Even on the Alfa Romeo scale, the GTV Cup is a jaw dropper. Alfa's designers have created some special cars over the years, but a GTV draped in Cup bodywork has to be up there. What a beauty. There's more to the Cup than its pretty face, of course, with Alfa's enchanting Busso V6 under the bonnet and an infusion of genuine racing pedigree to boot. It's got all the makings of a modern Italian legend. Which is the best kind.
True enough, this is a GTV in top spec with a few bespoke features - but they do genuinely link it to Alfa's GTV Cup racing series, which ran in 1999 and 2000. The series was unique because it featured only novice racers who were Alfa customers, with training provided by former Alfa F1 driver Andrea De Adamich to each of the 160 budding racers. For £4,000 apiece, they gained access to a Group N specification GTV Cup and were let loose on circuit. It was immensely popular, obviously.
Not wanting to leave showroom sales unaffected by the prospect of a racing GTV, a roadgoing version was launched in 2001. Make no mistake, this was very much a road car created to honour the motorsport version, but Alfa knew how to turn up the dial without drastically altering the technical makeup. Naturally, the work centred around heating up the GTV's design, something that had already won it plenty of fans against the subtler E36 BMW 3 Series.
The Cup gained a set of brighter 17-inch teledial wheels, bumpers sporting lower sections and a rear wing with an integrated brake light. There were also brake cooling vents on the front wings, and each UK car was finished in 130 Rosso Alfa paintwork. Inside, there were part leather sports seats and the plastic trim was of darker shade, and each car was given a build number plaque, with UK right-hooker models limited to 155 examples. The number was said to be a link to the BTCC title-winnig Alfa 155, although it was never officially announced as such.
British Cups also came as standard with the 24v V6 powerplant (the T-Spark four-pot was also offered on the continent), but power remained as before with peaks of 220hp and 199lb ft of torque. The drivetrain was the same, 155-related front-wheel drive setup with a six-speed manual gearbox, enabling a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. For a hot Alfa in 2001, that was certainly plenty quick enough, and it was accentuated by the car's eager front end and balanced chassis.
It was certainly an appealing package, hailed amongst enthusiasts as an Alfa you can subject to regular, reliable usage- although actually owning one still requires heightened levels of commitment and patience. Take the parts supply, for example. Alfa doesn't tend to cater to its older models, so on a specialist car like the GTV Cup, sourcing genuine replacement bits isn't always easy. Or, indeed, possible. And then there's the challenges of servicing a car with an engine that really shouldn't fit under its bonnet. Best not to consider the labour charge on a belt change.
For anyone looking for a cheap, exotic Alfa, this is not going to be it. But no Alfa ever is. From this era of the marque's back catalogue, the GTV Cup is proper - and its prices reflect that. Rough four-pot GTVs can be had for three-figure money; great condition Busso cars can be had for under five grand. But the Cups, they require something closer to £15k, confirming a lasting enthusiasm for Alfa's turned-up two-door. To some, that'll be too hard a hard pill to swallow (especially since six-pot E36s can be had for much less), but for those lusting after a usable Busso Alfa with racing in its veins, a GTV is virtually irresistible.
SPECIFICATION | ALFA ROMEO GTV CUP
Engine: 2,959cc V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 220@6,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 199@5,000rpm
Recorded mileage: 60,000
First registered: 2001
Price new: £26,995
Yours for: 13,995