Giardinetta Story

 
     

The Alfasud


Alfa Romeo had always been a brand with a sporty and exclusive image. Mass produced vehicles were started late in the companies history. From the early fifties Alfa started “mass production” with the 1900 and the Giulietta. Though Alfa was now involved in mass production they never made a small affordable “peoples” car. A gentleman's agreement with Italian competitor FIAT not to interfere with each others core business was one of the reasons for it. In 1967 this was about to change and the Alfasud project was started. The Italian government was eager to create jobs in the so far industrial underdeveloped south of Italy. Many young people were moving away from the south to the more industrial north of Italy to find jobs. To stop this exodus the government decided to actively promote industrial development in the area. Alfa Romeo already had a production facility in the south in Pomigliano d’Arco near the city of Naples. In this Pomigliano d’Arco plant Alfa Romeo had it’s relatively small aviation division. The plant was not well maintained and the new Alfasud project provided a chance to boost the plant to modern standards with the aid of the Italian government.

A part of the Alfa Romeo Avio plant was sacrificed for the Alfasud project. The airport at the factory was transformed into a test track for the car factory to come. The government support consisted amongst others out of 300 billion Lire and 240 hectares of land. The government support was as promised and provided a solid base for the project. Now the difficult task for Alfa to get a work force of 16,000 people was the next obstacle to tackle. Over 130,000 people applied for a job in the factory to be. Many people wanted to take this opportunity to get a job. The amount of applicants was abundant, the only problem was the vast majority was uneducated and/or had no experience what so ever with industrial work and processes. This was heavily underestimated and would haunt the whole Alfasud project throughout its lifetime.

The team which developed the Alfasud was a mix of fantastic minds. The huge amount of talent in the team was bound to deliver a spectacular end result. The most familiar names of the team consisted out of ;


Rudolf Hruska as the chief engineer for the whole project.
July 2nd 1915 – December 4th 1995

Born in Vienna Austria. He graduated from the Vienna university of technology. His professional career started at Magirus from 1935 to 1938 followed by Porsche from 1938 till 1945. Several companies were to follow. His first period at Alfa Romeo was from 1954 to 1959. In 1967 he returned to start the Alfasud project. The achievements of mr. Hruska are too many to list down here. If you want to see a more detailed history I advise you to search the Internet. Mr. Hruska passed away in Turin in December 1995 at the age of 80.

 

 



 

Giorgetto Giugiaro as the responsible person for the design of the car.
August 7th 1938 ~

Born in Garessio, province of Cuneo (Piedmont) Italy. At the age of 17 he started working at the FIAT styling centre. After that he moved to Bertone from 1960 to 1965 and Ghia from 1966 to 1968 before he started his own design company Studi Italiani Realizzazione Prototipi S.p.A. (these days known as Italdesign) in 1968. His resume consists out of an incredible amount of interesting vehicles for which he received the “car designer of the century” award in 1999. In 2002 he was awarded with a place of honour in the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn USA. Besides many vehicles he also designed camera housings for Nikon and several other objects. In 1997 Giugiaro retired from Italdesign although he remains a member of the board till today (dated October 2009).


 


 

Carlo Chiti as an engineering executive.
December 19th 1924 – July 7th 1994

Born in Pistoia Italy. He graduated the university of Pisa with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1953. He joined Alfa Romeo in 1952 and moved to Ferrari at the end of the fifties when Alfa shut down its racing department. He remained at Ferrari till 1962. In 1963 he joined the famous Autodelta company. From 1979 till 1984 Chiti was in charge of the Alfa Romeo formula 1 team after a relatively successful period for the Brabham F1 team with Alfa Romeo engines. There was little success in the Chiti Alfa F1 years and he started yet another project. Carlo Chiti died in Milan in 1994 at the age of 69.
 

 

 


That is a development team any car manufacturer would envy. The only surviving member as of today (dated October 2009) is Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The targets for the project were clear from the start; Provide work for about 16,000 people and result in an affordable car with easy maintenance. In 4 years these tough targets were accomplished and on the Turin motor show of 1971 the Alfasud made it’s debut. The car was well received and the expectations were high. In the spring of 1972 the cars came to the market. More additional information on the Alfasud project and the complete history can be found on Tim Rauen’s extensive Alfasud site http://alfasud.alfisti.net/indexe.htm After the introduction of the 4-door saloon version in 1972 the 2-door sporty “TI” version followed in 1973. By the time of the “TI” introduction the Alfasud Giardinetta project was well on its way. The Alfasud project had besides the 4-door saloon vehicle also a 2-door sports version, this site’s subject the Giardinetta, a 3-door coupe and a convertible in the planning. The only derivative which didn’t make it into the production stage was the convertible. That one remained at a driving prototype stage.

Tipo 901A / D Tipo 901C Tipo 904A Tipo 902A Tipo 90?
          
Alfasud Berlina

introduced in 1972.

Alfasud TI

introduced in 1973.

Alfasud Giardinetta

introduced in 1975.

Alfasud Sprint

introduced in 1976.

