Car Reviews Commentary & Observations

Lockdown-Cars We Owned – 1989 Alfa Romeo 75 Twin Spark

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s fourth car was a step up and moved him into the Italian thoroughbred classic. A RWD Alfa that was leaving its rust heritage behind but still working on its interior and electrics reputation. However, Alfa’s were all about building the car for drivers, quirks and all. So, if you owned one you needed to get onboard with the philosophy and the maintenance responsibilities. For those that did, it rewarded you greatly. The cars became an extension of your physical self and your personality.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

David (4th) car:

1989 Alfa Romeo 75 Twin Spark
2 litre twin cam. 5 speed manual.
106kW 182Nm
0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds

The first car I bought for myself with my own money. Last of the classic Alfa rear wheel drive saloons with front engine and rear transaxle gearbox. This design went all the way back to the original 1972 Alfetta and gave a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.

Old school Alfa Romeo in more ways than one, it left me stranded several times. The main reason was an intermittent fault cutting the power to the fuel pump. For a few months I had to drive it with a wire running from the fuel pump in the rear petrol tank, outside the car and in through the driver’s door to a fuse box in the dashboard. But looking back now all is forgiven when I remember the beautiful sounding, rorty twin cam engine. At the time I was working in Warrnambool and driving back and forth it would overtake cars travelling at 100km/h with ease. Maybe that’s why I accumulated 12 demerits in 6 months! With such a long linkage to the rear transaxle the gear change was a little vague but the steering was precise. The ride was subtle and comfortable and although it rolled a bit in corners it always felt secure and had heaps of grip.

For once I had a practical 4 door with a big boot. This was not to last as you will see in the next instalment.

Richard (comment):

Wow! We are moving up and finally cracking the 100kw mark and torque is reaching for the illustrious 200nm. Another admired car by yours truly. Saw a few on travels along the Eastern freeway in my younger days. Sophisticated executive express I thought. This guy can afford this car and he knows a bit about driving and the pleasures it can bring in this car.

Also, he is a gambler too. Throwing a dice occasionally as to whether the A to B proposition is going to suddenly or intermittently be interrupted. I think it would have been well worth the risk and your clever ingenuity obviously worked around the problem. The seeds were truly planted for you of what a driver can experience from a car when he establishes the driving connection.

Lockdown-Cars We Owned – 1982 Mitsubishi Sigma Scorpion

Lockdown-Cars We Owned -1982 Mitsubishi Sigma Scorpion

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s third car he owned made me realise we had much more in common in our motoring paths in our earlier days. This despite his treasure trove of car options that his father’s car yard offered him to experience compared to us mere mortals.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

David (3rd) Car:

1982 Mitsubishi Sigma Scorpion in silver.
2.6 litre Astron 4- cylinder engine. 5 speed man.
78kW 182Nm
0-100km/h in 11.7 seconds

Eventually someone bought the Lancia and this is what my Father replaced it with. With a lazy torquey engine, reticulating ball steering and skittish live axle rear end, this was no sports car. It was however, a very comfortable tourer with good visibility, a comfortable driving position and excellent seats. The engine would be barely ticking over at 100km/h with 1200rpm in the overdrive 5th gear. I had a lot of fun with the rudimentary rear wheel drive dynamics and I think this was the car in which I learnt the art of heel and toe. Lazy but reliable it had more than 200k on the clock and never gave me a moment’s trouble. I reckon it looked pretty good too in an 80s wedgy sort of way.

Richard comment:

Who knew the cars that helped define our driving characters were shared in our early years. I thought the Scorpion was a great looking car when released. A little ahead of its time in design and desirable. We convinced mum to buy a Gold 1978 GE Sigma GL 2.0L which was the 4 door, sedan version. Remember the marketing campaign, SIGMA SENSATION. It had the state of the art, Astron II engine. It was smooth as silk with the balanced shaft technology which was subsequently licenced to Porsche and other automakers.

It was an honest performer with 70kw & 153nm and 0-100kph in 12.5secs. We later added gold silver mags with textile tyres. We thought it was the most unique looking Sigma on the road. Remember going down the Tullamarine freeway and hitting a substantial speed. Held the road well and so refined. We drove this car a lot and did treat it as our own.

This experience influenced, my wife’s second car, after her Kimberly. We bought her a green 1980 Sigma SE 2.6L. It was the top of the range and we felt we were in a lap of luxury. It had the bigger 2600cc 4 Cylinder which was a very large capacity engine. Normally such large 4 Cylinder engines would not be able to run smoothly. Hence Chrysler, which eventually became Mitsubishi, developed the balance shafts to overcome this problem. It did feel like it had more torque through the range than the standard 2 Litre motor.

