Reader Submissions: Driving an Upside-Down Alfa Romeo is Thrilling

Driving an Upside-Down Alfa Romeo is Thrilling

By Petrolicious Productions
March 11, 2014

Owner and photographer: Kirby Masterman 

Year, Make, and Model: 1986 Alfa Romeo GTV6

Location: “Upside down in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia”

Looks can be deceiving. Take this ’86 Alfa Romeo GTV6 for example, which appears to have just rolled off the showroom floor. Except that it’s got some modifications that according to Mr. Kirby Masterson, “make it a pocket rocket around the track.” It has a 3.0L V6 Busso engine from a Milano, Koni adjustable shocks, thicker front sway bar, limited slip diff and a twin-spark gearbox. And foruntunately for Petrolicious, his car addressed a noted “serious lack of GTV6s on the site!”

But let’s back up a bit. Kirby proudly states that he’s “not interested in cars; I’m in the category of obsessed. I like to think I just popped out into the world wearing a Formula 1 t-shirt making car noises, and I’d honestly say the reality wasn’t too dissimilar to that.” His dad is a car nut too, so even as a youngster pushed around in a pram, Kirby attended club events, Aussie V8 Supercar races, and car shows. “The sounds of engines purring and smell of tires and fuel must have [seeped] into my brain at an early age.”

His previous car was a hot hatch, the Renault Clio 200. But he yearned for a classic and upon first mentioning the idea to his dad, Kirby thinks he may have spotted a tear of happiness. While he considered other cars, his dad had the largest influence on his decision, as he is a complete and utter Alfa Romeo fan-boy, and thought a GTV6 would look swell next to his 105 GTV. And thus they began scanning the classifieds each night. Then one night, there she was!

“The car popped up for sale in the local ads on Thursday night and by Friday it was sold, but not to me. Bugger.” His dad took Kirby to meet with a life long friend of his, and loyal Alfa mechanic, to ask if he had any GTV6s. It turns out that he did as one of his clients was selling a GTV6 that happened to be one of the finest in Australia.

He called up the owner who gave the group some bad news. He’d agreed to sell the car to a bloke interstate. Regardless, they drove around the corner to meet the owner who happened to be a friend that Kirby had already met recently at an Alfa track day! “We scanned the car, it was perfect, and we offered to buy the car on the spot. So the seller gave a quick phone call to the interstate bloke to let him know that we had offered to buy the car right then and there, and that he didn’t want to sell the car to him anymore. Well, this bloke turned out to be a legal Barrister, who immediately threatened to sue the seller if he broke the “verbal contract” they already had. We were immediately deflated, this was THE car, and we missed out again. The seller wasn’t feeling too swell either. A week flew by, and we got a phone call, the interstate legal Barrister decided he didn’t want the car anymore. Hey presto! Happy ending, I got the car!”

Now that he’s had the Alfa Romeo for a while he recognizes that the terms ‘passion’ and ‘emotion’ are thrown around too much when describing Alfa Romeos, but he can’t seem to think of anything other than the passion and emotion. “There is indubitably a sense of connection with the car, treat it with respect and it will reward you. And I love what’s under the bonnet. It isn’t just an engine; it’s an opera house for an orchestra of angels. The Busso Designed V6 is hands-down one of Alfa’s finest sounding instruments. The mechanical engineering on the GTV6 was state of the art, using Formula 1 technology, De Dion rear suspension (first implemented on the Alfetta 159 that won the Formula 1 World Championship), twin clutch, inboard rear brakes and rear mounted transaxle for better weight distribution.”

It all sounds great, but the car isn’t exactly easy to drive according to Kirby. Apparently it’s a challenge and he loves that sense of involvement. What else? “The styling, oh the styling! I tip my hat to Giorgetto Giugiaro, he is a master!”

And although it’s challenging this GTV6 is Kirby’s daily driver. He’s found that there’s something very special about driving a classic everyday. Additionally, he also takes it to the track to compete in club sprints regularly and loves the two contrasting worlds of driving it sedately on the roads and hard on the track. He suggests you “Flip through some old advertising brochures of the GTV6 and see how much emphasis was put on track use. After all, it did win the European Touring Car Championship fours years in a row. I enjoy using the car how the GTV6 lifestyle was suggested in the brochures: drive to work, parking right in front of restaurants at night, and then on the weekend hit the track.”

We couldn’t do it any better. Kirby’s automotive passion has also led him to study automotive design and co-found a local classifieds website, here, for classics in Australia, to help build a stronger community in the land down under! Check it out, maybe you’ll find an equally nice Alfa Romeo, but probably not.