Alfasud Spider prototype



The Giardinetta


Alfa Romeo had produced very few station car vehicles in its long history. The 6C 2500 with Viotti and Farina bodies, the 1900 with Ghia (Frua), Monterosa and Paris-Niza bodies, the Giulietta with Boneschi and Colli bodies, the Giulia with Colli, Giorgetti, Grazia and Introzzi bodies and the 1750 Berlina with Pavesi body are either one-off’s or very limited production vehicles at the site of the affected coach builders. The Alfasud Giardinetta broke with this tradition. The vehicle designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro was built in the Pomigliano d’Arco factory together with the other Alfasud variants. From 1971 artist impressions started appearing in automotive magazines. A few of them are shown below. Some impressions showed a 2-door and some a 4-door version. Whether Alfa Romeo actually intended to make 2 variants initially is unknown. In 1973 the first test vehicles were spotted on test tracks. The picture below shows a 1973 test car. If you look carefully at the picture you can see that the rear window area near the C-pillar has a slightly different geometry from the vehicle which went into production.

1971 Artist impression of Giardinetta 4-door (source: Quattroruote magazine).

1973 Artist impression of Giardinetta 2-door (source: l'auto journal magazine).

1973 Artist impression of Giardinetta 2-door (source: Mot magazine).

1973 Artist impression of Giardinetta 4-door (source: Mot magazine).

1973 Giardinetta prototype (source: Gente Motori magazine).

The name Giardinetta more or less means "for garden use". This name indicated that the usage could be more then just a people carrier. Besides this official name also sometimes the name "Familiare" is used in Italy. The name "Familiare" basically means family car. In other countries the vehicle name is adjusted to "Estate" for English speaking countries (UK) and "Wagon" (South Africa), "Break" for French speaking countries and "Kombi" for German speaking countries. In rare occasions also mistakenly the name "Giardinera" is used, but that's a name used by other Italian brands such as FIAT and Autobianchi to designate there estate vehicles.

The vehicle code of the Alfasud Giardinetta introduced to the market in 1975 was 904A. The 1200cc (1186cc) engine is the only available engine upon its introduction. The luggage compartment could fit from a convincing 600 litres to a whopping 1300 litres with the back seat folded down. In order to be able to get the back seat down the lower seat needs to be folded forwards. In this configuration the folded up lower seat serves as protection for the front occupants to avoid luggage slipping forward when braking. The interior and equipment of the Giardinetta is apart from the rear end the same as the Alfasud L except for 3 things; The revolution counter is missing in the Giardinetta, the floor carpet is out of rubber as opposed of the Alfasud L which is out of fabric and the Giardinetta bumpers are common with the Alfasud N without overriders. The market introduction in Italy was in May 1975. Other European markets had to wait till autumn 1975. For some reason not all European countries were assigned as regular markets for the Giardinetta. The United Kingdom for example never had the vehicle in the price lists. Overseas countries like for example Japan and the United States were also not designated for the sale of the Giardinetta.       

Giardinetta dimensions (source supplement to instruction manual).

                                                                                                

Giardinetta dashboard without rev. counter (picture only valid for tipo 904A, source supplement to instruction manual).

 

The Giardinetta was derived from the 2-door Alfasud TI which was introduced in 1973. Most probably the vehicle was derived from the 2-door TI to benefit from its higher body stiffness compared to the 4-door Alfasud Berlina. Although there are a lot of common components between the Giardinetta and the other Suds there are obviously also significant differences to the body and less obvious differences to other components;

1.) Rear bumper position Giardinetta lower than other Suds to allow easy access to the luggage compartment.

Giardinetta rear bumper height.

Alfasud (TI) rear bumper height.

2.) Rear bumper to body attachment brackets longer for Giardinetta and bumper attachment to body is more inboard compared to other Suds (rest of bumper is the same as for other Suds).

3.) Foldable rear bench to allow enlargement of the luggage room for the Giardinetta. The folded bench doubles as a safety feature which avoids luggage moving towards the driver.

4.) Wooden floor covers in luggage compartment with rubber strips for protection and anti-slip purpose for the Giardinetta.

Giardinetta wooden boot trim with rubber anti-slip strips.

Alfasud (TI) rubber boot trim.

5.) The lock for the boot is unique for the Giardinetta.

For a pictorial representation of the boot lock differences refer to the luggage compartment section pictures (item 4).

6.) The rear light clusters are different for the Giardinetta. The Giardinetta clusters are also used for the Alfa Romeo F11/F12 vans from 1975 onwards.

A notable fact is that the Spanish licence built Alfa F12 (Ebro F100 & Ebro F108) did not use the Giardinetta rear light clusters.

Giardinetta rear light clusters with separate reversing light.

Alfasud (TI) rear light clusters with integrated reversing light.

Alfa Romeo F12 rear light clusters.                         

7.) The reversing light is not incorporated into the rear light clusters as for all other Suds, but a separate light below the rear bumper is used for the Giardinetta.

For a pictorial representation of the reversing light differences refer to the rear light cluster section pictures (item 6).

