Modern Classic, Polarizing Oddity, We Simply Call It Our Alfa Romeo GTV
Story and photography by Arkadiusz Łapajski and Agnieszka Łapajska
My wife and I have always loved Italian cars, and Alfa Romeo in particular. We appreciate the cornerstones of today’s typical Alfista garage—the Sprints, the Spiders, etc.—but we happened to fall in love with one of the brand’s so-called modern classics: the Type 916 GTV.
It was designed around a front-wheel drive layout, which still scares off enthusiasts who swear by RWD, but the car has a turbocharged iteration of the famous Giuseppe Busso-designed V6, and it was once declared by Jeremy Clarkson—a guy who’s driven more than most—as one of the best sports cars of its time. It was built to restore the famous GTV name to the forefront of the small sports car market, but updated for a new decade. Its upswept Kamm tail design recalls a 1980s form draped in the curves that were in vogue during the 1990s. It’s an intricate balance between eras, and though it remains one of the marque’s more polarizing designs, it still manages to include traditional Alfa styling elements.
We’ve decided for ourselves that it’s one of the most beautiful cars on the planet, and we came to that estimation at a gas station on the way home from an Iron Maiden concert of all things. It was a 2.0L twin spark model in Rosso Proteo, and after pausing to admire it under the lights by the pumps we couldn’t stop thinking about the strangely captivating shape we’d just met in the middle of the night.
That kicked off a search for our own that lasted about a year and a half, a period of time in which we had every listing memorized; months upon months of refreshing the classifieds sites to find the same cars we’d been scrutinizing over and over again. It was a long slog through cars that didn’t meet our requirements, but finally the “one” popped up and we knew the time had been worth it. Not two minutes after the advertisement had appeared we had put our deposit down and begun planning the pickup and arrival of our new-to-us 1998 GTV.
Immediately after our workdays, we traveled to the other end of Poland and arrived back home at five in the morning the following day up one Alfa Romeo. We had to work that day, but the lack of sleep turned into the happy type of delirium that accompanies the purchase of dream cars. Specifically, a second series GTV 2.0 V6 TB. It was the right car for us, confirmed by the discovery of a four-leaf clover in our flower box the day after we brought her home.
Series II cars with the V6 turbo after 1998 were produced in only 690 units. The color of ours is called Grigio Meteora Metallic, and in the interior you will find MOMO red leather with red carpets and black trim. It has 95,000km, and we plan on adding plenty to that number. It’s just such a unique machine, something that delivers both aesthetic and experiential pleasures unlike almost anything else. It isn’t the fastest car or the most traditionally pretty, but it is unlike anything being made today, and unlike most made during its own time. Even at 20 years old—the concept for this GTV dates back even further, to the late 1980s Pininfarina concept car—it doesn’t look old. The driving experience is excellent fun thanks to the 202hp from the 12-valve turbo motor, itself a bit of an oddity. It runs on two computers—one for fuel and one for the turbo operation—and though it’s clearly not the most practical car to drive, we use ours all the time. It’s our “daily.”
Besides the errands and commutes though, we alway make sure to leave time and energy to explore the Silesia region in our country, looking for new roads to enjoy and new places for taking photographs or just for the sake of parking for a few minutes to enjoy the moment in time without trying to freeze it forever. After all, there will be many more to come.