Here is the first mailing to members and friends of the Berlina Register. The main items included here are a document I wrote, "All About the Alfa Romeo Berlina," a list of the cars currently on the Register, and a blank membership application that you can complete and return to fill in any information gaps about yourself or your car, and to provide other information, such as cars and parts for sale.
The keeper of the Berlina Register is Andrew Watry, 1284 Monterey Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707 USA. Phone (510) 526-0391. Email: Andrew.Watry@bender.com. Send me any corrections or additions to your register information, plus comments or corrections you might have for "All About the Alfa Romeo Berlina."
Mailing Costs and Advertising Policy
The Berlina Register is a part of the Alfa hobby for me, which I enjoy, but this all costs money, and I am looking at two possible sources of funding. First, please feel free to send postage stamps that I can use for mailings, or nominal amounts of money (a dollar or two) to cover postage and printing costs. Second, if there is interest, I plan to provide Berlina-related advertising in future newsletters. For non-businesses, a small classified-ad style listing of cars or parts for sale or wanted is free. Just provide all relevant information to me. For businesses, a small classified-ad style listing of cars, parts, or services is $3. For a larger ad, such as an 8 1/2 x 11 insert, contact me.
Berlina Parts Sources
Here is a list of people who have told me they have Berlina stuff to sell. This is in addition to the main Alfa parts sources, such as Alfa Ricambi in Los Angeles, Jon Norman's Alfa Parts in Berkeley, California, All-Parts in Berkeley, California, International Auto Parts in Charlottesville, Virginia, Centerline in Boulder, Colorado, Ereminas Imports in Torrington, Connecticut, EB Spares in England, and AlfaStop in England. I'm sort of a clearinghouse of Berlina information, so contact me if you have specific requests.
Re-Originals says: "Original Alfa parts specifically for the Berlina, new and hard-to-find our specialty. More is available than we all thought. Call Matt at (281) 807-1945; (281) 807-1946 (fax) and ask for what you've been looking for." ReOriginals, 12618 Craigwood Lane, Cypress, TX 77429; <ReOriginal@aol.com>.
Steve Piantieri (3012 Ardsley Dr., Orlando, FL 32804 USA, (407) 423-3998, (407) 296-8774 fax; email: <email@example.com> or <SPIANTIERI@delphi.com>) has a bunch of NOS Berlina and Giulia sedan taillights, fan belts, and exhausts, plus Alfa Romeo boutique items. Email him or me for a list.
Charles Dodson at International Imports (7 Wainwright Ave, Annapolis, MD 21403 (410) 267-9245; (410) 268-2266 (fax)) has lots of used Alfa parts. He had plenty of Berlina and Giulia bumpers, trim, mechanical parts, and the like, when I contacted him in 1996.
Portello Auto Works (Chula Vista, CA (619) 429-6518) has the stock of Alfa parts formerly owned by Tom Zat of Alfa Heaven, and a lot of other good used and NOS Alfa parts, especially 101 and 105 parts.
Alfa Parts Exchange (2436 Whipple Ave, Hayward, CA 94544 (510) 471-7132) is probably the best Alfa junkyard in the United States. They deal with all kinds of Alfas, and have a vast knowledge of Alfa parts. They have parted out many Berlinas.
Matthew's Foreign Car Parts (4709 First Ave. North, Birmingham AL (205) 592-8900) has both new and NOS Alfa parts, as well as numerous cars they are parting out. They have some pretty esoteric stuff.
General Description and History of the Berlina
The 105 series Berlina (Italian for "sedan") was introduced by Alfa Romeo in 1967, and remained in production until 1976. The Berlina was an updated and slightly enlarged version of the Giulia sedan, which had been introduced in 1962. In turn, the Giulia was a fairly significant revision of the Giulietta sedan, which had gone into production in 1956.
The Berlina is a four-door sedan, seats five, has a 1779cc or 1962cc four-cylinder twin-cam aluminum engine in front, a five-speed manual transmission or (in a few cases) three-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, independent front suspension, live axle rear suspension, and a unit steel body.
In style and general arrangement, the Berlina was based heavily on the Giulia sedan, though the body was restyled, by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. The Giulia had been styled in-house by Alfa Romeo. By modern standards, the Berlina would probably be considered a restyle of the Giulia, rather than a new model, because the mechanical components are functionally identical and interchangeable, and because the basic structure is very similar, the only significant change being an additional two inches in the wheelbase.
In general, the major components of the Berlina, including the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, drivetrain, electrical systems, and switches and controls, are identical with those same components of the contemporary GTV and Spider models. However, the body, interior, lighting, details, and trim of the Berlina will be distinct from the GTV and Spider in most cases. And a few items, related to the longer chassis of the Berlina, such as the exhaust system, fuel lines, parking brake cable, and driveshaft, are identical in concept, but slight longer and different in execution, than in the two-door models.
Model Numbers and Number of Cars Produced
The Berlina came in four distinct model numbers:
105.48; chassis numbers 1300100-1785485 (non-US 1750 model)
105.71; chassis numbers 1555001-1556759 (US 1750 model)
105.12; chassis numbers 105.12.2300001-? (non-US 2000 model)
115.00; chassis numbers 115.003000001-? (US 2000 model)
In Europe and everywhere else but the US, the 1750 Berlina was introduced in 1967, being produced through 1971. It was replaced by the 2000 in late 1971 or early 1972; the 2000 apparently lasted until 1976. The replacement 116-series Alfetta model was introduced in 1972 (see August 1972 Road & Track magazine) in 1600 and 1800 form, so as not to compete with the Berlina. When the Berlina was phased out in 1976, a 2000 Alfetta was added to take its place in the lineup.
In the United States, the 1750 model was sold from 1969 to 1971, with no 1970 models. The 2000 was sold from 1972 to 1974. The 2000 Alfetta sedan was introduced in the US in 1975, replacing the Berlina. Probably a few leftover 1974 Berlinas were sold in the US in 1975.
Pat Braden, citing Luigi Fusi's "Alfa Romeo Catalogue Raisonne 1910-1989," reports that 11,880 1750 models were built, and 89,840 2000 models. (This number of 1750 cars seems incorrect; see below.)
John Hertzman quotes Luigi Fusi with the following production:
90,586 complete LHD
3,518 complete RHD
5,764 RHD knocked down
1,759 US spec LHD with Spica injection
252 automatic transmission
This is a total of 101,879 for the 1750, just a bit more than Pat Braden gives for the 1750 and 2000 together. The 252 automatics equal 1/4 of 1 percent of 1750 production, which may be why one hears little of them. John Hertzman suspects they were a "trial balloon."
49,508 in 1971 to 1972 (according to Fusi).
John Hertzman believes the 2000 was in production until 1977, so he makes a ballpark guess of a total of 150,000 to 200,000 2000 Berlinas. The overlap with the Alfetta probably would have eroded 2000 sales to something below the 1750's annual rate. The US 2000 Berlinas (total of 3395, 1453 allegedly equipped with a catalytic converter), represent about 2 percent of the 1971/1972 2000s, a bit less than that for the 1750.
The book "Alfa Romeo Giulia" by Giancarlo Catarsi (G. Nada, 1995) gives the
following total production figures for 1750 and 2000 Berlinas, derived from Fusi's book:
1750 1968-1972: 101,880
2000 1971-1977: 89,840
This seems like a pretty reliable number. Pat Braden's numbers are identical if you assume he inadvertently left out one digit in the 1750 quantity (11,880 becomes 101,880). So this gives a total of about 190,000 Berlinas built. This compares with more than 560,000 Giulia and Nuova sedans in many different model designations, and about 210,000 Giulia and GTV coupes (Bertone bodied) in similar variety of models.
While the US received only a tiny percentage of Berlina production, I would guess that by far the most remaining Berlinas in the world are here. The English magazine Thoroughbred and Classic Cars, in a comparison test in December 1996, speculated that there were not more than a dozen Berlinas remaining in the UK. There are reportedly 14 1750 Berlinas, plus one 1750 Berlina Utility (pickup), listed in the AROCNZ membership list. This is probably not the entire NZ fleet. Maybe there are many still in Italy, Australia, and South Africa. In the Berlina Register, I have record of 30 or so Berlinas in the US (about half in California), a few others throughout the world, and know offhand of at least a dozen more not on the Register just in Northern California. Alfas seem to survive better in the western and southern US than in many other parts of the world, due to a mild climate and an effective parts and service support network.
