Driving an Upside-Down Alfa Romeo is Thrilling
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.