The Alfa Romeo GTV-6 was produced at a time when Alfa Romeo was hemorrhaging money. Yet, the engineers at Alfa managed to create one of the most sophisticated sports cars of its era. An all-alloy SOHC V6 engine driving a rear five-speed transaxle with deDion suspension is world-class engineering. This was also the last two-door sports coupe Alfa imported into the US before its retreat from the market in 1995.
Alfa wanted its new car to be bug-free, so GTV-6s built in 1980 were used exclusively by the factory for testing. The model was finally considered ready for public sale in 1981, but fortune was not with the new Alfa. Porsche's 944 was introduced at the same time, and robbed Alfa of many sales in its inaugural year. Then, a clerical error caused virtually the entire 1982 US allotment to be silver with a blue interior. Mechanical problems included weak head gaskets and a hydraulic cam belt detensioner which, if it failed, could require a major engine overhaul.
By 1985, the car's mechanical difficulties were behind it, and the GTV-6 underwent some desirable styling changes. These included a redesigned interior with new seats and a more attractive trim scheme for the exterior. The following year, however, Fiat bought Alfa and withdrew the coupe from the market in anticipation of the Milano sedan.
The car's short market life, along with its technical problems, turned away many potential buyers. However, faithful Alfisti find a great deal to enjoy about the car. Its 2.5-liter, all-alloy V-6 engine gives ample power over a very broad range of engine speeds. No Alfa since the 6C 2500 is more comfortable, or more suited to long-distance travel. The car offers reclining seat backs, power windows and a reasonable air conditioning system. (Demonstrating a perhaps well-founded lack of confidence in the Italian power window motors, a manual crank was included in the glovebox.) Many models carried a manual sunroof, and several special editions were offered in an effort to inspire sales.
GTV-6s are just now passing the nadir of their value, which will rise for low-mileage cars in excellent condition, as they become more rare. Special edition models, such as the Balocco or the Maratona (called the "Marijuana" by some Berkeley-area wags) bring only a small premium, since most of their uniqueness was either glued or screwed to the body.
Shoppers should try to find a 1985 or '86 model. The health of the driveshaft is the first thing to check. A careful visual inspection will reveal the condition of its three rubber donuts (one inside the front bell housing). A vibration at idle, or at about 3,500 rpm, indicates that the driveshaft is not in balance. If the cam belt shows traces of oil, its detensioner is in immediate need of repair; more reliable non-hydraulic tensioners are available. By now, every GTV-6 has been fitted with an improved head gasket, but if the oil on the dipstick looks milky, get ready for a quick $750 interaction with the local ATM. Later improvements to the engine in the Milano and 164 sedans can be easily retrofitted to the GTV-6, and a GTV-6 equipped with a 3-liter engine from a Milano Verde is a joy to drive.
Look for rust in the usual places, including the rockers and the wheel arches. Be sure all the switches work, as replacing them, or the motors they control, can be expensive. Since best-in-the-world GTV-6s are under $10,000, it doesn't make sense to buy one that has major needs-unless, like so many Alfisti, you are a do-it-yourselfer. Virtually every part necessary to restore a GTV-6 is available either new aftermarket or in good used condition.
Any Alfa that has style and performance will eventually become collectible. The GTV-6 is an inexpensive way to enjoy a future collectible with superb engineering, at a very reasonable price.

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