Reader Submissions: A Couple Restored This Alfa Romeo in an Apartment Parking Stall

A Couple Restored This Alfa Romeo in an Apartment Parking Stall

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
May 19, 2014
53 comments

Owners: Julia and Joe Brosseau

Year, Make, and Model: 1981 Alfa Romeo GTV6

Location: Seattle, Washington

Photographer: Charles Hawes

Our car is a modified GTV6 which includes a 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano 3.0 liter V6 (up from standard 2.5L) and a Platinum close ratio transaxle, which were a popular swap in South African Alfas as well as Australia. The swap on this car was done by an Alfa mechanic in the Atlanta, GA area in the early 90’s, before being sold to a Alfa Shop owner in Southern California and used as a daily driven vehicle for over twenty years. It was then sold on to a Alfa collector / car flipper and driven to Aspen,CO where I happened to come across is via the internet and purchased sight unseen. I knew it was failing badly in the cosmetic department, but it had a the very desirable 3.0L swap. This was to be my first attempt at restoring a car both mechanically and cosmetically. The body was in poor condition, but I knew I wanted to take my first stab at bringing a car in terrible shape back to something that people would stop and admire.

My family lives in and around the Seattle/Eastside area. My father’s cousin has been a Alfa fanatic for decades and drives a 1964 Alfa 2600. My father and I purchased and lightly restored a 1979 Ferrari 308 back in 2001/02. That car is currently being restored at my fathers garage. My dad’s cousin daily drove a 1985 GTV6 and that is how I came to adore them. As a child we visited the Seattle area when my family still lived in San Francisco and I helped him work on his GTV6 one afternoon. I believe we did a bearing swap to the rear end and I learned how to pack bearings. After which Bill took me for a drive and I knew someday I would get one of my very own.

Some years later when I was in my early 20’s I heard Bill was selling his GTV6 and I asked if I could buy it. I did not have the money nor the know how to keep up a car like this, but I wanted a GTV6 and it was a opening. Well he talked me out of it, and I put it at the back of my mind for some years. Once I was married and my wife and I began to settle into our new life together I decided I wanted a project and my wife agreed that she would let me get the car and wanted to participate in its restoration. Which she did, to her own dismay.

What I love about our car is that it is something we built ourselves. My wife took the interior to bare metal, refreshed it and put it all back together again. She also spent many nights and weekends over six months helping me sand the car down, repairing the metal and rust, filling the body, and finally learning to prime, base and clear coat the car ourselves. And of course color sanding and machine buffing ourselves. When we got the car it needed love everywhere.

The engine while strong, needed new timing components and a complete ignition overhaul. Later I would rebuild the entire fuel injection system myself. A new exhaust and suspension update followed. I am proud to say that the car under our care has never been to a professional shop and that everything done to it since the day we took delivery was done by our hands. It is something we truly have our blood and sweat into. It has been a labor of love and passion from the start and we intend to keep the car and make the needed improvements throughout its life and ours. The car will remain with us and hopefully be enjoyed by our children and our grandchildren.

A byproduct of GTV6 ownership as we’ve learned is that people usually don’t know what it is. Often I will see people circle the car looking for an identifying mark, emblem, etc. From a distance I can see them and when they get to the rear of the car and see the ALFA ROMEO emblem, I can see them mouth “OH! It’s a Alfa Romeo”. Some people will ask me often why a younger guy loves old, temperamental cars like this and I usually reply that it’s because of the way the car feels to drive. The best way I can describe is as follows, “Driving a home-built GTV6 instills a feeling that at any moment a catastrophic failure can happen or that impending doom is just around the corner. And it is glorious.”

Typically, we drive the car to our local Saturday Cars and Coffee event called Exotics@RTC, which is the largest of its kind north of Los Angeles. We also like to get out on sunny days and drive windows down and listen to the symphonic sounds of the engine, intake, and exhaust notes bellowing and clacking away. Some people have therapists. We have old Italian cars, which are not always the most agreeable of things, but are just fun to be around and look at when they happen to not be running correctly, or at all.