8.) The rear springs for the Giardinetta are longer and have a higher spring rate to allow more load than other Suds.

9.) The roof of the Giardinetta has 2 stiffener ribs to stiffen out the significantly increased roof surface compared to the other Suds. At the rear of the vehicle these stiffener ribs end in the position where the hinges for the boot are placed. These stiffener ribs for the estate version were also applied to the Alfasud successor. The Alfa 33 Berlina had no stiffener ribs and the Alfa 33 Giardinetta/SportWagon did.

Giardinetta roof with 2 stiffener ribs.

Alfasud (Berlina + TI) roof without stiffener ribs.

10.) The dashboard gauges for the Giardinetta do not have a revolution counter on the right hand side like the majority of the other Suds, but a multi information light cluster. Early Sud Berlina vehicles and the Alfasud N also used the gauges without revolution counter.  
   

Giardinetta gauges with multi information light cluster on RH side (also applied to Alfasud N).

Alfasud Berlina / TI first series gauges (black background) with revolution counter.

 
11.) Due to the increased length of the Giardinetta (9mm longer than the Berlina & the TI) the end muffler of the exhaust is different in length and also the Giardinetta exhaust was cut under an angle of approximately 45 degrees. Probably this was done to distinguish the Giardinetta muffler from the Berlina/TI muffler.

 

12.) The jack and the wrench for the jack are positioned in the engine bay for the Giardinetta, the Alfasud Berlina and Alfasud TI have the jack attached to the rear side of the right hand side rear wheel well. For the Giardinetta this position is not possible because there is trim over the wheel arches and it takes up storage space. The black coloured plastic clamps to fasten the jack wrench are very different in shape as well on the lower section because the Giardinetta ones are straight and the Berlina/TI ones have to cope with the round geometry of the inner wheel arch.

Jack in engine bay on right hand inner wing, jack wrench attached to clamps on firewall.

Jack attached to right hand rear inner wheel arch including jack wrench.

   
13.) In order to compensate the loss of body stiffness due to the foldable rear seat the Giardinetta was equipped with a stiffener beam connecting the left and right rear wheel arch. This stiffener beam was later applied in a slightly modified geometry to the 3 & 5 door Alfasud models with foldable rear seats and the big rear hatch.
 
14.) The difference in tyre pressure between the Berlina/TI and the Giardinetta leads to Giardinetta unique tyre pressure stickers on the driver side sun visor.

In numbers the differences between the Giardinetta and its father the "TI" can be summarised as shown below.

  Giardinetta '75 (1186cc) TI '73 (1186cc)
Overall length 3935 mm 3926 mm
Kerb weight 915 kg 810 kg
Boot capacity 600 - 1300 litre 400 litre
Engine performance 63 BHP @ 6000 RPM 68 BHP @ 6000 RPM
Carburettor 1 Solex C32 DISA/21 1 Weber 32 DIR 62/250
Top speed 153 km/h 161 km/h
Tyres 165 / 70 SR 13 145 / 70 SR 13*
Rear tyre pressure

2.2 kg/cm2

1.4 kg kg/cm2**

*As an option the 165 / 70 SR 13 tyres were also available on the Alfasud TI.

**Tyre  pressure for TI with optional 165 / 70 SR 13 tyres.

Engine

4 engines were used for the Giardinetta throughout its lifetime. All these engines were common with the other Suds and for the Giardinetta equipped with 1 vertical single barrel Solex carburettor. The engines are of the boxer type with 2 horizontally opposed cylinders on each side. Lubrification is of the wet sump type with exchangeable oil filter. Cooling is done in a closed system with a mechanically driven pump. The radiator fan is controlled by an electrical thermostatic sensor. The 2 overhead cam shafts are driven by 2 timing belts connected to the crank shaft. Each timing belt has its own tensioner. 2 valves per cylinder are operated by the cam shafts. An ingenious patented system is incorporated into these cam shafts. Each cam is separated into 2 pieces with space between them. The space between the cams allows a hole in the cam shaft through which you can adjust the valve play with a hexagon wrench (refer to picture below). The engine block is out of cast iron and the cylinder heads are out of light alloy. The engine proved to be very reliable and almost indestructible. An advantage of the boxer engine is the low centre of gravity which enhanced the road handling as well as allowing the bonnet line to be kept low to achieve a good streamline.

Alfasud (Giardinetta) 4 cylinder boxer engine.

Ingenious patented valve clearance adjustment mechanism through hole in cam shaft.