We kept this car till 1989 and sold it to Mum and dad. Stayed in the family for nearly 15 years. Agree steering & engine had little feel and lacked accuracy. But on reflection, Sigmas were a significant part of my driving journey.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #mitsubishisigma #mitsubishiscorpion

Lockdown: Cars We Owned – 1978 Ford TE Cortina GL

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

This car is significant as it was the first one, I paid for, started to put my personal stamp on and a leap of improvement in driving experience and credibility from my Austin Kimberly.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

Richard’s 2nd Car:

My 1978 Ford TE Cortina GL 4.1L 4spd MANUAL was my second car and a huge improvement to the Austin Kimberly. The first car, once I started working after Uni, I actually bought off my parents with my hard-earned cash. Up to then I partly shared the car with Alfred. We shared everything. We were “Twins”.

It had a 6 Cylinder 2 valve pushrod engine with a lineage that continued for many Ford models ahead. In the Uk and Europe the smaller 4 Cylinder versions were more balanced in handling. The Australian built version catered to the Aussie demand of 6 cylinders and resulted in a nose heavy car that had a reputation of unflattering handling and in its most powerful guise needed a sack of potatoes in the boot to stop wheel spin through the first 3 gears in the wet.

So, the power numbers which came at a time when anti-pollution measures were introduced into Australia, took big power cuts from the engine. Thank goodness torque was alive and well and you couldn’t argue with a sheer cubic 250 inches of engine. So the numbers were 92kw @3900rpm and 289nm at 1900rpm. O-100kph =9.7secs ; 0-400m =17secs ; 80kph-120kph=7 secs. Top speed 180kph. With only 1160kg to carry it felt faster than the numbers indicated as max torque hit at a very low naturally aspirated 1900rpm and it pulled like a freight train.

You could rev it out to 4500rpm but there was no point, acceleration actually decreased. So 4000rpm was your shift point and it just slammed you into the next gear. Overtaking was a breeze, you left it in 4th at 100kph,floored it and it just wound out easily to 160kph (academically speaking, of course) . There was no point in downshifting to 3rd gear, it wasn’t any quicker.

One of the first things I did in my first year of earning a professional wage was to buy all new lowered and thicker front and rear springs with matching heavy-duty Shelby shockers. This lowered the stance significantly and the car’s centre of gravity. The original suspension had front coil springs and rears had good old fashion cart springs. There was a mismatch between front and rear. The upgraded after-market upgrades transformed the car’s handling from terrible,to a stiffer setup with excellent rebound. It tied the front and back together more consistently. It allowed me to put the power down to the ground so much better but didn’t eliminate the torque spinning the wheels through the gears in the wet.

It was a slingshot in performance and the torque was the joyous element in this engine. This car had rack and pinion steering and with the combination of new suspension was reasonably accurate and provided a decent amount of feel. Whether pulling through the snow at Mt Hotham at 1000rpm in 3rd gear or testing its abilities against a Holden Torana XU1 down a local road maintaining its stance side by side, I truly loved this car.

Reliable, never missed a beat. Started every time. It was my performance beast that could handle the power. My fuel economy record was travelling from the snow from Mt Buller and managing 40 mpg back to Eltham. Thank you torque. Adding, as you did then, an after-market pioneer cassette -stereo with special, tailor made, expensive thick wool seat covers over the green vinyl interior, I felt I had something special. I kept this car until just after I had to recondition the gearbox and Alfred lured me into the beginning of my 30 year journey owning his cars, starting with the Saab 99 EMS.

This car will always remain a special car to me with great memories, drives and trips through my 20’s. Margaret being my most frequent passenger through our dating, Uni and medical school days,right through till we got married. This car also made me never hesitate to improve a cars’ handling and take matters into my own hands.Tailor it to my specifications and make it more of a special drive for me than its standard form. I did this subsequently to all my cars Nissan Bluebird, BA XR6T and the FPV F6. (These are other tales to tell!)
Hence the obvious pattern of me becoming a Ford man.

David comment:

Nicely done Richard.It made me think that I have never once modified a car. I’ve always kept them completely standard. Much harder to modify cars nowadays of course but the 86 cries out for it. If I buy another 86 then modifying it would be a new experience to enjoy.

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