By on February 24, 2011

You’ll see the occasional Alfa Spider or Milano on the streets of Denver, maybe even a 164, but it’s a special day when a GTV6 appears. This one lives in my neighborhood, just a block or so from the ’52 Kaiser Henry J Corsair daily driver.

The GTV6 was a member of the Alfetta family, but instead of the old familiar Twin Cam engine it had a 2.5 liter V6. Along with the new engine came new, intensely 80s styling. I don’t have the Alfa expertise to ID the year on this car (the GTV6 was sold in the United States from 1981 through 1986), but the lack of a third brake light (probably) means it’s a 1985 or earlier model.

The list price for these cars ranged from about 16 grand to nearly $19,000, or roughly the same price as a BMW E30. Sure, the E30 was more reliable, better built, and more powerful, but who cares?

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35 Comments on “Down On The Mile High Street: Alfa Romeo GTV6...”

  • avatar

    Situation #1: You walk into a bar, and strike up a conversation with a young lady.  You happen to slip into the conversation that you drive a BMW.  She instantly pegs you as rich, annoying, and self-important, politely allows you to buy her drinks all night, and then disappears when she claims to have to use the lady’s room.

    Situation #2: Same bar, same lady.  She asks you what you drive, and you say, “An Alfa”.  She immediately (and correctly, as it turns out) assumes you are debonair, world-traveled, and a real Renaissance man.  You engage in several intense hours of debate and discussion about world events as she buys you round after round of Scotch, after which she accompanies you back to your GTV6 where you embrace in the passion of the Italian leather seats.  You drive her back to her place and she invites you in for espresso, and things really begin to heat up…

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I’m talking about.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m note sure if it’s Mike’s comments or the pictures, but I want that car.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I think Fiat just found their new advertising man to lead the return of Alfa to the US market!
       That would make an awesome TV commercial :).

    • 0 avatar

      With an Alfa there might be two scenarios:
      – if the lady is familiar with auto world (and why not), upon hearing about an Alfa she will turn down the guy, because he is already broke and lives on credit and he is a looser as he can afford tme and effort to upkeep the old rustbucket. Old Alfas never really die, but boy do the agonize expensively.

      – we can follow your plot and then, after some passionate embraces he twists the key and that (Stephen King’s) Christine produces a gassy burp cloud and refuses to start. The woman leaves and our enthusiast is left to entertain himself while waiting for the tow truck.

    • 0 avatar

      Count me as Situation 2 ….

      I owned a red ’78 Alfetta, and the woman I eventually married loved that car.  When we first met in the fall of ’78 I had a Fiat X1/9 ….. but by the time we went on our first date in late ’78 I had that brand new Alfetta GTV with the DOCH 4.  I vividly remember our trip down to watch the 12 hours of Sebring in ’79, and our return trip from a night of clubbing in Miami Beach.  She asked if she could drive, and I said sure, why not??  Once she hit the entrance ramp to I-95 North and ran it through the gears up to about 95 or so, I knew I had a match made in heaven.

      Unfortunately, the Alfa got to be a bit expensive to maintain so it wound up with another owner.  I’ve still got the girl!!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      I suggest a correction to Situation #2:
      Same bar, same lady. She asks what you drive, and you say, “An Alfa.” She says, “A what?”
      You respond, “A 1985 Alfa Row-may-o GTV6. The most beautiful luxury sports car of the era.”
      She says, “1985? That’s when I was born! Haha! Why do you say Romeo all weird?”
      And before you can correct her, she walks away, assuming you’re some weirdo car nerd who drives some noisy ’80s rustheap from a defunct company she’s never heard of (and she’s mostly right). You later see her talking to the muscular dude rocking the Fox-body ‘stang with giant Mickey Thompson tires and flames on the side.

    • 0 avatar

      Situation #2 sounds like my kind of situation, however there is one small problem…
      “You drive her back to her place…”

    • 0 avatar

      Situation 2: As the young lady gets into your car, you prepare to drive her home, when, upon turning the key the car explodes into flames, killing both of you and a box full of adorable little puppies for some reason.
      The internet hears about it and waxes poetic about the “virtues” of the Alfa, as they are apparently the only ones who can’t realize they’re slow, horribly unreliable and really have no virtues whatsoever outside of those created by a marketing department and sold to car nerds who are too desperate to appear unique and different to just buy a damn Prelude.

