Con Velocità Extra Per Favore

Alfa Romeo’s GTV given more muscle.

For power-hungry clients desiring a ‘maximum’ Tipo 116 GTV, the 2000 and later 2.5-litre GTV6 were, with the exception of the rare Autodelta turbocharged version, the limit. However, if you happened to live in South Africa, the USA or Germany, there were other exciting options, one of which also involved Autodelta.

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Alfa Romeo GTV6 3-litre, South Africa: As was the case with some other unique South Africa only special versions, the GTV6 3-litre came to be because of motor racing competition series and the homologation requirements that come with them. BMW ruled the domestic Group One championship for years with their 535i. The GTV6 2.5 that Alfa Romeo at first entered was simply not powerful enough and lacking in torque to make any kind of impression on the German dominance.

Alfa Romeo SA approached the Italian firm’s competition department, Autodelta, to enquire what they could do to help. As luck would have it, Autodelta was already in possession of a suitable engine, a three-litre version of Alfa’s lovely V6. This had been abandoned because the Italian motor tax regime levied a punitive additional charge on cars with engines with a displacement of 2,000cc and more.

Images: tradeuniquecars.com.au and motortrader.co.za

Autodelta manufactured the special cylinder heads, crankshafts and pistons, which were shipped to South Africa. Alfa Romeo SA took it from there and assembled the engines in-situ, including the machining of the engine blocks and cylinder heads. Six Dellorto RFP40 carburettors replaced the electronic fuel injection, although the last six 3-litre GTVs made would once again be fuel injected. The end result was an increase in power from 158bhp to 171bhp but, crucially, also an increase in torque from 157 lb ft to 163 lb ft.  The GTV6 3-litre still lagged slightly behind the 535i in the 0 to 100km/h (62mph) sprint, but now matched the BMW’s standing kilometre time and had a slightly higher top speed.

The GTV6 3-litre won its debut race at Kyalami, ending a longstanding hegemony by BMW, and would score many more victories. Homologation rules required that Alfa Romeo SA produce a minimum of 200 roadgoing versions of the 3-litre GTV, which they duly commenced building.

From the outside, the GTV6 3-litre is easily identified by its prominent bonnet bulge with NACA duct; the rest of the visual modifications are modest: a larger front spoiler, thin red striping along the bumpers and side mouldings and, of course, a GTV6 3.0 badge on the back. Between 1983 and 1985, Alfa Romeo SA produced 212 copies, each with a price tag of ZAR 29,495 (South African Rand).

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Alfa Romeo GTV6 2.5 Callaway Twin Turbo, USA: Located on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Callaway Turbo Systems of Old Lyme, Connecticut was founded in 1977. Today best known for their conversions of Chevrolet Corvettes and Camaros, the firm’s first fully engineered roadgoing conversion (i.e. not a kit) was an Alfa Romeo GTV6. Callaway tackled the job very thoroughly: every 2.5-litre V6 engine was disassembled, the piston crowns modified and twin IHI RHB5 turbochargers plus an intercooler were installed. Callaway also added a solid-state fuel injection control named the Microfueler, which sensed engine speed and manifold pressure to monitor the Bosch L-Jetronic injectors.

Both the brakes and suspension were also augmented to cope with the substantial increase in power: the engine now produced 230bhp and could propel the car to 100km/h (62mph) in just under six seconds. Unlike some later and brasher Callaway products, the GTV6 2.5 Twin Turbo only distinguished itself from the regular factory model by a relatively subtle air scoop on the bonnet, a rear spoiler, sixteen inch BBS alloy wheels and “Callaway Twin Turbo” lettering on the windshield. Driver and passenger sat on leather Recaro seats.

Surprisingly, with the emission controls still in place, the turbocharged Alfa complied with EPA emissions requirements and Callaway provided a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty, matching that of Alfa Romeo USA. Owners would also be able to have their cars serviced at any American Alfa Romeo dealership. Cheap the GTV6 2.5 Twin Turbo was not, however: at over US $27,000, it was 50% more than the standard 2.5-litre GTV6.

Images: leftlanenews.com and 2bp.blogspot.com

The Italian car maker was by 1986, however, struggling to keep its head above water in the United States, and a total of just 35 cars left Callaway’s factory gates before the programme was cancelled.

The small firm would be thrown a lifeline though: General Motors got its hands on one of the modified GTVs and was impressed by Callaway’s workmanship and the car’s performance, which was a virtual match for the then current Corvette C4, albeit achieved in a very different manner. Corvette chief engineer, Dave McLellan, offered Callaway the opportunity to cooperate on some special turbocharged Corvette projects. The company’s founder, Reeves Callaway, naturally jumped at the chance. So began a succesful long-term association with GM, ensuring that Callaway would grow and prosper, all thanks to that Alfa Romeo.

