You can’t claim to be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo, so why not make it a really good one? We show you how to avoid the pitfalls of Italian exotica on a budget...
Classic Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV
The driving position is typically Italian, which means your legs will feel cramped, and your arms outstretched. You’ll either like this or you won’t, but do persist. Whether the sparky Twin Cam or the glorious V6, the driving experience itself needs to
Performance is strong, but it’s in the corners that the GTV really attracted plaudits in its day. Nicely weighted, accurate steering and perfect weight balance mean it has a grace lacking in many rivals. A Porsche 944 gets close, but can’t match the GTV6’s intoxicating six-cylinder howl. As long as you’re sensible, the Alfa will edge towards understeer if you really get a shift on, but clumsy driving can upset the back-end in the damp. A De Dion back end ensures things don’t get skittish if the road surface is less than perfect either. It is a true driver’s car.
Alfa Romeo GTV 6 2.5
Power (bhp@rpm) 160bhp@5800rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 157lb ft@4000rpm
Top speed 133mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Spot a GTV6 by the bonnet bulge. All UK GTV6s used fuel injection, which tends to be reliable. Timing belt changes are required ideally every four years or 36,000 miles. A good independant will charge around £300, with dealers charging much more. The V6 is very robust and will easily sail past 150,000 miles with sympathetic maintenance. The original timing belt tensioner can leak oil, but a mechanical replacement from the 155 can be used. Head gaskets can fail, but later gaskets are a better design. Check the state of the coolant. If it’s fresh but the expansion tank looks filthy, the head gasket may be suspect. The twin-cam engine is a bit more fragile and a rebuild may be needed around 100,000 miles. The top timing chain needs replacing every 50,000 miles and all engines can smoke when worn. The V6 can be easily tuned, and 3.0-litre replacements from the 75 are much sought after and shouldn’t harm the value too much.
Check for corrosion under the scuttle panel. It can get very expensive to sort properly as the dashboard, heater, wiring loom and windscreen need removing. Corrosion also strikes around the front suspension turrets, the bottom of the front wings behind the front wheels and the sills. If there is any sign of bubbling above the sill trim of a later GTV, there’s likely to be much worse beneath.
Examine the jacking points carefully, especially just below the leading corner of the front door. Inside, if there’s a bulge in the floor where your heel rests, it suggests the floor is rotten. Lift the carpets in both footwells to check for any grot or signs of damp caused by water ingress, and have a good look underneath as well. Be aware that copious amounts of underseal can be used to disguise problems, so give it a good poke with a screw driver.
Get underneath and check around the spare wheel well – and the battery well on a GTV6. They are spot welded to the main chassis rails, so rot in either can quickly become structural. Rot can be tricky to spot and may get missed on an MoT. It’s worth checking this area very carefully as muck gets thrown up by the rear wheels.
Electrics can live up to the Alfa reputation for unreliability, though usually only because of dirty connections. Make sure everything works but note that oil gauges can be erratic. A new sender usually does the trick. If a car has been standing electric window switches can stop working.
A car with worn suspension will not handle well and will feel vague and clumsy. Everything is available, but once you start replacing worn bushes and get the geometry checked, it can get expensive. A lot of people upgrade the brakes, but this often requires larger, aftermarket wheels. The inboard rear calipers are prone to seizing, especially in little-used cars. Worse, they can also leak fluid, causing the pedal to need pumping to give any stopping power. Pay around £126 for a reconditioned caliper. A soft clonk from the rear when you come off the throttle is probably worn gearbox mountings. Watch for failed synchromesh – a gearbox rebuild will be in the region of £1700
Interior trim can be very hard to find, and earlier cloth disintegrated in sunlight. Leather upgrades are popular and hard wearing, as are later Recaro interiors, which command a premium. Black trim can fade to a sort of greenish colour if left exposed to sunlight and the elements for any length of time.
This really is motoring for the heart, but it’s essential that you don’t go blindly into GT or GTV ownership, or your joy could be short lived. A shiny car isn’t necessarily a sound one. Always go for bodywork ahead of mechanical woes. Fixing the running gear can be costly, but is rarely enough to write a car off in economic terms. A thorough bodywork restoration on the other hand can very easily outweigh the value of the car. Keeping a GTV on the road needn’t be a bind, though parts support is not without problems. Club support is also excellent.