By on November 18, 2015

1983 Alfa Romeo GTV6

The sounds a car makes can elicit strong emotions for enthusiasts. Some love the guttural burble from an American V-8, each marque emitting distinct noises. Others, the fan-dominated sounds of an air-cooled Porsche. A modified straight-six, like that found in a Datsun Z, emits a wail that buckles my knees.

As a gearhead kid, these sounds were the object of my obsession. I still have a copy of “The Sounds of Sebring” in the basement, with no corresponding phonograph with which to enjoy it. While others were trying to find porn, I used my school Compuserve account to try and pirate CDs of Formula One engine notes, unsuccessfully.

Yes, I’m old. I was in high school before Netscape existed.

Anyhow, it seems the Italians really know how to make an engine sing. I’m not sure why, however, but from Ferraris to a single cam Fiat to the MultiAir turbo in the new Abarth 500, these engines all have a wonderfully purposeful sound. The Busso V-6, as found in today’s 1983 Alfa Romeo GTV6, is another shining example of a orchestral engine.

The car is absolutely stunning. It shows under seventy thousand miles on the odometer, which means it has been sitting in a garage waiting on backordered parts for much of the last thirty years, but no matter. It looks pristine. The seller gives no useful information in the text of the ad, unfortunately, so a local inspection is absolutely necessary before bidding.

This makes an interesting alternative to the E30 BMW I featured on Monday. If I had around $8,000 to spend on a sporty car that could haul my kids on occasion, these would be near the top of my list. I’d likely be able to rely on the 3-series much more than the Alfa, but the new tunnel that recently opened up on my morning commute just begs for a screaming Italian.

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45 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1983 Alfa Romeo GTV6...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Nice angle. I’ve always gotten off from engine/industrial motor sounds. I’d love to be able to discuss this with someone from the appropriate branch of automotive engineering.

    When I used to prep steel samples for testing I found that the big vertical bandsaws we used for slicing ingots had sufficient rpm/pitch range to play the theme from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

    I just had to make sure and back-off the feed pressure when I went for the lower notes or *snap*.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Mmm, Alfa Romeo. Even in perfect condition, it’s got a zip tie holding on the front lower valance. I’d imagine a couple other places have zip ties as well, fastening irreplaceable unobtainium-since-1991 parts.

    The aftermarket pinstriping really puts me off. Not so much the side bit, but the front part on the center hood with the tacky flourish. From a distance it just looks like a scrape that’s rusted over.

    Something like this would never appeal to me unless I had lots of extra garage spaces, and had already satisfied sedan + bigger sedan + suv + convertible + boat + offroad Gator thing requirements.

    CP!

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Imagine the car Honda could’ve made of that beautiful body design.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It would have been called the Ballade or something, or “Passport” in the US, evoking Euro inspirations, and offering a larger 2+2 alternative to the Prelude.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Doctor Percepto!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          What does Grango think of the Alfa?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Amico!;;

            ^Look, the Italian there – courtesan of Google Transformer. I think America has the place called AA-MCO. I heard it in the commercial for one of the videos at Youtube. So I think , “Ok Grango, there are more italians over in America’s than you think, ok!”

            Anyway, when I go with a couple amico’s of mine and we get to the nicer part of inside Capital city centre’ we can see a fancy Alfa-Romeo such as above here. Often time, my friend Trego say “I think it is like to be inside the shop, may as well be there for working and get a good wage like the shop worker if you car is to be at there for so long time , !”

            Sometimes I laugh for his correct adjudication of it, but sometimes I tell him is preferential for people to have and drive what they desire – who is the person to disdain their capitalism for a diminished good? You know? No, we don’t need Judge Judy’s here! ha ha

            Overall, I prefer a more examinable and service-time car like the Yugo, or the Lada of Russia. More look-and-see vehicle’s like a GTA-V-6 (neko bellic isnt’ there!) are not for use.

            Righteous,

            GR

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Brilliant.

            “who is the person to disdain their capitalism for a diminished good?”

            Let’s skywrite this.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol. Someday, years from now, someone from the Eastern Bloc is going to read this and hate me.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            F*ckin’ flat-out brilliant, Corey!

            You combine schtick from Father Sarducci, Jose Jiminez and Norm Crosby plus whatever more recent comedians an old guy wouldn’t know about.

            Given your financial chops too, you seriously deserve a column in the WSJ.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, thank you thank you.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        This is a 750hp, 2,500lb racing version that is lightening quick. No it does not have a Alfa engine
        https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Sports_Sedan_2011#/media/File%3AAlfa_Romeo_GTV_of_Tony_Ricciardello_2011.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      This is the same owner who cant spell “matter”, Im sure the trim bits are out there but he isnt up to the Alfa “challenge”.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “the new tunnel that recently opened up on my morning commute just begs for a screaming Italian.”