I think it is fairly clear what is special about the car in that it is a car restored by a young couple with no experience in building or painting cars. We did all the work in the garage at our apartment, going so far as to convert it into a makeshift spray booth and annoy the neighbors for a couple days while we ran a compressor endlessly for 2 days while we sprayed down the primer, base and clear. All this from a small apartment building in a wealthy area of Seattle. The most unlikely place for anyone to be rebuilding a 33 year old Alfa. I am oddly proud of this feat, though I acknowledge that it is a bit strange.

Ultimately, we are a normal middle class family who enjoy converting things we acquire cheaply and lacking love into things that people admire and enjoy. Purely for the fun of it.

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53 Comments on "A Couple Restored This Alfa Romeo in an Apartment Parking Stall"

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Nik
Nik

WOW! WOW! The Car look’s amazing. In all this years i never see a car like this, unbelievable!! I live in Zürich and i’m Italian but in 30 years NEVER see a Car like this. Great… What is the price?

Ferran Paris
Ferran Paris

Amazing car! The restoration has been done with exquisit taste! Congratulations. I am thinking to mount 7×16 wheels on my Alfa. Which offset did your wheels have? Thanks!

Elliot
Elliot

Joe, beautiful GTV6. I’ve just bought one (all the way down in New Zealand) and pick it up next week.
I am loving those wheels….what are they? and what size?

Eugene Sokhransky
Eugene Sokhransky

Fantastic car and great photos too. Is there any chance to get them in higher resolution? Would make a great desktop background 🙂

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

Thanks. That means a lot to us. I wish they would do a video on the car, but I don’t think they travel North to Seattle from Los Angeles.

Toomanyms
Toomanyms

Best artical so far on petrolicious . Great job hopefully this becomes a career . Would make a great Tuesday video . My pipe dream is to take an e28 m5 / black / red interior thks

Ray Beltran
Ray Beltran
I’m in love. If I had only one car left to buy, it would be this Alfa. Particularly knowing so much love and passion have been poured into it. However, it’s good to know it is a family member, and will remain so. Thanks, great article from someone who loves this car enough to be intimately involved, down to the bare metal, to the point of educating themselves on all it’s mechanical bits rather than take it to a mechanic. Great photos too. I now have a new wallpaper. I love the low angle shot from the rear showing a… Read more »
joe brosseau
joe brosseau
ray, that was just the ultimate compliment so thank you for making my Friday. I am currently working on a follow up, a black GTV6 that I bought about 2 months ago. I just finished putting the engine back together and after a year of sitting it lives again and it running. Julia has the interior out and is working her magic there and I hope to have it road worthy soon. When your band comes to town, be sure to check out exotics@rtc (facebook). it is a massive Saturday morning car gathering in seattle/eastside. a must for car minded… Read more »
Ray Beltran
Ray Beltran

I will definately be there on a Saturday morning, sometime soon I hope. I was already planning on that as soon as I read:

“Typically, we drive the car to our local Saturday Cars and Coffee event called Exotics@RTC, which is the largest of its kind north of Los Angeles.”

Once again, just seeing your name and how you mention “Julia’s magic” on the interior reminds me just how personal this relationship is.

Hope to see you soon!

Michael Harris
Michael Harris

An inspirational story Joe! I have a red ’85 GTV6 which also prowls the east side.

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

have we met or have I seen your car before?

Michael Harris
Michael Harris

I don’t think so … must admit that I have not done much with my GTV6 in the last couple of years (not coincidentally, my daughter is 2+ years old now ;))
I do run the alfagtv6.com site so you might have seen my GTV6 there.

Joe Cartelli (AlfaFaninNY)
Joe Cartelli (AlfaFaninNY)

Joe, awesome work you both have done. I would be very proud to call that car mine.

Warren Tozer
Warren Tozer

Great job!. Bet she sounds gorgeous. I just sold a slightly more modern Alfa V6 (147 GTA) and loved it, apart from the mechanics bills. Wish I had the time and space to maintain it myself, but you’ve managed nicely!.

Would be great to see an article on the 308 restoration.

