My next new car – option 1 – Alfa Romeo GTV6

Alfa Romeo GTV6

I have a flight booked for Sydney at the end of next week and I sincerely hope I won’t be flying home. It’s car shopping time!

Over the next three posts, I’m going to present three vehicles. I’m pretty sure I know which one I’ll purchase, but I won’t buy it at any price. I’m going to need the seller to meet me in the middle, otherwise I’ll be exploring one of the other two options (and pretty quick, too, before the banks close for the week).

The three cars I’m considering are all for sale in Sydney right now. I will present them here in no particular order of preference. Your thoughts are welcome.

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ALFA ROMEO GTV6

Pro:

  • One of the greatest engine sounds ever
  • Transaxle for great weight balance and handling
  • Gorgeous styling. Just look at it, below
  • Getting collectable
  • Did I mention the engine noise?

Con:

  • Will it survive the trip back home without breaking down?
  • Older car, less reliable, parts supply?

Picture: Alfagtv6.com

The Alfetta was one of Alfa’s many great historical successes. It was available as a four cylinder with Alfa’s DOHC 2 litre engine or with a sublime six cylinder symphony orchestra under the hood.

The GTV6 has Alfa’s 2.5 litre V6, producing 160hp. It’s not a lot of power by today’s standards and to be honest, it was only just competitive back in the early 1980s. But the GTV6 driving experience far outweighs the numbers on the stat sheet.

My personal Alfa obsession started in my early 20s. A friend of mine had some early career success just out of school, doing some graphic design work that got picked up by Holden for their performance division. His reward to himself? A silver GTV6 with green trimmings and that absolutely magnificent engine.

I’ve had three Alfas: a Sprint and two 16V Alfa 33’s. I’ve never owned an Alfetta but a GTV6 would be a wonderful way to compete in the occasional event with my local car club, Club Motori Italia.

The hard part about buying an Alfetta today is getting one with a good, straight, rust free body. Alfas from the late 1970s and through to the mid 1980s were renowned for poor rust-proofing and inferior grade sheet metal. Those that have survived in good condition are becoming more collectable and stable prices for cars in sound condition are now starting to reflect this.

Will it be the Alfa? It’d be a very satisfying addition to our home if that’s the way things turn out.

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27 Comments

  1. BUY the V6. What a great car!
    I always lusted after my friend’s many years ago, for the same reasons. The Noise, the Look and the Cachet. But be warned. One day you will want to drive it and it just will not start. Fuel injection of that era on that particular car is renowned for be pernickety. Early L-Bosch system with an enrichment on the plenum is a headache. Don’t ask how much to replace if it goes.
    If you want it to change gears properly, get the linkage kit installed to remove the slop in the shifter links. Well worth it. The car is very light and is so tossable in corners but the de Dion rear end walks about something chronic when the bushes are shot. Get it up on a hoist to inspect all those carefully. Big money to get right.
    Clutch wont be too good as they were never strong to begin with, but if it has been replaced recently you should be OK.
    Do you know an Alfa Indie?
    Mind you an E34 535i is an option too for the same sort of money….Rear wheel drive, great engine note (Ronin?) and they still look good after all these years…

  2. Wel the GTV 6 is also one of my favourite classics of all time. Las year i sold mine and a spider from 1991 is now in his place . Indead the sound is amazing but i was never really confident of getting home when i had a long drive with it. Anyway everybody should experience a GTV6 once in a lifetime , You will never forget it 🙂

  3. I owned in the eighteens the Alfetta GTV 2 liter and it was my most beautiful car I ever had.
    This car needed many maintenance interventions
    The biggest problems of this car were:
    rust
    electric contact problems with all lights due to the humidity in my country
    handbrake had to be adjusted very often
    due to the transaxle system the gears were very difficult to engage
    camshaft had to adjusted very often

  4. Well, compared to a 928, an Alfa GTV 6 could be considered the sensible choice. It’s still a pretty basic car tech and DIY-wise there the 928….isn’t.

    Looking forward to see the other two contestants !

