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Alfa Guilia/GTV

Published: 2nd May 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Buyer Beware

Rust is the biggest worry with any Alfa. Check everywhere – even if undersealed, paying particular attention to the underside, inner wings, bulkheads, suspension attachment arms (including the front anti- roll bar under the front valance), sills, boot (a Cortina Mk3 one fits quite well we’re informed) and footwells. The vinyl roof was actually stapled on…

This evergreen twin cam has been around for over half a century and was fundamentally the same when used on fairly recent models. When worn out, crank fuming can occur. Oil pressure should be 50-70lb/ft when hot and healthy but don’t be surprised to see the gauge shoot into the red when idling.

Failing head gaskets is not unknown and the 2000 engine is the biggest culprit and can even crack its cylinder heads (which are inherently thinner). Look for misfiring, loss of pep, oil in water etc.

Crunchy second gears which can be downright obstructive when cold is an Alfa way of life and something you have to live with although trying a modern synthetic lubricant may help matters. Clutch judder may not be the unit but failed engine mounts instead (check for excessive engine rock).

The suspension only needs the usual checks although the suspension bushes (and engine mounts) are prone to wear. If the front tyres wear unevenly, adjustable top suspension arms are available (from the United States), to improve matters.

Pay close attention to the steering box location – cracking is known. At the rear the suspension check straps are known to snap.

Italian electrics – what more do you have to say? It goes without saying that scrupulous cleaning and ensuring the security of all connections is paramount if you want Messrs Volt, Watt and Amp to do their work.

With so much to check we can only advise that you either enlist the help of an Alfa expert plus obtain a copy of the excellent revamped limited run Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupé GT & GTA from Veloce Publishing.

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BEGUILING Giulia

The Bertone bodied 105 Series GTV (and saloon) remains one of Alfa’s best and they are still so affordable. What’s best for you?

Ever since Volkswagen relaunched the Beetle over a decade ago, carmakers have seen the worth of going back to the future. Fiat’s endearing new 500 is one of the most likeable of this ilk and if ever the Italian group wanted to jump on the back of its success, it could do worse than rekindle a love affair with Alfa’s GTV of the 1960s.

An earlier but sadly aborted attempt to relaunch the lovely Lancia Fulvia, some years back proved that Fiat knows how to retain the essential essence of the original design but with a modern twist and certainly this 1960’s Alfa would lend itself equally well.

Until then we’ll have to make do with the original, a subtle, sophisticated 2+2 coupe that has class to spare – long before BMW stole the market with its 3 Series coupé.

WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU?

The GTV remained pretty much unchanged throughout its life apart from successive engine enlargements. The Alfa Giulia GT Veloce, or GTV as it became known, was initially a 1600 before the 1300 Junior followed. By 1967, the bigger engine had grown to the famous 1750 engine size before its last stretched to 2-litres for 1970. Donating the changes was subtle, a revised grille the most significant, especially on the 2000GTV. The 1300 and 1600 versions had singular headlamps, but until the final years of their lives they also gained the 2000GTV look.

Underneath the skin the alternations were more marked with changes to the chassis and brakes where the 1300 uses smaller anchors, although still servo assisted discs all round.

The sophistication of the design was so ahead of British classics like MGs that even the 1300 Junior boasted five- speed transmissions and because the twincam engine was basically the same across the board, most have been up-gunned to 1570cc at least.

But while it’s a good swap, ancillaries, such as smaller brakes and different gearing, mean it’s not the real deal. By the same token, genuine 2000GTVs gained a limited slip differential soon after launch in ‘72.

While the exterior retained its beautiful curves up to the GTV’s demise in 197,7 the interiors did alter; with the 1750 GTV gaining the now classic ‘humped’ central dials, further amended for the 2000 GTV.

Best model? In the main it has to be the 1750 GTV because that ‘twink’ was at its best in smooth running 1779cc form (although original engines were rough at high revs until Alfa revised the head, con rods and cams) and it provided crisp performance that the lower ranking engines lacked. If performance isn’t a criteria there’s little wrong with a 1300 model and their rarity is now their appeal because there’s very few left. For all round use the 2000 GTV is the best of the lot although one has to say that condition is the most critical factor above all else when buying a GTV.

