Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf: You Know You Want To

While we are currently enjoying a great era of hot hatches, it's hard not to pine a little for the superbly odd days the genre enjoyed around the turn of the century. There was so much diversity and in the sector, diversity that simply isn't viable in 2017. You could have had a fast(ish) Golf with four, five or six cylinders, a Honda Civic that looked like a Rover 400 but revved to 8,500rpm, a fantastic Peugeot Rallye that was lighter, more fun and cheaper than standard plus, er, the Nissan Almera GTI. Apparently it was quite good.

This we like to see
This we like to see
As well as those - and a whole host more, in fact - there was the Alfa 145 Cloverleaf. A bit gawky to look at perhaps, but blessed with that lovely twin-spark engine, a snappy five-speed manual and an eager little chassis too. When PH drove a pristine one six years ago the verdict was very positive, a view backed up by Autocar when they purchased a far less pristine one. Well, everything was going OK until the fuel started spilling out.

Point being that the flagship 145 will still be good fun, and not simply through the fondness of nostalgia. That famed 2.0-litre engine should feel even better in an age of downsized turbos, as will a kerbweight comfortably under 1,200kg. Perhaps there will be better handling hot hatches - we'll get to those in a sec - though there remains plenty to like about the 145. Probably more than there is to like about a Mito Cloverleaf.

Given the 145 was never the most popular car, that the Cloverleaf was the most expensive version and that we are now more than 20 years from its introduction, you will largely have to take what's available when buying one. Fortunately the one that's residing in the PH classifieds looks like an absolute beaut: a black Cloverleaf with tan leather, it has covered just 65,000 miles since 2000 and comes with every MoT certificate.

Ah yes, you're thinking, but what about all the maintenance that an Alfa from that era will require. Taken care of too, with a full service history, regular rust prevention treatment and a cambelt service in February. The detail and the quality of the ad, a '145' private numberplate plus a couple of subtle modifications are encouraging signs as well.

This we like to see even more!
This we like to see even more!
That all this well-presented quirky Alfa cool is available for £2,695 looks like something of a bargain. Well, mostly. You can't ignore the fact that this is more than they used to be - the 38,000-mile car used back in 2011 cost £1,200 - but then try and find an interesting old car that hasn't increased a fair bit in value over the past half a dozen years.

Moreover, a budget of around about £3K opens up some very interesting hot hatch options. Of course there's the predictable stuff, various Clios, Cupras and Civics available for the money, but one or two less obvious options too. An MG ZS 180 is in budget, and is far better than you probably think. And while there aren't any currently on PH in budget, a BMW 325ti Compact offers a similar combination to the Alfa of sweet engine, decent handling and, er, distinctive looks.

The 145 - and whoever buys it, for that matter - deserves credit though, for thinking a little differently. There's probably even less of them than the BMW and MG, with the added Alfa kudos too. And who doesn't fancy the idea of an old Alfa at some point in their car buying lives?

: £2,695
Why you should: You can say you have cheap classic Alfa Romeo
Why you shouldn't: Others will say you have weird 17 year-old hatch

See the original advert here







[Source: Autocar]


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Comments (32) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Daaaveee 18 May 2017

    Ahh brings back memories seeing one of these again. Strong money, but understandable given how few are left, I paid the same for one 12 years ago!

    I loved this car, as an 18 year old it was much more interesting than what my mates were driving, and pretty nippy too. I'm sure its gone to the scrapheap in the sky, a real shame as now I have the space in the garage it would be a great little run around that you don't see everyday.

  • only1ian 18 May 2017

    Had a 1997 silver 145 cloverleaf after running a Alfa GTV TS with the same engine. The 145 was a far better chassis and lower weight made the most of the engine. However that engine needs some love... right oil, 36000 mile belt changes all the usual alfa issues water pumps, electrical gremlins etc. The later cars where very well equipped lots of air bags and leather.

    Im not sure id trust one as a daily driver after 20 years but as an occasional toy it was a lot of fun, not sure its looks will ever be considered beautiful so i doubt it will appreciate much further!

  • Agent XXX 18 May 2017

    I paid £300 for this one in 2011

    It had been sitting for 6 months. New battery and a rear bulb and it sailed through its MOT

    Full black MOMO leather interior. Machine polish and it came up like this! (Definitely prefer the phase 1 to the later phase 2 with the full body coloured coding and odd looking front grille.

    How it looked when I got it home

    Edited by Agent XXX on Thursday 18th May 10:53

  • Mike1990 18 May 2017

    Can't remember the last time i saw one of these on the Roads, certainly a rare breed, recall seeing more 146's. Although i did see an old first gen Alfa Romeo 33 being driven enthusiastically on my local B-Road, sounded ace, Carbs i believe.

    Got me thinking will Alfa make more Hot Hatches, i know they have the Mito and Giulietta in Cloverleaf guise but what about a hard GTA version ?

  • grumpy52 18 May 2017

    Do they do a 145 without a sunroof .
    I had a 1.8 for a while but got fed up with having to drive with my bonce banging on the sunroof surround .

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