 

Capacity Engine number Bore Stroke BHP @ RPM Torque @ RPM Top speed Application
1200cc (1186cc) AS30102 80mm 59mm 63 @ 6000 88Nm @ 3200 153 km/h 904A / 904A1
1300cc (1286cc) AS30180 80mm 64mm 68 @ 6000 ?? @ ?? ?? 904B
1300cc (1351cc) AS30160 80mm 67.2mm 71 @ 5800 88Nm @ 3000 155 km/h 904B2
1500cc (1490cc) AS30124 84mm 67.2mm 84 @ 5800 121Nm @ 3500 165 km/h 904SA

Transmission

The transmission of the Giardinetta is the same as the Alfasud one. During the Giardinetta's lifetime 2 different gearboxes were available. A manual 4-gear and a 5-gear transmission. The transmission is located behind the engine in vehicle longitudinal direction. First the bell housing then the differential and lastly the transmission are incorporated in the aluminium gearbox housing. All forward gears have a synchromesh, the rearward gear doesn't. The gear lever is a floor mounted one. The differential is of the hypoid bevel pinion type. The clutch is a hydraulically operated single dry plate one with self adjusting diaphragm spring. The self adjusting feature is to compensate wear of the clutch plate. A notable fact is that the brake callipers are fastened to the transmission/differential housing.

Alfasud (Giardinetta) transmission.

Transmission Application
Manual 4-gear 904A / 904SA (Panel Van)
Manual 5-gear 904A1 / 904B / 904B2
 

Brakes

The brakes of the Giardinetta are common with other Alfasud vehicles. 4 disc brakes of which the front ones are inboard mounted to reduce the unsprung weight. The system itself is a servo assisted dual circuit hydraulic one. The circuits are separated between 1 circuit for the front and the 2nd circuit for the front & the rear axle. That is a rather unusual lay-out. The front brakes are functionally the most important ones and therefore almost all vehicles have a diagonally separated circuit to guarantee that at least one front brake remains operational in case of a circuit failure. In case of a circuit failure in the Sud the front brakes always remain fully functional. Alfa Romeo changed to the more common diagonally separated system with the Alfasud successor the Alfa 33. A pressure limiter valve is attached to the rear axle to avoid locking the rear wheels when braking hard. 4 disc brakes is a feature no competitor in the same price range offered at that time. The front discs have a diameter of 258mm and the rear discs 233mm. The callipers are all non floating dual piston callipers. The parking brake works on the front callipers. Even though this concept is theoretically okay in reality the hand brake has caused many Alfasud owners and mechanics headaches. The maintenance is quite difficult and poor access to the inboard brake callipers doesn't help either. If you go for a (bi)yearly roadworthiness check with your vehicle you may run into a mechanic who doesn't realise the parking brake applies to the front wheels.

Alfasud (Giardinetta) brake system lay-out.

 

Front suspension

The front suspension of the Giardinetta is completely common with the other Alfasuds and consists out of an independent Mc Pherson construction with inboard brakes to reduce the unsprung weight. The dampers are telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers. The front springs are of the  helicoidal type. A stabiliser is connected to the front suspension arms. The steering system is of the non power assisted "rack and pinion" type. The Alfasud suspension was commonly praised for being very neutral for a front wheel drive car instead of the usual understeer. Rumours say that several car manufacturers bought an Alfasud to see for themselves how the suspension was made in order to improve the performance of their own vehicles. In combination with the low centre of gravity of the boxer engine the suspension provided a lot of driving pleasure.

Alfasud (Giardinetta) front suspension.

Rear suspension

The rear suspension is a rigid axle positioned longitudinally by a Watt parallelogram and transversally by a Panhard rod. The rear suspension is common between the "normal" Sud and the Giardinetta except for the helicoil spring. The Giardinetta spring is longer and has a higher spring rate. In an empty Giardinetta it's quite obvious that the suspension is harder than that of the Alfasud Berlina and the TI. Another item caused by the Giardinetta unique springs is that the vehicle is higher on its feet in unloaded condition. The rear suspension is just like the front equipped with hydraulic telescopic dampers.

Alfasud (Giardinetta) rear suspension.

904A1

In 1976 the first technical update was made. Besides the original 4-speed gearbox the 5-speed gearbox became available. The so called type “A1” was equipped with the 5-speed gearbox. The difference between the tipo 904A and 904A1 can not be seen in the VIN number, it can only be seen on the metal identification tag on the right hand inner wing in the engine bay or in the type identification sticker on the right hand side inner wing near the front strut.

Giardinetta Furgone

Besides the window version of the Giardinetta a very limited amount of non window “Furgone” vehicles were made by coachbuilder “carrozzeria Moderna” based upon the 5-gear 904A1 Giardinetta in 1978. Carrozzeria Moderna was established in the sixties in Abbiategrasso in the province of Milan at a 20 kilometre distance from the city of Milan. They started as a maintenance company for industrial vehicles slowly expanding the activities to modifying existing commercial vehicles. The Giardinetta Furgone’s didn’t have a rear bench but only a luggage compartment, where the rear side windows usually are there is metal bodywork. It's a so called "panel van". The luggage compartment and the driver are separated by a metal "net" to avoid objects in the back hitting the driver. These vehicles were purpose built for Alfa Romeo Italy usage only. They were not available to the normal customers. Some competitors offered such "panel vans" in the delivery program to customers, but Alfa didn't. The 2 pictures below on the left hand side below show the original sticker decoration as applied when they were in service of Alfa. The right hand side 3 pictures show a fully restored Furgone. The exact number built is unknown, but rumours say 17 pieces. These days a Giardinetta is already a very rare vehicle, but the “Furgones” are of course even more scarce. Carrozzeria Moderna is still active today (status May 2014) and remains to execute the same activities, modifying or custom building trucks, vans and other industrial vehicles.

