Shed of the Week: Alfa GTV

A pal of Shed's who works in the motoring journalism trade rang him up the other day to apologise for what was going to be a slightly late arrival at the daily pub lunch for distressed husbands. Turned out he was overseeing the repair/removal of a brand new Alfa Giulia test vehicle that had just broken down on his premises.

Still a stunner, even in grey
Still a stunner, even in grey
Motoring scribblers like this chap often find themselves putting together 'wacky' or 'funny' stories that can be quickly shovelled into the giant content-devouring furnace called the internet. You'll know these stories by their titles, which are usually along the lines of 'Ten most (insert adjective and noun here)'.

Anyway, when some desperate editor commissions Shed's pal to bang together a 'ten most disappointing car manufacturers' story, as they surely will at some point, Alfa Romeo is bound to feature at the very top of the list, coyly hiding on the last page so you have to scroll through all the other disappointments first. Groogh.

You'll probably have your own thoughts as to what constitutes a disappointing manufacturer, based on your own personal ownership experiences. Alfa is unique and special in this field in that they manage to disappoint not just Alfa owners but also people who have never owned, and will probably never will own, an Alfa, and so have no reason to feel anything - positive or negative - about them.

It's because everybody loves the idea of owning an Alfa, but only the slightly unhinged would ever actually take the step of buying one. This is not being rude. Alfaholics openly recognise their own sickness, signalling it with a resigned "what can I do, I'm hooked" shrug and a haunted grin.

When Alfas aren't disappointing you with their failure to live up to the styling (4C, Brera) they're disappointing you with their failure to live up to the basic expectation of running, new or old (aforementioned standard Giulia, various Quadrifoglio Giulia test cars and so on).

Let the four-cylinder versus V6 argument resume...
Let the four-cylinder versus V6 argument resume...
What about this GTV though, from the golden age of shapely Alfa coops? Let's have a look, being especially careful to fall into the lazy trap of labelling all Alfas as unreliable heaps.
The grey paint is a bit Germanic for an Alfa, but the four original keys are correctly red so you'll have something nice and colourful to look at while you're sitting in the layby. Oh.

Here's some good news: the cambelt is just 8,000 miles old. In 2006 Alfa reduced the belt change frequency for the fours to a blink-like 36,000 miles or three years, whichever came soonest. Or perhaps more accurately, given it's an Alfa, if either came round at all. Ah.

Right, that's the end of the Alfa-slagging. Properly looked after, a Twin Spark GTV will reward its owner with many minutes of driving pleasure. D'oh. No, seriously, this one is a potential winner. In terms of care, it's received a hell of a lot this year. After a comprehensive suspension re-bushing and the fitment of new brake discs and tyres to get it through the MoT in May, it had a service. See what Alfas do to you?

The result is a GTV that appears to be all set up and ready to go. Which might make a cynic wonder why the vendor is selling it now.

The answer lies in the fact that the current owner didn't carry out any of this big work himself, having only bought the car a month or so ago. In that month he's given it a quick spruce up, which he has recorded for YouTube posterity as part of what seems to be a plan to become a motor noter himself.

Even the leather has been seen to for YouTube
Even the leather has been seen to for YouTube
It's not often we get to meet a Shed seller in person (sort of), and this fellow seems like a decent cove. The video reveals that he paid £1,200 for the car, which was a bit of a bargain considering the monster dollops of wonga thrown at it by the previous owner. Now he's hoping to cash in his chips for a small profit. And why not?

We might deduce from his smart gaff in Putney that he's not short of a few bob. That could mean he'd actually be cool with the idea of taking a low-ball bid, even though he says he won't. Or it might mean he's under no pressure to flog it for anything less than the asking price. Oooh, the psychology of used car buying, it fair does your head in.

The video is quite instructional as it nicely puts across the GTV driving experience as well as the current owner's useful (for the next owner) interest in making the car as nice as possible.