BEHIND THE WHEEL?

Those conditioned to the live axle antics of a crude Capri will be astonished how well behaved the Alfa is, although compared to a modern repmobile, the grip levels are understandably inferior, but not thankfully driver satisfaction.

In their day, GTVs were considered fast although today a 0-60mph skit in 11.2 seconds for the 1750 sounds leisurely – and the 1300s 13.8 stroll quite laughable for an Alfa – but bold figures don’t convey the engine’s rev-happy character. They may not be that fast but they feel it – plus keep you legal! In contrast, the 2-litre’s 132bhp provides suitably brisker performance with useful added mid-range pull.

All boast five-speeds with top gear slightly indirect, but like all Italians, the gearing is more tailored to acceleration rather than relaxed cruising, especially the fussier 1300 and 1600 versions.

The GTV is not an especially roomy 2+2 but no worse than the Ford for family needs. The driving position is typical ‘Italian Ape’ and the floor pivoted pedals take getting used to, but generally it’s a comfortable car to travel in that has a boot big enough for holiday purposes.

DAILY DRIVER?

The Alfa GTV is no more and no less suited to the daily grind as a Capri or Manta. This tried and tested twin cam engine is not known for fouling its spark plugs like the similar Lotus unit. Being five- speeds is a real benefit even if ‘top’ isn’t a true overdrive gait, and road noise is generally low. The suspension is set up on the comfortable side of sporting and on a more mundane level, boot capacity is generous, the heater is good and the general consensus of opinion is that all engines can run on unleaded fuel without mods. Eight fuses secure the electrical system and most have an alternator, which is useful. Another aid is the rubberised carpeting; not exactly plush but far more practical, as is the leatherette trim.

EASE OF OWNERSHIP?

Rust protection from the factory was woefully inadequate when these cars were produced, so most will either have been restored by now or being sold as projects.

Assuming that you have bought a decent car with a view to regular use, then regular pressure washes and annual top-ups of anti-rust wax should form part of your duties. If you fancy a rolling restoration do your homework carefully beforehand as the supply of panels tends to be somewhat patchy. Don’t think that Spider panels fit either as the GTV range has a longer wheelbase. The engines are generally bulletproof and pretty easy to repair should problems arise. The twin choke carburettors do require expert attention to get them set up properly but poor idling is usually nothing more serious than the rubber carb mounts.

Perhaps the biggest bugbear will be the hydraulics. On RHD cars both the clutch and brake master cylinder are located in a vulnerable position and can get contaminated with muck. Brake callipers can also seize, and for some reason, brake hoses rarely seem to last more than two or three years.

Getting the most out of the stock engine is best achieved on a rolling road where the ignition and carb settings can be set to optimum – there’s fair scope here. Fitting electronic ignition to do away with the points, provides a fatter spark and ensures the ignition timing is set virtually for life.

There’s a host of upgrades around you can obtain from Alfa specialists although fitting the stock factory set up from the 2000 (saloon or GTV) is as good as any and bear in mind that the 1300 used a single servo set up which may have been retained, even if a larger engine has been slipped in.

Polly bushing is very popular on many classics but only really suited to an Alfa’s stern end reckons one specialist while a Harvey Bailey suspension kit is a worthwhile upgrade if not exactly cheap.

Fancy fitting the latest Twin Spark engines complete with all the mod cons? An almost identical engine in design it is certainly doable albeit it’s not as straightforward as you imagine. For starters, you need an engine taken from the 75 saloon but as the gearbox was rear mounted on this car, the block may have to be machined to accept a new clutch spigot bearing. You need to use a 2000 transmission and clutch, as well but specialists can advise on this.

We Reckon...

A GTV is a joy and a world away from your average Capri and the later front- wheel driven GTV for that matter – but only if you get a good one. With rust such a major worry it may be best to seek out one of the many Alfa Romeo specialists to find the right car to cherish and enjoy driving while watching the prices rise at the same time.



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