    • 0 avatar

      I drive an Amazon wagon to work every day.  I think your comment falls on deaf ears.  Never considered myself a car nerd (a car geek, maybe) but I do love the sound of air swooping through a pair of SU carbs at full throttle.

    • 0 avatar

      All occurring somewhere west of Laramie?
      Pitter patter my overwrought heart did pulse.

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone loves “somewhere west of Laramie” but has anyone bought a Jordan car lately?

    • 0 avatar

      Situation #3: Same bar, same lady.  She asks you what you drive, and you say, “An Alfa”.  She immediately (and correctly, as it turns out) assumes you are debonair, world-traveled, and a real Renaissance man.  You engage in several intense hours of debate and discussion about world events as she buys you round after round of Scotch, after which she accompanies you back to your GTV6 where you embrace in the passion of the Italian leather seats.  “Fuck this Italian piece of shit” you exclaim as the capricious, unreliable Alfa fails to start.
      Situation #4: Same bar, same lady.  She asks you what you drive, and you say, “An Alfa”.  She immediately (and correctly, as it turns out) assumes you are debonair, world-traveled, and a real Renaissance man.  You engage in several intense hours of debate and discussion about world events as she buys you round after round of Scotch, after which she accompanies you back to your GTV6 where you embrace in the passion of the Italian leather seats.  Some way up the road you awaken blood-stained as a burly fireman cut you free. Beside you sits the dead and mangled corpse of the lady from the bar. Six months later you begin your 7 year prison term for culpable driving causing death and driving while intoxicated.

    • 0 avatar

      This is closer to the truth:

    • 0 avatar

      Mike, don’t mind the negative commentators here, I loved your comment and it rings true to my ears! The first night my now wife and I were very passionate was right after the dinner with her family when my car came-up. I said I drive a Volvo, her step dad laughed and said that’s boxy and boring. Aga chimed in that it was a turbo two door and was fast, curvy, and safe.

      My exhaust is too loud, I can only hear the air sucking with my head right by the SUs, but when I go full out in Astrid down the road I love the sound that I imagine is mostly push rods. Whether true or not, I don’t care, best damn car my wife ever found.

  • avatar

    i like this editorial, as i enjoy reading about survivor cars. but, as mentioned in previous entries by others, perhaps a little more research on these cars and photographic detail (such as an occasional shot of the cabin and dash through the glass) wouldn’t take too much of your time? i think it would greatly imrpove this series. good find, btw.

    • 0 avatar

      These type of comments ad nauseam are the reason I spend so little time at TTAC. Look I love cars, I know everyone here does. I don’t care how much or little is written about them, I’m just glad that there are the places that there are online for me to waste my time. When I run across something I like, it doesn’t take long for me to type whatever into google to learn more if I am so inclined.

  • avatar

    The Italians certainly know how to build a pretty car.  That’s a rare bird you’ve captured.

  • avatar

    The fancy springs and old-ish Ronal rims really work on this ride.  We need to find this car some vintage BBS lace wheels, stat!

  • avatar

    I noticed that one too during my Wash Park bike ride a couple of days ago. Looks pretty good for it’s age. Brought back fond memories of my Alpha Spyder (when it ran).

  • avatar

    @Sajeev – I was about to post about BBS crosslace wheels belonging on this beauty. And not the modern black face wheel on a black car folly. Simple silver, moderate (not too deep) dish. The Ronals have too much of a SAAB-y feel for me. The peeling clear-coat on the hatch makes me a little sad, too.

  • avatar

    I wanted one of these in the worst way back in the late 80s.  Good thing I never scratched together the scratch though, because I’m sure it would have bankrupted me.

    Still sexy after all these years….

  • avatar

    My brother-in-law had one of these back in the mid 80’s. Right about the time he turned 50. He went from a string of Plymouths, Saabs, and Volvo station wagons to a GTV6. Really don’t recall if it was good car or not, my nephew was of driving age and thought he was the next Mario Andretti. The Alfa didn’t survive, but my nephew did. After the insurance settlement, Tom went and bought… A Volvo station wagon.
    I’ve admired these cars from afar, but here in Rustopia, Alfas lasted about two years if driven daily. Still, that’s a beautiful car. I hope that Fiat can do us a solid and send something like that over again, at least by the time I’m 50…

  • avatar

    I wonder how the owner gets away with running no front plate. I always got tagged quickly when I tried it.

