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A Local Find: 1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

November 6, 2014 by Matt

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

This would test the dedication of even the most diehard Alfa Romeo enthusiast. It would be a labor of love, no doubt about it.

But really, what better car is there to fall in love with an than an Alfa GTV?

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

This 1972 model is obviously pretty far gone. The external rot is just the beginning; it’s a certainty the cancer extends far underneath the skin.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

Still, the GTV’s classic proportions shine through. Restored and sitting on some proper period wheels (maybe a set of Minilites/Panasports?), the little Alfa is a real head-turner.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The large bumper overriders detract a bit from the purity of the car’s lines. I wonder how feasible an earlier bumper swap would be? At least hideous, blocky 5-mph impact bumpers hadn’t yet been mandated in 1972.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The interior is, as expected, completely trashed. The dash is cracked, plastic instrument bezels are glazed and the seats are in a sorry state.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The interior restoration might prove more time-consuming than the bodywork. A multitude of clips and trim pieces need to be refurbished or sourced and replaced. Attention to detail counts for a lot here.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The GTV’s 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine was rated at 130 hp and was fuel-injected, all the way back in 1972, giving the 2,200-lb car sparkling performance for the day. It wasn’t quite as fast as a 240Z, but very competitive with a BMW 2002. Not only that, the Alfa had real handling chops and a competition pedigree; its beauty was more than skin-deep.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The seller is asking $4,450. It sounds high, given the car’s decrepit condition, but consider that a nicely restored example can command $15,000 or more…

What do you think?

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Hoping for Mediocrity?
The Alfa Romeo 4C

March 11, 2013 by Matt

Alfa Romeo 4C 2014 White

A “launch edition” of Alfa Romeo’s mid-engined Boxster-fighter, the 4C, was recently unveiled during the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Motor Authority reports. As the first morsel of Alfa’s upcoming reintroduction here in the States, we enthusiasts should sit up and take notice.

Alfa Romeo 4C 2014 White

It will be fantastic to see Alfa return to the American market. There’s been a real decline in the number of desirable new cars that make absolutely no rational sense from an ownership perspective, and however Alfa has improved its cars’ reliability and other left-brained attributes, the brand will forever be associated with their charismatic yet heartbreaking cars of years past. So as crazy as it sounds, I actually hope their 4C compares unfavorably to its competitors like the Boxster in a number of key areas; being unable to make a case for the Alfa from a rational standpoint will only enhance its romantic appeal. A healthy dose of numeric mediocrity (as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of subjective sweetness) will only ensure that those who buy it are fully committed to the idea that the essence of a car is more than its power figures or Nürburgring lap times, and who better to make that case than Alfa Romeo?

Image credits:

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The Alfa Romeo 4C

Captivatingly Curvy:
New Alfa Romeo Disco Volante

March 7, 2012 by Matt

Alfa Romeo Alpha Disco Volante Concept Carrozzeria Red

Okay, as a designer, I can’t not discuss this one.

That name, too… If only it had one of these so I could tell people I drove a Disco Volante with a Laycock de Normanville overdrive, my life would be complete.

But I digress.

Technically, the new car isn’t a real Alfa Romeo, owing to the fact that the Italian automaker didn’t actually design the car (design consultancy Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera did), but simply donated the foundation in the form of the chassis from their sadly limited-run 8C Competizione, including that car’s 444-hp, 4.7l V8 engine. So the Disco Volante is more than just a pretty face—it can move and groove.

Alfa Romeo Alpha Disco Volante Concept Carrozzeria Red

When it comes to the styling, Alfa has no shortage of jaw-droppingly gorgeous cars from which to draw inspiration. For their latest effort, though, Carrozzeria decided to pay homage to perhaps the quirkiest of the legendary racing Alfas: The 1900 C52, affectionately known as the original Disco Volante, or flying saucer. The Jalopnik article links to this page featuring photos and a description of the original; do yourself a favor and visit the page just to soak in the fascinatingly rounded body.

So, on the one hand, it’s a shameless ripoff of the original; on the other hand, the original was so otherworldly-looking (literally!) that any homage can’t help but look fresh amid the modern-day crop of bland and stale automotive shapes. I particularly love details like the way the beltline extends through the front wheel arches, and the classically-Alfa-like resolution of lines in the rear into a sort of boattail. In a weird way, especially given its quasi-supercar underpinnings, it fits in perfectly with the recent rash of “re-engineered classics” like the Singer Porsche and Eagle Speedster, despite the fact that the Disco Volante’s bodywork is bespoke and the others are more directly lifted from their forebears. And if this latest Alfa is a typical example of the trend of fusing old-school style with modern running gear, I hope the fad continues.

