Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf | Spotted

From absolutely nowhere, from being so far off the enthusiast radar as to not even register, the most recent Alfa Quadrifoglios have been an absolute revelation. Both Giulia and Stelvio have been the most exciting arrivals in their respective segments for years, combining a powertrain of exquisite quality with dynamic excitement and no little finesse. That they both carry that illustrious Alfa badge will surely have done their cause no harm at all, either.

But something has been missing - a hot hatch. We're living in a great time for the sector, with Ford on fine form, Hyundai making an excellent first appearance, Renault delivering both sublime and ridiculous and even Toyota having a stab once more. Alfa Romeo would be a welcome addition to that group; a car that could distil the Quadrifoglio panache and prowess into a smaller, more accessible package would surely be something very special indeed.

The problem is Alfa's lack of a suitable base product, both MiTo and Giulietta being old and easily outclassed. Even when they did attempt fast versions (five years ago now), they weren't up to scratch, so it's a daydream that's going to have to wait until their replacements at the very least.

Regardless, the successful rebirth of the fast Alfa Romeo inevitably draws the attention back to Cloverleafs of yore. And, specifically for the sake of this story, the 145 Cloverleaf, a car which appears to offer an affordable and interesting route into classic Alfa (and ergo classic Italian) ownership.

The 145 Cloverleaf (and even gawkier, five-door 146) was no great hot hatch icon, but there's probably more to recommend it than you might think. When Autocar bought a Cloverleaf far more used than this one, it was praised for its "great engine" and "peachy chassis", so while it might not be remembered like a Clio Williams or 306 GTI-6, it's certainly no duffer.

Particularly so given the state of this one. It's on half the mileage that the Autocar Cloverleaf was on nearly a decade ago, and sits nicely on a set of O.Z. wheels. Being racing red means this 145, naturally, is one of the fastest Cloverleafs around as well. The ad describes it as "a nice car that drives well" but needs tidying up a bit - surely par for the course at 22 years old for anything that once was less than Β£20k.

Now it's yours for Β£3,000, which looks mighty tempting given the Alfa's rarity, curio appeal and performance. The downside? It's a Japanese car, recently brought into the country by the selling dealer and said to be rust free. If its import status can be overcome, the Cloverleaf looks to be a perfect start classic - as well as a reminder of how sweet naturally-aspirated hot hatches can be.

And if not? Handily, there are two more UK Cloverleafs currently for sale, which must be some kind of PH record. One is a Proteo Red car, a private sale that's even cheaper than this one; the other a trade sale at Β£4k. So you could have all of them for less than Β£10,000, and that doesn't seem a situation that will last for long. Especially so if Alfa does finally pull its finger out and deliver another Cloverleaf hot hatch worthy of the name. Until then, the Japanese car on the funky wheels will suit just fine...


Engine: 1,970cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 155@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 138@4,000rpm
MPG: 30
CO2: 210g/km
First registered: 1997
Recorded mileage: 87,000
Price new: Β£14,884 (1996)
Yours for: Β£2,950

See the original advert here

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (81) Join the discussion on the forum

  • only1ian 15 Sep 2019

    I had a 145 cloverleaf and confirm it drove really well. Far better than my GTV TS of the same era. Why you would swap out the original wheels for these OZ versions I’m not sure.

  • Court_S 15 Sep 2019

    Can’t decide if I still like these or not; I used to love them but now can’t decide if they’re cool because they’re rare or if father time has been particularly unkind to them.

    I remember going with an uncle to look at one a fair while ago. Whilst it was cool to a teenage me it did feel a bit flimsy back then. God knows what they feel like now.

  • carinaman 15 Sep 2019

    The hatchback vertical edge on the OS looks out of line from top to bottom?

  • Toma500 15 Sep 2019

    Had a 145c leaf ran it for 5 yrs bought for £9995 sold for £1500 was a great car to drive a terrible car to run more expensive per mile than my griff . The dealers really were crap as well seems that hasnt changed much either i found a really good indy to help with it but the bills really were eye watering .

  • benzinbob 15 Sep 2019

    What’s the issue with buying Japanese imports? I thought that with their climate and strict MOT it’d be a good move?..

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