The old adage about Alfa Romeos and 'true petrolheads' doesn't ring true for our road tester, but he does see sense in Twisted's business strategy
Matt Prior
7 December 2018

I’ve read over the years that you can’t really say you’re into cars if you don’t like motor shows. That you don’t really like cars if you don’t like motor racing. Or that you’re no car enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo

And so, by that reckoning, if you don’t really like large warehouses, are busy at weekends and have owned a few nice sports cars like a Porsche 911 and a Caterham, then I’m sorry old friend, you’re just not one of us. 

Which is daft, right? These people must know it when they say it or write it. There are 60-odd million of us in Britain and yet you’ll know if you’ve tried to enjoy a car near most of them that they don’t like it: you’re too flashy, you’re too noisy, you’re too fast, you’re too dirty, you’re cluttering up the street with your rusty old spudder. 

And yet most adults have a car. There are more than 31 million cars on Britain’s roads, and some 45 million of us have a driving licence, so are presumably not averse on principle to the idea of travelling by car. 

People drive a lot: on average, each of those 31 million cars travels over 8200 miles a year. The average speed of them isn’t much more than 30mph, which means drivers on average spend 250 hours a year in a car. 

Our Verdict

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo returns to the super-saloon class, but does the Giulia Quadrifoglio have enough about it to dislodge the Mercedes-AMG C63 and BMW M3 off their perches?

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I don’t think there’s anything else I spend 250 hours a year doing that I wouldn’t consider myself pretty good at by now. There is a hive of people who spend a large portion of their waking days absorbed by cars and driving, and people want to tell them they don’t really like cars because they’ve never bought an Italian one? 

I don’t buy it. I don’t really care how you enjoy cars, I don’t care if you enjoy driving only because it lets you listen to a podcast and pick your nose. So long as you get the tiniest piece of enjoyment out of being behind the wheel, congratulations, or perhaps sorry, you are somebody who likes cars. 

Twisted: method in the madness

Fun to read my colleague Ricky Lane’s verdict on the latest Twisted Defender a few weeks ago. I like Land Rover Defenders despite their limitations and I like what Twisted does with them. And, yes, I know they’re expensive, but a lot of hours go into them and, at any price, a Defender is not exactly a rational purchase. 

Twisted’s decision to buy some, though, was a bit more rational: it spent £7.5 million stockpiling 240 of them before the car went out of production in January 2016, and it has 80 left. 

It’s divvying those up into two different series, dubbed ‘Make History’ and ‘Remake History’. The Remake ones, 44 of them, will be modified in a way that “pays homage to the history of the original”, including inspiration from early Series Land Rovers. They go into ‘production’, so to speak, on 29 January, three years to the day since series production stopped. And the remaining 36 Make History versions will go to existing customers with, presumably, ever more bonkers bespoke modifications. 

And then you can still take an existing Defender to Twisted for mods. Irrational? Sure, but like I said above: who are we to judge?

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Comments
10

7 December 2018

I agree wholeheartedly, its not what you own or have owned that make to an enthusiast/petrol head etc, its that you get enjoyment out of your car. I've enjoyed driving cars that many think are crap, including autocar reviews which often state theres nothing for the enthusiast to enjoy, or words to that effect. I say that is wrong, I had a mk1 jazz auto, and I enjoyed driving it, admittedly in a different way to how I enjoy my mk1 eunos, but I still enjoyed it, it was smooth, economical and brilliant as a town car.

7 December 2018

I've owned plenty of crap cars in my time. I used to be a car enthusiast, until the market got enthusiastic about cars I don't like.

When someone in work asks me what car to buy, I can suggest any number of interesting choices, but they'll come to me a week later excited with the news that they've put a deposit on a Ssangyong Tivoli or a Qashqai. I try to be enthusastic for them, but it is difficult. It's like going to an audiophile and them recommending some sort of top end  hifi, then going back that you bought an Alba hifi from Argos.

In terms of my crap cars, my current one being a diesel automatic Skoda, one that stands out is the 1996 Alfa GTV. A stunning car that was a hoot to drive, if a little tempremental to live with. But I reckon it is the closest I'll ever get to owning a proper Italian sports car, and for that I remember the drives on a summers day with a clear road rather than the times stuck in traffic in winter with a broken heater blower and a dodgy clutch.

So no, you don't need to own an Alfa to be a car enthusiast, but if you want to drive a historic Italian marque without a lottery win it's the best chance us mere mortals have.

7 December 2018

I used to be a focused car buyer, 90% of the cars and bike I owned I was transfixed with before the purchase. One exception to the rule was a Renault 18 Turbo some 22 years ago. French electrics, stick with fast Fords blah blah my friends would say.

But boy was that a great car amazing brakes, power, comfort etc. Just about everyone I gave a lift to begrudging praised it. Liked it so much I ended up buying one of the last with the power upgrade.

 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

7 December 2018

I’ve never owned an Alfa, but I get the sentiment behind the line. They used to be almost the opposite of a rational car purchase, and so show that you put emotion above practicality.

I’m not sure leasing a diesel Stelvio counts though.

7 December 2018
I think that to genuinely be a petrol head, you have to have owned an Alfa.

The smell of the leather, petrol fumes and brake dust...not to mention a 60s racecar sound from a twin spark or busso V6 all combine to get the hairs standing on your back, give you goosebumps and elicit an emotional attachment with the car and encourage a love of motorsport.

It's not just Alfas, though, any Italian sports car that stimulates the driver in a similar way (Ferrari) would do it too.

Weberex

mfe

7 December 2018
Doesn't have to be a sports car either. All Italian cars have that brio factor to them. Even the 1.2 500 entices you to thrash its backside. They may not be best in class but there's a personality that's devoid in other supposedly better cars.

7 December 2018

All this “You can’t be a proper petrolhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa” is just yet more utter rubbish that came out of Jeremy Clarkson’s mouth.  I enjoy Top Gear and The Grand Tour, but, honestly, who cares what he thinks?  He is just a journalist and an entertainer.  Would you really buy a car because he recommends it?  Would you really buy an old, unreliable,, rusty pile of Italian junk just because Clarkson thinks you should?

to say people who have owned Porsche’s, Lotuses, Caterhams (or even Westfields!) aren’t petrolheads because they haven’t owned an Alfa is just ridiculous.

8 December 2018
martin_66 wrote:

All this “You can’t be a proper petrolhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa” is just yet more utter rubbish that came out of Jeremy Clarkson’s mouth.  I enjoy Top Gear and The Grand Tour, but, honestly, who cares what he thinks?  He is just a journalist and an entertainer.  Would you really buy a car because he recommends it?  Would you really buy an old, unreliable,, rusty pile of Italian junk just because Clarkson thinks you should?

to say people who have owned Porsche’s, Lotuses, Caterhams (or even Westfields!) aren’t petrolheads because they haven’t owned an Alfa is just ridiculous.

Totally agree. My 156 was the worst car I have owned. I was seduced by the body. Never again.

8 December 2018

...was a Triumph Dolly, hated it and loved it with equal measure. A cut above my mates escorts, vivas and imps but a proper bag o'shite when the rose tinted glasses came off!

Less than 50k on the clock and you could hear it falling apart on a quiet night, still my most memorable car though after 35 years and at least 30 other motors under my belt!

9 December 2018

BRAND NEW MODERN CAR, RED, 3.22cc, FULL ACCESSORIES, 5 YEARS INSURANCE, 5 YEAR ROAD TAX. I WANT TO BUY IT BUY USING MY VISA CARD VIA NETWORK. PLEASE ARRANGE. THANKS.

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