    Easier to blast some opera from the Alpine in your Odyssey than to purchase an Alfa. Your commute would become a feat of accomplishment behind the wheel of a fragile GTV.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      But the eBay ad says this is “the car you can drive for the rest of your life”. Is that not true. Or is it saying that because it will break down in a terrible neighborhood and I will get shot?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They used the children’s form of “drive.” The kind where you sit in the car in the garage.

        Beep beep!
        Vroom!

        “Time for lunch, you kids get in here!”

        It’s hot dogs and mac and cheese today.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “the car you can drive for the rest of your life”

        Sounds ominous to an old guy, too.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Right on the nose bball, especially since parts will not be available in coming decades.

        BART: [frustrated] A thousand dollars? But your ad says no money down.
        [card reads] Works on contingency No money down
        HUTZ: They got this all screwed up. [Hutz takes card and uses a marker]
        [card reads] Works on contingency? No, money down!

        youtu.be/YZoQFVVXV2s?t=239

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I simply hate red cars…with very few exceptions. This is one of those exceptions…it needs to be bright red with tan leather….and no cheesy pinstripes. The 4 cylinder predecessor to this car, without the big hood scoop, is cleaner looking, but this is a cool car nonetheless.

    I saw an Alfa 164 on CL several years ago, with a fancy-schmancy DOHC V6 in it…looked beautiful, but I was afraid of the whole thing, and got a Volvo…probably a good thing, in hindsight.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    Somebody needs to tell this guy how to write an ebay ad. The other car he’s selling has an even shorter write up. At least the pictures are good.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I like the label “Close For Max Def” beneath the two dash vents on the center stack. I’ve never been in a car which required the hand closing of vents just to defrost the windshield. Most cars take care of that for you. Must be some weird Alfa thing.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It’s a weak blower motor thing, where there isn’t enough force to spread air through vents and also defrost the windshield! I think it’s characteristic of old Italian cars to have weak HVAC systems.

      But let’s face it, if it’s cold enough to frost your car up, this thing won’t be starting anyway.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    I like the car, this one appears to getting all the money in the world for one. Ultimately the ad has absolutely no info on the car. It has really great photos, that can hide a ton. This car requires the potential buyer inspect the car and get it’s story. For anything more than 3k one of these should have no rot and a healthy motor. A few things wrong may be ok but nothing major. If it checks out these are relatively inexpensive and very interesting cars, and you won’t look like douchebag like you would driving the e30 yesterday.

  • avatar
    Acd

    This car came from a time when Alfa Romeo had just discovered blue interiors and thought it was a good idea to put them in silver cars, gray cars and black cars. Never mind that the blue dashboard, center console and carpet look like they came out of the much maligned Malibu-ized late 1970’s VW Rabbit with even worse material and assembly quality.

    The cloth seat inserts aren’t factory; they should be blue leather and the red pinstripe doesn’t do anything for this car either especially with the blue interior.

    This would make a fun weekend driver but don’t even think of being able to use it as an actual car. I bought one in 1989 when it was only 5 years old with less than 30,000 miles on it and my 1983 Peugeot 505 and 1981 Fiat Spider were paragons of reliability compared to the Alfa.

    But there is nothing like the sound of that V6–it encourages you to keep it one gear lower than you normally would just to hear it sing.

  • avatar

    I have an ’82 in silver with shadow blue interior and only 78,000 miles. It’s mechanically stock, although I’ve long abandoned any notion of a concourse car and have begun replacing its myriad NLA parts with generic or close-enough bits from other cars. Most recently it mulched some valves, although thankfully not any pistons, when it rolled backward in gear. Yes, that’ll kill a Busso.

    It’s not an easy car to keep running, and especially not running well, as there’s always an issue with its electrical “system,” L-Jet ignition, fuel delivery, or transaxle. Rust is a fact of ownership. You accept the fact that your time behind the wheel will be limited, and that driving time to time on jack stands is roughly a 1:10 ratio.

    However, when it runs, it’s a thing of majesty. I took it to a cars and coffee meet earlier this year and received many approving nods from even the guys with half million dollar exotics. The music it makes is amazing. The handling is sublime. It forces you to acknowledge that it’s a machine and that you are in control. It’s a barely mediated experience, unlike almost all modern cars with their engine noise synthesizers and electronic steering. Driving this car is first and foremost fun… as long as you don’t let the anxiety of knowing it can and will simply stop working for no apparent reason.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What was it about rolling that broke the timing belt? If you’d been in reverse gear, would that have saved it?

      • 0 avatar

        The timing belt only wraps a few degrees of the passenger side (on American cars) cam – maybe 12 teeth. If you roll the engine backward, either by hand or at the wheels, it’ll skip teeth almost instantly. One or two teeth, no major problems other than crappy running. Four or five teeth, we’re talking bent valves. More than that and you’re well on your way to a full rebuild.

        As far as I know ALL Busso V6’s were afflicted, regardless of whether or not it has the original-style hydraulic belt tensioner or the newer mechanical one. Supposedly the hydraulic one was slightly safer.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          If you’re parking on a hill where the car could roll backwards, put it in reverse. That way the engine will be turning in the right direction if the car does roll.