Information on the Berlina introductions comes from Luigi Fusi's book "Alfa Romeo Catalogue Raisonne 1910-1989." The 1750 made its debut at Vietri sul Mare (Salerno) in early 1968 after the first few thousand had been produced and were ready to be delivered. The first modifications appeared at the Turin Motor Show in 1969 and were introduced to the US production models in 1969, and to the non-US production models in 1970. The modifications were made to the steering wheel, pedal box, braking system (dual circuit) and headlamps (iodine bulbs).
The 2000 was launched at Gardone Riviera (Brescia) in June 1971, together with the 2000GT Veloce and Spider Veloce models with the introduction of a 3-speed automatic gearbox at the Turin motor show a few months later. The model went out of production in 1976.
Berlinas were built with two different four-cylinder engine sizes, common to all Alfa Romeo models of the period (except the Montreal and Alfasud): 1779cc (nominally the 1750) from 1967 to 1971, and 1962cc (nominally the 2000) from 1972 to the end of production in 1976. The engines are derived from the Giulia 1570cc engine of 1962, which itself was derived from the 1290cc Giulietta engine of 1955.
All the engines are mechanically the same: aluminum block and head, five-main-bearing crankshaft (nitrided on the 2000), wet iron cylinder liners with aluminum pistons, twin overhead cams operating two valves per cylinder through iron bucket tappets. The oil pan is a large flared cast aluminum affair, holding about seven quarts of oil. The exhaust consists of paired cast iron headers feeding into a collector, feeding into a resonator and two mufflers. The 1750 has an 80 mm bore and 88.5 mm stroke. The displacement is 1779 cc, producing 115 SAE net BHP @ 5800 rpm. The 2000 has an 84 mm bore and 88.5 mm stroke. The displacement is 1962 cc, producing 129 SAE net BHP @ 5800 rpm.
For the United States, Berlinas used the Spica mechanical fuel injection system common to all US Alfas of the period, derived from a diesel injection system and from the V-8 injection pumps on the Type 33 racing cars. This system consists of an electric fuel pump near the fuel tank, a circular pressurized fuel line to route fuel to the injection pump and back to the fuel tank, and an injection pump driven by a toothed belt off the front of the crankshaft. This pump is a miniature "engine" in itself, with a pump section consisting of a camshaft and four plungers, and a logic section that determines how much fuel to inject based on engine speed, throttle opening, temperature, and other factors. Supposedly 1453 of the last US spec. 2000 Berlinas had catalytic converters and required unleaded fuel. I don't know whether they also had an air pump and air injection system. I've never seen one of these cars.
For the rest of the world, two 40mm Weber or dell'Orto carburetors were used for the intake system. Early cars had a cross-over air cleaner system identical to the Giulia system, with a large air filter on the exhaust side of the engine and a large "snorkel" to route air from the filter to the engine. Later cars had a tubular canister filter mounted directly on the air plenum on the intake side. Many United States cars have been converted to Webers when problems with the Spica system were encountered. Some cars are now being converted back to the Spica system as the enactment of vehicle emissions laws require original induction and smog equipment to be in place.
The clutch on the Berlina is common to its 105/115 series contemporaries. It is an 8 in. dry single-plate diaphragm type clutch, operated by hydraulic master and slave cylinders. On 1750 cars up through 1969, the master cylinder is under the floor, operated by a mechanical linkage from the floor-pivot pedals. From 1970 on with the introduction of the hanging pedals for LHD cars, the master cylinder is up high in the engine compartment, next to the brake master cylinder. For RHD cars, the clutch master cylinder remained under the floor near the floor pedals for all years.
The regular transmission for the Berlina was the five-speed manual transmission common to all 105/115 series Alfas of the time. The transmission is aluminum, and splits open in half along its length for servicing. The shifter is a long, substantial, angled lever that sprouts from the center console. The shift pattern is a double-H, with first gear forward on the left. Reverse is back on the right. The shifter action is spring-loaded in the center third-fourth plane. All five forward speeds use Porsche-type synchronizers, though the second gear synchromesh is notoriously weak and may seem not to work.
This transmission is based on the five-speed Giulia gearbox introduced of 1962, which was based on the five-speed Giulietta Veloce gearbox of 1959 and the original split-case four-speed Giulietta gearbox. All transmissions are more or less interchangeable, with slight detail differences.
The 2000 Berlina was offered with a ZF automatic transmission in at least European, Australian, South African, and perhaps other markets. The shifter sprouted from the center console where the storage trough is on the manual transmission cars; this is a few inches rearward of the manual shifter's location. Automatic Berlinas had the same 4.3 ratio differential as manual transmission non-US market cars. There were 252 automatics Berlinas built. Currently, there are reportedly three automatic 2000 Berlinas from 1973 or 1974 in Perth, Australia.
The Berlina shares driveshaft design with the its 105/115 series contemporaries, though the Berlina shaft is longer, due to the longer wheelbase. The driveshaft is composed of two main pieces, supported by a center bearing. From front to rear, the driveshaft assembly consists of a large flexible rubber coupling ("donut" or "giubo") that connects the output shaft of the transmission with the front of the driveshaft. A precision bushing centers the front driveshaft on the output shaft. The front half of the driveshaft is connected to the rear half by a sliding spline coupling and a universal joint. It is supported by a large ball bearing assembly, held onto the driveshaft tunnel by a flexible rubber retainer. The rear half of the driveshaft terminates in a universal joint, and bolts to the pinion shaft of the differential. Early driveshafts use 8mm attachment bolts; later ones use 9mm bolts.
The differential of the Berlina is identical with other 105/115 models. It is a live axle, composed of an aluminum center section containing the differential and bearings, and steel tube axle sections bolted to the center section. The hubs and brakes bolt to the outer end of the axle tubes. The aluminum center section has a small finned oil sump to help keep the oil cool. The axle shafts are supported at the outer ends by sealed bearings, with an oil seal for the differential oil inboard of the bearing.
For US cars, the only ratio offered in Berlinas was 4.56. For all other markets, 4.30 was the standard ratio, and 4.10 may have been available in some cases. Automatic transmission cars were fitted with the 4.3 ratio. A limited slip differential was standard on all 2000 model Berlinas.
As with the rest of the running gear, the front suspension of the Berlina is common to the contemporary GTV and Spider. It is independent, consisting of a forged lower A-arm, two upper control arms (one controlling camber and one controlling caster), a coil spring, a tubular shock absorber, and a solid steel anti-sway bar. The suspension components bolt to the chassis crossmember and supporting areas around it. Bonded rubber bushings are used in most cases to attach the suspension to the chassis. The only adjustment possible on the stock front suspension is caster.
The rear suspension, as on the GTV and Spider, is a live axle supported by coil springs, and located by two lower trailing arms and a heavy steel upper A-frame link to limit sideways movement. The springs act on the trailing arms, and tubular shock absorbers reside with the springs. A solid steel anti-sway bar connects from the rear trailing arm attachment bolts to the trunk floor area. A heavy fabric strap at either end of the axle limits droop.
The Berlina brakes are a four-wheel disk system, made by ATE (German). The system consists of a hydraulic master cylinder, 10.7 in. solid disks in front, 10.5 in. solid disks in rear, each caliper having two pistons, and a small cable-operated drum-type parking brake within the hub of the rear brakes. All Berlinas have some type of vacuum assist for the brakes.
The Berlina's brakes changed over time, just as the GTV's and Spider's brakes did. Initially, the Berlina used generally the same system the Giulia Super had: a single-circuit ATE, Bonaldi, or Benditalia master cylinder under the floor operated by the floor-pivot pedals, a single vacuum booster (Lockheed) and ATE calipers. Beginning in 1969, US-market cars required a dual brake circuit to meet safety standards, so a dual-circuit floor-mounted master cylinder was provided, and one Lockheed booster for each circuit, mounted in the upper left rear corner of the engine compartment. RHD cars adopted this system at this time, and used the floor master cylinder and dual boosters until the end. Beginning in 1970, LHD cars changed over to hanging pedals, and the ATE brake master cylinder was incorporated onto a single ATE booster assembly, mounted high up in the left side of the engine compartment.
On 1969 and RHD Berlinas, I have only ever seen Lockheed boosters used. However, contemporary GTVs and Spiders used Bonaldi or Benditalia boosters (based on a Dunlop design). As far as I know, GTVs and Spiders did not use Lockheed boosters. I don't know what the reason is for the difference.
