Everyone I know likes Alfa Romeo. It is a thing of a beauty to most and a darn right brute of a performance car that is affordable to buy if you compared it to the other great motoring brands. It has a colorful racing history, driven by the biggest names in the automotive industries and the car has a character that speaks to whoever that sits behind the wheel. The car has a spirit unlike any other car you have driven before.
Everyone in Malaysia has heard of the car Alfa Romeo. The brand has been in the country since the days of our grandfathers where they rule on the streets as the car to own. The government used the Alfa Romeos as their police cars, customs departments and military personnel transporters. And ever since those days, the Alfa Romeos, in a way has shaped the motoring scene here in Malaysia. I know it has shaped my motoring needs.
I first knew about Alfa Romeo during my secondary school days when a friend of mine told me about how cool his mom’s new car was. And he drives a 320 BMW coupe to school where most of us rides the school bus eventhough he has yet to have his driver’s license back then. His mom new car was the Alfa Romeo 155. His mom bought a spanking new glossy Italian ride and for a woman, it was an acquired taste for her to choose the 155 as the car speaks manly, macho and diabolical.
It has that wedge shape that slices the air like a sports car. It’s got that design cues that says vainly that it’s beauty will last longer than yours but I don’t really care about Italian cars back then if it weren’t Ferarris or Lambos but since then, every time I saw that squarish big derrière of the 155, it triggers all sorts of emotions. My dad says it awkward looking but nicely designed when we see it on the road. I think it is awesome looking than the front. I guess it is one way of them Italians saying “since I’m faster, I’ll give you a good show from behind”.
Then came my fascination for the British Touring Touring Car where the Alfa Romeo 155 dominates the season. Boy did it look good on the track with the Silverstone kit. The extended rear wing, the front lower lip and the air intake side mirrors. All that italian innovation led the car to a series of podium that year. Around the same time, it looks super monstrous in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters that brought the famous quad pipes back box that breathes fire, the ribbon spoilers and the widebody kit, kicking the dominating 190E Mercedes winning streaks back to the german barnyards.
Win after win, the Alfa Romeo 155s pushes the brand to great heights and practically saves the company’s economics back then. And from then on, owning the 155 as my first Alfa Romeo has indeed been a bittersweet memories for me, well more of the sweetness than that of bitter that is until I had to make way for a new car. The 155 will always have a sweet spot in my heart as the best in its class, bar none. Then and now.
Push forward twenty years since the first 155s arrived in Malaysia, Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Klang Valley or AROCKV in short, held a 20th birthday bash for the club members that drives the iconic Italian sports sedan to a weekend drive up the Fraser’s Hill in Pahang. The club manage to gather twenty lucky 155 owners to drive to this event which accompanied by its other brothers which comprises of the 156s, 159s, the 33, the Alfasuds, 168s, 166s, 146s and 147s. A true sporting family gathering from these true sporting hearts.
The event starts off at Sime Darby Autoconnexion in Jalan Ipoh for the flag off in the morning after all had their breakfast and photo sessions. The convoy went on smoothly with the help of police marshalls and also with the help of their own. The drive is to commemorate the Alfa Romeo 155’s great handling on not just on the highways but also on the twisties along the B roads.
The small town of Fraser’s Hill were in honour to received these Italians as all were greeted with smiles, claps and shots of photographs as they parade to their holding ground at the foothills of Shahzan Inn. Everyone had fun that weekend with prizes won in lucky draws and awards for the best Alfa Romeo 155 in various categories. As to end the drive, the convoy had an exciting hard drive to Temerloh the day after for some super delicious Patin fish lunch before everyone had their own way back to their homes in Kuala Lumpur.
All Alfa Romeo 155s in the event still looks awesomely handsome even after twenty years it has been on these Malaysian tarmacs. One thing about italian cars is that it loves to be driven hard. Therefore, it proves how enthusiastic these alfistis were in taking care of their rides, maintaining and restoring it back into shape so that it can take the beating again and again. I know this because, be still my sporting heart that my old 155 is still here with the current owner, looking meaner than before. Congratulations to AROCKV for holding such a memorable event and thank you for bringing that Cuore Sportivo in me all over again and happy 20th birthday Alfa Romeo 155.
words: Jeo pix: Jeo & Hazwan