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Alfa Romeo GTV 2.6i V8, Germany: In 1977 Horst Reiff, owner of the large Alfa Romeo dealerships in Aachen, was convinced that the German high-speed Autobahn network provided enough of a business opportunity to justify a faster GTV than the 2000, which was then the most powerful version available. Autodelta, the official competition department of Alfa Romeo, had already built a few GTVs fitted with the Montreal’s V8 for racing and rallying, but the parent company showed no interest in introducing a roadgoing version. Undeterred, Reiff enlisted a German tuner confusingly named ‘Delta Auto’ to produce exactly that.

Image: gtv8.de

As might be expected, the V8 was a tight fit under the GTV’s bonnet, necessitating a prominent bulge to accomodate the powerplant. Apart from all the chromed trim pieces being painted matte black and ‘2.6’ badges on the bottom of the front wings, there was little else to give the game away, until the driver fired up that 200bhp V8, that is. While the 0 to 100km/h (62mph) time of 9.3 seconds might seem somewhat underwhelming, the top speed was a strong 223km/h (138mph) which was, in those days, certainly enough for a bout of Autobahnstorming.

The standard GTV had a 54-litre fuel tank which the V8 would empty quite rapidly especially when driven hard, so Delta Auto installed a second 54-litre tank in the boot, likely reasoning that prospective customers would not mind the loss of luggage room as much as having to stop for fuel every hour.

At close to DM 50,000, the GTV 2.6i V8 was double the price of the 2000 GTV but Reiff still believed he would be able to sell 100 cars. It was not to be, however, as Delta Auto filed for bankruptcy after reportedly only twenty cars had been completed. Even that modest number may be an exaggeration as today only two cars are known to remain. Notwithstanding Alfa Romeo’s usual corrosion issues, one would expect more survivors, considering the car’s uniqueness.

Author: brrrruno

Car brochure collector, Thai food lover, not a morning person before my first cup of coffee

37 thoughts on “Con Velocità Extra Per Favore”

  1. There are two known examples of the V8 engined Alfetta and both are very much prototypes.
    One car has the oil tank of the Montreal engine’s dry sump lubrication in the passenger footwell (of all things) and the other has it in the boot.
    Autodelta built some V8s for rallying but like other Alfetta sports variations they were not particularly successful because they suffered from the same Achilles heel. The Alfetta’s gearbox could not take more torque than the standard engine had and in combination with any more powerful engine it gave lots of trouble.
    Alfa themselves never put a bigger engine in the GTV6 than the 2.5 because of this weakness.
    Alfa dealer and tuner Gleich from Mönchengladbach developed a 2.8 litre engine with 19o PS without involvement from the factory or Autodelta. It had larger bores and necessary modifications to the block but retained the 2.5’s standard short stoke. Alfa never made an engine with this capacity.
    Gleich also had developed a double twin-choke carburettor kit for the Alfasud that produced 106 PS long before the factory started to produce ‘Suds with similar carburettor arrangements. Gleich later also was the first to put the Sud quadrifoglio verde engine in the 33.

  2. While it wasn’t strictly an Alfa GTV any more, a GTV bodied 5 litre Chev V8 powered racecar, with the engine mounted behind the firewall in the passenger compartment and the driver where the back seat was, was a regular on New Zealand’s racetracks for quite a while. A brand new GTV bodyshell was purchased from the factory to make the car and a good deal of Alfa GTV stock components were used including the suspension and gearbox.
    The full(er) story here on the excellent ‘The Roaring Season’ website. http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?2485-Article-The-Ian-Algie-Alfetta

  3. Here’s the sole survivor of the Autodelta V8 rally with three litre four valve engine and 470 PS:

  4. Very clever and resourceful engineering, I’m sure, but I’ll have my GTV in its original and best form, unsullued by the plastic cladding on later models:

    For me, the only dissonant note is the split rear side window. I suppose it was functional and the glass ahead of the split could be wound down for ventilation?

    1. Yes, the rear glass wound down. There was a rotary knob on the interior panel for this.
      The nicest air pollution I ever experienced was when I trailed a mid 70s GTV along the Rheinufer in Cologne many years back. It was a delight to see the car move even if the exhaust was throwing out a fair amount of what smelled like unburnt fuel.

    2. Most Italian cars from that era had rear windows that could be wound down or popped open for better ventilation (remember the original White Hen with its electrically operated pop-out windows)
      An early Italian kind of air conditioning.
      It had the additional advantage that you could whistle at two legged objects of interest through them.