Want to see your vintage car on Petrolicious? Click here for more information.

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Martin La Grange
Martin La Grange(@deepshark5)
7 years ago

Luscious and Lovely….and long lived ! Looking closely at this fine GTV6 I think this beast is very likely ex-South Africa, and therefore is made of decent quality thick Carbon Steel, and so will last for years to come. In the distant future, ultimately she may be upgraded with the forthcoming Alfa Romeo 3.0L Multiair V-6 which is to feature in the forthcoming Maser Ghibli IV, a motor that will no doubt bark hard and share with the 1750 TBi that mesmerising 45 degree torque curve (blew my socks off in the 1.4 MiTo so WHAT will will that V6 be like !?)….This Alfa’s dearly beloved sister is the 3.0 V6 Turbo, also from South Africa…and a V8 muncher. In NZ, I once owned a 1977 GTV 2000, which lasted a year until the A-pillar crumbled with rust as most of the sulphur-steel ones do….but while it lasted, she was my darling, driven every day….I never needed the radio, as at the right rev and gear the valves were like a trumpeter’s lips, and the entire engine sounded like a quartet of matching post-horns blaring a magnificent note….she was also a bit botty clenching when braking without manifold pressure, but then engine braking became a habit. Ahh, my poor GTV before she died had the fabulous ability to turn on car alarms in shopping centre carparks, and in her finest moment humbled a Ferrari 348 going UPHILL one evening….Good On Kirby for keeping this luscious lady on the road, and thanks for sharing photos !

Ben Lamboeuf
Ben Lamboeuf(@ducbeak)
7 years ago

Sooo cool!
One of my all-time favs. I used to drive my sister’s Alfasud, but always wished she had stepped up and bought this model.
Thanks for sharing. Great looking car!

Henrik Magnusson
Henrik Magnusson
7 years ago

Don’t quite get why it’s difficult to drive. Used to have 116-cars as daily drivers for years and had no problem. My old 280000km 75TS was the most reliable car I’ve ever had! As for the driving experience per se it’s the nature of the beast – of course it’s not like a modern car, but if you want that, buy a modern car… Two worthy upgrades I’d do to the car in the article are to fit yellow Bilsteins instead of Konis (the former just works so much better on these cars), and the power steering from an Alfa 75 which totally transforms the everyday useability. Yes, of course the old unassisted gives more feedback, but the rack from the 75 is excellent and you really loose very little.

7 years ago

Great article and really good to see some Australian and particularly Melbourne Cars. I’ve always loved Alfas (just sold my everyday 159 for a more practical truckster) even though my classic drive is a Merc 230SL. You’re exactly right about the driver involvement of a classic.

7 years ago

Very, very jealous. I came close to buying a resto-project one of these that came with a 3.3l Autodelta-made V6. It ended up selling for a hair over £1400. Very annoyed I didn’t get it.

A 3.0l GTV6 is on the shortlist for projects after my Spit6, provided I can resist the temptation of building a big-bore 3.5l 🙂

Also, I’ve noticed the prices for GTV6s have been going up recently. I can’t find anything below £12k, although they are all minty examples.

Great if you already own a GTV6. Crap for those of us who want one.

motoring con brio
motoring con brio(@motoringconbrio)
7 years ago

Great car — here’s another (for Kirby):

The tag in that article needs to be fixed (it’s a GTV6, not a GTV).

Alejandro Armendano
Alejandro Armendano(@ramhead)
7 years ago

I’m in love with this car since I saw it the first time, back in 1979. Alfetta GTV always in my heart 🙂

Ray Beltran
Ray Beltran(@raybee27)
7 years ago

I went to the movies to see “Bobby Deerfield” just so I could watch it drive ’round. She was the star of the movie for me.

7 years ago

The Alfa V6 is the best internal combustion motor ever fitted to an automobile. It’s the fact, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you just know what I mean.

7 years ago
Reply to  JB21

agreed. I just bought one and I’m having the radio disconnected.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

What a great sight to wake up to this morning. If i was gonna name my top 5 Alfa’s the GTV6 would definitely be in that list. From its cool shape to the bonnet bulge with the great V6 underneath it that Im sure makes one heck of a noise. These GTV6 were also beast on the track in Touring car racing. The best thing i love about the car is that the owner has great passion for his car and uses to its full ability and not just some daily driver either. Also i love the mods to the car as well simple but effective, he didn’t try to do to much to take away from the character of the car. Great job, Great car

Johnny Breinholt
Johnny Breinholt(@officina590gt)
7 years ago

La GTV6, sempre una bella figura 🙂