Alfa Romeo Milano: History, Variants, Specifications

Alfa Romeo Milano Essential History

The Alfa Romeo Milano sedan first hit the streets in 1985, known as the Alfa 75 in global markets to celebrate the famed Italian brand’s 75th anniversary as an automobile producer. The Milano name was chosen for the still-important U.S. market, where the car was launched a year later in 1986. The American version was a sportier, less luxurious competitor to the Mercedes 190 E and BMW 3 Series. Despite somewhat controversial styling by Ermanno Cressoni, then the lead at Alfa’s in-house design center, the Milano was well regarded by the media for its engaging handling, but mostly for its engine. While the majority of European Alfa 75s made do with a range of Alfa twin-cam, four-cylinder engines varying in displacement from 1.6 to 2.0 liters, the U.S.-spec Milano was fitted exclusively with Alfa’s V-6 engine, often nicknamed the “Busso V-6” after its creator, Giuseppe Busso.

Alfa Romeo Milano Chassis & Suspension

Under the Milano’s skin was a fairly sophisticated rear-wheel-drive chassis. The suspension layout was similar to previous Alfetta models, consisting of torsion bars and shock absorbers up front and a de Dion tube with shocks and coil springs in the rear. The five-speed transaxle was hung out back for superior weight distribution, and inboard rear disc brakes reduced un-sprung weight as they did in Alfa’s Formula 1 race cars. The Milano shared its chassis and layout with the GTV/6 coupe, though with a slightly longer wheelbase to account for a larger second row than the 2+2 coupe.

Alfa Romeo Milano Features & Equipment

Three Milano trim levels were available at launch, Silver, Gold and Platinum all identified by the color of the four-leaf clover badge on the trunk lid. Ascending the ranks, each received increasing levels of equipment, with the Platinum getting such niceties as a leather interior, sunroof, ABS brakes, and a limited-slip differential. All of these models had a 2.5-liter, SOHC version of the Busso V-6, producing 154 hp.

Alfa Romeo Milano Verde

By the end of 1987, Alfa Romeo added a range-topping Verde trim level. Identified by a green cloverleaf badge (Quadrifoglio in Italian), the Milano Verde boasted a 183-hp, SOHC 3.0-liter Busso V-6 along with a taller final drive for the five-speed manual gearbox, a limited-slip differential, and a larger front anti-roll bar. Just 900 or so Milano Verdes were produced, all easily identified by their “phone-dial” 15-inch Speedline alloy wheels, a body kit that included a rear spoiler, side skirts, and fender flares, orange gauges, and a full Recaro interior. Europe also received similar V-6 models in both 2.5 and 3.0-liter form. Production for the U.S. market ended in 1989, with the all-new, front-wheel-drive 164 sedan arriving for the 1991 model year.

Alfa Romeo Milano Rides Into the Sunset

The Milano and 75 represented something of the end of an era for Alfa Romeo. It was the last rear-wheel-drive sedan Alfa would produce until the 2015 Giulia and it was also the last Alfa sedan to not share a basic chassis with a Fiat product. Fiat took a controlling stake of Alfa Romeo in 1986 just after the Milano’s launch.

Alfa Romeo Milano Highlights

With a platform developed in part by Alfa’s motorsports learnings, it was natural that the Alfa 75 was raced in various European touring car series, including DTM, where it was mostly outclassed by Mercedes’ 190E 2.3-16 and BMW’s E30-series M3. To homologate the 75 for racing, 500 examples of an Alfa Romeo 75 Evoluzione model were produced with a turbocharged 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine making a bit over 150 hp, or nearly the output of the 2.5-liter V-6. This car also received a body kit that was even more aggressive-looking than the Milano Verde.

The ultimate iteration of the platform came with the special two-door Alfa Romeo SZ (coupe) and RZ (convertible). These cars were based on a shortened version of the Milano/75 chassis with suspension and brake upgrades learned from Alfa’s touring car experience. Powered by a slightly upgraded 3.0-liter V-6 making just over 200 hp, and with even more controversial styling than the Milano, the SZ was nicknamed “Il Mostro,” or, “the monster.” While the SZ name was meant to recall the old Zagato-designed and -built Alfa Giulietta race cars, the SZ was actually designed in-house at Alfa Romeo, but built by Zagato, as indicated by the Zagato badges on its front fenders.

Alfa Romeo Milano Buying Tips

After years of lingering in the shadows, the Alfa Romeo Milano is beginning to gain some recognition on the strength of its chassis and now widely revered Busso engines. While the cars pop up in general classified sections on Craigslist and eBay, most cars for sale will be found at various Alfa Romeo enthusiast websites, including forums and club sites, or on Bring a Trailer, the online collector car auction website. The lower-spec Silver and Gold trim cars are the most prevalent, with Platinum cars being more difficult to find. Verdes, with their 3.0-liter engines and other factory upgrades, are the most valuable and desirable and while only 900 or so were built, they also tended to be better maintained by their owners, making it easier to find a good example. Service records are vital for any Milano purchase, as the timing belt and tensioner needs regular service, as do the rubber donuts that align and damp vibration on the driveshaft. Electrical issues are usually a result of dirty ground connections or corroded contacts. Trim parts are getting harder to find, but engine parts are relatively widely available.

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Alfa Romeo Milano Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1986
  • Last year of production: 1989 (1992 for European 75)
  • Total sold: 386,767 globally
  • Original price (base): $12,850
  • Characteristic feature: The Milano represents the end of an era for the Alfa Romeo brand with interesting, angular styling, and a driving experience that rivals the better sport sedans of the era.

Alfa Romeo Milano FAQ

Is the Alfa Romeo Milano rare?

While Alfa sold fewer Milanos in the U.S. than it sold 75s in the rest of the world, it’s still pretty easy to find one for sale, with nearly 400,000 built globally. Just 900 Milano Verdes were sold with the 3.0-liter engine, which makes it rarer than most, but still somewhat easy to find.

Is the Alfa Romeo Milano a good car?

Most Milanos you find used today will need a little work to make them perform at their best, as maintenance is often deferred. Get a good one and the driving experience rivals the best sport sedans of the day, including the E30 BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16.

Is the Alfa Romeo Milano expensive to maintain?

Alfa parts aren’t cheap, and mechanics that are adept at working on them typically aren’t either. Learn how to do some of the basic work yourself and you can bring costs down. Otherwise, plan to budget for a small repair fund as you would with any classic car.

1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde
PRICE:$20,000 (base in 1988)
ENGINE:3.0L SOHC 12-valve V-6/183 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 184 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION:5-speed manual
LAYOUT:4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE:18/25 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H:170.5 x 64.2 x 53.1 in
WHEELBASE:98.8 in
WEIGHT:2,900 lb
0-60 MPH:7.5 sec
TOP SPEED137 mph

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