The strange and unloved offspring of Nissan and Alfa Romeo have a special place in my car collection. Currently I have five examples… two Nissan badged and three Alfa. There are maybe another four left in the UK that I know of. I’ve harboured a strong interest in these cars for many years and have tried to save what is left from extinction, but few others feel the same way, and that is largely thanks to the motoring press. Thankfully, Matteo Licata has saved me a job by publishing a book detailing the Arna story and putting the story straight in many areas…
The A.R.N.A project is very misunderstood and people know little about the car itself, yet they same tired old comments get trotted out again and again, thanks to lazy motoring hacks. The car is a true technical hybrid, not just a “Cherry with an Alfa engine”. The companies involved didn’t “get it the wrong way round” by employing Italian manufacturing and Japanese design. And nor is the car “not a proper Alfa”. In truth, the story of this collaboration and the car it created is far more interesting than most of the motoring jounos who regurgitate this nonsense will ever know.
I discovered the existence of this book recently, completely by chance whilst Googling something else Arna related. It was published back in January this year and of course I had to acquire a copy immediately. The book starts off by taking a look back over the Alfa Romeo bloodline and the events leading up to the agreement with Nissan. The context under which the Arna became a necessity for Alfa Romeo is examined, as is the design and engineering. The full tale of the car’s marketing and subsequent failure in the market place follow and book finishes by taking a look at what followed for the former Arna factory and the still-born 148 Project, an off-road vehicle powered by the same boxer engine as the Arna.
This book is an absolutely essential purchase for anyone interested in the true story of the Arna and Cherry Europe. Matteo Licata has done a great job pulling together all of the information and setting out the tale behind this much maligned vehicle. The book is packed with photographs, some of which even I haven’t seen before, despite having a quite comprehensive archive of info on the Arna and Cherry Europe. Go buy it!
Alfa Romeo Arna: The True Story 1980 -1987
Author – Matteo Licata (Self Published)