1978 Alfa Romeo Sport
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Alfa Romeo launched the Alfetta berlina sedan in 1972 with a new floorplan, modern styling, and a decent rear seat. The name traded on racing successes in the past, and used double wishbones and torsion bars in front with a DeDion transaxle at the rear, and inboard brakes. Engines were an 1,800-cc DOHC four-cylinder initially, then a 1,600-cc mill in 1975, and a 2,000-cc from 1977 on. There was even a turbo-diesel engine in Europe. An impressive 450,000 of all variants were sold between 1972-84.
A Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed GT/GTV coupe quickly followed in 1974, and made quite an impact upon its arrival. One of his last jobs at Bertone, the coupe was built on a shortened Alfetta sedan platform, which made it more spacious than previous Alfa coupes. The car was also undeniably handsome. Early examples had an eccentric dashboard, with all the gauges except the tachometer in the center console, but that was subsequently redesigned, and in all, 120,000 were sold between 1974 and 1987.
Engines in the GT and GTV followed the same availability as the sedans until 1981, when a sweet 2,492-cc DOHC V-6 was introduced. The new engine caused the GTV to be known as the GTV-6, and it cut 0-60 mph times down to eight seconds en route to a top speed of 127 mph. However, there were attendant issues. The gearshift was quite long, the power windows actually came with a manual crank (just in case), sunroofs leaked, and the air conditioning was quite weak. Inboard rear brakes are difficult to get to and any benefit is obscure. The cars were thrilling to drive, however, and were still undeniably handsome.
Several special edition GTVs were offered, with the best being the Callaway twin-turbo, with upgraded wheels, suspension and brakes. It received Alfa’s blessing, and is as close as Alfa came to a muscle car in that period.
Alfa Romeo GTVs of this period had trouble with their twin-disc clutch and four-part head gasket set, though those will likely have been updated by this point. Head gaskets were a perennial problem, too, with blue smoke letting off at high revs indicating worn valve guides, and noisy valves meaning a difficult adjustment is needed.
For any Alfetta, GT, or GTV, rust is a problem pretty much everywhere. Prospective buyers should start searching at the fender tops, wheel arches, front and rear window surrounds, and jacking points, then Insist on a pre-purchase lift inspection. Electrical gremlins can also surface.
Despite their high production numbers, there aren’t a tremendous number of Alfettas available today, and even fewer can be found in top condition. Still, these cars have handsome leather interiors, a fun driving experience, and a low price tag that make them interesting collectibles today.