Alfa’s GTV6 Makes Exotic Noises for Used Econobox Cash
As Petrolisti, we all wear an invisible, yet easily recognizable badge identifying ourselves as such. Self-bestowed, and earned through actions like choosing impractical, dangerous, cantankerous modes of personal transportation over more conventional, airbagged and crumplezoned ones, spending our dispensable income and time keeping up with a constant stream of maintenance needs, mitigating rust, expensively and painstakingly eeking out modest performance gains only to be passed by a bone stock 2010 Corolla driven by a disengaged phlebotomist, ruining clothes through impromptu roadside repairs, constantly smelling like a combination electrical fire/oil spill, suffering for our collective superb taste and elevated sense of fun and adventure—none of it matters, according to Jeremy Clarkson, if you’ve never made said sacrifices at the altar of Alfa.
Is this a reasonable sentiment? Does it carry any weight, or is it just typical Clarksonian hyperbole? Personally, I feel that anyone willing to endure for their chosen hobby retains full rights and honors, or dishonors as it may be, associated with such geekiness—if you’ve put forth the effort to memorize the detailed topography and microclimate of Tolkien’s Shire than you righteously deserve the mockery and social stigma that comes with it, I say. Under that thinking, I’ve paid my car nerd dues, and with it earned the right to be looked at funny by my hybrid-driving peers, but I still want an Alfa Romeo, and I want one pretty badly—a GTV6 seems like a reasonable place to start.
Based on the 1972 Alfetta platform, the GTV6 is, as its name implies, a V6-equipped coupe with reasonable concessions to comfort. Designed upon the existing Alfetta GT/GTV fastback version of the aforementioned chassis, the GTV6 featured sophisticated design elements like a rear-mounted transaxle for better weight distribution, and front wheels suspended via double wishbones—the back two utilizing a somewhat old school, but still highly effective De Dion setup.
What really set the GTV6 apart from its earlier four-cylinder brethren, however, was its magnificent Busso V6. A SOHC design displacing two and a half liters, it supplanted the six downdraft Dell’Orto carbs of its Alfa 6 donor with Bosch fuel injection, transforming an engine previously criticized for inadequate fueling into one widely regarded as an all-time great six cylinder. It was flexible, responsive, reasonably powerful, and despite having only half the cylinder count of more exotic Italian machinery sounded at least 80% as good—I can’t think of a less expensive car with a more expensive soundtrack.
As good as it sounded and looked, it was also quite successful in motorsport, winning the European Touring Car Championship an unprecedented four years running from ’82 through ’85, lending an already seriously desirable car a healthy dose of street cred—the most important, and hardest-earned form of the stuff in the world of performance cars.
Today, a good GTV6 is about as easy to find as your house keys after waking up with a hangover, which is to say not at all. Most have succumbed to oxidation, deferred maintenance, neglect, poor modification, or frequently all four. Provided you’re patient, resourceful, and willing to travel, though (I sure hope you’re all of these things before considering an Alfa), it’s not impossible—just drink plenty of water, take a few aspirin, and bring a stack of bills roughly equivalent to that needed for a phlebotomist-spec Corolla.
Photography by Josh Clason