Cheers
Warren

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

Warren, that could be upcoming within the next few months.

Warren Tozer
Warren Tozer

Great job!. Bet she sounds gorgeous. I just sold a slightly more modern Alfa V6 (147 GTA) and loved it, apart from the mechanics bills. Wish I had the time and space to maintain it myself, but you’ve managed nicely!.

Would be great to see an article on the 308 restoration.

Cheers
Warren

Chris Laxson
Chris Laxson

Joe, you are my new hero. Awesome!!!

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

haha thank you.

Hans-Arvid Svellingen
Hans-Arvid Svellingen

This has inspired me to paint my own Alfa Romeo 75 evoluzione, myself! Like they say, if you want something done right…

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

Hans, feel free to contact me for help guidance or just to help keep from going insane. You will come close.

Bruno Pereira aka alfamanaico

Julia & Joe,

Congrats for the fantastic job you have done in this beauty! I have 2.0 version, from 1982. Which suspension you have bought for the car? From RSR?
This deserve to be shared in our facebook page – alfanord – wich belongs to a Alfa Romeo club in Portugal, if that is ok for you.
Can you post some videos?

Cheers,

Bruno Pereira

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

Bruno, please feel free to share on your Facebook page for your club. I would be honored.
The suspension is larger torsion bars up front and low performance Springs In back from centerline performance with bilstein shocks all around.

Guest (Bruno Pereira aka alfamanaico)
Guest (Bruno Pereira aka alfamanaico)
ra168e
ra168e

Beautiful. I just bought a GTV6 about six months ago. Cosmetics are nowhere close to yours – wow! – but I can certainly agree about the sound and the feeling. It’s fast too.

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

it will get there eric. its just time and a lot of headache 😉 my email is in a post above, please feel free to email if you need any ideas or help along the way. joe

Rob
Rob
I first saw an Alfa GTV6 (a silver one) when I was a teenager (30+ years ago) around the corner from my house and thought this car was unique and special. And it’s pretty rare that I see them driving around in the streets. I’ve got to say that this is one of the nicest GTV6’s I’ve seen. And what amazes me is that you painted and restored it in a building parking spot! That’s incredible. I have a car which I want to restore also in my home garage and wasn’t even considering on painting it myself. And now… Read more »
joe brosseau
joe brosseau
Rob, Thank you for the compliments. It means a lot to have ones hard work validated by such kind words. What motivated me, besides the desire to try, was also because I was quoted nearly $10,000 US to do all the body and paint through a professional shop. I could no t justify that let alone afford it on a car that I paid 1/3 of the paint quote for. So that really motivated me to do it myself and learn. In regards to learning, there are plenty of good videos on youtube that will give you the principles and… Read more »
Martino
Martino

What a beautiful car, respect for your work.. our car born on a same year but mine is Japanese flag a corona TT132 and I’m still riding it now..

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

are those cars sold only in the southeast Asian markets?

michael pristave
michael pristave

Always wanted one of these with this exact engine trans combo. Unfortunately i’m not as skilled as the people in the article but i’m going to attempt a similar treatment with an 89 Skyline I just acquired.

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

the trick is to be fearless and to know deep down that anything you mess up along the way can be corrected and fixed. it will just take some more time and hopefully not too much more cash. joe

elmer
elmer

Hi there,

The blackpanel at the back is that your own idea or standard on us gtv’6’s.
Well done. Doing everything by yourself.

Elmer
Amsterdam

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

I did that myself. I just thought it would look nicer black vs red.

Vincenzo
Vincenzo

I never get tired of looking at these cars. WIth each angle I find something new and sexy to enjoy.

Enzo
Enzo

Still amazes me after all these years.