The parking brake consists of a small drum with mechanically operated shoes within the "hat" section of the rear disks. The parking brake is operated by a large pull-up handle on the driveshaft tunnel, which pulls taut a main cable, splitting at the rear of the rear axle into two smaller cables. The parking brake shoes have small star adjusters to compensate for wear.
The Berlina steering consists of a manual ZF (German) worm and roller or Burman (English) recirculating ball steering box, operating a center track rod, an idler arm, and two tie rods. The ZF box is adjustable for wear by a screw; the Burman box is not. 1750 cars have a straight one-piece steering column; late 2000 cars (at least in the US from 1974) have a safety flex universal joint near the steering box. All tie rod ends are replaceable and adjustable for length. In addition, there are adjustable steering stops to set the turning circle, and to control tire rubbing within the wheel wells. The steering wheel turns 3.5 turns lock to lock turning circle is 36.5 ft. Purportedly, Berlina steering boxes will not interchange with other 105/115 cars. The steering box is lubricated with 90W oil. Steering geometry is set for 3mm of toe-in at the wheel rims.
Wheels and Tires
Stock Berlina wheels are silver or grey painted steel, 14 in. x 5½ in. There is a ring of holes arranged around the wheel. 1750 models have a snap-on stainless steel hubcap, with a black and silver decorative plastic ring, which fits over three raised tangs on the wheel center. 2000 models have a dished captive stainless steel wheel center that is trapped by special shouldered lug nuts. Early 2000 wheel centers have clipped-on plastic black and white Alfa emblem, while later cars have the Alfa emblem stamped right into the metal. 1750 models have left-hand thread lug nuts on the left side, right-hand thread lug nuts on the right side. 2000 models have right-hand thread lug nuts on both sides, and longer studs and shouldered nuts to trap the stainless trim.
Aluminum or magnesium alloy wheels in a "turbina" design were an available option beginning with the 2000 model in 1972. There are detail variations on the (at least four) different versions of the turbina design, and several different companies produced the wheels, most commonly Campagnolo.
The original tires on these cars were 165 HR 14 radials. Early cars came with either Pirelli, Michelin, or Kleber tires. On later cars, those makes of tires were interchangeably provided, as well as Firestone, Continental, and Ceat. Common modern replacement tires of nearly the same diameter (to keep the speedometer "accurate") are 185/70-14. Higher performance sizes include 195/70-14, 195/60-14, and various wider lower aspect tires on 15 in. or 16 in. wheels.
The Berlina body is a steel unibody, built all in one piece with the chassis. It is entirely welded; there are no bolt-on pieces other than doors, trunk and hood, and bumpers and other trim.
The Berlina shape was a heavy restyle (by Marcello Gandini at Bertone) of the Giulia sedan of 1962. While the two shapes are generally very similar, all the details are quite different. As far as I know, the only common body elements between the Giulia and the Berlina are the windshield and front door glass.
The body is fairly plain, slab-sided, vertical, and unadorned. Styling features on the very square shell are limited to a sloping nose, flared front wheel arches, an indented Kamm tail, and matching canted sections along the longitudinal edges of the roof and the body. The chamfered corners of the hood and trunk echo this angled shape, and also mimic this same chamfering on the GTV's hood and trunk. The Giulia hood and trunk had square edges. And the longitudinal body sections on the Giulia sides and roof were scalloped, rather than canted.
The Berlina hood is hinged at the front, opening from the rear. This matches the GTV and Spider hood. It has one hood latch on either side (both operated by the same cable from the hood release handle), and torsion bar springs and a heavy stay rod to hold it open. There are small plastic emergency hood release cables routed through the firewall near the right side of the heater unit under the dashboard. The Giulia hood had been hinged at the rear, opening from the front, and had a spring-loaded tubular prop.
The Berlina windows are large. The windshield (allegedly the same as the Giulia windshield) is fairly vertical and wraps around to the sides. Early windshields are held in by a rubber gasket; later ones are glued in. The side windows are flat, though canted in a little. I believe the front door windows and vent windows are the same as on the Giulia. The rear door windows are noticeably longer than the Giulia rear windows, and roll down into the doors only about 2/3 of the way, due to the intrusion of the wheelwell.
The rear window wraps around more than is apparent at first glance, though not nearly as much as the Giulia rear window. The rear window is held in by a rubber gasket. 2000 cars came equipped with a grid defroster on the rear window.
Berlinas were available in a variety of colors, though the most common colors still around are metallic olive, maroon, white, and dark blue.
Trim, Bumpers, and Lights
The front trim on a Berlina varies depending on its year. 1750 cars have 7 in. outer headlights, with 5 3/4 in. inner driving or fog lights. In the US, these inner lights are operated by a separate switch from the main headlights; in other markets, they are part of the high-beam circuit. Each light has a stainless trim ring. A German owner's manual I have shows that 1750 models for some jurisdictions had an adjustment lever under the 7 in. lights, which apparently alters the beam angle, depending on whether the car is loaded or unloaded. The Alfa heart-shaped grille is a cast "pot metal" shell with stainless horizontal bars, and a press-on Alfa emblem. The shell is very similar to, but will not fit on, a 1750 GTV (and vice-versa). Between the shell and the headlights is black expanded metal mesh with a multi-slat cast, chromed, pot metal trim piece riveted on.
The 2000 front end is entirely different. All four headlights are 5 3/4 in., all operated by the headlight switch, and surrounded by stainless trim rings. The center Alfa grill is wider and squater than on the 1750, and bears no resemblance to the contemporary 2000 GTV slatted grille. The area between the lights and the grille is filled by black cast plastic pieces with one horizontal piece of stainless trim.
Front US turn signals in 1969 were amber Carello lights, with chrome cast pot metal bodies mounted in cutouts on the under side of the bumper, and of a design common to many Italian cars, including the 1969 US GTV, Fiat 850 Spider reverse lights and turn signals, and some Lamborghinis. From 1971 on, US cars had larger, squarer turn signals mounted in larger cutouts in the bumper, the same as used on GTVs and other later Alfas. For non-US cars, the turn signals were mounted in the body just above the bumper, and just below the grille, similar to the arrangement on the Giulia sedan. They had no cutout in the bumper.
The bumpers for US cars through 1973 (and all years for non-US cars) are polished stainless steel with stainless overriders containing a vertical rubber strip. The rear bumper wraps around the fender all the way to the wheelwell. 1974 and later 2000 US cars have heavy black rubber impact-absorbing bumpers with a bright trim strip. To meet US impact standards, the cars with rubber bumpers have welded reinforcing boxes running between the rear bumper mounts and the wheel wells, through the trunk area. There are likely similar reinforcements for the front bumper.
Early cars have ALFA ROMEO in block capital letters above the license plate. On early cars, the license plate lights are small round lights in the bumper. Later cars first had chrome lights bolted to the body on either side of the license plate, then finally with late cars an overhanging ledge above the license plate, as on the GTV, that held the lights. This ledge contained ALFA ROMEO in block capital letters. Early cars had no Alfa badge on the trunk lid; later cars had the badge in a small recessed circle. US model Berlinas have an INIEZIONE cast script near the right taillight; other markets' cars have a cast 1750 or 2000 script in this location. Non-US car have a small round amber side light on the side of each front fender. 1969 US cars have the same amber light at the front, but mounted lower, and a similar red round light on the rear fenders. 1971 and later US cars have large rectangular amber (front) and red (rear) side lights, in common with the GTV, but with a slightly different rubber gasket.
Early US taillights are 2/3 red, 1/3 white (for reverse), arranged vertically, with a small reflector. They are very similar to Giulia Super lights. Early non-US lights are presumably the same, with amber instead of red for the turn signal. From 1971 on, the taillight was completely different, with a horizontal cast-in division, and "quartered" light segments. Again, US cars had all red with white reverse light, other markets had amber turn signals. I have seen a few lights with no white portion at all. Berlina and Giulia sedan taillights were used on a variety of exotic Italian sports cars of the period.
The windshield wipers are the "clap-hands" variety that sweep towards each other. They are powered by a two-speed motor, and set in a grilled panel that is the air intake for the heater and ventilation system. They park toward the center. There is also a windshield washer, operated by a pneumatic foot press-switch, that also causes the wipers to sweep until the switch is released.