    3. All 400 GTV turbodeltas had those stickers plus the unhappy combination of carburettors and a turbo for all of 150 PS (that gearbox again) and very healthy thirst.
      Here’s how it looked in competition mode

    4. Oh sorry about that. Those colours, of course, mean something entirely different nowadays, but Autodelta wasn’t to know that when they made it the GTV Turbodelta trademark.
      That was the only picture I could find of the window ‘in use’.

    5. Hi David. It’s not the rainbow colours I object to (obviously!) but the notion that those naff decals do anything for the appearance of the GTV other than spoil it.

    6. Daniel, with a commentariat as eruditely informed as this site has, I also assumed the rainbow flag would be entirely uncontroversial, but that it would be bad marketing on Autodelta’s part to ‘borrow’ such clear branding. In those days, of course, it was Autodelta searching for a memorable trademark. The stripes do work best on a silver or pale gold background.

    7. Good morning David. The history of the Rainbow flag as a symbol of gay pride actually dates back to 1978, when the US artist Gilbert Baker, a gay man and a drag artist, designed it with the encouragement Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US, to create a symbol of pride for the gay community. It only really crossed over into mainstream consciousness in the 1990s as social attitudes became more liberal, in western society at least. In fairness to Autodelta, the company probably didn’t realise that it was appropriating anything significant back when it was producing its modified GTV and, in any event, the colours of the decal are not in ‘rainbow’ order, which is red, orange, yellow, green, blue,indigo, violet.

      One interesting piece of trivia about the rainbow flag is that there seems to be widespread confusion as to which way up it should be flown. It should be red on top, as in a natural rainbow.

    8. Confusingly, there is also the rainbow “Peace” flag:

      While the two movements overlap (more acceptance of differences between humans – actually: more understanding that the very fact we differ so much is what MAKES us human – should promote peace after all), I don’t think they’re fully aligned. You can often see the peace flag fly from church buildings (often protestant denominations, here in the Netherlands) and these vary wildly in their attitude towards LGBTQ+ issues.

      Whatever the association, a rainbow decal in any configuration does seem a remarkably unagressive marking for a sports car.

    9. On a separate colour issue, whatever happened to pink? I notice in men´s fashion pink is back. It´d be lovely to see some forms of pink back on cars other than Fiat 500s. I´d be very impressed to see a large car in some kind of pink other than Millennium Pink which is a bit miserable. If they could make a pale green interior to go with it, that would be even better.

    10. I spot a pink Smart or Fiat 500 every now and then, but these are not that interesting. Tomorrow it will be one year ago I spotted this 986.

    11. There must have been something in the air in the seventies, Apple sponsored a Porsche 935 which made full use of their then rainbow logo. The ranbow really pops on the white background.

    12. Freerk you are right. Pink used to be a mainstream colour, in Australia at least. Holden called that light metallic pink ‘Orchid Metallic’. But other pinks were available, indeed pink was available right though to the end of Falcon and Commodore production, when all Australian car production ceased.


  5. The “official” picture of that GTV 2.6 V8 seems prepared with the usual Alfa carefulness of the era: the scenery is nothing more than a car park with other brand new unregistered Alfas, and a driver´s door that seems repainted “al corte” and doesn´t match the rest of the panels.

    1. The car was a pure dealer project and at least the dealer wax exemplary in being as careless as Alfa themselves.
      The building looks like the old German Alfa HQ in Frankfurt that was used from the Sixties until around 2018 or so when FCA opened a new building.

    2. So the old German Alfa HQ was in Frankfurt… I remember when in the late ´80s my parents gave me every year as a present the Spanish edition of “Auto Katalog”. Almost all the cars in the pictures had german plates. The Alfas ones began with “F”, Fiats and Lancias had “HN” (Heilbronn), Peugeots “SB” (Saarbrücken), Renaults “BM” (Bergheim), Nissans “NE” (Neuss)… I suppose their importers were established there. In Spain almost every importer was/is in Madrid.

    3. The number plates indeed are an indication of the importer’s or manufacturer’s location and where they registered their press fleet. In your catalagues should have been VWs with WOB and Audis with IN.
      Mercedes fleet cars at that time normally showed BB (Böblingen), Porsche had LB (Ludwigsburg).
      Nowadays some have characteristic letter combinations reserved like JLR which use cars with F-JD (Jaguar Deutschland) or F-LR. Fiat uses F-CA or F-AR.
      Beware of any Porsches with S-GO because these regularly are among the most ruthlessly driven cars on German autobahns.

  6. Ah, what a lovely car that was, the GTV. True to stereotypes, the German modification looks neatest to me from the outside, helped by being a pre-facelift car.