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

[img]http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d152/sloppyjoe1300/20130324_155113_zpsec1dbc1d.jpg[/img]

joe brosseau
joe brosseau

[img]http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d152/sloppyjoe1300/20130414_173207_zpsf6879535.jpg[/img]
[img]http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d152/sloppyjoe1300/20130324_155200_zps001763cf.jpg[/img]
[img]http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d152/sloppyjoe1300/20130420_145418_zpsd3b324d3.jpg[/img]

Joe Cool
Joe Cool

Joe… the most precious part of your story is… your wife. I hope you realize how lucky you are to share your life with somebody who takes part in your passion. Keep it up but don’t abuse it!

joe brosseau
joe brosseau
thanks Joe! yeah Julia is a special kind of lady. She grew up spending time helping her dad work (beat) on his Lada when she was a girl in Ukraine, so she was not too scared to dive into this project head first. Though I can say that when I am watching a car restoration show and they get to part of sanding and body work she has to look away because she learned that she does NOT like body work in the least 😉 In fact we bought a second GTV6 about a month ago as a rescue mission… Read more »
Roni Solomon DDS
Roni Solomon DDS

ALFA: Always looking for another.

Joe Brosseau
Joe Brosseau

Ahoj Dave!

They are a custom sized and fit wheel from Rota that I ordered from the factory. They are 16″x7″ vs the factory 15×6.

michael pristave
michael pristave

love the choice. Though I wish Rota had some nicer, wider, phone dials but wheels like that are impossible to find now.

Dave
Dave

Amazing car, really nice! What wheels are this?

Ian

Joe, amazing job for a first restoration, and I can’t think of a better car for a first!

I’ve owned lots of Alfas over the years, and I’m not sure which I liked more, my fly-yellow 71 Spider, or my Black ’88 Milano Verde. The sound of the Alfa V6 is just amazing, and the 116 chassis is a joy to toss around.

Someday I’ll get a GTV6, and yours makes me want one now! Enjoy!

joe brosseau
joe brosseau
I really wanted to take the approach of doing it all ourselves and learning as we went. Some things went smoothly and others had to be redone several times. The driver side front fender/wing was caved in and that corner alone took me 2 weeks to shape back into factory perfect by hand. The hood/bonnet sat on our patio for a month while I worked it back to straight and filled in all the rock chips and dimples in the metal. The rear quarters where crudely Skimmed with bondo and appeared to be spray painted over. Worst was the southern… Read more »
joe brosseau
joe brosseau

Laurens, if the site owners will allow I will attach my email to this message. Feel free to contact me and I will gladly share pictures of the paint and body work process. The pictures are just from a cell phone so not super high resolution, but still provide a good idea about how far we went into this car. All the way to wrestling the rear glass back into the rear lid in our living room haha. Joebrosseauii@gmail.com

Cheers.

Laurens Corijn
Laurens Corijn

Awesome stuff Joe, the fact you didn’t use a professional shop at all is extremely inspiring to me. It really shows that it can be done! I was wondering too about the painting process, would be cool if you had some pictures of that?

Also what’s you secret to get your wife to help out, haha?

Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith

A great job on a beautiful, classic, Alfa!

Joe Brosseau
Joe Brosseau
The parking stall is an enclosed garage. We built a temp wall using heavy plastic visqueen with a intake and exhaust fan with home hvac filters duct taped into the plastic film. The challenge was fighting the humidity in the air and keeping the moisture from making its way to the paint gun. We sprayed with a 10gal shop compressor and Eastwood gun. Needless to say I was passing out bottles of wine to the neighbors for all the noise and dust in the air. We sprayed the car and left it heating in the garage for 3 weeks while… Read more »
Ricardo
Ricardo

I would really want to know how you did the paint job, how exactly you transformed the garage into a spray both. Other than that, great story, congratulations!

jolocho
jolocho

My guess is a frame from cheap lumber and plastic sheets wrapped over and around it. There are a few hot rod how-to pages on building a temporary spray booth.

Painting a car is a challenge even in a house garage, I hope they at least gave their neighbors a ride in the Alfa.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

Tons of great pictures and i really love the story as well. This is one of my favorite Alfa’s among many others that i like. I love the part of the story were you say you want the car to live on with your children and grandchildren. You have to get the car bug started early 🙂 great car good article thanks for showing it off to us

Brompty
Brompty

You have done a great job on the car, and a nice piece too explaining your love for it.

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