The Alfa 146 always comes second best to its sibling the 145 but realistically they are very similar. The floor pan of the 146 is about six inches longer behind the rear axle but the wheelbase is the same. The front panels, wings and bonnet are interchangeable however behind this all the panels except the floor panel are changed and it is an altogether more practical car than the 145 because of the extra doors.
The evolution of the 146 was along the same lines as the 145 and you initially had a choice of two engines in the UK either the 1600 flat 4 single overhead camshaft engine that came out of the Alfa Sud or a more powerful quad-cam 16 valve engine that went into the late 33 1.7 16 valve, this is a particularly nice engine and had some very interesting design ideas incorporated into it however it is an expensive engine to produce. In 1997 the flat 4 engine was replaced by an inline 4 this was an extensively modified fiat/Lancia engine the 1.6 and 1.8 versions were both 16 valve double overhead camshaft engines with variable valve timing on the inlet camshaft, while the 2.0 l engine had two balancer shafts to help reduce engine vibrations. The last versions of the 146 were fitted with the CF2 engine which also had a variable-length inlet manifold to increase torque.
The 146 is based on a Fiat Tipo chassis and has Mc Pherson strut front suspension which is generally very reliable and quite simple, while on the rear there are two rear radius arms these have a spring halfway down them with a shock absorber at the end of the arm, this is a very compact design and aids considerably the with the amount of load space in the boot. The rear seats in the 146 are split two thirds one third which is also very handy and the rear headrests are removable so you get a comparatively flat load area.
Most of the UK cars came with disk brakes all round only the humble 1.6 flat 4 having drum brakes at the rear, the rest of the range had ventilated disks on the front and solid disks on the rear this gave them more than adequate stopping ability and when coupled with a Bosch ABS system.
Nowadays the 146 is an extremely rare sight, I can't actually remember the last time one came through our workshop. The rare ones that come through the workshop also tend to be, how should I put it, somewhat the worse for wear, which is a shame as they do drive very well, especially the 2.0l.