  5. The GTV is awesome, especially in red and with a V6 (yeah, I know the picture is there just to illustrate). A friend of mine had one back then, and he still very passionate about it when he talks about it. It is as Mats says a more basic car tech than a 928, but that is an advantage if you’re not a pro mech.

    Looking forward to hear about the the other two candidates 🙂

    Have a nice weekend!

  6. Swade, I have to admit I love Alfas as well. Cant afford to insure either a Saab or an Alfa here in the UK at the moment as insurance is RIDICULOUS. Alfa and Saab and two different brands that share the same tyoe of loyal fan base. Im totally in love withe the Alfa MiTo at the moment.

  7. The gtv is The logical follower to your Alfa 33, get it. if you have The Maserati biturbo on your List, take him: extremely rare, incredible Sound, Perfect Understatement and Italien style at its Best. but Why not choose The Third alternative, The lancia Thema 8.32? or The Delta hf Turbo 4wd? anyway, in The end Enjoy your Trip and griffin Up!

  8. PS
    Only if you can do yourself most of maintenance of this car you should buy it.
    If not this will be a big financial burden

  9. Alfetta GTV-6 follow up. Hi Swade, I was an Alfa nut well before I got into Saabs. I had the pleasure of owning three GTV-6 cars here in the UK when I was a lot younger and thankfully before the hideous proliferation of speed cameras. I started a small IT business in 1989 and my first car on the company was a (gasps at the admission) a Ford Sierra XR 4×4 fitted with the 2.8v6 which only pushed out 150 bhp. I can’t speak for other people, but my experience of Fords does hold up the “Fix Or Repair Daily” scenario when the warranty expires. It proved to be a very expensive car to keep on the road. I recall an accountant saying it would have been cheaper to lease a Merc C-class from new….

    Well I parted from the Sierra XR 4×4 when the four wheel drive transfer box died and I could not afford to repair it. So I bought B54JRC..an Alfa 33 1.3 which was actually painted in a Burgundy/Rust colour .. which.. lol.. was quite fortunate. I bought it because it was damn cheap and I remember my Dad having a Alfa Guilietta that was brilliant. Well the old Alfa bug bit hard and deep. I simply loved that crazy boxer engined rasp and the handling was a real hoot. Naturally, when the chance came to buy another 33 with a bigger engine..I jumped at it. I got a lovely shiny black 1.7 33 on an F plate (1989).. whoo hoo…. it was nuts.. and that to a guy in his 20’s was great. fun.

    But then…. after doing the weekly ritual of scouring the Auto Trader (dunno if you guys have that.. but it was the biggest car sales weekly mag before the internet..) I saw a GTV advertised at an unlikely garage in Somerset, called Piglet Motors. Well this guy had the car up for sale for £2100 and it was described simply as an Alfetta GTV. Now for those who are not Alfa anoraks like me… take a look at the great picture Swade put up of a GTV-6. Spot the raised centre bump in the bonnet with the black plastic cover? Well the raised section indicates that a V6 plenum nestles underneath the bonnet. The other variant is a 2 litre in line 4 cylinder producing 130bhp (carbed). The V6 2.5 was then a heady 160bhp. Well in Piglet motors ad was a photo of the car for sale with the black square! Oh yeah baby… once I had confirmed it was the actual pic of the vehicle, I was already plotting to get it. Whilst on the subject of the bonnet bulge…. Alfa did make a version of the GTV-6 for what I believe was the South African market, where the car was fitted with the Alfisti’s automotive orgasm, a 3.1 litre v6 with 6 (yes 6!) carb trumpets protruding through the removable black bonnet patch. Now I would love to experience one of those bad boys!

    After a great deal of haggling, (only one month after getting the Alfa 33 1.7) my 1989 Alfa 33 got swapped for a 1984/5 GTv-6 2.5, registration B448AKL. It would be lovely if she is still alive, but I bet the old tin worm has got her now. Well I learned later that she was fitted with Autodelta warmish racing cams. It used to tick over unevenly, hunting, but hit 4000 rpm and all hell broke loose, there was the banshee scream followed by the kind of base that resonated in your gut and spine. Thank God it never had power steering, as its handling by modern standards would scare the crap out of most people. Not a car for our rainy climate. It was a crazy car that taught me how to drive a real rear wheel drive car. The sound was heavenly; I think Jeremy Clarkson said it right, when he said the GTV-6 was like an angel licking your very soul. I know such a crazy car will never be allowed again, largely due to the damn Euro red tape and quite often idiotic law that prevails here.

