The Alfa Romeo Arna, 920 Type, is really a subcompact car made by the Italian maker Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli S.p.A. between 1983 and 1987. The business was set up on 9 Oct 1980 for a 50:50 partnership between the Italian Alfa Romeo S.p.A. and japan Nissan Motor Organization.
On Oct 9, 1980, Takashi Ishihara of Nissan and Alfa Romeo President Ettore Massacesi signed a memorandum in Tokyo for improved co-operation between their two businesses, and revealed their aim to produce a combined production endeavor called AR.N.A. S.p.A. (Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli). Italian Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga backed the offer, despite autoindustry and political resistance, because he expected to reinforce the fortunes of the producer, which had a cult-following but was losing money.
The immediate concern of Alfa direction, including Massacesi and managing director Corrado Innocenti was to field an opponent in the increasingly profitable family hatchback market sector where in fact the compact Volkswagen Golf and Lancia Delta were proving effective, and they expected an alliance with Nissan would provide a competitive design to market faster and cheaper. Throughout that period, European nations were participating in protectionism to defend their national automobile sectors, with France even prohibiting the import of Japanesemade automobiles. Dealing with Alfa Romeo, who managed a considerable level of European vehicle sales in the time was viewed as a great hedge for Nissan plus an opportunity to build a foothold within the European marketplace.
For the partnership, a fresh plant was built in Pratola Serra, near Naples. The body panels of the automobile were built in Japan by Nissan, then sent to Italy for final assembly.
The product of the connection was started in the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show; the auto's name was really an acronym meaning Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli. The Arna was basically a twin of the N12 series Nissan Pulsar / Nissan Cherry (also called the Nissan Cherry Europe in selected European markets as well as the Nissan Pulsar Milano in Japan), but featured Alfa Romeo engines carried over from the Alfasud, along with an Alfa transmission and front suspension. It did however use an independent rear suspension from Nissan. As Nissan Cherry Europe can be easily identified by their own back light clusters, which fit those of the Arna as opposed to the Japanesebuilt Cherry italian built automobiles badged.
While British Leyland and Honda had a limited partnership within great Britain at that point, the Nissan - Alfa Romeo alliance was the first of its type from a Japanese and European automaker with combined investment into development and production. It was feared by the EEC and paradoxically, Alfa's future parent Fiat, the success of the partnership could be a Trojan horse for Japanese automakers to unfairly compete in Europe and decimate the European automotive production business.
However, such concerns were immediately allayed on the Arna's launch once it became apparent the Arna demonstrated the worst characteristics of every one of its own parents. The Arna highlighted tempestuous mechanicals and indifferent build quality courtesy of Alfa Romeo, married to a Nissan body of questionable build and frumpy styling, with insipid management common to Japanese cars of the time. This mismatch of technical strengths served to destroy the revenue of the Arna quite fast. The Arna is listed as number 26 in the Richard Porter novel, "Crap Cars".
By 1986, Alfa Romeo's parent organization, the Italiangovernment owned Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale was experiencing significant losses, and IRI president Romano Prodi set Alfa Romeo up on the market, with Fiat finally emerging as the brand new owner of Alfa. Fiat's first conclusion was supposed to discontinue Arna creation because of its poor standing, poor sales and also to close the unsuccessful Alfa Romeo-Nissan alliance. Production ended in 1987 with Fiat meaning to reinforce the competitiveness of the Alfa Romeo 33 as Alfa's entry in that section.
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