The Alfa Romeo GTV6 is so much more than a pretty face. Underneath its skin, this car is pornography for engineers, and here’s why.
In 1980, the Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 came out with a 60° V6 engine from the Alfa 6, fitted on a shortened Alfetta chassis. A transaxle, De Dion rear suspension, and Watt's parallelogram linkage worked away together at the back, with wishbone suspension up front.
The front brakes had ventilated discs, and the rears were inboard. Even its front camber was increased significantly to reduce understeer, over models fitted with a 4-cylinder engine. Did you tune out?
Here’s a three-word recap: it is athletic.
The history of motorsport agrees. The GTV6 won the European Touring Car Championship from 1982 to 1985, against Audi, BMW, and Jaguar. It won the BTCC with Andy Rouse, then France, Italy, Australia…winning everywhere. It plunged into rally with the crazy French ace Yves Loubet, winning its class four years in succession from 1983 to 1986 in the Tour de Corse.
Its 2,500-cc, 160 horsepower, 0-60 in 8 seconds, and 128 mph top speed is quick enough to make a Porsche 911 SC driver nervous. As a plus, Giorgetto Giugiaro from the newborn Italdesign consultancy drew a totally new line for a four-person GT—hello, Audi A7, Alfa Romeo did it 40 years ago.
Then you start shifting gears and think: “How is even possible they worsened the perfect Giulia gearbox with the Alfetta?” On your way down to second gear in the examples I’ve driven, you have to be a good old school manual master if you don’t want to scrape something. This makes it even more of a professional car in my opinion—or maybe that’s just describing a complaint as a strength.
It’s rewarding to learn to extract the most from the car, but if you wanna go faster through the gears, stay with the older Giulia and GT versions. (It’s a shame the older cars had no V6 engine. Maybe I should build one with a 3.2-litre GTA engine? In Italy, it’s already been done…)
The first two things I love to notice when approaching to the GTV6 are the scent of its interior, which is petrol, wood, and that unique Alfa Romeo smell. Then I enjoy the noise of the door closing from inside. It’s a ritual: sit down, close the door with that nice old sound, take a few breaths, and turn the key.
Then, ok, the show starts: Giuseppe Busso’s violin.
There is a specific note this engine can reach, around 5,000 rpm, that is an audible injection of endorphins.
Every time, my mind gets drugged when I keep the right foot on that precise note for long enough. I’m already organizing another test with a very mean and obscure GTV6…only with a tuned engine and approximately 240 horsepower, done in an all black livery and wide body.
It goes to show that these cars are still alive—ask the MiTo and Fiat 500 Abarth drivers who tried to pass me during the drive back.
The youngbloods had no idea what they were in for when flying along in formation with this old, gray, loud, and weirdly-shaped car. Now they have.
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