    Daniel: I notice that the Autodelta V8 that Dave pictured (the black-and-white picture) has on-piece rear side windows, so that’s the one you’d want. I’m sure those stickers will come off… (though they look less distracting than the Turbodelta striping on an otherwise unadorned car).

    That New Zealand racing car looks pleasantly mad. Something of a precursor to modern F1: Alfa Romeo-Ferrari, Aston Martin-Mercedes, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing-Honda…

    1. The Autodelta GTV V8 not only had one-piece perspex windows, the bodywork was unusual in being made from aluminium. That’s an absolute rarity of which nowadays only two examples are known – the other one has been completed as late as 1993 by an enthusiast who bought it half ready from Autodelta.

  7. Brrrruno, thanks for another interesting collection.

    The Montreal V8 conversions look like a lot of hard work for not a great deal of gain, although the sound would have been glorious.

    With the benefit of the passage of nearly fifty years, my ideal modded Alfetta would have a complete Corvette C7 driveline:

    Might need those Turbodelta competition arches, but the transaxle should fit nicely:

    1. Instead of the Corvette drivetrain I’d suggest the following

      Or to stay closer to the Alfetta, this drivetrain arrangement plus rear suspension with the Alfa engine up front would have avoided nearly all the problems that plagued the transaxle Alfas

      The picture of the Alfetta’s gearbox cum rear suspension shows the collection of tragical wrong decisions that made the Alfetta such a frustrating nearly-but-not-quite car.
      The DeDion axle (chosen instead of the originally intended double wishbone setup at the behest of Collaudatore Consalvo Sanesi who preferred old fashioned road manners) forced them to fit the gearbox under the rear seat and prevented them from fully exploiting the technology leap in tyre design in the Seventies and Eighties, the clutch at the gearbox instead of at the engine had to be too small in order to avoid ground contact of the bellhousing on road bumps, fitting engine and gearbox separately made them use a propshaft with Guibo couplings that were short lived and a pain to replace and all in combination gave the nasty gearchange for which transaxle Alfas are so famous.
      Had they used a rigid tube between engine and gearbox like the Ferrari Daytona or all transaxle Porsches did with the clutch up front at the engine they’d have avoided nearly all of the trouble.
      The Volvo 343 originally used a similar layout to the Alfetta’s and Volvo expensively redesigned it to replace the jointed propshaft by a rigid tube. They didn’t do this without reason.

    2. Dave – I did think of the Porsches, and also possibly a ZF 5DS25, but the Corvette C5/C6/C7 had the attraction of the LS pushrod LS V8, which looks like it could fit in the Alfetta’s engine bay without too much lump-hammer work.

      None of this should be taken terribly seriously; it’s good fun on paper, but probably limitless anguish in the full-scale realisation.

  8. Was not aware Alfa Romeo themselves actually planned for a 3-litre V6 until the fuel crisis caused them to cancel the engine and leave it to the South Africans to revive it via Autodelta for the 3-litre GTV6. The 2.5 GTV6 may have been exceptional yet a 3-litre rounds things off (at least for markets outside of Italy notwithstanding other countries tax rules).

    Against the V6 the GTV8 is rather pointless. Even though Alfa Romeo were unable to realise their vision for the Alfetta, GTV and Six. However chaotic things were at the time, it is difficult to believe that they were not experimenting with other engine projects that could have superseded the Montreal / GTV8 engine in better times.

    With the exception of the 2-litre V6 Turbo, could the V6 have benefited from a single-turbo rather than the Callaway Twin-Turbo set-up?

    1. The 3.0 V6 does not round off anything. Amongst Busso V6 aficionados the 2.5 is considered as being clearly the best iteration of this engine because it is by far the sweetest and most free-revving of them all. The 3.0 and 3.2 have a longer stroke that makes them less happy to rev (everything is relative).

      The V6 certainly would not have benefited from a turbo.
      Alfa engines are all about throttle response and therefore a turbo is out of the question, except for cheating the tax office. There also were all kinds of other Italian legislation to circumvent. It was not only punitive tax, in the Seventies people older than seventy or younger than twenty-one years were not allowed to drive cars with more than two litres.

  9. Bruno, great article! Which “Super GTV” would be my favourite? the NA 3.0 South African version seems the purest, but the Callaway´s performance is really tempting. By the way, I´ve just learnt that Reeves Callaway father is the founder of the well known golf equipment firm.

  10. With a bit of determination you can convert any Alfa V6 of the later cars to a longitudinal orientation and put it into the Alfetta coupe. The life expectation of the gearbox then is solely your responsibiliy but a 3.0 24V should be enough to quench any desire for a V8 powered one.

    1. If Mr Algie in New Zealand can make the gearbox work with a 500 hp V8, there must be ways to make it work with a 3.2 quad cam 24V V6.

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