At first I tried to get my hands on a Datsun Sunny 120y coupe but couldn’t quite stretch to the seller’s asking price. Shame.
On my way home from work one evening, I spotted a parked Alfa Romeo GTV. This car, despite being stationary, it exuded dynamism and a feeling of speed.
I did some web searches and test drove a couple of cars. In doing so learned the car I had seen was not just a GTV but a GTV V6 ‘cup’ a very rare car indeed. I knew I could never afford to run and insure a 3.0 V6 for my daily commute not to mention it is no secret that a rare Alfa commands a higher premium.
Reluctant to give up I saved my search criteria. Ebay would now notify me of any new listings containing the key words ‘Alfa GTV Cup’
Not 10 minutes after watching the new owner drive away in my Arosa, stood with a fist full of cash, an email from Ebay was pushed to my mobile phone alerting me to new listings.
The listing title read: 1997 Alfa Romeo GTV Twin spark Factory Fitted Cup Kit.
I bought and collected the Atollo blue GTV a week later.
Stock Alfa Romeo GTV arrives
Despite the fresh MOT, manoeuvring the car onto the drive day in day out made it clear that a new CV joint was needed, the twisty B-road route to work also exposed a rather sloppy feeling rear end.
Oddly instead of being annoyed I was actually quite looking forward to tinkering and bonding with the new car. Plus it meant I could make Alfa Romeo jokes with everyone else.
Fettling required on the GTV with a replacement CV joint
Although taking it lower over some adjustable coil-overs and a fully poly bushed chassis was on the cards for the future. An inspection of the rear suspension lead to a couple of Koni rear shocks replacing the tired old ones and some bushes removed and replaced with Powerflex equivalents. The front outer CV was also changed at this point.
Looking good on Teledials
With the Teledials, 225 width tires and the 30mm drop the car was a hoot to drive and
following some paint correction it was looking stunning. Very stunning.
Added drop made the difference with the handling
A lot of people mistake me for not liking the car looking like that, which is a total fallacy.
I adore any GTV with a Zender aero kit and some teledials, just as much as the average Alfisti maybe even more so with a 30mm drop.
The problem I personally had with it being my car is: how many of them is there?
I see cars as avatars the capture part of ourselves that we wish to project.
With the drop and Zender kit it’s hard not mistake it for anything but stunning
From this point on, it’s safe to say the car pretty much becomes a purist look away kind of thing. For the open minded however, the rest of the article contains the application of a modifying style usually reserved for, and synonymous with, German and Japanese cars.
I’ve realised my favourite car shows and favourite web forums to frequent provide me with a wealth of manufacturers and styles. Here I can easily visualise the transition of styles between marques. I always try to translate the potential I feel a car has, in the hope others may see it elsewhere too. I’m not a fan of closed mindedness or the affinity to a certain marques for example.
Put simply: What works for one will work for another.
Ie. What works visually on an Escort (rwd), will work just as well on a Hillman Hunter. What works on an 80’s Golf will similarly look good on an 80’s Mazda 323. A VW Bus – Commer Van and so on.
There are always alternatives, alternatives that not everyone sees because they lack exposure.
We all get tired of seeing the same old thing time and time again.
Anyway, I was having a great fun sweeping through the lanes when my coil-over suspension plans were brought forward drastically. The aging Spax spring on the front drives side decided to give up the ghost on a long sweeping left turn. In doing so it pierced the side wall of the tire and the car swerved hard onto the opposite side of the road, I was very lucky there wasn’t anything coming in the opposite direction.
With the current suspension broken, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I wanted to go lower.
The GTV goes lower…
Adjustable coil-overs by premium Dutch brand InTrax were acquired.
I was informed that they were a bit hard for road use. Being a proactive kind of person I instantly ordered some slightly less harsh springs, to be matched up with the coil-over on arrival.
Fitted on the driveway and tracking sorted the next day. I was back on the road within the week.
New springs and coil-overs added for the clean look
The next step once the bank balance allowed it, was to hunt for a set of wheels. 5×98 stud pattern is an awkward one with very limited variety, with all the best 5×98 stuff already having been applied to a GTV at some point or another. I went fishing in the world of alternate PCD’s opting in the end to have an engineer fabricate me some adapters to take the stud patter from 5 stud 98mm spaced to 5 stud 144.3mm spaced, which is a popular Japanese stud pattern. These adapters also act as wheel spacers to raise the wheels offset for a more aggressive fitment.
Before I could decide on wheels to match up to my new adapters I’d already had another stroke of bad luck firstly a suicidal rabbit decided to break the corner of the front splitter with his skull.
