Arna – The True Story

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…

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First… a few small jobs…

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As I posted yesterday, a very nice Nissan Cherry Europe GTi has joined the fleet, which saves me a huge amount of work restoring the crusty example ! already had. Although the car is in pristine condition, it still needs a few minor things sorting on it. For a start, it was lacking its Nissan badging, apart from the ‘GTI’ emblem on the tailgate. This car didn’t have any badges when I first saw it several years ago and, as it was originally sold via an independent Alfa Romeo specialist when it was new, it may never have had any. Also, having been re-badged as an Arna Ti at some point, it was lacking the distinctive green stripe on the grille which was what I tackled first…

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What to do…?

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Bit by bit I have been thinning out my fleet of projects-in-waiting and I’ve now got down to the last few, and this is where I have had to make some hard choices. One of these tough decisions was what do I do with my Cherry Europe GTi? It’s a total wreck but it’s just so rare! It took me quite a while to find this car and I have long wanted a Cherry Europe but I need to be realistic. It’s not only going to be a huge amount of work, it’s also going to cost quite a lot of money. By my calculations it would need at least £4000 putting into it to make it nice again and even then there are a couple of parts missing that might be almost impossible to find. But then if I parted with it, I would never find another!

Initially I decided that maybe it was wiser to simply sell it and resign myself to the fact I’d never own a Cherry Europe. I listed it on eBay but although it attracted a number of bids, the top two bidders were both deadbeats who didn’t follow it up. Then a couple of other buyers backed out. Fate seemed to be telling me I should keep it and restore it.

But then I considered that maybe there was another way…

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