The exterior door handles are substantial chrome cast pot metal with a push button. The front doors are locked by a common key, which also fits the trunk and glove box. The rear doors lock only from the inside. On 1750 cars the trunk opens by turning the key; on 2000 cars the key is merely the lock, and pushing in the plunger opens the trunk..
All Berlinas have a small rectangular "designo di Bertone" builder's plate on the lower right front fender, just in front of the door. It has silver writing on a black background. There is a stainless strip under the doors, and stainless trim on the sills. Mirrors on early cars are round and chrome, mounted on the driver's door next to the vent wing. Later cars have a grey round mirror with a small Alfa emblemon the front or a larger trapezoidal mirror, with a small Alfa emblem on the front side. There is also a small chrome slatted plastic grille on the pillar between each rear door and the rear window, which is the extractor vent for the flow-through ventilation. Giulia Supers had a small Alfa emblem here.
The engine compartment and trunk have a small courtesy light that illuminates when the hood or trunk is opened. Berlinas came from the factory with a screw-type jack and a tool kit in the trunk. The kit includes a lug wrench and various other tools, and is contained in a fitted plastic bag.
The Berlina has reclining bucket front seats and a bench rear seat. The early front seats had no headrest, looking very much like Giulia Super seats. Beginning in 1969 with the introduction of US models, all later Berlinas had headrests in front. The rear seat is supposed to fit three people. The 1750 cars came from the factory with an removable seat insert to go on the rear driveshaft hump and opening storage compartment/armrest that can be installed when only two people will be sitting in back. 2000 cars have a drop-down armrest/storage compartment in the center of the back seat.
Early seat material is a very stretchy and sticky vinyl, with a pattern like pigskin; later seats have a stiffer type of vinyl. Supposedly leather was a factory option in some countries, though I have never seen it. Most Berlinas seem to have tan interiors, though black is the second most common color. The early tan is fairly dark; later tans are almost white. A fuzzy crushed velour seat material was available on 2000 Berlinas, but I'm unsure whether it was standard or an option. I have seen it on one US 1973 Berlina; the door panels were also velour, with the velour glued on top of the more normal vinyl panels.
Door panels are finished in the same material as the seats, and have a plastic-welded pattern (or a velour overlay). Door panels have an angled door pull, a door release handle, a pull-up lock, and a window crank. The front doors also have the vent window winder, and the rear doors each have a small ash tray. 2000 cars (at least in the US) have a small red safety reflector in the lower rear corner of each door. 2000 cars (at least in Europe) had electric window lifts available, but I'm unsure whether this feature was standard or optional.
Early carpets are grey wool just like Giulias; later cars have a loop-weave nylon carpet, usually in black. Visible edges of the carpets are bound. A rubber heel pad and tunnel pad is built into the carpeting on the driver's side. Stainless kick panels on the sills cover the carpet edges.
The 1750 dashboard is similar in style to the 1750 GTV dash. The dash is mainly black formed plastic, with a wood insert on the facing, surrounded by chrome trim. The two main instruments (speedometer and tachometer) have white numbers on black with black surrounds, and protrude noticeably in pods from the top of the rear-angled surface of the dash. The four other instruments (oil pressure, water temperature, fuel gauge, and clock) are located on the vertical part of the center console, angled towards the driver. Each has a chrome bezel. The top of the dash contains two defroster/heater outlets that can be turned. The glove box has a locking door that swings down.
The center console drops vertically from the dash, slanting down to surround the shifter, and terminating in a storage bin, ashtray, and switches between the seats. The shifter in its vinyl boot, heater sliding controls, and cigarette lighter are also in the console. The console has the same wood facing as the dash. The sides of the console are black plastic. There are two speaker grills on the sides of the console.
The 2000 dash is entirely different. It is still black plastic, but the facing is different, and the main instruments are now black letters on white, and contained in a single binnacle with wood facing. The oil pressure gauge is incorporated into the tachometer. The other instruments (fuel gauge, water temperature, and clock) are located in the center of the dash, angled toward the driver. They too are black on white. The center console is much more horizontal than on the 1750, and there is room there for an optional air conditioner. The top of the dash has two defroster outlets, and the face of the dash has two "eyeball" fresh air vents that draw air from the grill area in front of the windshield.
Charles Haff reports that the factory-installed radio in 1969 1750 Berlinas was a Blaupunkt three- band push-button radio. This must have been an option, as my 1969 1750 (original dash) has never had a radio or antenna installed in it. The 1974 2000 was supplied without a radio; presumably radios were a dealer-installed option. I would assume that all 1750s equipped with the radio came with the Blaupunkt, and that all 2000s came with no radio. As mentioned above, the 1750 console has speaker grilles built in; I don't know about the 2000 console.
The emergency brake handle is a large chrome pull-up lever with a black plastic end and chrome release plunger between the seats on the driveshaft tunnel. The handle has a vinyl boot that fits into an opening in the carpet.
Berlina headliners all are white or off-white, in the standard Alfa "snakebite" pattern vinyl. A thin vertical section just in front of the back window is dark grey or black, and contains larger perforations to allow air to flow out the extractor vents on the rear window pillars. The sun visors are white and black vinyl and swing down and to the side. The rearview mirror has a black metal mount with black plastic frame and a day/night feature. The mirror is held onto the body by a spring, so that it will break away in an accident. There is a small stainless steel switch panel at the top of each door pillar, with a small sliding switch that operates the interior lights. The light itself has a white plastic cover, over each rear door, in a cast metal piece in unit with the rear grab handle. The Berlina grab handles are a black and silver woven plastic, with a swing-down pivot.
Several different steering wheels were used. Early non-US cars used a three-spoke aluminum wheel with a black plastic rim and three black horn pushes much like late Giulia Super or GTV wheels. Later non-US cars used a wooden wheel similar in appearance to the US wheel. 1750 US cars had a steel three-spoke wheel with thin black plastic rim, made by Helleboro. 2000 US cars had a slightly smaller diameter three-spoke steel wheel with a thicker plastic rim, molded to look like wood, perhaps made by Personal. On all the steel wheels, there is a horn-push in each spoke.
The Berlina heater is common to other contemporary Alfas, with a small radiator under the dash, a two-speed fan, and sliding controls for the amount of hot water admitted, and for directing the heat to the windshield, the feet, or both. The heater draws air from the grill in front of the windshield.
All Berlinas came with seat belts in all four seats. Early cars have an adjustable three-point system with metal buckles in front and lap belts in back. 2000 US Berlinas have Klippan inertial-reel three-point shoulder harnesses in front and lap belts in back. Beginning in 1973, US Berlinas, like GTVs and Spiders, have a Bosch interlock ("sicherheitgurtlogik") installed under the passenger-side dash that prevents the car from being started if a front seat is occupied but the belt is not fastened. The box is connected to sensors under the front seats.
2000 Berlinas had optional air conditioning. If fitted, the compressor is on the exhaust side of the engine, hanging on a large bracket off two large studs in the front of the head. The evaporator fits between the dashboard and the console, with its own outlets. Many cars with air conditioning had the battery location moved to the trunk.
Most of the Berlina electrical system is common to the other 105/115 cars of the time, and is a combination of Bosch, Marelli, Jaeger, Carello, and Altissimo components. The non-US cars usually have a Bosch distributor, while all US cars have Marelli distributors. All cars use Marelli coils. The alternator, voltage regulator, and starter are Bosch (some non-US cars came with Paris-Rhone starters, and perhaps other components). Early Spica (US) fuel pumps were made by Spica, while later ones were made by Bosch. Non-US cars use a mechanical fuel pump.
The electrical system is 12-volt negative ground, has color-coded copper wire with plastic insulation, and has a large fuse box under the driver's side of the dash board. The battery is usually in the left front of the engine compartment, though air conditioned cars may have the battery in the trunk. Most of the electrical system is not wired through the ignition switch, so most electrical items work without having to turn on the key. About the only things wired through the key are the ignition circuit, the electric fuel pump, and the electric components of the Spica injection pump. Early Berlinas have a Nieman ignition switch (German), also used on Giulia Supers and perhaps Duettos, which has a Bosch replaceable electrical switch component that is held on by two screws. Later cars have a Sipea (Italian) ignition switch licensed from Nieman, also used on Spiders and GTVs, which has a replaceable electrical switch component held on by a circlip.