What other jobs might lie in wait for the next fly to wander into the web? All jokes aside, mechanically speaking the 2.0 Twin Sparks are strong and very long-lasting. Rule one is, check the oil on a weekly basis. If it rattles a bit on startup that could be because the cam variator wasn't changed at the same time as the belt. If it feels a bit lacking in urge it might need a new mass air flow sensor. If it needs spark plugs, it's got eight and they're about a tenner each.

An encouragingly large wad of paperwork
An encouragingly large wad of paperwork
As noted, it's had plenty of suspension work done, including the suspension arms, which with luck will be the more expensive ones that support the springs rather than the easier/cheaper lower front wishbones.

The front-end paint chipping they're known for has been attended to, so no problem there for the moment, or ever if you're not bothered by this sort of thing. Rust is obviously going to be an issue on any old car. These Alfas were well galvanised but the floor pans eventually go. Dodgy electrics and Alfas go together like Hollywood starlets and producers, i.e. not very comfortably, but again the reality with GTVs is that they're not bad. If the air-con doesn't work it's unlikely that it will be mended by the traditional 'recharge'. The presence of all those keys, including the masters, will be a major blessing in the event of any electric-based repairs being needed.

Mrs Shed likes Italian cars almost as much as she likes Italian ice cream. Any opportunity to lick the nuts off a big Neapolitan, etc.

Here's the ad.

Car was bought a month ago as a youtube project to get a couple of videos done of smartening a car up. This is now done so I am reselling. I repainted the mirrors which were very corroded, touched up a few stone chips, replaced the split air intake, cleaned up the interior, engine and reconnolysed a faded part of the drivers seat. This car is in amazing condition, is very clean and drives amazingly well, a real bargain at the price.

It's had a service a couple of months ago, new filters etc. The miles are genuine and it's MOT'd until the end of May 2018. Loads of paperwork, all 4 original sets of keys and there's a decent Kenwood CD-stereo in there with USB-charger and AUX (ipod) input. Original GTV tool kit in the boot.

Recent mechanical upkeep (all through a reputable London Alfa garage):

2 new suspension arms
N/S inner drive shaft replaced
new brake discs
2 new rear tyres
new timing belt at 68,000 miles
Car located in Putney, SW15. Please don't bother with low ball offers which will be ignored. If you're genuinely interested please message and arrange to come and view the car.

Not allowed to put direct video links but if you go on you tube and search for "Alfa Romeo GTV number 27" the second video on the list shows some of the work I did.


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Comments (117) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidesauce 13 Oct 2017

    A brave choice Shed but one I approve.

    Wouldn't have the balls to own an Alfa of this vintage as a daily but did own a 147 (in the same paint colour as this GTA funnily enough) back in the day which had a habit of breaking down at the most inopportune moments, notably in the middle of three lane sections of the A10 and the A406, however when it worked it was a peach!

  • BFleming 13 Oct 2017

    My friend had one as his introduction to Alfa Romeo about 15 years ago. It was truly awful. Very unreliable, leaked like a collander, and wasn't that great to drive. The windows kept dropping off the runners for no reason, and it liked a drink (both petrol & oil). MOT failure was an annual experience. Strangely though, it was the first of a long line of Alfa's for him (147, 159 & now a Giulietta) so it's mustn't have been a horrendous experience!

  • Ruskins 13 Oct 2017

    Been driving Alfa's for 10 years, had 4 of them, got a Giulia QV now. Never had a breakdown.

  • only1ian 13 Oct 2017

    Had 3 a TS, V6 and a Cup!

    Not a fan of the phase 1 plastics or wheels but othewise a great car. Not as fast as it looks and a turning circle that can be measured in miles.

    However on a b-road cruise most miles per mile than any car ive owned.

  • Mr2Mike 13 Oct 2017

    Always liked the GTV, just a shame Alfa didn't use the Fiat Coupe engines along with the rest of the floorpan etc.

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