So you're a bit of a motoring enthusiast. Probably owned a sports car up until a few years back. But time marches on. There are family commitments to meet now. You need five-door space and small car-economy at the lower end of the second-hand market. And there's a tight budget to keep to.
The prospects aren't appealing. Would Sir like a Ford Escort, a Nissan Sunny or a Vauxhall Astra? Or would you rather take early retirement? But wait a minute. What about an Alfa Romeo? A car developed from seventy years of experience and 10,000 separate victories on the racetrack. With a throaty boxer engine, variable rate power steering, electric front windows, a stereo radio cassette and performance that Ford, Nissan or Vauxhall owners could only dream about at the price. Enter the 33.
Motoring journalists never really forgave the 33 for not being another Alfasud, the car it replaced in 1985. To be fair, Alfa rather helped them in their scepticism; build quality of early examples was very poor. So was the marketing, aimed at the Escort customer until Alfa realised that only more specialist drivers bought their cars.
The original range was made up of 1.3 and 1.5-litre boxer-engined cars (the 33 was always a five-door hatch in its basic form), with the option of an interesting 4wd 1.5-litre Estate that never really caught on. The 1.3 lasted only a few months.
In May 1987, a 1.7-litre Boxer model was added to the range, providing the performance previously lacking. The Estate also made a comeback, now re-christened the 'Sportwagon'. Sales drifted off in the late Eighties, but picked up a little when the 'New' 33 was launched, the second generation car appearing in 1990.
Actually, it wasn't a lot different, though the sleeker facelifted front and rear light clusters gave it more roadgoing presence. The 1.5 and 1.7-litre boxer engines were basically the same, though a new 16 valve 1.7-litre hot hatch model was added to the line-up. The 1.7-litre cars were deservedly the most popular, offered in IE, 16v Boxer and interesting 4wd 16v forms. The uprated Sportwagon followed in early 1991, available only with 1.7-litre 16v power.