Hoonage Classics – From Alfa to Omega

Behind the derelict-looking brick building which played background to the abandoned-looking E28 524td shot some months ago, I found this late-’80s rear-wheel drive saloon duo. One of them still looks somewhat useable and probably does daily driving, while the other has little air left in its tyres and not a lot of rust-free sheetmetal.

Both of them have two-litre fours and neither of them was particularly affordable when new. Both of them have also found a solid, eager-to-hoon user base over here, as most cars in their class had migrated to FWD and these were viable alternatives to the endless rows of 190E:s, E30:s and Sierras. True, the Omega is a class larger than those mentioned, but Opel depreciation dropped Omega prices early on. And the Alfa? Well, Italian cars in Finland…

Am I being harsh on them? Fear not, I won’t handle them rougher than their owners have. Make the jump to admire the Alfa Romeo 75 and Opel Omega.

First off, let’s have a look at the Alfa. It’s a handsome design, I feel warmly towards the edgy, multi-faceted 75. There are a number of bold choices in the Alfa’s detailing, with the rear flank’s upper trim and lower line lifting off in a surprising angle. Another thing is that the trim pieces look like they could clankingly, whirringly sprout from the car, KITT Super Pursuit Mode style.

This graphite 75 sits on the same kind of bottlecap Speedline alloys as the earlier-seen 33, which admittedly had a lot less rust. Here, it’s easy to determine the 75 has developed rust under the plastic fender flares, which in turn have revealed the ugly truth on someone taking on the refreshing, removing the rear flares.

The car has clearly sat in the spot for quite a while, as the windshield wipers have a not insignificant amount of moss growing on them and the roof has been dented in by snow piles falling off the roof of the adjacent building.

The phone books on the parcel shelf do not look too good at this point.

No intact tail light cluster for parts hawks here. Badge’s been claimed already.

Judging by the part on the model badge that should say “Twin Spark”, this Alfa has the 150-horse 2.0 twin cam four under the hood. If it ran, it would deliver power to the rear wheels via a rear-mounted gearbox that helps the car achieve a near-perfect front-rear weight distribution.

The rear wheels are braked by inboard discs near the gearbox, which serve to drive mechanics close to the edge, especially when the gearbox-rear differential combination has to have bushings replaced every now and then. If the car ran, it could possibly suffer from a characteristically curmudgeonly second gear, which often results in Alfa-selling individuals declaring “SECOND ENGAGES JUST FINE” in all caps in the sales ads.

Then there’s the interior (admittedly ravaged here), which incorporates such ergonomic touches as ceiling-mounted electric window switches, an aircraft throttle-shaped handbrake lever and a stereo head unit buried in the lowest, deepest hole on the dashboard while the top spot for your line of vision gets a digital clock and a couple of funny LED:s to tell you if any doors are open.

Time to move on to the other car on the yard. Take a look around whenever you’re in Australia: chances are you’ll be seeing a great big bunch of cars doppelgängers to the Omega. A great deal of Holdens built in the last 25 years share common ground with Omegas, and there are a lot of things right in there.

The A Omega was a breath of aerodynamic air after the clearly-rooted-in-the-olden days Rekord, so much so that they didn’t feel like keeping the name anymore. While there’s a touch of Rekord in the rear side window treatment, the Omega – especially when fitted with near-blank wheel trims – cut through air with an admirable 0.28 cd drag coefficient.

The eight-valve 2.0-litre engine was hardly ground-breaking, but what the Omega wanted to do with the ground was to leave two smoking black lines on it. That was more easily done with the 3000 engines, 12 and 24-valves (the latter sometimes having the attractive DUAL RAM moniker tagged on it) shared with the more ostentatious, eggcrate-grilled Senator, but hey: you can light up the rears with 115 horses too.

Headlight wipers on the sleek aero nose. Who cares if they don’t exactly work in sync anymore?

I loved this tagline. It’s almost as apt as “My Toyota is Fantastic” on a rusted-to-hell Camry.

Actually, the scene with the abandoned cars has a touch of a post-apocalyptic zombie film about it. There’s no-one around, the windows on the building look uncomfortably empty and the non-smoking chimney lends an air of the day of the Earth having stood still. The Omega’s parked fairly carelessly, like someone’s left it in a hurry to seek shelter from within the premises. Perhaps… The Omega Man?

 

[Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

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