Journal: Why The Alfa Romeo GTV6 Is Pornography For Engineers

Why The Alfa Romeo GTV6 Is Pornography For Engineers

By Davide Cironi
February 1, 2016
26 comments

The Alfa Romeo GTV6 is so much more than a pretty face. Underneath its skin, this car is pornography for engineers, and here’s why.

In 1980, the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 came out with a 60° V6 engine from the Alfa 6, fitted on a shortened Alfetta chassis. A transaxle, De Dion rear suspension, and Watt’s parallelogram linkage worked away together at the back, with wishbone suspension up front. The front brakes had ventilated discs, and the rears were inboard. Even its front camber was increased significantly to reduce understeer, over models fitted with a 4-cylinder engine.

Did you tune out? Here’s a three-word recap: it is athletic.

The history of motorsport agrees. The GTV6 won the European Touring Car Championship from 1982 to 1985, against Audi, BMW, and Jaguar. It won the BTCC with Andy Rouse, then France, Italy, Australia…winning everywhere. It plunged into rally with the crazy French ace Yves Loubet, winning its class four years in succession from 1983 to 1986 in the Tour de Corse.

Its 2,500-cc, 160 horsepower, 0-60 in 8 seconds, and 128 mph top speed is quick enough to make a Porsche 911 SC driver nervous. As a plus, Giorgetto Giugiaro from the newborn Italdesign consultancy drew a totally new line for a four-person GT—hello, Audi A7, Alfa Romeo did it 40 years ago.

Then you start shifting gears and think: “How is even possible they worsened the perfect Giulia gearbox with the Alfetta?” On your way down to second gear in the examples I’ve driven, you have to be a good old school manual master if you don’t want to scrape something. This makes it even more of a professional car in my opinion—or maybe that’s just describing a complaint as a strength.

It’s rewarding to learn to extract the most from the car, but if you wanna go faster through the gears,  stay with the older Giulia and GT versions. (It’s a shame the older cars had no V6 engine. Maybe I should build one with a 3.2-litre GTA engine? In Italy, it’s already been done…)

The first two things I love to notice when approaching to the GTV6 are the scent of its interior, which is petrol, wood, and that unique Alfa Romeo smell. Then I enjoy the noise of the door closing from inside. It’s a ritual: sit down, close the door with that nice old sound, take a few breaths, and turn the key.

Then, ok, the show starts: Giuseppe Busso’s violin. There is a specific note this engine can reach, around 5,000 rpm, that is an audible injection of endorphins. Every time, my mind gets drugged when I keep the right foot on that precise note for long enough.

I’m already organizing another test with a very mean and obscure GTV6…only with a tuned engine and approximately 240 horsepower, done in an all black livery and wide body. It goes to show that these cars are still alive—ask the MiTo and Fiat 500 Abarth drivers who tried to pass me during the drive back.

The youngbloods had no idea what they were in for when flying along in formation with this old, gray, loud, and weirdly-shaped car. Now they have.

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dave wakamanMICHAEL JOHNSONmoosesportMichael IsaacsonŽelimir Blažević Recent comment authors
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dave wakaman
dave wakaman

Bought one of these from Alex Jupe in the UK earlier this year. Alex is the maestro with trans-axle Alfa’s and has amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of the GTV6. He has a number of mods which improve the handling and gear change, making this an even better package. I remember reading somewhere someone saying that Alfa didn’t make a good car in the 80’s and 90’s – they were plainly wrong and Davide Cironi is right. The GTV6 is an excellent drivers car and great value too.

MICHAEL JOHNSON
MICHAEL JOHNSON

Wow, a car I would love to have. I am stunned at how beautiful they are from every angle as well as the brilliant chassis and engine design. I am also blown away at how deliciously SMALL they are next to modern obese vehicles.

moosesport
moosesport

Why is a 944S or an E30 M3 amy less porn for engineers? A
Or any of a number of other well balanced vehicles?

Michael Isaacson
Michael Isaacson

I ran a 1981 GTV-6 for about five years from 1989-1004. Once the head gasket had been replaced the engine was a beast. Sounded glorious, chassis balanced perfectly at 50/50. The interior was shot and irreplaceable, the A/C blew so cold it created a block of ice and would stop working, the body began to fail from just humidity let alone our icy, salt-laden winters, shifting into 2nd was a skill, and the speedometer (along with a few other items) would work when they damn well felt like doing so. Loved every minute of that car! Miss it terribly.

Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith

The 2.5L is one of the sweetest engines ever built! I spent a lot of time & money rebuilding a well worn, but, still driveable ’82. It was SO worth it. It was as close as I could get to owning an Italian exotic. It made me feel like a motorsport hero whenever I hit an empty stretch of twisty road.

Fredrik Assarsson
Fredrik Assarsson

Nice to save a 116 GTV. Now don’t belittle your work 😉 It IS a true Italian Exotic.

