Alfa GTV6 sold! Now what?

My Alfa Romeo GTV6 has gone to a new home. The sale was completed yesterday. It’s a little strange now that the car’s gone. I didn’t get to drive it enough to be really heartbroken, which is something I’d like to change with my next acquisition.

Alfa Romeo GTV6 photo by Stuart Semmens
Alfa Romeo GTV6 photo by Stuart Semmens
The GTV6 was a fantastic car. It looked magnificent, sounded like a herd of furious stallions on a rampage, cornered like a slightly drunk go-kart and possessed all the genuine, purist retro-chic that a car guy could ever wish for.

My problem – the Subaru Brumby.

The GTV6 only ever got out on weekends as the Brumby and my wife’s 9000 combined for daily driving duties. I need some serious seat time in a car to truly bond with it and cry when it leaves. I’m not sure the GTV6, for all its virtues, could ever have got me to a truly tearful parting.

While the interior was sensational, it was uncomfortable for a guy with my body shape (long legs, average torso) to drive for long periods of time. I couldn’t wear a helmet in the car for club events without opening the sunroof, which was both frustrating and slightly dangerous. And maybe I’m going soft in my middle age, but I really like power steering.

I’m very, very happy that I got the chance to experience the GTV6 and I’ll only ever have good things to say about it, but I just didn’t have the same depth of connection that I’ve had with other cars.

So now it’s replacement time and as always, there are plenty of options.

There’s one caveat right at the moment, however. Mrs Swade and I are currently contemplating selling our current home and building a new one. That means any plans for extended automotive spending are well and truly on hold. I have to try and do this using just the sale proceeds of the Alfa (and maybe I’ll sell the Brumby, too). No extra borrowing allowed.

The criteria include:

  • Fun to drive.
  • Appealing brand/model heritage.
  • Comfortable to drive, but still enjoyable.
  • Suitable for our three-week drive up the east coast of Oz, planned for later this year.
  • Suitable for car club track events.

I still have a thing for front-engined Porsches but that’s not going to fit the financial plan so a 944/968 is going to go on the backburner for a few years until the house business is sorted out.

Not an easy list to fulfil, then, but I think I’ve come up with a multi-car solution that will not only tick all these boxes, but will fit within the budget, too.

One possible solution is to include replacing Mrs Swade’s car as well. We can target the comfort, heritage and holiday needs with her car and target the more hard-core sporting needs with my car. Both replacements will be cost-effective as long as they’re in good condition. I could even come away with a small savings pot for either the new home or the future bucket-list car.

Prospective solution 1, part 1:

Mrs Swade currently has a Saab 9000CS. I love the 9000 as a model but our CS has a heap of electrical issues that aren’t cost-effective to fix as well as poor heating/cooling.

Black9000AeroReplacing our CS with a 9000 Aero means we upgrade absolutely everything about the car at minimal cost. We get a purpose built long-distance star with much more comfortable seats, much higher spec equipment, bucketloads of model equity and we still get to have the load-lugging capability that the 9000 is famous for.

Mrs Swade only drives automatic but there’s an auto Aero for sale at the moment (pictured). It’s black, too. With low mileage for age. I’m sure the price is negotiable on a car like this.

I’m hesitant about buying Saabs because the parts situation here in Australia is still what I’d describe as ‘strained’, but I’m less hesitant about buying an older Saab than what I would be about buying a newer one. I don’t know if there’s any logic to that, but it is what it is. Aside from our current electrical issues, we’ve had great service from our two 9000’s and I wouldn’t hesitate to own another. Bjorn Envall said that the 9000 Aero was quite possibly the best car Saab ever built and while I’ve never owned an Aero, I can see where he’s coming from.

Prospective solution 1, part 2:

A 9000 Aero would cover off a lot of our travel, comfort and commuting needs, which means I’d be free to focus on some of the more fun and club-related aspects of my motoring interests.

My first Alfa 33 16V
My first Alfa 33 16V
With a limited budget, that’s pointing me towards getting back into another Alfa Romeo 33 16V. I can fit in with a helmet and it’s not going to cost the earth so I can feel free to strip the insides and make it the track/road car I’ve always wanted to play around with.

I’ve got leads on two of these coming on to the market soon. One has some special equipment already included and looks great in black. The other is classic Alfa red and has a newly rebuilt engine. Neither will be overly expensive and both allow me plenty of room to play. Boxer-engined Alfas are a neglected niche but they’re a model I’ve got a real bug for.

Altenative prospective solution 1

Keep Mrs Swade’s current car and buy a RenaultSport Megane as my daily driver. Neither car really fulfills our holiday needs well but the RS Megane would make a great daily driver and a killer track day warrior.

Downside: after much soul-searching, I really prefer Italian to French, unless I’ve got the room/budget to get both, which I haven’t.

Alternative prospective solution 2

Buy an Alfa Romeo GTV V6 from around 1998-2002. Amazingly beautiful car with a cracking engine and commendable handling. I’ve been wanting one of these for years now but the opportunity has never quite presented. This could be it. It’s certainly affordable as these can sell for less than the classic GTV I’ve just parted with. There’s a very nice black one with a tan interior for sale right now for just $7.5K. The one pictured below is a later model (known as phase 2) with a nicer dashboard, also black and tan, and is selling for $14.5K.