    Sadly there has to be a “But”, and it is this. I would love to experience driving a GTV-6 again, but I know I could not afford to run one with costs as they are. Hell its £1.40 for a litre of super unleaded here now. My GTV-6 struggled to do 20mpg. Hmm don’t mention the unreliability factor……This is compounded by Fiat, the owners of Alfa Romeo, charged a premium on parts. I should know, I have owned 15 Alfas!

    Sorry guys I got a bit carried away, but then Alfas do that to you. You must own one to understand. Porsche build great cars, but will they ever evoke such passion? The 928 would certainly be a far better long term prospect because of its Germanically teutonic engineering. But the scream of a GTV-6, in particular B448AKL will haunt me forever.

    Saabs perform very well and without all the typical Italian drama, but the attention to detail really gets you. I’m bitten with the Swedish bug. I earnestly hope Saab arises with the Phoenix!

  10. Tough call. The GTV is well on it’s way to becoming a classic, which implies some level of responsibility on the part of its owner. You need to preserve it for future generations.

    That implies keeping it as original as possible, even if the original part is an expensive Ebay purchase from halfway around the world. You will also be expected to go to great lengths to prevent and fix any rust.
    The problem with Alfas (and Fiats) is not just in the quality of the metal and the lack of rustproofing. It’s also in the way the bodies were designed, where the seams are, how moisture gets trapped. You would be well advised to pay a body shop to fully review the car.

  11. An interesting first choice and certainly a car that I would entertain owning but I believe there are better options.
    Based on your previous post about a Porker then what else are you considering?
    This is going to be a three pipe (car) problem and I’m intrigued as to the other two.
    If one is a Porsche with a little bit of difference what about a 944? Had one of 1989 vintage in the garage where I work the other week and it was fun to drive, the owner of the car also has 5!! Alfa’s and 3 BMWs including an original M3.

  12. Definite possibility. The GTV6 is a wonderful car, and mine was stone reliable for the years I had it at least. I was the second [long time ] owner and the first caretaker reported very few problems too. Watch for rust, learn to shift and it will be a rewarding drive. Mechanical parts aren’t much of an issue, but Lord help you if you need trim, body, or interior pieces. Wish I still had mine.
    MUCH preferable to a 928.

    1. John, I was going to go for one of your Italian exotics for a few moments. Then reality set in. Maybe one day.

      1. Well there is one even crazier Alfa…..how about a Montreal V8.. it allegedly had the then Alfa F1 v8 detuned…he he?

    1. They’re as rare as rocking horse poo, Ian, hence the cost. It’d be nice. They’re even smaller than the GTV, being made from an Alfa Sprint body. Amazing bit of Aussie ingenuity.

  13. Hi Swade
    I have owned a number of alfas ( two Sprints, two 33s and one 75 with the same V6 engine as the GTV). Good to look at and hear and drive now and then but not to own. Terrible seats, quallity, security etc. My obsession with Alfa is long gone and now focused toward SAAB that is a much easier ride. A Ovlov P1800 is also there for me that is used now and then.

  14. I absolutely LOVE the GTV6. I had a Milano (75 to the rest of the world) and it was a blast to drive. If you get the little Subbie to tool around in, then grab the GTV6 and head for your nearest Club Motori Italia gathering!

  15. The GTV was one of my dream cars when I was a youngster. And that is the problem. By now, this unreliable car has turned into an unreliable, rusty vintage car. I doubt it could be used as a daily transport. I haven’t seen one for like decades, at least here in Germany.

  16. helle Steven, buy it now if you can do yourself all repairs. for the parts I see no Problem, in Italy are enough parts.

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