Chris Cardwell

I couldn’t agree more with you. I have had the privilege of owning a 1081 2000GTV for several years and though not a GTV6 I am constantly amazed at it’s capabilities giving many a modern car a run for it’s money.
I also own a number of Series 101and 105 but it is the 116 that I prefer to actually DRIVE.

alfavirusnz
alfavirusnz

I heartily agree with David. The specs do read well and the car is a brlliant drive IF you can accept its differences. Having had Porsches I would agree with David that despite the ‘armchair experts” saying impossible this car can stay easily with a 911SC in real road conditions being powerful (you`d swear it has in Euro spec 200hp) and is agile with good brakes but it also has a trustworthyness to its handling which provides great confidence and has that ability to put its power down in a way a 105 or BMW can only dream about. When… Read more »

Renaud Bouin
Renaud Bouin

Ahah I have the same problem of second-gear scratch on my Alfa 33, it is as to move a spoon in a jar of mayonnaise. But the noise of the Boxer leads to forget all these small problems !!

Sotirios Bakaimis
Sotirios Bakaimis

had the same in 2nd gear in my old 33 1.7 8V, but that damned gearbox never lost a quick change through the ratios all the way up!!!

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč

It was great to read and then I saw, who is autor. 😀 Oh, Davide, really great article! With great photos! I like design of this car very much, it reminds me a bit of classic Škoda Garde/Rapid. There is one Sprint 902 in my are for a good price, it looks quite similar, but it have not Busso. :/ But what about Sprint, is it good, too, or not?

Patrick Tacq
Patrick Tacq

I remember them well because my mate (Italian of course !) had three of them on a throt and I
used to drive it regularly Fantastic engine but what a joke of a gear box and absolutely no brakes to match! I owned a BMW 325i at the time and there was no way he could hold up with me…. But what a beauty of a car!

Per Eldh
Per Eldh

Actually the front suspension is torsion suspension with double A-arms.. And nothing else. 😉

moosesport
moosesport

Undoubtedly cool, but not a threat to a 911SC, which could do 0-60 in 6 seconds and had a top speed in excess of 140 mph in US trim, faster still in European trim.

chris mahoney
chris mahoney

Also: I love your YouTube videos, esp Alfetta.

chris mahoney
chris mahoney

I am an alfista with a lot of alfas. The GTV-6 is not my favorite because of its awful styling (compare to Alfetta), lack of power steering, and RWD. My favorite is the 164 (despite its styling) because no one has ever built a better car, ever. Ride, handling, control, cornering–the best. And you can buy one for nothing.

Sotirios Bakaimis
Sotirios Bakaimis

you prefer a FWD instead of a RWD?????

Želimir Blažević
Želimir Blažević

FWD je čista konfekcija. Alfa mora imati RWD. Sada su se toga sjetili i u Alfi. Vozim BMW e39 (najbolji automobil na svijetu), a nekada je u obitelji bila Giulietta 1.8…

ThorstenP Pawelczyk
ThorstenP Pawelczyk

This is a fantastic car -which is in my garage for14 years now . Thanks for this brilliant article.

Jim Spackman
Jim Spackman

Nice write up Davide! I enjoyed the video too, I can see you enjoyed every minute of driving that car (even with the gearshift). Those old 12 valve 2.5s always made the best sound of any Alfa V6. And any car for that matter.

Giuseppe Joe Martini
Giuseppe Joe Martini

Hi Davide…. glad to see your comments. … I have an original GTV6 3.0 SA (only 205 ever built) a South African special. Mine has been converted by now having the heart of the 3.2 GTA 24v motor…. now 300 hp in this car is another world…..they are still special to drive…

Stephan P
Stephan P

As a driver of a Milano/75 and racer of an Alfetta who does his own mechanical work I couldn’t agree more.
Davide, nice to see you writing here. I’ve enjoyed your YouTube channel but could we please get English subs on all your new videos? I’m trying to learn Italian but still would nice to understand everything.

Jens Hoorn
Jens Hoorn

I can relate to every statement. I like to think that you need to know how these work when driving them, because only then you can forgive the lesser features and drive them to the fullest. I drive (in summertime) a ’85 Alfa 90 2.5, telling myself it’s a GTV-sedan; what it technically is.

I’ve had 75’s, Alfetta’s, Giulietta’s and 90’s. And It’s always that gearbox ranging from very bad to not that bad. But never ”sublime’. Nontheless; What cars!

Pure engineering pornography. Even if you don’t like Alfa Romeo’s, you have to admit the beauty of the tech. specs!

Axel Larsson
Axel Larsson

It’s a lovely car, but Audi did the 4-person GT thing 45 years ago with the Coupe 100s 😉

Don Hodgdon
Don Hodgdon

I loved everything about my GTV6. It is one of those cars where you grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and just sit in the garage and stare at it for a time. Of course, one could only stare so long before you’d have to start it up (OMG that sound!!) and head for the hills. Two years in a row I was fortunate enough to drive the GTV6 up Highway One to Mill Valley from Santa Barbara on Christmas morning. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who knows this road and would like to… Read more »

Per Eldh
Per Eldh

But both Alfa and Fiat did it even earlier. 😉