Giardinetta Furgone (non rear side window version).

Rumours exist that Alfa Romeo used a Giardinetta in the Pomogiliano d’Arco factory which was converted into a pick-up though no evidence of the existence of this vehicle has been found so far. The vehicle could very well have existed judging by some other Alfa’s which were converted by Alfa Romeo for usage in their factories and other facilities such as the well known Alfa Berlina (tipo 105), Alfa Giulietta (tipo 116), Alfa Sei and Alfa 164 fire engine pick-up vehicles.


 

1978 Facelift 904A/904A1    904B


In 1978 the facelift of the Alfasud Berlina and TI was followed by the Giardinetta. For the Giardinetta this meant the following changes;

1.) New bumpers front and rear with bigger plastic shock absorbing blocks (same change as other Sud variants in 1978). Due to this change the unique Giardinetta rear bumper bracket was also changed in geometry.

Tipo 904A with thin black plastic strip on bumpers.

 

Tipo 904B with bigger and thicker black plastic strip on bumpers.

 

2.) Chromed licence plate light cover on the rear bumper replaced by black plastic ones (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).

Tipo 904A chrome licence plate light cover on rear bumper.

 

Tipo 904B black plastic licence plate light cover on rear bumper.

 

3.) New dashboard & centre steering wheel cap (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).                                                                                                                                                    

Tipo 904A dashboard & steering wheel centre cap.

 

Tipo 904B dashboard & steering wheel centre cap..

 

4.) Parcel shelf below dashboard geometry change in the middle section (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).

For a pictorial representation of the differences of the 904A and 904B parcel shelf refer to the pictures shown at item 3.

 

5.) Dashboard speedometer colour changed from black into blue for all Suds except the Giardinetta. The Giardinetta remained with the black colour (Giardinetta specific item) but the symbols on the multi information light cluster symbols were updated into more contemporary ones. Most probably the reason why the Giardinetta gauges didn't change colour is because the RH side had the light cluster which had a black plastic housing for the multi information light cluster. To make this plastic housing in the blue colour of the new Alfasud gauges seems too expensive or introduce unnecessary complexity in (spare) parts supply.

 

 

Tipo 904A multi information light cluster symbols.

 

Tipo 904B multi information light cluster symbols.

 

6.) Chromed Alfasud boot badge replaced by sticker (Giardinetta specific change).

For a pictorial representation of the differences between tipo 904A and 904B refer to the pictures shown at item 2.

 

7.) The 1186cc engine was abandoned and the choice was out of 2 different 1300cc engines.

904B = 1286cc  -  904B2 = 1351cc

 

8.) Addition of black plastic trim to engine bonnet near windscreen wipers (same change as other Sud variants in 1978). This change was made to improve the air intake for better interior ventilation.

Tipo 904A bonnet without plastic trim.

 

Tipo 904B bonnet with plastic trim for improved air intake.

 

9.) 4-speed gearbox was cancelled (Giardinetta specific change, 4-speed gearbox remained available for the Sud Berlina for low cost entry models).

 

10.) Windshield in rubber for 904B instead of glued (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).

For a pictorial representation of the windshield difference refer to the first pictures in this section dealing with the bumpers. The rubber version has no chrome list in it, the glued version does.                                   

11.) Gear lever knob change from black plastic round shape into imitation wood ellipse shape (Alfasud Super also used imitation wood knob from 1978),

Tipo 904A1 (5-gear) black plastic gear lever know.

Tipo 904B imitation wood gear lever knob.

12.) Chrome trim for roof liner for 904B.

For a pictorial representation of the chrome trim roof liner refer to the pictures for item 1 & item 2 where you can see that the 904A vehicle has a roof liner in body colour and the 904B vehicle has a chromed roof liner.

   
13.) Rear Valance exhaust clearance hole deleted + different angle for end exhaust muffler for 904B (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).

The muffler for the 904B changed its assembly angle to provide sufficient clearance to the body even with the deleted clearance hole in the rear valance and the end of the pipe became straight for the 904B instead of the angled muffler of the 904A. 

 

Rear valance (Berlina/TI) with exhaust clearance hole.

Rear valance (Berlina/TI) without exhaust clearance hole.

14.) Upholstery lines for centre for seats changed direction from horizontal (904A) into vertical (904B) (same change as other Sud variants in 1978). This change, although depicted in the official sales brochure did not find its way in all Giardinetta's of the type 904B/904B2. It looks like Alfa kept on using the horizontal stripes until the stock ran out.
 

904A Upholstery with horizontal lines.

 

904B Upholstery with vertical lines.

15.) The door cards for the second series Alfasud (1978 - 1980) were altered and incorporated cloth in some sections for the Berlina and TI however the Giardinetta kept using the first series door cards (Giardinetta unique item).
   
