Friday, July 23, 2010

Steve's Crap Car Of The Day


You’ve probably never heard of the Alfa Arna, right? And I say that not as a comment on any inferior knowledge of automotive history on your part. You simply haven’t heard of the Arna because it was so utterly crap both its parents – Alfa and Nissan – have spent the last 30 years erasing all traces of its existence.

Detailed forensic journalism has however uncovered the following sad story…

On the face of it, the Arna seemed like a really good idea. But then again, just about anything seems like a really good idea if you drink enough saki. Which is clearly what happened when Alfa’s bosses met up with their Japanese counterparts for an extended Friday arvie lunch. How else would men of sound mind come up with this abomination…

Yes, Japanese cars were dead boring too look at, but they were helluva reliable. And sure, Italian cars were sexy as hell but – particularly in the late ‘70s and 80s – totally shite in the reliability department. And again, yes, blending the best of these worlds could well make for a decent automobile. The Italians get Japanese reliability, the Nips get Eyetie glamour.


Ja… no.

Instead of sticking reliable Japanese mechanicals into a svelte Italian body, they did just the opposite.

The body chosen for this Italo-Nipponese venture was the Nissan Cherry – a hatchback from the Ruler-and-Straight-Line School of Design. And the engine. gearbox and electrics came from the outgoing Alfasud – an automobile whose total lack of reliability has become the stuff of legend. Describe anything as “Alfasud-like” and people know exactly where you're coming from. In fact so bad was the Alfasud that its unreliability was something of a plus. It was even crapper when it actually worked (story for another day though)

And that was the Arna. A crap Japanese body stuffed with even crapper Italian mechanicals.

Not much more to say really. The car was a shocker. No-one bought it. After three years production ceased, and Alfa and Nissan agreed to pretend they’d never met each other.

The name, by the way is an acronym for “Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli”. I have no idea what a “veicoli” is, but it sounds a lot like a small virus that gives you the shits, doesn’t it?