  • avatar

    I have an ’86 GTV-6 that I bought last year. My winter project, needs a suspension rebuild and brake work, but it is rust free and generally in good shape. runs very well, and has a non-crunchy gearbox. As Clarkson once said, “the engine note is like having your soul licked by angels”. By modern standards it is in no way fast, but it sure FEELS and sounds fast, which is far more important. Glorious.

    This cars true competition was the Porsche 944. Both 2+2, both front engine rear transaxle, both about $20K back in the day. The German was uber competent but soulless, the Italian was, well, Italian. :-)

  • avatar

    The BMW E30 was not more powerful during the years that the GTV6 was on the US market. The GTV6 had 154 hp, while the most powerful 1984-1986 E30s here had 121 hp from theit 2.7 liter eta 6 cylinder engines. The 2.5 liter 164 hp 325i didn’t show up until 1987, about the same time that the M3 made it here.

    I remember the Car and Driver write up when the GTV6 was introduced. They loved it. I believe it beat the 944 to market by enough that comparisons were drawn with the underpowered 924 or coarse 924 turbo. Basically, it was about the hottest car on the market after years of emissions regulations choked, low compression disappointments. Then the 944 showed up, and there was no reason to put up with the body and electrical quality issues. The v6 was fantastic, but the rest of the car disintegrated in eastern climates. Too bad, as they were lovely and great to drive.

  • avatar

    Actually, as I recall, the ’82 Supra and the 2+2 280/300ZXs were more natural competitors to the GTV6.  Japanese reliability, modernity, and practicality killed this colorful Italian.

  • avatar

    Ciao, Bella!
    This cream GTV positively haunted my adolescence… I consider it a sign of my remarkable self-control that it’s not rusting away in my garage at this very moment.

  • avatar

    I also owned a red 78 Alfetta GT that I bought new. I had more fun with that car than the Porsches and BMWs that followed. I concur on the great handling and super sound from the little engine. Alfa owners tended to stick together and be very active in driver schools and other such events. I also recall that the engine was so simple and easy to work on. True story: in the 8 years I owned the car, it never broke down on my once. However, it must have sensed when my wife occasionally drove it because it broke down on her multiple times, including of course in the middle lane of the Hwy during rush hour traffic.

  • avatar

    Alfa GTV6 was the last real Alfa.
    Back then Alfas was an alternative to BMW.
    Then they started making fwd Fiats with Alfa shape.
    GTV6 also had one of the best sounding engines.
    It was like a poor mans Ferrari.

  • avatar

    I currently own an ’82 GTV6 Balocco, which is the second of this model that I’ve owned and driven every day.  The comments about unreliability and rust do not hold water.  There are many GTV6s in the US that have over 150,000 miles on them and they are still going strong.  Many have had “heart” transplants of 3.0 liter engines replacing the 2.5.  I love mine and will drive it until I can no longer drive myself.
    The car pictured is almost assuredly an 84 or 85.  You can tell from the picture of the rear deck.  The emblem is the larger emblem.  The earlier ones had a much smaller in diameter badge.  Also the wheels that are on it are not original equipment, but after markets.  I’m sure that they are much lighter weight than the originals.

    • 0 avatar

      The wheels look like Ronal A1s.  They are aluminum and likely not lighter than the magnesium wheels the ’81-’83 GTV6s came with (13.5 lbs) but probably as light as the same style aluminum wheels that came on the ’84-’86 models (19 lbs).  However, these Ronals look like 16″ wheels while the originals were 15″.  This gives you room for bigger brakes and gives you a wider selection of performance rubber.

  • avatar

    These things just sound fantastic.  I used to run early in the morning on the edge of town, and a guy with a GTV6 used to drive past me almost every morning.  He might have had an ANSA exhaust, too.  He was clearly enjoying the buzz.

  • avatar

    I was too young and poor to be able to buy one of these. I would go to the showroom, drool, stare, sit in it, stare some more, drool some more then go home till the next time. Much later when they were gone I bought a new Milano (75). I drove that Milano for the next 22 years. I love these cars and miss mine; I hope I could get a new Alfa soon, its been too long.

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