Sedans & Coupes

The Alfa Romeo 75 Was the E30-Fighting Giulia of the 80s

For all its faults, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a genuine competitor to sport sedans like BMW’s 3 Series. It’s also the heir to a successful 60s sedan of the same name. And that Giulia paved the way for another performance sedan that would take on the BMWs of its day, too. It’s called the Alfa Romeo 75, aka the Alfa Romeo Milano.

What makes the Alfa Romeo 75 the 80s version of the Giulia?

A green-gray 1988 Alfa Romeo 75
1988 Alfa Romeo 75 | Alfa Romeo

Like today’s Alfa Romeo Giulia, the 75/Milano is a rear-wheel-drive sedan, available with four-cylinder and V6 engines, Automobile reports. However, when it debuted in 1985 in time for the brand’s 75th anniversary, the Alfa Romeo 75 featured genuine racing tech.

Like its predecessor, the Alfetta, and its GTV6 derivative, the Alfa Romeo 75 has a rear-mounted transaxle for better weight distribution. Plus, its rear disc brakes are inboard, like in Alfa’s F1 racers, to reduce un-sprung weight. And when the Alfa Romeo 75 was launched as the Milano in the US in 1986, the range-topping Platinum trim had ABS and a limited-slip differential. In Europe, the Alfa Romeo 75 was available with a variety of engines, including a diesel option. US customers, though, only had one engine—but it was arguably the best one.

The rear view of a gray 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde
1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde rear | Bring a Trailer

Initially, the Alfa Romeo 75 launched with a 2.5-liter 154-hp V6, the so-called ‘Busso’ V6, named after its designer, Automobile explains. But in 1988, Alfa Romeo introduced the 75/Milano Verde. It bears the same green cloverleaf (Quadrifoglio) as the modern Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. And in addition to the limited-slip differential, it has a larger front anti-roll bar, a taller final drive, and a 183-hp 3.0-liter Busso V6. The Verde models also have a rear spoiler, fender flares, and Recaro seats.

Could the Alfa Romeo 75 match the BMW E30 M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16?

A black 1987 BMW E30 M3 drifting around a racetrack corner
1987 BMW E30 M3 | BMW

At the time, the Alfa Romeo 75’s/Milano’s main rivals were the BMW E30 M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. But while Automobile reports the Milano Verde is still fun to drive today, it’s not quite at the E30 M3’s or the 190E 2.3-16’s levels.

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The Mercedes is more stable, ClassicCarsForSale reports, and arguably better-built. Its interior also has better ergonomics, Hemmings reports. For example, in the Alfa Romeo 75, the radio is mounted behind the shifter. And the window switches are on the ceiling. Plus, the Alfa’s V6 needs a timing belt change every 30,000 miles.

The cloth-trimmed interior of the 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde
1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde interior | Bring a Trailer

However, the 3.0-liter model has slightly more horsepower than the 190E 2.3-16’s four-cylinder. It also has a better throttle response, and the steering wheel provides more feedback.

The BMW E30 M3 is even sharper than the Mercedes, Motor Trend reports, without losing the sense of stability or control. And like the Alfa Romeo 75, it’s luxurious in some ways, Jalopnik reports, with power windows, power locks, and Recaro seats. Plus, its 2.3-liter four-cylinder is more powerful than the 3.0-liter V6. And between the 190E and E30, Car reports the BMW is the better sports sedan.

A red 1987 Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione
1987 Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo Evoluzione | Alfa Romeo

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However, Alfa Romeo made a sharper version of the 75, the 75 Evoluzione, Road & Track reports. Because of Group A engine restrictions, it doesn’t have a V6. Instead, it has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In road-going trim, it’s rated at 155 hp, but it likely makes closer to 170 hp, Petrolicious reports. The engine isn’t the Alfa Romeo 75 Evoluzione’s only party trick, though, CarThrottle reports. It has stiffer adjustable suspension, a larger rear anti-roll bar, even more-supportive seats, and a body kit with larger fender flares.

Getting one today

The 75 Evoluzione is the rarest model. The Italian automaker only made 500 of them, and never sold them in the US. The Milano Verde models are also fairly rare; Hagerty reports Alfa sold just 833 examples in the US.

A gray 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde lit by the setting sun
1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde | Bring a Trailer

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However, the Alfa 75 is generally cheaper than the Mercedes 190E 2.3-16, and noticeably cheaper than the BMW E30 M3. It’s possible to find a Milano on Bring a Trailer for $10,000-$15,000. The Verde models are a bit pricier, but even the most-expensive example sold for just $22,500. And as of this writing, there’s a 1988 example listed for $3800.

A tan 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 parked among storage buildings
1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 | Bring a Trailer

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In contrast, a good-condition 190E 2.3-16 can sell for $15,000-$25,000 or more on BaT. Hagerty reports a good- to excellent-condition model commands $20,000-$30,000. Meanwhile, while E30 M3 prices have stabilized somewhat, Hagerty reports, they haven’t stabilized low. A good-condition example can easily sell for $55,000. On BaT the typical price is closer to $60,000.

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