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Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV

Alfa Beta Published: 26th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 1750 GTV
  • Worst model: 1300 Saloon
  • Budget buy: 1300 Juniors
  • OK for unleaded?: No, needs additives
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4100 x W1580 (GTV)
  • Spares situation: Pretty fair
  • DIY ease?: Excellent
  • Club support: Very good
  • Appreciating asset?: GTV’s are fast moving up
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Yes, including the saloons
Great in its day but these Italian cabins lack stamina; easily repaired though apart from cracked dash tops Great in its day but these Italian cabins lack stamina; easily repaired though apart from cracked dash tops
Alfa engine is well known and durable if looked after; 2000 weakest unit and head gaskets can let go on all Alfa engine is well known and durable if looked after; 2000 weakest unit and head gaskets can let go on all
What a lovely looker almost 50 years on! Sadly rust loves Alfas so check with care – even ‘restored’ examples… What a lovely looker almost 50 years on! Sadly rust loves Alfas so check with care – even ‘restored’ examples…
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What can top Alfa Romeo’s Giulia and GTV if you’re after a stylish and sophisticated family-friendly sportster?

Pros & Cons

Style, image, pep, pretty good spares and support, easy to upgrade with modern Alfa parts
Dear to restore, major rot woes and resultant bodging, frail fi ttings and trim
£1500-£14,000

They say that you’re not a true car enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Yes, they impress and irritate all at the same time but, for the price, no other carmaker offers so much passion or prestige – or the need for dedication on your part. Alfa’s GTV is one the greatest coupes of all time, as well as one of Alfa’s fi nest designs. Today, twin cam engines, fi ve-speed transmissions, sophisticated suspensions, all round disc brakes etc. are now taken for granted, but Alfa was offering the whole lot half a century ago. The car didn’t come cheap, mind, and in its day a GTV (as the car became better known) was E-type dear. Today there’s a massive gap between them – in the Italian’s favour – but prices have been sneaking up of late and the bargain buys are becoming fewer. So, get one, and this includes the overlooked saloons while you can afford to!

History

Launched back in 1963, the Giulietta Sprint, with its sleek coupe body and four seats, plus more power than its saloon sister and an affordable price tag, was always destined to be a winner. At the time, it was taking up to a quarter of the Giulietta sales. So, the Sprint magic continued in the Giulia range, originally with a Giulia Sprint GT, in its 1570cc guise, albeit with a second twinchoke carburettor, which meant a 10bhp hike in power from the Giulia saloon to 106bhp. The Giulia Sprint GT was as fast as the old Giulietta Sprint Veloce. For three years, then, Alfa Romeo allowed a tuned saloon version (the Ti Super) to outperform a GT coupe. Eventually, something had to be done to improve the latter’s engine performance: specifi cally, a modifi ed head an inlet manifold did the trick. Enthusiasts soon learnt how to recognise the Alfa Giulia GT Veloce, or Alfa GTV as it became known, by the three horizontal chromed bars, which linked the central ‘scudetto’ (badge) to the front headlamps, and vertical sidelights – where the indicators were housed. The extra premium did not deter keen drivers, as the production fi gures show. In little more than two years, almost 14,000 cars were made, and only slightly over ten per cent of those were destined for right-hand-drive countries. In 1966, in the best Alfa Romeo tradition, a Junior version joined the range, with its twin-cam, twin-barrel carburettors, 1290cc engine. Only one horizontal bar adorned the radiator grille, but it had a fi ve-speed, fully synchronised gearbox. Despite having only 89bhp and moderate performance it was to be one of the most commercially successful Alfa Romeos of all times – big is not always better!However,when the trusty 1570cc engine was enlarged to 1779cc a new version, Giulia 1750, was born. Naturally this unit was also adopted for the GTV too, in 1967. The new GTV 1750 was now capable of 120mph, and the power output grew to 118bhp for vivid performance. The emission-mad USA market demanded a Spica indirect fuel injection system to meet the stringent law requirements, whilst the European markets were very happy with the usual throaty twin-carburettor set up. This new version boasted a hydraulic clutch and a rear anti-roll bar. The twin headlamps (the outer ones were the larger) were part of a revised front grille treatment.

In 1972, a bored-out version of the 1750 engine raised capacity to 1962cc, and the 2000 GTV range was born. Power output also increased, to 132bhp. This, coupled with the fact that the GTV 2000 was lighter than its predecessors, brought the top speed to almost 125mph; impressive for its day. This time, eight horizontal bars on the front grille told the tale of a more powerful engine under the bonnet. Throughout the model’s history, careful handling of design changes and attention for detail ensured that the model’s styling stayed fresh and modern, even when the range was fi nally axed in 1976, after proving to be one of Alfa’s most successful ideas ever. Okay, so let’s talk more about the often overlooked, but equally entertaining, more practical and certainly cheaper saloons. The Giulia 1600Ti/ Super was launched in 1962 and, despite the brick-like look, was pretty aerodynamic.