The instruments and the turn signal/light switch on the steering column were made by Jaeger. The lights and light fixtures are Carello or Altissimo. On the 1750s, the outer 7 in. headlights have the low and high beams, and the inner 5 3/4 in. lights are in non-US markets, part of the high-beam circuit, and in the US, wired separately through a switch on the console as driving or fog lights, and work only on low beam. On the 2000, the four lights work conventionally: the outer lights are high and low beam, and the inner lights come on as part of the high beam. Berlinas have two Fiamm horns, placed behind the grille in front of the battery on 1750s, and one on each side of the radiator on 2000s.
Weights and Measures
The Berlina chassis dimensions are: wheelbase 101.1 in., front track 52.1 in., rear track 50.1 in., overall length 172.7 in. (though 1974 rubber-bumper cars must be longer), overall width 61.6 in., maximum height 56.3 in (1969), 53.8 (1974). The Berlina is the longest of the 105/115 series cars. The comparable wheelbases of the other models are: GTV 92.5 in., Spider Veloce 88.6 in., and Montreal 92.5 in.
The listed curb weight of the Berlina in the owner's manual varies from 2442 lbs. for the 1969 US 1750 model to 2590 lbs. for the 1974 US 2000 model with impact-absorbing bumpers. Road & Track magazine measured 2484 lbs. as curb weight for a 1971 US-spec. 1750 in May 1972.
Fluids and Capacities
Berlina fluid capacities are: engine coolant, 2.5 gallons, engine oil, 7.8 quarts; 4.8 quarts is the minimum for safe operation. Transmission capacity is 3.8 pints, differential 3.0 pints, and steering box about 0.7 pints. The normal fuel tank capacity is 12 US gallons, with the fuel tank reserve of about 1.6 gallons included within that amount. Some 1972 and 1973 2000 models had a 14.8 gallon tank, at least in the US. The larger tank is noticeably taller, and intrudes some into the trunk area. It has a screw-on gas cap rather than a bayonet type. The fuel octane requirement (RON) is 91.
Lubrication and Maintenance
These are suggestions for routine lubrication from a 2000 Berlina 1973 model year owner's manual:
For the engine, the manual calls for SAE 20W/50. Most cars seem to use 20W/50, with synthetic lubricant recommended by many. For the transmission, steering box, and differential, SAE 90 EP is called for (80W/90 is the modern substitute), and many now use synthetic oil, usually Redline. The driveshaft spline coupling calls for SAE NLGI 1 grease, and the front wheel bearings use SAE NLGI 2/3 grease. The brake and clutch hydraulic systems both call for DOT 3 (specifically Alfa Romeo or ATE Blau) brake fluid.
Frequent lubrication is suggested. Every 300 miles, the book calls for checking the level of engine oil and topping it up if necessary.
Every 3,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first, the book calls for changing the engine oil, changing the engine oil filter, lubricating the ignition distributor, and checking the level of the transmission and differential lubricants.
Every 6,000 miles, the steering box oil should be checked and filled, and the driveshaft spline coupling should be greased.
Every 12,000 miles, the transmission oil, differential oil, and injection pump oil filter to be changed.
Most of the moving parts of the car should be periodically lubricated. This includes linkage joints or hinges of the throttles, clutch and brake pedals and components, parking brake, doors, and lids. The cables for the mechanical tach and speedo, the handbrake cable, heater valve and vent control cables, and hood latch release cable should also be greased.
For injected cars, there are two fuel system filters that need regular replacement. The rear filter, near the fuel tank, should be replaced every 12,000 miles. The main canister filter, in the engine compartment, should be changed every 6,000 miles.
For carbureted cars, there is a small glass bowl filter in the engine compartment that should be changed regularly, probably every 6,000 miles.
The air filters should be changed every 6,000 miles.
Maximum speeds in gears at the 5800 rpm redline and US 4.55 differential, for both 1750 and 2000 models, are 26 mph in 1st, 44 in 2nd, 64 in 3rd, 86 in 4th, and 112 in 5th. Other models with the 4.3 differential have the following speeds at the 5800 rpm redline: 27 mph in 1st, 46 in 2nd, 67 in 3rd, 90 in 4th, and 117 in 5th.
In May 1969, Car and Driver magazine tested a 1750, getting a 0-60 time of 10.2 sec., 1/4 mile time of 17.6 sec @ 76 mph. Top speed of this car was 110 mph. In May 1972, Road & Track magazine tested a late 1750, getting a 0-60 time of 11.0 sec., 1/4 mile time of 17.9 sec. @ 76 mph, top speed of 108 mph. In August 1972, Road & Track magazine tested an early 2000, getting a 0-60 time of 10.7 sec., 1/4 mile time of 18.0 @ 77.5 mph, top speed unknown. All these figures are for US specification cars.
Like their Giulia forebears, Berlinas were used as police cars, at least in Malaysia, according to David Owen in "Alfissimo," and in Italy. "Alfa Romeo Giulia" by Giancarlo Catarsi (G. Nada, 1995) describes an interesting variant of the 1750 Berlina, a "1750 Giardinetta Veloce" produced by Carrozzeria Pavesi. Paraphrasing roughly from the Italian text, this is a six-window station wagon on the body of the Berlina, maintaining the original external dimensions, but with a lengthened roof, a large rear cargo area, and a tailgate in two sections that could be opened separately. "Upgraded" luxury features included special paint, electric window lifts, and an electric sunroof. Unfortunately, I know of no pictures of the Berlina station wagon. This description sounds very much like a Giulia station wagon, of which many were modified from factory sedans by Colli and perhaps others.
A few Berlinas have been raced, but not nearly as extensively as Giulia sedans were raced originally, and nowadays in vintage racing. A Group 5 1750 Berlinas was entered in 1967 Spa-Francorchamps 24-Hour race, getting a good final place (Patrick Italiano thinks 1st in group, 7th overall, but is not certain) with what is thought to be a first attempt at a 2000 engine. A Group 4 Berlina was also present.
There are currently a few Berlinas raced in amateur club events and autocrosses. Three people seem to jointly own "Mortimer II," a fairly radically prepared racing Berlina. I have photos of several cars that are seriously prepared for Alfa club events, yet street-legal. I have run my own car, a stock 1750, at informal Alfa Romeo Association time trials at Sears Point, and I have photos of another 1750 in AROSC time trials at Willow Springs Raceway in California in 1979.
As with many special interest cars, Alfas get modified by their owners. Some changes are good, some are not. Common upgrades are to mag wheels and wider tires. This is OK as long as there is clearance for them, and as long as the offset of the wheel is proper, and does not put too much strain on the wheel bearings or suspension.
The use of stiffer, shorter springs and heavier sway bars is common to all 105/115 cars. This can result in better handling and steering, but also can present alignment problems, wheelwell clearance problems, dragging components on the ground, a rougher ride, and chassis strength problems at the suspension attachment points due to increased loads.
Engine, transmission, and rear end swaps are common, as these can be changed among almost any 105/115 Alfa from the period 1962 to 1995 without difficulty. However, one change to be wary of is a US Berlina that has been converted from Spica injection to carburetors. Non-US cars used carburetors for the entire production run, so it is acceptable to make the change, but there are two methods of doing this. The better method is to get a complete European intake system, which includes the manifold, carbs, air filter, linkage, front engine cover, fuel pump, and fuel lines, to make a complete Alfa-designed system. The other way is to buy an aftermarket kit, such as from Shankle, and install that. These aftermarket systems work, but not as well as the original Alfa system. Removing the Spica system is becoming increasingly problematic, as emission testing spreads around the US, requiring the car to have its original fuel and emissions system in place. This trend is causing some Weberized cars to be reconverted back to Spica, so that they can be smog-tested and registered.
Problem Areas Common to All Contemporary Alfas
The primary worry with any steel-bodied Alfa is rust. Berlinas are as prone to this as any other Alfa from the 60's or 70's. The primary areas to worry about on Berlinas are: the perimeter of the windshield, especially on late cars with glued-in glass, around the rear window, the bottoms of the doors, the sills, the floors (due to wet carpets), the lower quarter panels near the front wheelwells, the rear wheel-well edges, the apron under the radiator, the battery box and the battery hold-down clamp attachment points, the spare tire well, the trunk floor and fuel tank mounting flange, and the extended edges of the tail below the trunk lid.
