The day has finally arrived! I am now the proud owner of one of Nissan’s more curious efforts from the 1980’s, a Nissan Cherry Europe. Not just a Europe, but the uber rare GTi version! Why curious? Well, for those not familiar with this beast, it’s the ill fated product of a bizarre collaboration between Nissan and Alfa Romeo of Italy which gave birth to the Alfa Romeo ARNA, a car which was supposed to fill the gap in the their range for a small car left by the outgoing Alfasud and save the company from financial disaster. It didn’t.
Nissan provided the body and Alfa, the excellent flat four, front drive assembly from their Alfasud and the cars were produced in Italy. The ARNA was sold in the UK as well as a Nissan badged varient, the Cherry Europe. In both marques there were 1.2 and later, 1.3 three door and five door basic models as well as a performance version. In Alfa’s case, the ARNA 1.5Ti and for Nissan, the Cherry Europe GTi.
Whilst the car may look much like an ordinary Nissan Cherry N12, it’s actually more Alfa Romeo than it is Nissan. To comply with local content rules, Alfa Romeo had to supply at least 80% of the components, with only the body panels, rear suspension parts, dash and bits of the seats coming from factories in Japan. The understructure of the body at the front is absolutely nothing like the equivelent N12, mainly because the longditudionally mounted flat four and 5 speed transmission are so different from the ordinary N12’s transverse E series. Headlights, grilles, tail lights, bumpers and most of the interior is unique to the car and even the glass is marked Alfa Romeo, despite being the same as it’s Japanese counterpart.
This particular example is in a somewhat sorry state with rust aplenty, a somewhat smoky engine (despite only 60,000 miles on the clock) and a badly slipping clutch. The interior has survived reasonably well with some wear to the drivers seat and the carpet. Outside, apart from the obvious rust, the only damage is to the rear spoiler, which I’m sure is going to be vitually impossible to replace, being unique to the GTi model. Parts are no doubt going to be an issue but with maybe only half a dozen of this model still on the road in the UK, it must be worth the effort to save it! If anyone has any leads of parts for a Europe or ARNA, please do get in touch!