Like the sportier coupes, it too boasted fi ve speeds with Weber carbs on the sportier Super, introduced in ‘65. Drum brakes were fitted to the earliest models but a better servo set up was made standard in ‘66. For ‘69 there was a mild chassis (rear anti-roll bar) and cabin revise, with a ‘proper’ handbrake location coupled with dual circuit brakes in March ‘71. A cheaper rubbermatted ‘1600’ arrived for ‘72. The 1300 range surfaced in the UK in April 1967, with a 94bhp engine, cheaper trim and a single headlamp arrangement. Changes were similar to the 1600, but the car was dropped in February 1971. The 1750 arrived in the UK in March 1968, with a 132bhp engine. It had its only facelift in March 1970, with better trim and detailing, before being replaced by the 2000 in late ‘71 (although the 1750 lingered on until Feb ‘72) with an automatic option after March ‘74. It survived until 1977, although by now the splendid Alfetta was Alfa’s new Romeo.

Driving

Compared to a crude Capri, the Alfa GTV is pure sophistication and elegance. Even though that standard-fi t fi fth gear is tailored more for speed than serenity, it still helps on modern roads. However, it’s not a quiet car, especially the fussier 1300 and 1600 versions. It’s hardly an overtly roomy 2+2 either but there again no worse than the Capri. The Giulia saloons are as practical as any Cortina and boast a lot more sporting character.

In their day, these Alfas were considered fast. Today, a 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds (for the 1750 model – the best of the bunch it’s considered) is deemed tardy, but the beauty of any Alfa, even the perky 1300, is the sharp, eager throttle response and lovely sound when working hard. That said, too much loud pedal will mean 25mpg; economy is not engine dependant but relies more how well tuned the car is. Certainly the handling balance of a good, well set up GTV still stands out, even if, when compared to a grippy, fat-tyred modern, the limits seem lowly. But speed isn’t everything and it’s the driver involvement that an Alfa demands which makes it so much fun to drive. Back in the day, you had to be a real Alfa fan to buy one, since the combination of high ex-works prices plus special import duties put the cars way out of their respective price classes. For example, at £1648, the 1300 Junior was even dearer than a Sunbeam Tiger and a whopping £500 (the price of a nearly new Mini) dearer than an MGB GT, which offered similar performance. Autocar put it best when summing up the 1750 GTV in 1968; “Very expensive, but a most exhilarating and rewarding car to drive” while Motor regarded the line up (rightly) as, “the connoisseur‘s range”. Car magazine was always a huge fan, despite the usual Italian fobiles and irritations: “It’s what it does on the road that matters – and the Alfa does it bloody well!”

Improvements

As with all classic cars, just making sure the car is up to spec can, and often does, work wonders and all you demand for classic drives. Handling is further improved by a Harvey Bailey kit, comprising of uprated springs and a new front antiroll bar. Polly bushing is only effective on the rear, says specialist Benal fas. Brakes on all cars are best upgraded to ‘2000’ model specifi cation, with uprated pads. As the Alfa engine already uses big jugs, just racier, higher lift cams liberate a lot more power. While later Alfa engines are ver y similar, and kits to accept modern ignition and fuelling systems are available, it’s not all together a straight drop-in-and-go swap and it‘s cer tainly a costly one if not carried out at home.