The running gear for a Berlina is largely interchangeable with other year Berlinas, Spiders, GTVs, and Giulia sedans. This includes the engine, gearbox, differential, suspension, steering, cooling system, and some parts of the electrical system. In addition, small items like handles, switches, fuses, and lights in some cases interchange. So these are not items to worry about if missing unless absolute originality is important.
However, missing trim and interior pieces are becoming very scarce for all Alfas of this period, so it's important that a car be complete in this area. Berlina body parts, glass, trim, and interior pieces are generally not interchangeable with other Alfas of the period. In addition, anything on the Berlina related to the length of the wheelbase, such as the driveshaft, exhaust system, parking brake cable, brake lines, and fuel lines, will be different from those items on a GTV, Spider, or Giulia.
As on any Alfa, there are several things to worry about on the engine.
Head gaskets fail commonly. Evidence of this is oil in the water, water in the oil, "mayonnaise" in the oil filler cap, radiator, dip stick, or coolant tank, or excessive oil leakage down the side of the block, especially the exhaust side.
Oil pressure should be at least 55 lbs. when driving, but the gauge and sender are notorious, and readings may be unreliable. Zero oil pressure at idle is not necessarily a problem. 2000 engines can lose oil galley plugs from the crankshaft, resulting in low oil pressure readings, but apparently no real damage. Low oil pressure readings can indicate a bad gauge or sender, bad ground in the gauge circuit, worn main or rod bearings, worn oil pump or slack relief valve spring, or dropped crank plugs.
Overheating is not uncommon, and can be caused by many things, including a blown head gasket, cracked head, simple loss of water, bad water pump, broken fan blades, silted-up block, failed or nonexistent thermostat, air trapped in the top of the cooling system, blocked, silted, or holed radiator, or retarded ignition timing. Water gauges can also give unreliable readings when nothing is actually wrong.
Oil leaks from several locations are common. The front and rear crank seals leak (including the "cigarette" seals in the rear main bearing), as can the head gasket from the six oil passages that feed oil to the cam bearings, especially the three on the exhaust side. Also the cam cover gasket can leak oil into the spark plug wells.
Loose upper timing chains can rattle and, if loose, can rub on the inside of the timing cover and cam cover. Cam lobes can wear and become "sharp" (detectable by touch), which ruins the cam and the associated tappet.
On engines with high miles, piston slap may be present when the engine is cold. This is more annoying than harmful, and not too big a worry if the noise goes away as the engine warms up.
On Spica injected cars, many things can be out of adjustment on the injection system. The most common are the misadjustment or removal of the thermostatic actuator (a form of enrichment device), tampering with the reference screw that sets the "pump gap" (set at the factory and meant never to be touched), tampering with the bellcrank stops, and misadjustment of the throttle cable. However, if the car starts well (especially when cold), idles tolerably, seems to pull well, doesn't smoke too much, and gets decent gas mileage, the system is likely working OK.
If the thermostatic actuator has been replaced with a mechanical enrichment device (such as a Shankle Sure-Start), that item will likely have to be removed, and the thermostatic actuator reinstalled, if the car is to pass its smog inspection and test.
Many people are concerned that the lack of lead in modern gasoline will hurt the valve seats in Alfa engines. However, in talking with machinists in a very experienced Alfa racing and machine shop, I've found this is more of a worry than a reality. Because of the high quality of the materials used in Alfa valves and seats, valve seat damage does not seem to occur with the use of unleaded fuel. But a lead substitute is certainly a cheap form of insurance if you are worried. However, with RFG fuels coming into use, some knowledgeable sources recommend putting in a gas additive to assist lubrication of the fuel injection pump on Spica cars. Marvel Mystery Oil is the most often cited additive. In addition, RFG may attack older rubber components in the fuel system.
The Alfa five-speed is very strong, but has a few quirks. It does not like to work well when cold; it needs warming up before hard use. The synchronizers, especially on second gear, wear out quickly, and can cause grinding on upshifts or downshifts. Knowing how to double-clutch is pretty much required to own an old Alfa. Also, the pinch bolt that holds the shift lever on can become loose, allowing the shifter to twist annoyingly, though not dangerously. The shifter boots can crack or come loose, allowing gear oil and bad smells into the passenger compartment. The ball bearings supporting the gear shafts can become noisy, even when there is no real problem, especially when in neutral. It is hard to check and fill the transmission oil, so it often gets neglected.
Driveshafts are a big headache on all 105/115 cars. The driveshaft is a complex multi-piece item, with several pitfalls. The most common problem is that the front rubber flex joint ("donut" or "giubo") tends to wear out and crack, eventually breaking. It is difficult to replace. Also, the two universal joints wear, and should be replaced only with genuine Alfa joint kits. The sliding spline is reasonably robust, as is the center bearing, but the rubber bearing carrier wears out and sags.
The other big driveshaft headache is straightness and balance. Problems in this area exhibit themselves as vibrations and booms (more felt than heard), ranging from mild to severe, and can occur at all speeds or very specific speeds. If the driveshaft is ever removed or disassembled, it must first be marked to be reassembled and installed in the same orientation. When any items are replaced, the shaft should be checked for straightness and balance by a good shop that knows how to work on two-piece shafts. Truck driveshaft shops are usually good.
A final problem area is the large bushing in the front of the driveshaft that runs on the ball at the end of the transmission output shaft. These can wear or crack, allowing wobbling, which will destroy the driveshaft and the transmission. They are difficult to replace correctly, and should be entrusted only to a shop that knows Alfa driveshafts.
Note that 1750 driveshafts use standard 8 mm attachment bolts for the universal joint yokes, and 2000 cars use unique 9 mm nuts and bolt, available only from Alfa.
Rear ends are pretty strong. However, outer wheel bearings wear out, as do the outer seals, allowing differential oil onto the wheels, tires, and brakes. Also, the pinion seal at the front of the rear axle can leak, and is difficult to replace. With age, the limited slip feature of 2000 cars tends to work less well, but presents no hazard to operation. Checking and changing the rear end oil is easy.
Brakes are generally not a problem. Problems can occur with overheated, warped brake disks, pistons stuck in their bores, and leaking cylinders and boosters. Also, the vacuum hose and one-way valve for the booster can fail. If the booster leaks excessive fluid into the vacuum chamber, this can get sucked into the engine and burned, producing white or grey smoke.
Dual circuit brakes on 1969 and RHD cars are more complex because of the dual boosters and extra plumbing associated with them. Also, 1969 dual-circuit floor-pedal master cylinders are no longer available new; rebuild kits are also now unavailable. Single circuit 1967-type systems can relatively easily be retrofitted, with a little replumbing, and a little less safety due to the single circuit. In addition, the later hanging-pedal system can be installed in 1969 US cars, but this involves significant cutting, welding, replumbing, and moving of components.
The parking brake is a small drum brake within the rear disk, so the shoes need periodic inspection and adjustment. The locking ratchet mechanism on the hand brake handle sometimes wears out, meaning you cannot get the hand brake to catch. The solution is usually to replace the toothed plunger or the ratchet rack, or to file sharp new teeth on whichever part is worn.
The steering box is supposed to contain 90W oil, but it is common for the bottom seal to fail, allowing all the oil out. Replacing the seal is not really feasible with the steering box in the car. One fix is to put light grease in the box until the seal can be replaced. The ZF box is adjustable for wear, but the Burman box is superior in every way, having a lighter and more precise feel.
Tie rod ends wear out easily and cause very sloppy and dangerous steering. Only genuine Alfa replacements with castellated nuts and cotter pins, not nylock nuts, should be used.
When getting an Alfa aligned, an experienced Alfa mechanic should be consulted, as the two outer tie rods must be of equal length, and the toe-in is then set by adjusting the center track rod. The caster must also be set. Alfa shop manuals specify particular weights that must be placed in the car for a correct alignment, but I don't think anyone actually does that.
105 series Alfa front suspension works well, but many of the components wear out, causing creaks and groans and unreliable handling. The front suspension can become very stiff if the bushings harden up too much. Wear items include upper and lower ball joints, A-arm bushings, inner control rod bushings, and caster arm bushings and ball joints. In extreme cases, the lower A-arm can break away from the cross member. Sway bar bushings also wear out easily. Adjustable upper control arms are recommended for cars that have been wrecked and cannot be brought into alignment with stock components.