ALFAGTV

Downside: Getting one like the car pictured above would mean not getting a 9000 Aero to replace Mrs Swade’s car. I’m not sure the seats in this Alfa will suit the long holiday drive and I’m not sure the roof will allow me to wear a helmet.

Alternative prospective solution 3

A BMW 330Ci is a nice coupe with all the modern comforts and would be perfect for our east-coast driving trip. The E46 model is affordable if I sell the Brumby, too.

It fulfils few other criteria, but is a reasonably good short term option (as long as I didn’t lose much money on a relatively quick flip early next year).

——

If we do end up building a new home, the Brumby would be handy to have around. I think I could do the Aero/Alfa combination from current savings if I was pushed. It’s looking like a good option if the house plans come to fruition.

Car shopping is never easy, is it? And to be honest, it’s getting to the point where the travel involved is a little laborious, even for me. I’d like to find a slightly longer-term solution so that I can focus on saving up for what I’d call a real bucket-list alternative in a few years from now.

Thankfully, it’s still mostly fun, however and I’m sure it will be this time, too.

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22 Comments

  1. This may not be a popular choice with you or your readers, but I endorse a Volvo or Audi wagon to replace the 9000CS and a Subaru WRX or your Megane for your fun car. Once you move sell the Brumby for some upgrades for the car you select.

    My two cents.

    1. The Volvo/Audi/Renault/WRX permutations are less likely to fit under budget, but there are some reasonable contenders there. I’d prefer something Italian for the fun car, however, simply because it’s an Italian club I’m a member of and there are already too many people bringing Japanese cars to their track days. It’s frustrating, even if I can understand their reasoning (they have Italians for day to day but Japanese for the track – figure that out!)

      I did spot a nice Volvo P1800 that’s almost within budget. If Irv Gordon can drive his for 3 million miles then there’s got to be some life in them šŸ™‚

      1. Maserati BiTurbo or that chassis in its many iterations? Fiat/Bertone X1/9? Of course, one of my favorites, Lancia Beta/Spider? (The Lancias will probably be hard to find in high performance form, I’d imagine.)

        Of course, if you stay with Alfa there are many options, but I’d be a little partial to the Spider Veloce of the 1980’s. You could even get one of the 9000’s siblings if there are any 164’s left. I’ve gotten the feeling that the 164 was not a well-loved Alfa-Romeo model, and thus the well-preserved examples may be few.

  2. How about a Mazda Miata? I don’t recommend the Subaru Legacy. Absolutely no personality and the seats are uncomfortable. I am surprised (if you’re looking at BMW’s) that you don’t have these two on your list:

    VW Golf GTi (they really are a lot of fun)
    Mercedes C230 Kompressor 2 door coupe.

    The Merc is surprisingly roomy, well built, and because its a 2-door coupe no one bought it, hence its pretty cheap on the 2nd hand market (at least in the states). The parts are cheaper than a BMW too.

    1. I liked the idea of the Mazda but I never connected with it at all. I had the optional hardtop on mine and nowhere to store it when not in use, which meant it ended up staying on the car a lot. That might have been part of the problem. The car also needs more guts, however. Just felt like it was working so hard, so much of the time. You can never relax in it.

  3. If you want driving pleasure then the 3 series is the way to go. A friend had a GTV like the one you are thinking of and it was a nightmare. If you had the Peugeot 406 coupe sold there its a much better way to go. The 406 estate was a fine car as well, still see them on the roads here with big milages on the clock.

  4. Just make sure your new home has a 6-car garage with at least one 12 ft ceiling (for a lift), or a separate car barn. I’m seeing hints of the next Jay Leno here.

    1. It’s in the plans, Ted, including the lift. No chance of doing a Leno, but I would definitely like to play. I don’t know much about fixing cars, but I want to learn.

  5. 2004-2007 9-3 Aero with a Hirsch/Maptun/BSR (any of) package. Weapon. Seriously good track car. It turns in and out of corners like it is on rails and eats BMs for breakfast.

    1. I agree. Go with that 2006 9-3 Aero you Maptuned or a similar 9-3. Granted my local Saab service center is only 5 miles away but I have had to fight to keep it active as you know. There are a number of International sites to get 9-3 parts. So, if you need a part just order it.

  6. aussie spec 9-5 aero [wagon or sedan MY2004/05], very tunable, 5 speed auto’s ok, good fuel economy on long haul, very comfy, but not many for sale and 2 piece headlight clusters make it look a bit old…

    1. Very few of these for sale, particularly of that particular vintage.. I know, I’m keeping my eyes open for a Wagon! I’ve seen a few ’03 Aero sedans around that might be worth a look. 04/05 front bumper was the best looking IMO. But there just aren’t any in Aus.

  7. I need to take you for a spin in my ’07 9-3 Aero convertible, Maptun’ed of course. A big lump of a car for a track but an effortless cruiser that is still reasonably practical for a softtop. Lots (I mean lots) of go when you want.

