Is there one particular car that you feel you just have to get out of your system? Now I’m not talking about lottery-winner’s fantasy garages here; I’m talking ‘one-grand-runabout-cum-banger-rally-track-pig’ type thing. Well my guilty secret is the Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf – a motor that sort of got lost in the automotive history books between the old Alfasuds and Alfa 75 and the relatively new GTV and 156 saloon. But then that’s what CarClub 18-30 is all about really: a celebration of those forgotten ‘quick, cool or quirky’ modern classics, that hooned the highways between 1985 and 1997*.

Initially, things didn’t look promising for the Alfa 145, or its four-door sibling the 146, as the cars underpinnings were nicked from the dreary Fiat Tipo. But in true Alfa fashion the sharply styled new hatchback looked a lot more focused and angry than its soppy Italian cousins. To complement its aggressive boxy bodywork the interior had a funky new makeover too with a dashboard that was dramatically cut away from the passenger and kidney-hugging bucket seats in the Cloverleaf.

 

 

Reviews at its launch in 1994 were pretty good; handling and steering were precise and performance figures were better than its Teutonic rival, the Golf GTI. Picky journos said the interior plastics looked a bit cheap – lazy journos wrote stuff about chocolate box packaging. Even base model 145 got that charismatic flat-four, which traces its ancestry back to the original hot-hatch Alfasuds. But the flagship Cloverleaf got the new 2.0-litre 16-valve twin spark four-pot as found in the 155, which delivered 155bhp, 187 Nm and could get you to 60mph in just 8.0 seconds. It may not have been as reliable, as frugal, as comfortable or as refined as the German bestseller; it may have depreciated more quickly too, but the best thing about the Cloverleaf was that it wasn’t a Golf GTI … and I’ve owned five GTI from mk1 through 5! Confused? I am too.

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If, like me, you a retro Alfa itch that you’re desperate to scratch, then get yours quick. While half a million were made in their seven year production run it’s a well known fact that neglected 145’s age quicker than a chocoholic Labrador, and more than one Cloverleaf has already been lost to that stupid scrappage scheme. So please, if you do spot a good one, then save it. In return we will grant you special access to the VIP lounge of MotorPunk’s CarClub 18-30** and a 5% discount*** on our forthcoming sprints or trackdays.

 

*There is a ‘jailbait’ and ‘cougar’ clause for slightly younger or older applicants, subject to the MotorPunk committee’s discretion. More on that to follow soon.

**The futon near the radiator with fewer tea stains.

***Subject to 5% handling charge.

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