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Alfa 105 Gulia, GTV & Spider

Published: 27th Jan 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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An all alloy engine fed by overhead (twin) cams, proper dual Weber carbs, disc brakes, fi ve-speed transmission… Alfa’s 105 Gulia, GTV and Spider ranges boasted a recipe that would have done a Ferrari proud when new. No wonder these sophisticated Italians remain much in demand by car lovers of all ages.

But as good as these cars still perform there’s a heck of a lot you can do to make these Latin lovelies really fl y for more modern use and perhaps some mild competition work. And thanks to a design that stretched more then 30 years, there’s plenty of scope and experience out there to help. Here’s our top tips care of Classic Alfa (Tel: 020 8679 0707/ Fax: 020 8764 57 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) of Unit 32 Vale Ind. Park. 170 Rowan Road London SW16 5BN.

Get One Now

FITTING A TWIN SPARK IS OFTEN CHEAPER THAN REBUILDING OLD UNIT

There’s no shortage of these Alfas around so don’t rush in and buy the fi rst one you see. The boxy saloons are the cheapest starting at £4000 for a roadworthy example, Series 2 Spiders are up to £5000 with the 1980s models the least valued, starting from £3000 for a goer and little more than £5000 for a peach. Deduct at least 20 per cent on all prices for left-hand drive models which includes the later Spiders.

The GT is the most expensive and fashionable at the moment – the older cars are the most valued of course, up to £20,000 for a top one has been known although twelve grand is more the mark. Pay around £10,000 for a half decent example.

Rust is the biggest worry. Penny to a pound remedial work will have been carried out. Wheelarches, fl oor, wings and the front crossmember are vital check points and it’s best to take a magnet round the whole bottom 10 inches of the car. US cars, although usually rot free, ride on softer suspension and usually have iffy mechanical fuel injection and less powerful engines.

Mechanically (apart from minor head gasket troubles) the cars are fairly robust and there’s scope for parts interchangability. Italian electrics… but they can be made reliable as it’s generally poor earths that are the real culprits!

Hotting up

We spoke to Classic Alfa of London for advice – and so should you. Advanced for its day, this twin cam engine is already well tuned and certainly the standard Weber or Dellorto carbs can withstand a fair chunk of added breathing just by re-choking and jetting with performance fi lters. For a mild tune, the fi rst step is a session on a rolling road to optimise the carbs and ignition (fi t an electronic set up) followed by a tubular 4-2-1 manifold. Costing £425 but it liberates some eight bhp.

Next step are a change of camshafts, suggests Classic Alfa made by Italian company Colombo & Bariani. Costing more than £500, but a nice cheap tweak on the 1.3 and 1.6 is to fi t the pokier cams used in the 2000 engine.

Be careful who hots up the heads says the company because it’s easy to mess up the porting here. Classic Alfa has its own dedicated head and cam kit which although costs well over £3000, does give a massive 40bhp power hike.

The logical route with a 1300/1600 model is to slip in a 1750 or 2000 engine which is a nut and bolt job. You can also use the modern 8 valve Twin Spark (see box out for more details) but there’s numerous hidden modifi cations needed to the fl ywheel and so on, plus engine management issues (depends on donor engine used).

The 1600 and 2000 engines can be enlarged; Classic Alfa sells oversize Cosworth pistons to go with new liners which can yield an extra 30bhp and really improve the low end torque. When it comes to transmissions, the Alfa already comes with fi ve-speeds. A closer set of cogs are available but they are for competition mainly; a cheaper alternative is to fi t a ‘box from a 1300 as it has a shorter top gear. If you can fi nd a 2000 Berlina, nick its rear axle because it’s a limited slip affair with a rare 4.3:1 rear axle ratio.

How did it drive?

Compared to the antiquated MGB and Triumph TRs and Cortina GTs, these Alfas were streets ahead and still cut the mustard. By today’s standards, they aren’t particularly quick; even the top fuel injected 2-litre Spider kicks out a modest 133bhp (with a 0-60mph in just under ten seconds), while the 1750 is only slightly slower (albeit far sweeter). Five-speed gearboxes lose their synchromesh (second invariably) and the ratios are more for acceleration rather than long legs. Handling remains enjoyable on all models although chassis feels its age but as we show there’s a lot of scope for improvement. Above all else an Alfa is full of sporting character that you don’t fi nd anywhere else.

Fitting a Twin Spark

If you don’t mind a bit of work, you can slip in the latter, perkier Twin Spark engine found in the 75 saloon. It’s not a bad idea because apart from the engine being basically the same, they are incredibly inexpensive to obtain and the entire exercise is normally cheaper than rebuilding the original. That said, engines that are transversely mounted (155,164 etc) are a lot harder to install and perhaps it’s not worth the hassle advise experts. Some 75 engines didn’t feature a spigot bearing due to the rear location of the transmission. You may need a machine shop to drill a hole in the crankshaft if it’s missing but that’s the only major hassle; the unit drops straight in otherwise using the 2000 clutch, fl ywheel and starter. The 75 featured a Bosch fuel injection which is worth saving and using. It comes with a separate loom that’s fairly straightforward to mate but the fuel system needs modding. Wilts-based EB Spares (01373 823856) is king of this conversion and makes bespoke parts such as a fabricated exhaust manifold (under £300).

Handling The Power...

Keen handlers in their day, there’s enough scope to make these Alfas keep up with moderns – but be careful how you do it. For example, Classic Alfa doesn’t recommend hard ‘polybushing’ the rear trailing arms as they are supposed to have some give – use harder rubber types instead here. On the other hand an additional rear axle control arm at £175 keeps it in check better.

Harder and adjustable damping along with better springs and a thicker (29mm) front anti-roll bar are the best mods and the company markets a dedicated kit for those who want to go the whole hog. You can even opt for adjustable top mounts to alter the camber settings but this isn’t really needed for road use.

How well do you want to stop? As standard there’s discs all round anyway and providing the system is in tip-top shape perhaps just harder Ferodo pads will suffi ce for road use. You can, for more than £700, for Classic Alfa’s complete braking kit which consists of better four-pot calipers, discs etc. But if you have a 1300 or 1600 then using brakes from the Alfa 75 is a cheap upgrade.

Most later cars used twin servos – it’s okay but it’s better to fi t a normal single set up says the company who adds some folks who fi t the big brake kit ditch servo assistance entirely. There’s no rack and pinion conversion known but late LHD Spiders came with power steering which will fi t other LHD models with some graft. Finally, tyres. As with many other classics, going over-wide hinders rather than helps the drive. A 185/70 is fi ne and certainly no fatter than 195/65.



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