  8. Hi Swade, I recently purchased a Saab 9000 Aero so thought I would give you a few thoughts on my experience.

    My father owned an Aero in the early 90s, and I had been on the look out for an example for a while now. Last year I happened upon one in OK condition, but I broke all the rules as (i) it had a lot of evidence of shady work done on it by a non-Saab specialist (I live in Hungary and the car was owned by someone 250 KMs from the nearest Saab specialist and clearly without funds required to upkeep the car which is why it was up for sale) and (ii) came with no service history whatsoever (with a very dubious 175K KMs on the clock). It was cheap however (paid about EUR 900 for it) and had a great interiour, so decided to take the plunge.

    Of course I have since spent EUR 5500 on it totally rebuilding the engine, turbo and suspension, as well as on other mechanical work needed to be done, but I do not regret it for a minute. I now have a fully Abbot racing suspension, and even though it is not chip tuned, the car is amazingly quick. Considering it has a new engine, turbo, clutch and suspension, I feel I did well for my EUR 6500 total outlay.

    If you do take the plunge on the 9000 Aero, I really would budget for a suspension upgrade from Abbott Racing. All 9000s are going to have perished bushes at this point – this will cause the 9000 to feel like a wallowing beast . My family owneed three 9000s (a 1988, a 1991 and a 1994 Aero), and none of them were wallowing whales to drive – they were all sharp and fun through the corners. The newest 9000 is now at least 15 years old, so bushing changes will need to be done.

    After I finished the Aero’s suspension rebuild, my car was transformed – the steering was tight, the car corners as if on rails, and the suspension is quite compliant (provided you dial back the Koni shocks a bit).

    My wife who was not convinced about the Aero is now completely hooked and wants to drive it all the time. Our 2006 9-3 Sport Combi is hardly getting any use.

    Still today, the 9000 Aero remains one of the best cars ever produced. Full stop! Just yesterday we wentshopping with the family (two different super markets) and I could not believe how I could fit everything into the car (with family), and still feel that push back in the seat (and great handling) of a sports car on the way home.

    If I were you I would go with the 9000 Aero without a doubt. These are starting to become incredibly rare, and this probably is the last window of opportunity where you can get a decent example for cheap.

    As to me, I will be doing the last bit to get my Aero to almost show room standards. I have hunted on the Internet for new old stock door seals and will get the car repainted in the spring. I will also install a full 3 inch exhaust with Stage 3 software. Then I will probably keep and drive the car for the rest of my life.

    Good luck and looking forward to hearing from you whichever way you decide!

    Ed K.

    1. Thanks for the report, Ed. That’s the sort of Aero experience I’d like (though perhaps without the engine and turbo rebuild!). I remember an interview with former Saab design chief, Bjorn Envall, where he named the 9000 Aero as probably the finest car Saab ever built. Advances in technology would provide arguments for the 9-3 and 9-5, simply through natural progression. But I can see how some could well regard the 9000 Aero as the most complete package Saab put together. I’d be happy to own one.

      1. I have driven many 9-5s (we had one from nearly new in the family as well), and I feel that the 9000 was an integrally better car. More solid and better handling for sure! The 9-5 feels a much bigger car (although on the inside and in the trunk, it is not bigger from what I can tell) and wafts much more. That said, I have never driven a 9-5 Aero – that may be a different kettle of fish. My 9-3 SC has Vector/Aero sports suspension on it, and does not handle nearly as well as the 9000. And it is much harder over the bumps! Good luck!

  9. I very nearly bought a mate’s 9000CSE. Fantastic thing. Regret to this day that I did not. Silly me.
    That rear end is quite unique and it holds nearly as much as a wagon. It is a good looking car that evokes a bit emotion deep down. But the weird thing, with the CSE having the Aero motor, it went like stink. And that was around the twisty turny stuff near Gunn’s Plains. Beat my Linear 9-5 easy. AND you just HAVE to sit in THOSE SEATS to get the whole Aero thing. The CSE had the stock seats, which while very comfy did not really grab me. Get a real 9000 Aero and do it up. Not a non-Aero that has been converted. You will never lose on it either and I believe that the values (if that is important) are slowly increasing, due in some part the sort of chat we are having right now!
    Get one!

  10. 9-5 Aero Sedan is a great car, for so many reasons. I had one, until it got rear ended at 70 km/h. The doors still opened and shut and I got the kids out, screaming, but safe. However, the guy who fell asleep at the wheel at 8:00am and did not bother to get his foot on the middle pedal has a lot to answer for. My 9-5 02 Aero was MINT. Engine had only done 60,000, box was spot on, body had no dents in it. I mean none. No scratches. Do you think I could find another one? Nope. No-one wants to sell theirs. I wonder why? 184kW, 350Nm. Not much else to say really.

  11. Every now and then a car parked on the side of the road makes you stop, and look.
    Yes, it was an Alfa. Yes it was red. Yes it looked absolutely Stunning.
    159 sedan, red calipers, big wheels, black leather everywhere, de-badged.
    Fabulous thing.

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