16.) Rear-view mirror changed from the rectangular shape (904A) into a more rounded shape common with other Alfa's like the Spider (same change as other Sud variants in 1978).
 

904A Rear-view mirror (rectangular).

904B Rear-view mirror (rounded).

17.) The rear suspension coil spring was updated (Giardinetta unique change). The Giardinetta already had a unique spring due to bigger length and higher spring rate, but for the facelift an update was introduced. The part number for the spring used in the 904A / 904A1 is 531205 for the 904B / 904B2 it is 534210. Unfortunately it's currently not know what the exact technical differences between these two springs are, if they will become known in the future this item will be elaborated.

The face lifted Giardinetta received the vehicle code 904B. Within a relatively short time after the introduction of the 904B an engine update led to the vehicle code 904B2 for vehicles with the AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) engine. The difference between the 904B and 904B2 vehicles is shown in the VIN number. In Italy the Giardinetta was in the price lists till 1981, but it is unclear whether actually vehicles were built in 1981. In 1982 apparently available stock of bodies and other parts was used to build vehicles. The majority of these vehicles were used by Alfa Romeo dealers as service cars and some were sent to South Africa.

The most famous Giardinetta owner was most probably formula one driver Niki Lauda. He used to drive the Brabham-Alfa formula 1 cars in the late seventies and during this period he owned a Giardinetta for his private use. It is said that mainly his wife Marlene Lauda used the vehicle.

The Giardinetta was not a sales success. The vehicle was produced from 1975 till 1982, during this production period only 5899 vehicles were built. In the seventies owning a station car vehicle was not fashionable, especially not for people who bought an Alfa Romeo which was mostly associated with a sporty image. This in addition to the fact that Alfa Romeo didn't bother too much to promote the vehicle led to the low sales volume. Looking back now the car was ahead of its time. The concept sells well today as proven by the amount of Alfa 33 SportWagon, Alfa 156 SportWagon & Alfa 159 SportWagon sold vehicles. The Alfa 33 estate car was initially also sold under the Giardinetta name but soon changed to the more fashionable SportWagon name.

 

Pomigliano d’Arco (Italy) built vehicles;

Year Type Chassis numbers / VIN numbers Engine code Number of built vehicles
1975 904A AS*5000002*904A till

AS*5005451*904A

AS30102 1200cc (1186cc) single carb. 1520
1976 904A1 AS*5005451*904A till

AS*5007000*904A

AS30102 1200cc (1186cc) single carb. 1139
1977 904A AS*5007501*904A till

AS*5008581*904A

AS30102 1200cc (1186cc) single carb. 1095
1977 904A1 AS*5007000*904A till

AS*5007077*904A

AS30102 1200cc (1186cc) single carb. 2
1978 904B AS*5001251*904B till

AS*5001750*904B

AS30180 1300cc (1286cc) single carb. 45
1978 904B2 See type 904B AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) single carb. 643
1979 904B2 AS*904B20*05003001 and onwards AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) single carb. 393
1980 904B2 Unknown AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) single carb. 262
1981 904B2 Unknown AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) single carb. Unknown
1982 904B2 Unknown AS30160 1300cc (1350cc) single carb. 600?

Source: Guida all' identificazione Alfa Romeo.

South African Giardinetta's

The Giardinetta's were not only built in the Pomigliano d’Arco factory in Italy, but also in the Alfa Romeo plant in Brits South Africa. This factory was in use by Alfa from 1974 to 1985 when it was closed due to international sanctions imposed because of the Apartheid regime. The South African vehicles were produced in 1982 & 1983. The number of built vehicles is unknown. South African sources say that less then 200 were assembled. Whether they went as Complete Knock Down "CKD" kits from the Pomigliano d'Arco factory to the Brits plant and what the local South African content was is unclear at the moment unfortunately. Rumours say that the cars were already assembled in Italy and since they were not sold in Europe they were shipped ("dumped") to the South African market and the conversion of the steering wheel to the right hand side was the only thing done in the Brits plant. The South African cars are a hybrid between the 904A and 904B models and even some 3rd series Sud parts were used. For example the bumpers were (primarily) first type bumpers applied to 904A vehicles, the dashboard was the second type applied to 904B vehicles. It looks like Alfa was getting rid of vehicles and the available parts. As apposed to the European production which only had 1 version for sale for customers, the South African product range consisted out of 2 vehicles. The "normal" Giardinetta was marketed as the "Speedwagon" and featured a 5-gearbox in combination with a single carburettor 1500cc engine which was never introduced in the European Giardinetta's. The second version was marketed as the "Panel Van", a rather awkward name for this particular vehicle because it wasn't a panel van. The rear side featured windows and the driver and passengers were separated by a protective metal "net". The rear bench was missing for the Panel Van and therewith was eligible for a lower tax rate because they were considered as commercial vehicles. The "Panel Van" had a 4-gearbox in combination with the single carburettor 1500cc engine which was also used for the "Speedwagon". The percentage sales between the "Speedwagon" and "Panel Van" is not known, when looking at the vehicles for sale on South African auction sites throughout several years it appears that the "Speedwagon" was clearly sold more often. Some features that are different from the Italian made cars are; standard rear-view mirrors on both sides, 3rd type Alfasud steel wheels with black plastic hub caps, plastic side strips and a sticker on the side that resembles the Furgone sticker, but is different due to a split horizontal line instead of the solid line from the Furgone and of course the black colour which differs from the white one on the Furgone. Also the South African vehicles featured black carpeting instead of the rubber "carpeting" that was applied to the Italian made vehicles. A small batch of these South African made cars was imported to the UK by a UK Alfa Romeo dealer. This was no official import lead by Alfa Romeo UK but an own initiative of the dealer. Due to the fact that these vehicles had the steering wheel on the right side they could be sold in the UK, but the successor of the Alfasud, the Alfa 33, was already available so this initiative was doomed to stop swiftly. How many were imported is unknown, but most probably not more than 10 vehicles. If more detailed information becomes available in the future this section will be updated. The chassis number format of the Brits vehicles is very different from the Pomigliano d'Arco cars. The South African cars start with with "8G0" which is followed by 4 digits. The way the chassis number is added to the car is also very different. The Italian vehicles have the numbers stamped into the firewall, the South African cars have a small emblem with the number stamped into it riveted to the firewall.