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New Alfa Romeo Disco Volante

Alfa Romeo 4C: The Return

December 20, 2011 by Matt

Alfa Romeo 4C New Red

I love writing about Alfa Romeo. In any capacity, really. News, treatises on older models, discussions of the company’s up and downs—I’ll take anything. The reason? Without descending too far into cliché, there are few automakers that evoke quite the same sense of implausible romance as Alfa does. Even a stereotypically “passionate” automaker like Jaguar was taken over by Ford and forced to attend to boring things like quality, and is the better for it nowadays, but in my mind, Alfa has always remained unencumbered by such concerns as how their cars actually go together. For ages, they’ve been free to focus on the qualities that really matter to enthusiasts—soul, emotion, feedback, sensation—without fretting over details like whether their automotive objets d’art would start every morning. Car buffs have long felt a connection to that fundamentally irrational mindset; after all, a sports car is almost by definition an irrational acquisition. Boring, reliable transportation appliances are cheap and plentiful, and there’s simply no real way to justify the purchase of something as impractical as a sports car, of any make. I know; I’ve tried—and how. But that’s where Alfa meets us; they seem to understand the struggle, and somehow make it easier for us by completely eliminating any delusions of sensibility creating conflict in our minds. For that, the automaker will always have a place in the enthusiast pantheon.

Alfa Romeo 4C New Red Back Rear Tail

The good news today is a reconfirmation of Alfa’s intention to return to the US market for the first time since their departure in ’94, and return with a bang: Their 4C sports car will be the first model to hit showrooms. True to form, it’s a completely impractical, tiny, 2-seat, mid-engined, turbocharged road-hugger, and it looks beautiful, like a three-fifths size 458 Italia. Even more impressive than its 230 hp, 1.8l direct-injection 4-cylinder engine is its Lotus-like sub-2000 lb curb weight. That kind of power-to-weight ratio ensures lively responses in any direction, not the least of which is a mid-4-second 0-60 sprint. Priced around $60K, it should undercut the Porsche Cayman by $10K or so while offering 911-like levels of performance. If Alfa can pull it off—and there’s no reason to think they won’t be able to, given the financial muscle of parent Fiat—I’d say they have a winner on their hands. I look forward to reading magazine and online comparos chronicling the impractical Italian’s attempts to one-up its more sensible German, Japanese and American rivals.

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Tradeoffs: The Alfa Romeo GTV vs. BMW 2002

September 24, 2011 by Matt

Alfa Alpha Romeo 1750 2000 GTV Orange

To paraphrase Jeremy Clarkson, you can’t call yourself a true car buff until you’ve experienced Alfa Romeo ownership. In that case, Mr. Clarkson, I’ll take one of these: a ’67-’76 1750/2000 GTV coupe.

Coming, as I do, from a BMW background, I can’t help but compare and contrast the GTV and its Bavarian contemporary, the vaunted BMW 2002.

Alfa Alpha Romeo 1750 2000 GTV Rear Back Trunk Green

There are quite a few similarities: Round headlights with a brand-specific element in the center of the grille, dimensions are within a few inches of each other, front-mounted 4-cylinder engines of almost identical capacity, rear-wheel-drive and manual transmissions. The GTV’s and 2002’s model runs mirrored each other, and they were both somewhat transitional models, bridging a gap between the their manufacturers’ truly old-school vehicles and their newer offerings, technology-wise. Most significantly, they were both prized for their excellent chassis tuning and balance, which in both cases delivered superior handling—arguably the highlight of both cars.

Alfa Alpha Romeo 1750 2000 GTV Interior Inside Cockpit

As numerous and significant as the similarities are, it’s their differences that define the cars not only with respect to each other, but to the automotive world at large. Perhaps the most obvious is the styling: The 2002’s boxy, sober yet confident styling holds a certain appeal, but the GTV is on another plane entirely. Designed by Bertone, the proportions and details are not only spot-on, they’re downright seductive. The BMW is a car you glance at and smile; the Alfa encourages long, contemplative leers. The interiors are a similar story: The 2002’s is more forward-looking and plastic, whereas the GTV is a romantic throwback with its wood trim and fancifully upswept shifter base. And both cars are well-known for their reliability—the BMW for its bulletproof durability and the Alfa for its lack of it.

So, which to choose? The clichéd decision is embodied in the similarities and differences between the GTV and 2002: Everything else being equal, would you rather have matter-of-fact German functionality or Italian passion and élan? For me, knowing how much character BMW still managed to pack into their little mold-breaker, it would be a truly difficult choice.

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