I've mentioned it somewhere on here that the first vehicle I bought was a 1942 Willys MB. This was great fun for running around locally but didn't really work for going any distance, or as a reliable commuting vehicle for more than a few miles. I needed something else. A friend of a friend had taken us for a mad drive around South Shields in an Alfa 33 and my curiosity was piqued. Could I get to drive an exotic Italian. Scouring Auto Trader and Exchange and Mart, I found an Alfasud for sale in Leeds and thus began my relationship with this great Italian marque.

AlfasuD 1.5 SC

This was my second foray into car ownership and I have to admit that I was more than a little naive. Why would anyone not be honest and truthful about the car that they were selling? I drove over see the car and it was a lovely red colour with a grey interior. It started and we took a short trip around the block to show that it moved. It was only £600, sorted. A week later I took a bus over, with cash in hand and a new insurance policy, and picked up the car. It came complete with a receipt that said "sold as seen" on it.

it looked as though a new pope had been elected

The first problem was when I tried to get it to go at anything above a quick walk. There was very little power and what there was was accompanied by enough white smoke out of the exhaust that it looked as though a new pope had been elected. I struggled to get it to my parents house, as it was closer than going home and they had a garage, with the engine definitely sounding like it wasn't firing on all cylinders. Investigation revealed a blown head gasket. Which I quickly fixed, having a Jeep meant I'd got quite good at mending things.

In terms of technical details it was a late 1.5 SC ('81/'82). With the 1490cc boxer engine fed by twin Weber carbs. It was a 3-door hatchback, so qualified as a hot-hatch of sorts. Other fun things where the internal hatch release, no having to fiddle about with a key in the rain.

Over time other faults started to show. First intermittent brakes, which needed new discs, calipers, and brake lines. That was my first encounter with inbound brake discs. Great for efficiency, awful for working on. Next came new front shocks, windscreen wipers, and a windscreen. The wiper had thrown itself from the car onto the pavement, thankfully not hitting a pedestrian, and then what was left proceeded to score the windscreen.

A period of, relatively, trouble free motoring ensued. I used it daily to commute to work and to visit the out-laws on the other side of the Pennies. It was distinctive, exotic, fun, and fast. Everything that a mid-20s proto-petrolhead wanted. It ran without fault for six months or so. I even rented a garage to keep it in so that it wasn't exposed to the Yorkshire winter.

One good bump and the battery would fall onto the passenger

In the end an MOT was its downfall. I'd dropped it off confidently, having sorted out the majority of the mechanicals. Sadly I'd not addressed the usual problem with the Sun, rust. The MOT inspector wanted to, in his own words, "see the brave fool that had driven it in", before handing me the failure notice. The front bulkhead was completely shot and the battery was liable to fall on through onto the passenger's ankles at any time. I drove it home, looked at the work that needed doing and sold it to the friend of a friend. I don't know what became of it but it did light a spark that would come back later.

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