What To Look For

  • Rust has to be the biggest worry when buying any old Italian classic and the Giulia is no exception. Indeed, thanks to scant rust protection from new, save for a lick of black paint, these old Alfas dissolve on the driveways for fun, so you need to check everywhere – and we mean everywhere. If you don’t know the horrors of these cars, enlist a specialist who does.
  • Apart from rot, you need to wary of cunning bodges. There are some fantastic cars out there, but similarly there are also some fantastic looking tart-ups too, which can catch many people out. Again, it’s where the knowledge ofa good specialist helps because, although parts and panel supplies are quite good many cars are too far gone to economically repair.
  • Chief rot spots are the rear of the chassis, where the suspension trailing arms are attached. If this area is bad, or poorly repaired, then walk away as the car is probably bad all over.
  • Still at the rear, inspect the boot area, especially at the base of the rear screen. If too badly gone, the body’s strength will be compromised. Check for deft fi ller work here. Scrutinise the boot fl oor, as this can rot through, as well asthe inner wings. We’re reliably informed that a Cortina MK3 fl oor is a pretty good match!
  • Foot-wells (especially around the pedal box assembly) and inner sills need a careful eye and be wary of fresh paint and underseal. If you can, remove those sexy Alfa door tread plates to have a squint at the state of the inner sills. The sills are constructed in three layers but if theinner and outer ones are okay then the middle is usually sound. Tip: when checking the rot prone outer sills, see that they tuck behind the wings at each end. Many replacements don’t and, apart from being non standard, won’t be as strong either.
  • Check the bulkheads for rot, the jacking points and the valance panels, the latter, which are terrible for rusting. The front crossmember can go in a big way, as can the front spring pan attachment points. The crossmember also provides the location for the anti-roll bar and, although patch panels are readily available, it’s a big job to fi x.
  • You’re not finished yet… Inner wings, front scuttle and wings, bonnet (front edge) and boot are next on the agenda, but the biggest concernhas to be the A posts, where the meek front splash panels behind the front wings provide scant protection against the elements, if indeed they are still fi tted. Rampant rot can render the car scrap.
  • The rear wheel arches are often bodged on GTVs; if done properly then a lip or seam should be present and not smoothed over with fi ller. Incidentally, 2000 GTV arches differ to the rest, due to the bigger tyres fi tted.
  • Even the roof and petrol filler flap corrode! Some late cars were fi tted with a factory vinyl roof, which, would you believe, was ‘nailed’ in place and, if the covering is removed, you can even see the holes left! Apart from rotting door bottoms on all models, cars fi tted with earlier recessed door handles suffer from rot around the handle, too…
  • The good news is that panel supply is fi ne and it’s possible to make a grotty Giulia good again. However, it’s an involved, costly process and money may be better spent on a top car in the fi rst place. One leading specialist is actually now producing refurbished GTV shells, although they aren’t cheap.
  • Mechanically there’s much better news as the oily bits are well proven, quite robust and easy to attend. And, as a fair bit of the workings were used in successive Alfas up to fairly recently, supply isn’t too much of a problem and some useful upgrading can take place.
  • The 105 Series featured an engine span of 1.3- to 2-litres and, to the uneducated, they all look the same. They are all virtually interchangable, too, which means that many cars run larger engines (some even use the twin spark engine fi tted to new Alfas). Nothing wrong in that of course – but bear in mind that, apart from differences in gearing, all models (apart from the 1.3) boasted twin servo-assisted brakes, as well as larger anchors.
  • The evergreen twin cam has been around for more than 50 years and is strong. When worn it will fume and smoke although don’t be too worried about the oil pressure gauge diving into the danger zone at idling, as this is common. A healthy unit should register around 50-70psi.
  • Failing head gaskets are known and the 2000cc unit is more prone to this, even cracking due to being thinner and lacking safety valve core plugs. Another sign of failing gaskets is oil weeps.
  • Three different types of fuelling were fitted; Weber, Dellorto and Solex carbs. Rough running may be more than simple tuning; the carbs may need a full rebuild after all these years and you can budget around £500-600 to do the job.
  • The fi ve-speeder was a joy in its day. Second gear synchro is the fi rst thing to fail on even a healthy ‘box (crunchy changes?). It’s an old fashioned ‘box that’s stiff and slow when cold.
  • The steering box location to the cross-member can crack, front and rear suspension bushes and engine mounts are prone to failure (especially the latter so check for engine rocking and a juddering clutch take-up), rear suspension check straps break and the brakes were changed from Dunlop to ATE early on in the car’s life.

Three Of A Kind

Lotus Cortina Mk2
Lotus Cortina Mk2
Arguably the closest car in spirit and sophistication to the Giulia, the Mk2 is always in the shadows of the iconic Mk1 and yet it’s a better all rounder, being more relaxed and civilised, yet as quick. They are about half the price of a Mk1, into the bargain! Only two-door cars were offered, so beware of fakes. Spares and support is pretty good.
Lancia Beta
Lancia Beta
In-house rival to the Alfa ranges in the 1970s was Fiat-based and virtually killed dead in the UK in 1980 due to front page rust worries. Yet the Beta (available in saloon and coupe guises) has a lot in common with the Giulia and GTV and feels similar to drive, despite being front-wheel drive. Not that many left and don’t forget Coupe, Spider and HPE.
BMW 3 Series
BMW 3 Series
Evenly matched on both pace and price, the BMW 3 Series is even more family-sized than the Alfa and built far better. There’s a good range of engines, from frugal 1.6 to GTi fast 2.3 ‘sixes’, all with entertaining rear-wheeldrive handling. One of the most modded and cuustomised cars in Europe, the biggest challenge is fi nding a good original example.

Verdict

A good Alfa Romeo is a joy to drive and own and the GTV is one of the best. However, be warned, there’s lot of dross out there. Look at as many examples as you can to get a feel of the car, and for the standard of cars around, before you dive in with the chequebook. But, get a good one and you’ll be rich in more ways than one.



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