Panel Van promotional picture (source CAR magazine).

Brits (South Africa) built vehicles;

Year Type Chassis numbers / VIN numbers Engine code Number of built vehicles
1982 904SA 8G0xxxx till 8G0xxxx AS3012430180 1490cc single carb. 200?
1983 904SA 8G0xxxx till 8G0xxxx AS3012430180 1490cc single carb.

Body colours

The Giardinetta was available in many body colours. Almost all colours which were available on the Sud Berlina and Sud TI were also available on the Giardinetta. Metallic colours and black were not destined for the Giardinetta. The South African Giardinetta's seem to have different colour designations, but unfortunately no confirmed data is available. Almost all colours use the names of southern Italian cities or places. Some exceptions like "mountain top white" and "Alfa red" are also present.

Body colour

(abbreviation / colour code)

Applicable

model

Body Colour sample Possible

upholstery

Bianco Capodimonte / Mountain Top White

(BIOA / AR015, AR018, AR023, AR600)

904A

904B

BHV (I)

BHT (I)

GHV (E)

NGT (E)

Blu Posillipo / Posillipo Blue

(BLOD / AR355, AR369)

904A

904B

CAV

CET

Blu Procida / Procida Blue

(?? / AR353)

904A

??
Bruno Cilento / Cilento Brown

(BNAS / AR834)

904B

CAV

CET

Grigio Indaco / Indigo Grey (I)

(GRIN / AR753)

904B

??
Grigio Somma / Somma Grey (I)

(GCSA / AR745)

904A

BHV

BHT

Giallo Pompei / Pompei Yellow

(GPAS / AR126)

904A

904B

 

GHV

NGT

Giallo Pozzuoli / Pozzuoli Yellow (E)

(GTAS / AR127)

904A

904B

GHV

NGT

Rosso Alfa / Alfa Red

(ROAA / AR130, AR210, AR303, AR501, AR555)

904A

904B

GHV

NGT

Rosso Corallo Torre del Greco / Corallo Torre del Greco Red

(ROAN / AR531)

904A

904B (E)

BHV (I)

BHT (I)

GHV (E)

NGT (E)

Arancio Capua / Capua Orange

(?? / AR121) only '77 & '78

904A

??
Verde Matese / Mateze Green

(VMSA / AR232)

904A

904B (E)

CAV

CET

Verde Pino / Pine Green

(VEPI / AR234)

904B

??

I = Italian market only

E = Export markets only

 

Interior trim & upholstery

Even though the number of built vehicles was low, the Giardinetta unique interior trim (luggage room side walls) was available in 4 colours;

Beige (tan) Blue Black Red
                     

The initial part catalogue from 1975 shows that only the beige (tan) colour and blue colour were available. When exactly the black and red colours were added is unknown at this point in time, however it must have been implemented relatively soon because many vehicles of the first series Giardinetta 904A/904A1 were equipped with the black and red trim. The door cards for the Giardinetta remained the first series configuration, even with the introduction of the facelift 904B/904B2 versions whilst all other Alfasud derivatives changed. How the trim colour was decided is not clear. There seems to be no direct link between the colour of the seats and the colour of the trim. The table above for the body colours shows a clear connection between the body colour and the upholstery colours, but for the trim there's no clear indication. By looking at the pictures/information of surviving vehicles it can be assumed that black appears to be the most common colour for the trim. All brochures made for the Giardinetta show the beige colour except for the 1977 Alfa Romeo range brochure which shows a blue vehicle with red trim.