As with the front suspension, the rear suspension works well for a live axle, but all the rubber bushings are prone to wear, especially on the trailing arms. Also, the limiting straps for the rear axle commonly tear, and then allow the axle to fall too far in rebound. The straps can be difficult to change if the mounting hardware is very rusted. The rubber axle stops can also become damaged or missing, allowing the axle to travel too high and hit the body on compression. This can hurt the axle and the body, producing kinks in the chassis members. Cars that have been driven very hard or raced may have cracks in the flanges on the axle housing that attach to the trailing arm, and the trailing arm attachment points on the body can rust out or tear away.
The vinyl upholstery of Alfas is not especially long-wearing, so tears can be expected in the seats, especially along seams. The tops of the rear seats are likely to be burned from the sun. Many seats will either have been reupholstered in poor quality vinyl, or covered with cheap seat covers such as sheepskins. The sheet-metal Berlina front seat frames often crack and tear near the seat back pivot area, requiring welding to repair. The plastic in the steering wheel will often be cracked, especially near the spokes, and the aluminum horn pushes will often be corroded. The stock wheel may have been swapped for an aftermarket wheel, or a Personal real wood wheel from a contemporary GTV or Spider. The plastic of the dashboard will inevitably be cracked, especially in sunny climates, usually radiating from the defroster vents. The wood on the dash may also be faded, cracked, or marked in some way. Sunshades help slow this deterioration process.
The wool rugs on early cars mildew and rot from perpetual wetness due to leaks around the door seals, door windows, and front and rear windows. The wet rugs also contribute to the rusting out of the floors. If the doors leak, the door panels are likely to sag and buckle.
Alfa instruments frequently do not give very useful information. Common problems include: The speedometer is likely to click, the odometer may fail, the clock probably won't work, the fuel gauge will likely register acceleration forces more than fuel quantity, and the oil pressure gauge is usually suspect.
The heater controls may be very stiff, or disconnected, and the heater valve may be stuck, or may leak.
Alfa electrical systems are somewhat notorious, though the causes of the problems tend to be common. The major cause of any electrical problem is a bad ground or a bad connection. When in doubt, check the integrity of the ground connection, and check that all wires are connected together properly and solidly. In addition, another common electrical system problem stems from Alfas' tendency to leak. Water getting into certain components, especially switches, connections, and instruments in the dashboard, can cause intermittent problems that are difficult to diagnose.
Fuses on Alfas tend to corrode and then fail, especially on cars with the fuse box in the engine compartment. Periodic cleaning and use of a conductive grease can prevent problems.
Alfa windshield wipers are notoriously slow (the standard joke says they have two speeds: slow and slower), and if the wiper motor needs servicing, it is difficult to get at. The same is true of heater fan motor. The tend not to work for all that long, and the bearings make screeching noises to alert you that the motor needs attention. Getting at the fan motor requires removing the console, and probably the dashboard, in addition to the heater unit itself.
Alfa gauges, especially fuel and oil pressure gauges, can be inaccurate and unreliable. For some of these problems, there is no easy cure.
Problem Areas That Are Likely to Come Up Only for a Berlinas
Only a few problems seem unique to the Berlina. The first is that Berlinas, being everyday sedans, may have very high mileage compared to comparable Alfa sports cars. This simply means components may wear out sooner.
Related to their mundane use is that Berlinas are more likely to have spent their whole lives outside, rather than in a garage, than GTVs and Spiders. Hence, the body, paint, upholstery, and dashboard condition are all likely to have suffered more.
In addition, because they are used as daily runabouts, Berlinas may not have been driven very hard, and may not have been warmed up fully when used on short errands. This can lead to seizing of some components, such as rear brake calipers from under-use, and more wear on the engine and gearbox from not having the oil warmed up to get rid of acids and condensation. This same situation can cause premature rust within the exhaust system.
Another consequence of Berlinas' treatment as just an everyday car is that they may not have received as regular maintenance as a cherished GTV or Spider.
Berlinas may have more driveshaft problems than other Alfas, probably because the shaft is longer due to the longer wheelbase.
Berlinas with floor-pivot pedals (whether RHD or LHD) were built with Lockheed brake boosters. Lockheed boosters are no longer available new, rebuild kits are difficult to find, and these boosters are complex and difficult to rebuild. Benditalia and Bonaldi boosters (based on a Dunlop design) used in Giulia sedans, Duettos, and GTVs through 1969 will fit in place of the Lockheed boosters with just mild bending of the brake pipes. These boosters are still available new, and are also easy and relatively cheap to rebuild. If booster problems are encountered, a switch to this type of booster may be warranted. As far as I know, GTVs and Spiders did not use Lockheed boosters.
Rumor has it that the later Berlina steering boxes are unique, and are easily broken. I have no verification of this though.
As with any Alfa, a potential Berlina purchase needs to be inspected thoroughly before buying. This can be done by a knowledgeable amateur, or by a professional Alfa mechanic. It's easy to fall in love with old Alfas, so try to maintain an objective outlook, and not get swept away by a problem car. It's probably a good idea to prepare a checklist and bring it along, going over each item systematically, as it is easy to forget some of the many problem areas.
An important point to remember is that these cars were made between 1967 and 1976. They are now old cars, and are going to have old car problems. It is not reasonable to expect them to be in exemplary condition. The occasional pampered or concours example does come along, but generally Berlinas were used as family cars or beaters, and the condition will reflect this. People are starting to appreciate their appeal, so some are now being treated better or restored, but most cars are going to have some problems.
The starting point should be the body. Check for rust in the areas listed above, and especially look underneath at the floors and suspension attachment points. Also pull up the trunk mats and look carefully all around the trunk. This leads to the second concern, which is repaired body damage. Alfas get hit a lot, especially in the rear. So look inside the rear panel and at the trunk floor for deformation. Also feel inside the rear wheelwells for bulging or poor repairs. The sides of the car should curve smoothly and subtly with no bulges. Look for bulges over the rear wheel wells, indicating a rear-end collision. These bulges are common, and show corresponding bulges in the unibody channel beam just inside the wheel wells. Also, if the tops of the wheel wells are very rusted, this area will be much weaker, and go bow out noticeably after a minor collision, or even from heavy trunk loads. Look where the rear door meets the rear quarter. This should be a narrow and even gap. The gap will be too thin and uneven on a car that has been hit in the rear, and too wide on a car that has been hit in the side. The gaps between the front and rear door should also be examined.
Check the fit of the doors, trunk lid, and hood. Uneven gaps in the front door probably means worn or poorly adjusted door hinges. Check all over for completeness and fit of trim, lights, bumpers, and badges. It is common for the heart-shaped Alfa grille to be broken or pitted, and stainless steel bumpers are rarely undamaged, as they are very lightweight and weak. The rubber bumpers on 1974 US cars are likely to be in poor shape, as the internal structure rusts, and the rubber and trim deteriorates and discolors with age. Headlight rings are often missing as well.
The second inspection area is the interior. This is the hardest part of the car to restore properly, especially if items are missing or modifications have been made. The dashboard will likely be cracked on top, but how is it otherwise? Is the wood facing in good condition? Do the instruments work? How are the seats, carpets, door panels, and headliner? These are all difficult items to restore to original condition.
The next area to check is the engine. Any US Berlina should have Spica injection; if it doesn't, someone has tampered with it. Other countries' cars will have dell'Orto or Weber carburetors. Check the condition of the oil and water (for evidence of head gasket failure), look around the head gasket for leaks, and do a compression test with the engine warm and the throttles held wide open (with the spark plugs all out). The absolute readings are not all that important, but all the cylinders should be within 10 percent of each other. Check the oil pressure (at least 55 psi when driving; 7 psi is OK at idle). The engine should start easily, idle smoothly, and pull strongly without much smoke. Alfa engines have a high amount of mechanical noise by modern standards, but worn pistons, loose valves, and loose timing chains will all make distinctive noise.
The clutch and transmission should work smoothly together. The cars were designed to shift very well. For someone who hasn't driven an Alfa before, the long angled shifter takes some getting used to; if it's working right it is a joy. Some of the synchros, especially on second gear, are likely to be worn, so you need to upshift slowly and double-clutch on downshifts. Some bearing noise, especially in neutral, is common, and some gear noise, especially in third and fifth gears, is also normal. Excessive gear noise, jumping out of gear, and excessive backlash are not normal.
