1974 Alfa Romeo GTV (burgundy)

The Alfa Romeo GTV of the late '60s and early '70s is, in my mind, one of the most appealing body designs ever penned, so elegant in its simplicity, beautiful Italian curves, cute and aggressive at the same time, Bertone's crowning achievement! I keep coming back to them—this is my third one!

This car was purchased in May of 2001 from a gent in San Francisco, who in turn had bought her from a Los Angeles Alfa mechanic, whose personal car she was. The mechanic had done a lot of recent work, including rebuilding the engine (with Sperry Stage 4 heads), transmission (she is the smoothest-shifting Alfa I've ever owned—no second-gear problems even when cold—lightened gears?), and suspension (including uprated springs and sway bars). She is also the nicest-handling Alfa I've ever owned (and that's saying a lot).

(My brother John and I flew out to San Francisco and drove her back to Boston, taking the scenic route. This very fun trip is fully documented, in that we hauled along a laptop and digital camera, and updated this web site daily with photos and, uh, commentary. You can read about and see our exploits by clicking here.)

The San Francisco owner had also had a lot of mechanical work done—$5400 worth—during his stewardship. This included a completely rebuilt driveline (the car is vibration-free); new fuel cut-off solenoid; new Spica microswitch; plugs, points, condenser, rotor, distributor cap; fuel and Spica oil and air filters; valve adjustment; new thermostatic actuator; new fuel pump; new sump guard; new emergency brake shoes and cables; four new Michelin XGT-H4 tires; belts and hoses; and a new Die-Hard battery.

Since I've owned the car, the new things that have been added or replaced include: heater fan motor; complete three-point seat belt assemblies; passenger door, rear swing-out window, door handle, and trunk gaskets; all air vent hoses; windshield washer bag; high-output headlamps (with headlamp relays added to preserve the switches); amber fog lamps; Alfa-logo wooden shift knob; door jamb switches; brake and clutch pedal pads; front and rear Alfa logo emblems; Alfa script floor mats; trunk mat; and leather emergency brake boot. The carpets were removed, shampooed, and redyed the original black. The center console was removed and recovered in original black vinyl, and the wood refinished. The tan vinyl interior was in excellent condition, with the exception of a small tear in the driver's seat bottom, so I had both the driver's and passenger's seat bottoms recushioned and reupholstered. The rear parcel shelf was also recovered in black vinyl.

In other words, virtually everything on the car is either new or recently serviced or restored. Everything works—even such mundane things as the trunk and engine compartment courtesy lights and foot-operated windshield washer.

But the coup de grace is her magnificent new paint! I disassembled her completely (removed all bumpers, grills, lights, door handles, antenna, moldings, windows, etc.) and sent her via flatbed to John Schiavo's shop for a complete makeover. (John also painted my Alfa Montreal and did a marvelous job.) We stripped her down to bare metal, whereupon we found that there had been some slight damage to the rear left quarter panel and rear valance (there was absolutely no rust anywhere). I opted to do it right, and bought new body panels for those areas (yes, you can still buy them!), which John's crew welded in seamlessly. Then the car received an acid bath, primer, sealer, base coat in the original color (Rosso Amaranto), and clear coat. The door jambs and inside hood and trunk lids were also painted. The paint was properly buffed to a high state of luster. She also received a new windshield, since the glass was all out anyway. The paint was done at a cost of $7000—not cheap, but reasonable considering the amount of effort involved. If you'd like to see some before, during, and after photos of the paint process, click here.

Anyway, as you can see, she is beautiful. The color is to die for! It's hard to describe, being a burgundy / maroon / plum—a deep, dark red leaning more toward brown than toward blue. Because of the different venues and lighting in the photos above, the color even appears to vary somewhat between the photos. On my monitor, the first photo seems to portray the color quite accurately.

When I bought the car, it had Panasport wheels. I like Panasports as aftermarket wheels go, but prefer the understatement and originality of factory-supplied Cromodora Turbinas. They also happen to be very good wheels, lighter even than the Panasports. Since I happened to have an excellent set, I sold the Panasports (which paid for our plane tickets to San Francisco!), and the Cromodoras were sandblasted, painted, the Michelin tires mounted, and installed.

There is a Toshiba single-disk CD player/radio, with two 5" round speakers in the footwells and two 6"x9" three-way speakers in the rear parcel shelf. The sound is remarkably good and it plays quite loud without distortion, not that I ever had it on very much. Alfa engines make such sweet music...

In the fall of 2001, she paid a month-long visit to Glynn Motorsports, where Alfa guru Paul Glynn administered a final round of mechanical refurbishments (to the tune of $5000). These included: Replaced cracked bellhousing; drilled and retapped block for mounting studs for transmission; new flywheel, rear main seal, pilot bushing in crankshaft; new clutch and clutch slave hose; resurfaced friction plate; flushed clutch hydraulics; disassembled and rebuilt transmission with new synchros and other new parts; new front and rear transmission seals, inner shift boot, differential pinion seal; adjusted torque and preload on differential; new trans and diff fluid. Replaced bad trailing arm; all new trailing arm and trunion bushings; installed Delrin thrust washers at T-bar to limit rear axle movement; replaced left rear wheel studs, wheel bearing, axle seal. Replaced all front and rear flexible brake lines; flushed brake circuit. Changed engine oil & filter, Spica oil and filter. Removed exhaust system; welded cracks and added gussets where required; heated and bent center section for proper clearance; new hangers and gaskets. Checked valve clearance, Spica pump timing; replaced four throttle rod ends; adjusted rod lengths, set mixture and idle; replaced thermostat and gasket.

But wait—there's more! After two years of driving and enjoying her, and displaying her at various car shows (she won First in Class at the prestigious annual Tutto Italiano Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in 2003), my mechanic noticed some fuel in the oil, and I noticed a slight hesitation under moderate acceleration. So we decided that rebuilding the Spica fuel injection pump was in order. She went up to Glynn Motorsports for the operation in the fall of 2003. Upon close inspection, several other problems with the engine were noted (even though she generally ran quite strong), including worn cams and followers and a leaking head gasket. So I opted for the Full Monty—a complete engine rebuild!

I went for everything. Motronic 10.1:1 pistons and Euro cams would complement the Sperry head nicely. The Spica pump was sent to Wes Ingram of Ingram Enterprises, Inc. to be rebuilt, taking into account the other enhancements we were making to the engine. We bought new performance headers and had them ceramic coated. A front-to-back Stebro stainless steel exhaust was installed. The list goes on and on, and the car spent the entire winter at Glynn's getting everything done.

She was placed back on the road in the Spring of 2004, with a new engine that delivers lots of smooth, sonorous power. As of this writing (May 2005), she only has about 2000 miles on her and she keeps running stronger and stronger. (I thought I was going nuts when I observed that my Spider's engine kept getting more powerful for several thousand miles after her engine was rebuilt, but the experts tell me that that's to be expected.)

So, she essentially has a new engine, transmission, suspension, and driveline to complement the upgraded springs, sway bars, shocks, and so on. She runs magnificently—GTVs don't get any better. She is just about perfect in every way, both in how she looks and how she drives. I have receipts totaling over $27K and reluctantly sold her only to make room for a car I'd stumbled across that's been a lifelong dream: a BRG/biscuit Jaguar E-Type coupe. Please feel free to contact me by email at dave@dvpratt.com or at 781-320-8208.


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