  • avatar
    PCP

    This is not as unreliable as some of you seem to think (w/o ever having been even only close to one, I’d suspect). Given you check/change engine oil on a regular basis, the engine is usually good for high mileage, as are gear box and diff. The fact that it still has a live axle shouldn’t scare any Murrican either, I’d say.

    But it’ll rust faster than you can say Fe2O3 and you might be struggling searching for stuff like mufflers, clutch and whatever other parts you will need to change one day or another.

    And while not as fast, the original 4 cylinder models just look so much better.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      No live axle per se on a GTV-6. It has a deDoin tube, which is a beam axle but the diff is mounted to the car with U-jointed halfshafts to the wheels. The irritating part is the inboard rear brakes that require periodic and somewhat fiddly adjustment. And of course, much more difficult rotor replacements.

      I agree that these cars are not as fragile as legend would have them be. Thought they are MUCH more mechanically fraught than the Spiders. The timing belt really is a bit of a problem, as the original tensioners were pretty terrible devices. But the basic mechanicals are pretty stout. Rust is a big issue of course, you want one from a dry state.

      Also agree that the 4cyl version is cooler and prettier, but nothing else sounds like that V6. Just so incredibly exotic sounding.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I had an ’86 for a few years. I found very little in the way of important bits that was particularly difficult to get, as the mechanicals are shared with sundry Alfa sedans that they made by the hundreds of thousands. The hard stuff are the unique to the GTV-6 bits. Interior trim is difficult, anything unique mechanically is expensive – $700 for a radiator, for example. But a really great car non-the-less. Every bit as exotic and involving as an ’80s Ferrari for a fraction of the cost. I’d love another one.

    The nice thing is that there is enough of a calling for these cars that bits are being reproduced. I was able to get a cast metal sunroof handle surround to replace the disintegrated plastic original. Not cheap though.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’m really surprised you never showed up on the Maser Biturbo post from the other day.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Never owned one, and have zero desire to. The BiTurbo is a car that really does seem to be every bit as bad as its Internet reputation would have you believe. For a long time I used an Indy mechanic who was a Maserati specialist. He always had a pile of them around, and swore at them constantly! Looks nice, but completely biodegradable and subject to extreme mechanical self-immolation. No thanks. Alfa sports cars are at least just sedan mechanicals in a pretty wrapper, nothing particularly exotic about them. Montreal excepted.

        Now a second gen Quattroporte on the other hand, I would not kick out of the garage.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I came thisclose to buying one of these in the mid-80s, when I was (much) younger and stupider.

    Still in love with the design and the drive, even though I know it would have bankrupted me had I actually bought one…

  • avatar
    pbr

    Better to listen to than to drive. I’d prefer a 164, they drive better and sound better, if anything.

    Seems like I recall reading an R&T long-term closeout on a Porsche 944. At that time they claimed it was the second-most expensive car they’d ever had in their fleet, a GTV-6 topped the list.

    When do we get to digest a Milano? Make mine Verde, please.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Ok I have to put this here, since it would have qualified for Digestible Collectible, surely!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1982-Chrysler-Imperial-/181905329093

    Imperial Frank Sinatra (also Mark Cross) Edition! Cloth seats, impeccable condition, all badges, ALL CASSETTES, cassette holder, and Mark Cross purse and key ring. And garage door opener. Amazing and majestic, never before seen one in this condition and with accessories.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    So what was the Japanese reliable equivalent, a Supra?

  • avatar
    IAhawkeye

    What’s Netscape?? lol
    I like this series and your other one, it shows me just how few cars I really know about.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I have been enjoying this series and the conversation it generates as well. These are not as depressing as the Junkyard Finds; which is what introduced me to this site in the very beginning.

      BTW, took the Taurus to my mechanic, who is on the other side of the block from the state test station where it failed emissions. I am guessing he hooked his diagnostic computer into the ODBI computer, and coaxed the engine into passing emissions. So, it is good for another year; $60 was not a bad price to pay to keep it around.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I always loved the looks of these. I think there was some kind of sportier model with box fender flares, and box fender flares make everything better.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I remember when these things were new. Back in the day the car mags were always comparing them to the Datsun 280-Z (or 280-Z 2+2 or 280-ZX or 280-ZX 2+2 or 280-ZX Turbo) and the Porsche 944 (or 944 Turbo or 924 or 924 Turbo) and the Alfa was always rated last.

    They always complained about the Alfa having an awkward (supposedly typical Italian) driving position where the steering wheel was far away from the driver, but the pedals were uncomfortably close to the driver and the driver couldn’t get any thigh support from the seat. They said the same thing about Fiats of the period.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Not only sounds glorious (thanks to the magic of youtube), in FWD applications it looks gorgeous.

    I’d love a 156 V6 just for that.

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