A Couple Restored This Alfa Romeo in an Apartment Parking Stall
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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