Abbreviation Upholstery colour sample
BHV - Velluto / Velvet                                                                                      
BHT - Texalfa / Imitation leather
GHV - Velluto / Velvet
NGT - Texalfa / Imitation leather
CAV - Velluto / Velvet
CET - Texalfa / Imitation leather

The front seats do not have headrests as opposed to the majority of other Sud variants with the exception of the Alfasud N. The seat upholstery was available in 2 configurations. The first option was imitation leather sides with velvet centre trim combination as shown in the picture on the left side below. The second option was complete imitation leather trim as shown in the right side picture below. This imitation leather trim is convenient for maintenance such as cleaning, however in the summer it becomes very hot and in the winter it becomes quite cold. Unfortunately there's no information available relating to the chassis numbers to show what percentage of the built vehicles had the "option 1" & "option 2" upholstery.

Option 1; Imitation leather sides with fabric combination.

Option 2; Full imitation leather.

Headlights

The Giardinetta was equipped with the same rectangular headlights as used for the Alfasud Berlina. 2 Variants were available, one with a white coloured indicator light and one with an orange coloured indicator light. Both these types were manufactured by Carello. What decided the colour of the indicator light not really clear. The majority of the Italian vehicles had the white indicators and the majority of the northern European vehicles had the orange indicators. Since there is no absolute connection between the country and the colour it looks like it's probably not a regulatory controlled item. Especially for the Swedish market headlight wipers were made available. Due to the fact that the Giardinetta in Sweden was only used by the Alfa Romeo organisation it is very likely that no Giardinetta's with the headlight wiper system were actually sold to a customer. The main beam was provided by Bilux light bulbs. From 1976 onwards a dual sourcing was granted to the German supplier Bosch. From 1978 the rectangular Bosch headlights also became available with H4 Halogen light bulbs. The percentage of Bosch halogen rectangular headlights is quite low and for the Giardinetta it was not listed in the parts catalogue so probably the halogen version was never available for the Giardinetta. There is a clear difference in appearance between the Carello Bilux and Bosch H4 headlights. The Carello ones show a curved indicator light, the Bosch ones a straight indicator light. This geometry difference is probably caused by a different reflector for the halogen version. Just like to Carello Bilux lights were equipped with white an orange coloured indicator lights the Bosch lights also provided this option.

Headlight with white coloured indicator light.

Headlight with orange coloured indicator light.

Headlight with wiper/washer for Swedish market (excerpt from Giardinetta parts manual).

Carello Bilux headlight with curved indicator light (type 904A & 904B).

Bosch H4 headlight with straight indicator light (type 904B).

Bumpers

The front & rear bumpers for the Giardinetta are the same as for the Alfasud Berlina N. The Berlina version however had bumpers with and without overriders, the Berlina N also used the version without overriders. The Giardinetta always had bumpers without overriders. As stated earlier there is a clear difference between the 904A and 904B bumpers, refer to the section of text discussing the differences between the 904A and 904B.

Giardinetta rear bumper (till 1978) without overriders.

Sud TI and Berlina rear bumper (till 1978) with overriders.

Options

The Giardinetta was standard sufficiently equipped, but not full of all options. Some options and accessories were available although there were not so many.

     - Headrests for the front seats (common headrests with other Suds).
  - Seatbelts for the rear bench. (Giardinetta unique connection to rear wheel wells).
  - Tow bar (Giardinetta unique tow bar).
  - Wiper for rear window (not Alfa Romeo part, but aftermarket part).
  - 13 inch alloy wheels (not listed as an option for the Giardinetta in Alfa Romeo brochures).
  - Rear-view mirror on the right hand door (not officially listed as an option but of course possible).
  - Roof rack.

Survivors

The fact the Giardinetta was mostly used for commercial purposes or intensive family usage added to the unusual design of the car making it unpopular lead to the fact that few survivors remain today. A rough estimation is that less than 100 survivors of the almost 6000 vehicles are available worldwide. In the "Registro Alfasud Giardinetta internazionale" elsewhere on this Internet page you can find a list of surviving vehicles. To make the Giardinetta more "attractive" a large number of the vehicles were equipped by their owners with TI headlights throughout the years. Of course the halogen TI headlights provide significantly better visibility, however the looks are drastically changed by replacing the original rectangular headlights by the double TI lights. Another popular modification was the replacement of the chrome bumpers by the later black plastic Alfasud bumpers and the addition of aftermarket sunroofs. Also an engine replacement of the original 1200 and 1300cc with bigger displacement engines like 1500cc and 1700cc from other Alfasuds, Alfa 33, Alfa 145 & Alfa 146 was/is a popular update. A truly functional change which was done often is the addition of a rear window windscreen wiper. That should have been a standard feature from the factory! The visibility through the rear window is increased significantly by this additional feature. Another modification often done by owners is the replacement of the rubber flooring with the fabric trim from other Suds. In many cases the rubber trim becomes brittle and starts to disintegrate by itself. An advantage of the fabric trim is that the acoustic inside the car improves. Road noise is reduced slightly and the car doesn't sound as "hollow" as it does with the rubber flooring.  Completely original vehicles are like the well known needle in the haystack. With this website I hope to convince people to saviour remaining vehicles and treat them with the respect they deserve.