2004 Alfa Romeo 147

My first Italian car. As pretty as you could want it to be - and the correct colour.

I have always wondered how it is you can tell you are looking at a European car just in one glance. Somewhere here is the answer..

So - here is the less emotive stuff.

This is a 3 door Alfa 147 2 litre Twin Spark 5 speed manual. It has 17 inch wheels - much to its credit - which manage to both reduce road noise and minimise the effect of road surface irregularities

The Twin Spark has been an Alfa benefit for some years - it simply has two spark plugs in every cylinder, which aids the combustion process enough that they have continued with it rather than fit the occasional turbocharger. Mind you - I would be lining up to test drive the first turbo model in person.!

I think more to the point - this engine has variable timing on the inlet camshaft, which succeeds in not only making the powerplant extremely easy to live with at low revs, but also gives it a wonderfully intoxicating surge when it gets up to 3500 or thereabouts. I am not sure of the exact moment the transition takes place, because one is enjoying the process so much at the time it seems counterproductive to have eyes glued to the tacho.

At time of writing this I have just returned from a 1000Km weekend of pure fun motoring on the West Coast of our island. This means two traverses of the Southern Alps, and as we are well placed to do so, the route involved both the Lewis Pass and Arthurs Pass - both the sort of roads that one might stumble across in Italy.

The little car - it is little when comparing fore and aft to port and starboard - excelled in every department that meant anything significant to me, and despite any doubts I may have had about embarking on this new career path in automobiles of dubious longevity - if one is to believe common motoring press - I am totally in love with the experience. Not many cars give you this - let alone a 150,000Km old Italian of unknown history.

Apart from performing its duties in exemplary fashion, it always managed to look downright gorgeous despite the weather..

I shall elaborate further in due course, as I shall become its chief mechanic and most serious critic. I do not think it will be an unpleasant journey.!

Stay tuned.