

In the same year, the range was completed by the Giardinetta (station wagon) designed by Pininfarina. 33 4×4 gets 1.5 l of 95 hp, which is a little tight because of the transmission.


Early Quadrifoglio Verde (1984).  Stellantis's photo
Early Quadrifoglio Verde (1984). Stellantis’s photo

1986 series 2

1986 is the year of takeover by Fiat! The 2 Series introduces white front and rear indicators, a new grille, smaller side skirts and redesigned alloy wheels. The passenger compartment leaves its shiny plastics for better quality and takes a new and simpler dashboard.

In terms of engines, Italy starts with the 33 petrol version. The 72 hp (1.8 l) turbodiesel reduces fuel consumption to less than 6.5 l, much less than carbureted petrol. The range would remain unchanged until series 3, in 1989.


The 4x4 version was tested in difficult conditions.  Its all-wheel drive was a safety contribution in the mountain ranges, but the power was never enough.  Stellantis's photo
The 4×4 version was tested in difficult conditions. Its all-wheel drive was a safety contribution in the mountain ranges, but the power was never enough. Stellantis’s photo

1989, the weight of the year reaches 33

The 3 Series (type 907) arrives in a difficult environment for Alfa Romeo. European manufacturers are waking up, with Renault 19, Peugeot 309, Golf 2 and Fiat Tipo. To bring 33 to life, a major overhaul. Features such as the front face are updated according to the new Alfa 164.

But the 33 isn’t very impressive, despite the revised interior and new rims. In terms of engines, the 1.5 l, 1.7 l and 1.7 l 16V engines (208 km / h) use injection. A few months later, the Giardinetta 33 adopted the same final features and became the 33 Sportwagon.


If the interior had been modified for the best, the exterior design was heavy as the renovation progressed.  Stellantis's photo

If the interior had been modified for the best, the exterior design was heavy as the renovation progressed. Stellantis’s photo

1995, the last of course

In 1992, Alfa abandoned the turbodiesel that had nothing of Alfa Romeo, especially in its performance. After the electronic injection, it is the arrival of the catalytic converter that will cause the power change. It’s also the arrival of many special series, which should bring the 33 alive against increasingly popular competitors.

At the beginning of 1993, major changes were being prepared. Alfa is working on the 145/146 duo, which is to replace the 33rd, and the 155th, on the Fiat Tipo platform. In 1995, 33 will have sold more than a million copies; achievement of 866,958 sedans and 122,366 station wagons.