Alfa Romeo 2300


You're looking at an enlarged Alfa Romeo Alfetta that was developed by the company's Brazilian subsidiary, FNM. I have chosen the car because, as you may imagine, I am especially attracted to the losers of the automotive industry.

It's actually based on the Alfa Romeo 1900, which would have been OK if the 2300 had been unveiled in 1961, but you're looking at a car first marketed in 1974. Ouch. As with many of the examples from Brazil, the car was found on the wrong side of a government ruling—this time, fuel.

Ethanol was beginning to take hold, and even though the Brazilian-made 2300 was exempt from a number of the restrictions placed on its mid-sized near-luxury competition, its gasoline powerplant was a barrier to sales, and the car sat unsold.

As told by several sources below, the problem was solved when about 600 cars were given an additional "Rio" badge for the trunk lid and shipped to customers in Europe, putting the importer in between a rock and a hard place. First, the vehicle was undesirable. Second, the shipping cost from Brazil to Europe wiped out some of the profit margin. Third, the cars were so unpalatable as to sit, unsold, for years next to the sea. As told by

"About 600 cars were shipped over to Holland, and only a handful of 2300 RIO's were ever sold. The remaining stock of unsold examples stayed with the importer for three years. Parked next to the coast, the constant salt and wind buffeting did not aide the 2300 RIO's already lacking allure.

"For the cars that did sell, there were no spare parts, which was maybe a good thing. This gave the importers the opportunity to strip some of their stock for spare parts backup. This at least resolved some of the problem, but there were still hundreds of examples left."

Is this why we, as humans, build cars? To produce undesirable product that amounts to, simply waste: wasted time, wasted resources, wasted talent—and for the poor schmucks that bought an Alfa Romeo 2300 Rio when new—wasted money. To think that we can put a great industrial production line into motion and spit out objects that few want is…unfortunate. (Speaking of which, when's the last time you saw a Suzuki XL7?)

Back in Brazil, it received a number of updates, and ended up as the '85' for the 1985 and made until late in 1986. Imagine that: a mass-market car related to Alfa Romeo's first mass production design (first built in 1950!) that ended up in its most highly evolved production form as a strange Brazilian '85' and, a few years earlier, as an unloved leper on European shores.