The brakes should work smoothly, with no grabbing or pulsing, and the brake pedal should be high and firm, and should not pump up, which indicates air in the system. The brake disks should be smooth looking, without grooves, scores, or rust. The parking brake should hold the car on any normal hill. On a 1969 LHD car or any RHD car, both brake boosters should be in place and should be plumbed into the hydraulic system. They are commonly removed or plumbed around when problems are encountered.
Check the steering and front suspension by grabbing the tire at different locations and trying to tip or twist it. Not much movement should be found. In and out movement at the top of the tire indicates worn upper ball joints or bushings; a banging sound when the tire assembly is pushed sharply forward indicates worn caster ball joint, and excessive movement when pushing in at the rear of the tire indicates worn steering tie rod ends. Also rock the steering wheel to see how much free play there is. Jounce the front end to check the shock absorbers and to listen for creaks, groans, and clunks.
Not much can be checked on the rear suspension. Rock each wheel to check for excessive bearing movement, jounce the rear body to check the shock absorbers, and look underneath for general condition, and to see that the limit straps are in place. Make sure the pinion seal and the axle seals are not leaking too much.
When driven, an Alfa should feel tight and responsive, and very connected to the road. The driver should have the impression that the car is telling him or her exactly what is going on. These are very communicative cars. All the pedal efforts are normally very light. (Note that if a dual-booster car has had its boosters removed, which is not uncommon, the brake pedal will be very hard.) Normally the steering should be very light and responsive, if wide tires have not been fitted. In corners the car is likely to lean over some, but it should corner well. Similarly, Berlinas tend to pitch forward heavily in braking, but should nonetheless stop quickly and straight. Any decent Berlina should be able to cruise easily at 80 mph without overheating or having other problems. And a Berlina should be able to top 100 mph with ease if there is enough road to do so.
Subjective Impressions and Comparisons
Berlinas are fun fast cars with plenty of character. They are a great compromise car for the Alfa lover, because they combine the driving pleasure of the GTV and Spider with the utility and anonymity of a dull four-door sedan. They have excellent mechanical components (identical to the contemporary GTV and Spider), a pleasing body style full of character with interesting details and trim, and a comfortable, usable, and fairly luxurious interior. I use mine everyday and enjoy it a lot.
The Berlina's main problem is that it has suffered in comparison to the best sedan Alfa (or anyone else) ever made, the Giulia Super. The Super was a little shorter, a little lighter, and had a carbureted 1600 engine. These qualities combined to give the Super a very lively feel that is somewhat absent in a Berlina. The Giulia Super could be tossed around more easily like a sports car, while a Berlina is just enough bigger and heavier to have slightly slower responses. In my experience, though, a Berlina is a better all-around daily use car, especially as the value of Giulia sedans has escalated to the point where owners feel they cannot use them on the street anymore.
When properly set up, a Spica-injected engine more than matches a comparable Weber-equipped car. The Spica engine starts well, generally does not foul plugs, and has instant response and good torque at all engine speeds. A Spica engine is definitely less temperamental than a Weber engine, and idles much better. And it is likely to get significantly better gas mileage, while providing more power. In states where smog inspections are a concern, Spica injection is much more likely to easily pass a smog test than Webers. The 1750 and 2000 chassis enjoy some developments compared to the Giulia chassis, such as revised front suspension geometry and the addition of a rear sway bar. The 2000 has a limited slip rear end. 1750 and 2000 front brakes are also bigger than 1600 brakes.
There is plenty to be said about the relative aesthetic merits of each of the Giulia and Berlina body styles. Most people seem to think the Giulia is either charming or ugly, and that the Berlina is either cleaned-up or simply plain. The Giulia is certainly more flamboyant, with very curved front and rear glass, a very low and short nose, and scalloped body and roof edges. The Giulia grille emphasizes the larger outer headlights, making the car appear to be glaring. On the other hand, the Berlina is shaped very like the Giulia, but the flamboyant features have all been cleaned up and sanitized. For example, the Berlina rear glass is much less radically curved, the scalloped edges have been smoothed out, the nose is lengthened and raised slightly with the chrome strip removed, the grille still retains the large outer lights, but the design of the grille does not emphasize it, and the car does not appear to sneer as does the Giulia. In addition, the indented portion of the top of the trunk lid was smoothed out, although the Berlina countered here by receiving a much more sharply indented tail than the Giulia.
The interior is a bit of a toss-up, as the Giulia Super dash is very sporting with the two large instruments in the binnacle, coupled with nice wood facing and a vinyl top piece. However, many consider the 1750 Berlina dash with the two large pods for the tachometer and speedometer to be the best dash Alfa has done. In addition, the Berlina has a console, with four extra instruments there, compared to the Giulia. Berlina seats are very comfortable, although Giulia Super seats seem to wrap around a little more, holding the occupant in place better.
The character of the Berlina changed significantly over its nine-year lifespan. Early cars are very similar to Giulias. They originally had carburetors, the Giulia intake system, single-circuit brakes, floor pedals, hubcaps, chrome exterior trim, a Giulia-style headliner, seats without headrests that resemble Giulia seats, wool carpets, a similar dashboard, very similar taillights, and the same 7 in. outer headlights with 5 3/4 in. inner headlights. Early Berlinas could easily have been badged as a new Giulia.
By the time the series ended in 1976, the car had become quite different. The engine had either a Spica injection system or non-Giulia-style carburetor intake, hanging pedals with new master cylinders replaced the old floor pedal assembly, the dashboard, carpets, and seats had been updated, the exterior trim had become more complicated and modern, including a black plastic grille with four 5 3/4 in. headlights. The wheels had lost their distinctive hubcaps, and 1974 and later US cars had large rubber bumpers. In a similar progression as from the Giulia to the Berlina, the late Berlina had a lot of stylistic similarities with the early Alfetta sedans (though the Alfetta is built on an entirely different structure). Which car appeals to you is purely a matter of personal preference.
Alfa Romeo Owner's Club, "Spica Technical Notes." This is an essential reference guide for any Alfa with Spica injection, which includes all the US specification cars. This book contains collected articles from Alfa club newsletters over the years, and official and unofficial setup manuals from Alfa Romeo and aftermarket rebuilders and racers. Available from the United States Alfa Romeo Owner's Club. Contact Phyllis Gaylard, 7238 Seaworthy Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, or the AROC National Office, Glenna Garrett, 2468 Gum Tree Ln., Fallbrook, CA 92028 (1994).
Joe Benson, "Illustrated Alfa Romeo Buyer's Guide (2d ed)." This is a buyer's guide for all Alfas, but devotes plenty of space to Giulias, Berlinas, and the relevant running gear. This book is essential reading before buying an Alfa. Motorbooks International, P.O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, WI, 54020. ISBN 0-87938-633-9 (1992).
Pat Braden and Jim Weber, "Alfa Romeo Giulia: History and Restoration." Not specifically geared to the Berlina, but very applicable, as the Berlina was totally derived from the Giulia line. Includes history, mechanical repair and tips, inspection procedures, and purchasing and restoration tips. Motorbooks International, P.O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, WI, 54020. ISBN 0-87938-529-4 (1991).
Pat Braden, "Alfa Romeo Owner's Bible." A good general introduction to Alfas and Alfa ownership, purchasing, maintenance, and problems. Not much specific information on Berlinas, but lots of information that applies to all 105 and 115 series cars. Robert Bentley Inc., Publishers, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138. ISBN 0-8376-0707-8 (1994).
R.M. Clarke (compilation), "Alfa Romeo Giulia Berlinas, 1962-1976." This is a compilation of reprinted articles from contemporary magazines during the heyday of the Giulia and Berlina. Much of the material concerns RHD cars from Australia and England. Brooklands Book Distribution Ltd., ISBN 1 869826 299. Available in the United States from Motorbooks, International, P.O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, WI, 54020.
d'Amico and Tabucchi, "All the Alfa Romeo Production Cars 1910-1996." An updated version of Fusi's definitive two-volume resource on Alfa Romeo production cars, below.
Luigi Fusi, "Alfa Romeo Catalogue Raisonne 1910-1989." The definitive resource on Alfa Romeo production cars. A large, expensive, two-volume set, complete with photos, production numbers, and the factory's blessing.
I want to thank the following people who provided information I used in preparing this document: Pat Braden, John Hertzman, Patrick Italiano, Chris Off, Jim Stephens, Mark Thornton.
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