02/04/2012 Modern Classic: Alfa Romeo GTV6 Grand Prix
Essentially a coupé version of the Alfetta, the GTV6 retained the four-seat layout and Giugiaro styling of its saloon sibling, but also brought a sonorous six-cylinder engine to the table.
The GTV6 had all the ingredients of a true Italian sports car – penned by Giugiaro, voiced by a V6, and driven by the dandified. But there was one thing which separated it from its compatriots: it could carry not two, but four occupants in leather-trimmed comfort. In addition, there was ample space for luggage.
The interior was more like a luxury saloon than a sports car in terms of its ambience. Thanks to the large glass area, it had a light and airy atmosphere; however, the car retained its purposeful squat, often lost when rooflines are raised in the transition from drawing board to forecourt.
Shielded beneath the bonnet of the GTV was a choice between two classic Alfa engines: the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder twin-cam from the Giulietta or an all-aluminium 2.5-litre V6 engine, with 131 and 158HP respectively. By far the preferred option was the GTV6, which housed what was widely regarded as the ‘best-sounding V6’ on the market at the time. Despite being borrowed from the Alfa 6 saloon, the powerplant really found its home in the GTV6, no doubt due to the Bosch fuel injection which replaced the previously-used carburettors.
The creamy V6 and striking coachwork masked an unusual transaxle layout – the GTV and its four-door Alfetta sibling were among the rare cars that use such a set-up, despite the motor and driven wheels being at opposite ends of the car. This quirk established an unconventional way of separating the wheat from the chaff; an unfamiliar pilot would soon draw a crunch from the gearbox which would only be drowned out by the laughter of onlookers. Only those who knew the car were aware that second gear had to be engaged before first – the GTV was a car that needed to be conquered, in the character of a true Italian sports car.
But not even the GTV was spared from the plastic era of the early 80s. The autumn of 1980 saw it given grey plastic front and rear bumpers and rocker panels, prompting lively discussion among the Alfisti. Five years later they were given another risky restyling of Giugiaro’s lines to mull over, this time when the small-series GTV6 Grand Prix model was launched. Limited to 200 examples, it had a subtly modified bodykit, as well as a refined interior.
The car shown in our photos is one such example, its black bodywork and the tobacco-brown interior making it one of the most desirable of the truly rare Grand Prix models. According to the dealer, the Alfa is rust- and accident-free and the odometer reading of 90,000km is backed up by a complete service history.