Trying to make the best of the situation I removed the splitter along with side skirts with a view to refurbish and refinish them and the lower section of the rear bumper in a satin metallic grey. I wanted to do so as the original (phase 1) 916GTV was underlined with negative black space underneath. The difference here being the aero kit is which in turn adds some much needed aggression to the lower edge.
One evening on the way back from a local car meet things got worse when passing some road works on an ‘A’ road I had to cross the central cats’ eyes. This being an area not often crossed by traffic it was slightly raised from the surface of the road, ride height taken into account a mighty clunk was heard as I passed over, fearing the damage I was straight on my knees with a torch when I pulled onto the drive checking the underside of the car for damage only to find a few black tears of sadness weeping from the GTV’s oil sump.
It seemed I had caught a low slung bracket that supports the manifold which
unfortunately was bolted to the sump. Crack.
As the car was to be off the road again, it was jacked up and rested on some wooden blocks.
I fitted the new adapters all around and started my search for new wheels and a new sump and took the time to order all the necessary parts to give the car a good service.
I painted the chrome grill surround in satin silver gave the mesh a fresh coat of gloss black and the head lamp roundels satin metallic grey to match the lower bumpers. Hindsight here again as I now want to paint the headlamp roundels the same silver as the grille surround.
A call to an Alfa Romeo/Fiat parts specialist revealed the shocking price of a brand new sump..over £250!
Thankfully an Ebay based breaker had one available for £70. Which still seemed a lot, considering a new sump for my MK1 Golf was only £18 brand new.
Regardless I took it.
It was to be an absolute ball ache of a job but the sump was refitted, Rad’ flushed, fresh oil, all new filters, leads and spark plugs and the car was ready to go back on all fours, bringing some exciting urgency to the need for new wheels.
The wheels are a difficult one because the car is that much lower now that the wheels are much more involved in the lines of the body. I had to try a couple of sets of wheels but in the end I settled on a set of Rays MS-02 from a Mazdaspeed RX-7 FD. These wheels are very light, very rare and due to their peculiar look..highly undesirable.
The hint of 5 hole teledial in the centre piece was enough of an Alfa reference to make them, for me, the perfect wheel for the unique looking GTV.
The perfect wheels fitted for the unique GTV
The MS-02 model name and ‘Mazdaspeed’ logo are embossed into the face of the wheels, which arrived to me with a gloss black finish and diamond cut lips, a very Halfords-tacky combo that I hope to rectify. The right finish on a set of wheels can make all the difference. I plan on polishing the embossing from the wheel and coating them with a more OEM silver for a bit more class.
I also had to fit them with the only tyres I had available at the time 195/45/17’s; not exactly what I call ideal for an 8” front and 9” rear wheel. At this point they only had to last me a few more weeks commuting to work before I was leaving working life for university.
The reduced tyre width did provide me with a fluctuating 35 to38mpg on my daily run which from a 2.0 twinspark is quite satisfying.
Once work was finished and the old girl was no longer needed for commuting she was tucked away safe and dry in a friend’s garage. Where she’ll stay until the warmer months of spring and summer come around.
Talking of getting warmer, she didn’t want to hibernate without a fuss she’s started getting warmer and warmer when stuck in traffic (suspected aged radiator element) and I’ve also heard the unmistakable knocking of another wounded CV joint (inner drivers side CV this time)
The GTV hides in the garage awaiting attention
I get the impression I’m going to need one of those
“No tools are kept in the vehicle over night”
stickers on the boot lid before too much longer.
I love my GTV to pieces and trust me it is determined to fall into exactly that.. pieces
I’d like to thank you all, regardless of your automotive background for reading,
I encourage you to comment but in doing so please try and remember we are all car guys here.
I am 100% aware of the detrimental effects the silly tyres, staggered wheels and excessive lowering has on the car.
What I am getting at is; if I wanted it to make the car handle better, then I would have made it handle better.
After all this is Britain and 90% of the time I spent in my GTV involved being stuck in traffic; leering at girls and enjoying looking at the reflection of my GTV in shop windows.
It’s sole function is for posing, form is a function too.
If I want a B-road blast; which I sometimes do, 30 mins swapping wheels and adjusting the suspension back up and off I go.
To summarise, Alfa Romeo have always raised eyebrows with their designs I hardly expect this kind of treatment on such a well sculpted, well balanced car to not raise an eye brow or two and in a way, that is the whole point and if it wasn’t doing that I’d be slightly disappointed.