Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My '82 GTV with '84 interior

Never looked inside an '82 GTV? Note that this car is half an '82 (the tan) and half an '84 (the black) inside! Note also Alfa's faux Recaro 'mesh' seats (the originals had a laminated wooden headrest - you'd know them if you saw them). Also worth pointing out are the round window winders in the back - not levers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alfa Romeo GTV6 2.8L

Wow. Yuck. Amazing. Awful. Great. I can't decide. One thing for sure - it would give me a headache sitting in it.

GTV 6 with straight pipes - part 2

It looks great, sounds wonderful. I'm sure it's also immense fun to drive... but I'd be worried, tense and anxious about what type of day the police officer has had just before they pull me over for an illegal exhaust...

GTV6 with straight-out-the-side pipes

Dreadful to live near, sounds wonderful; but surely this is a car no police officer could resist pulling over?

Friday, September 12, 2008

My GTV has a battery in the boot

GTV 116 boot_0147
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Want to improve weight distribution? Run out of room in your engine bay? Want to run a long wire to your boot but didn't have a good reason to do so? Well the Alfa GTV Tipo 116 got the 'battery in the boot' treatment whenever aria condizionata was added... and that's why the battery is in the boot. It's got a nice bit of stiffened carpet to cover it, just pulled away in this shot. That's the fuel feed pipe just to the right of the battery, btw.

And yes, you can still put a bike in there, just take the wheels off first.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The headlamp how-to: the screw that holds it together

There are 3 screws, 2 of which aim the lamp. The screw near my hand (ie top and inside) holds the lamp in place. The outer top and lower screws adjust the beam, so don't move 'em, or if you must move 'em at least count your turns accurately and screw them back the same number. A spring clip also holds the outer, top adjusting screw in place. Yes, you must unclip that. You then pivot the unit gently out from the body and up. There's a "prong" on the unit that fits into a hole behind the lower screw. It locates the headlamp unit in place. Job done!

The GTV headlight unit

GTV-headlight unit_0671
Originally uploaded by gtveloce

OK, I got it out and got the rubber boot off as well. The boot was tough to shift and I was worried about tearing the "tabs" that I pulled on. Make sure it goes back on properly, to keep the weather out.

3 screws matter. Top left screw (left as in the picture) holds everything in place. Top right adjusts (or aims, if you prefer) the headlamp, as does the bottom screw. Don't move these, or if you do ensure you set then as they were. There's a clip on the top-right screw that holds the lamp. And the bottom screw conceals a hole into which the lamp unit sits via a locating "prong".  

It's the lowbeam that blew, the centre single-spade connector. The other connector is for the parking light. I changed that 10 years ago so it should be fine ;-)

The 116 that blew a headlamp

Just before annual registration time, of course. It's a common and simple task, really, but also it's the first time in 10 years So I had to remember all over again how to do it... it's clear that you can't access it from behind, so it must come off from the front.

So here are a few pics on the subject of removing and replacing a 1982 GTV (Aussie spec) halogen headlamp. Bear in mind this is a low beam unit with parking light - not a sealed beam. I think the sealed beam unit fits on and is aimed in the same way though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How it was...Catalina Park rallycross in the '70s

A different scene from the deserted, disused track it is today... funnily enough I like it better as it is now!

A lap around Catalina Park

An interesting lap around an overgrown Catalina Park as it is today, unfortunately going the wrong way...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alfa Giulietta 2 1981

Alfa Giulietta 2 81
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
This just keeps bringing back memories. What a great car the Giulietta was... barely different from the Alfetta sedan, sort of a wedge-shaped interpretation of the 116 platform. Not quite an Alfetta, not yet a GTV. In between. If I collected Alfas in a parallel fashion (rather than serially) I'd have one of these again. (But not the plastic-coated 2.0 version.)

Interesting but full of rubbish

The Mi.To looks great, and is at long last the right size: ie, not a luxo-barge. There's an interesting read behind this link:Martinelli left F1 at the end of 2006, specifically to head up Fiat’s engine department. As such, he’s had a winning hand in Alfa Romeo’s new peach of a petrol plant, a lively lag-less little 16-valve 1.4-litre turbo that also does duty in the Fiat Grande Punto and Bravo, albeit with 4 kW less than Alfa’s 114.

Just beware, it's full of idle rubbish like: Let’s face it: Alfa is not what it used to be. With the exception of the 159, 156, Giulietta and a handful of Quadrifoglio or GTA models, the brand has sadly been scarred over the last 30 years by a long and steady decline.

Obviously not a fan of the amazing Alfasud sedan, ti and Sprint Veloce, the wolf-in-sheep's clothing Alfetta sedan, the Alfetta GT and GTV, the GTV6, the lovely Nuovo Giulietta, the 75 (AKA Milano), the 33ti or almost anything since! OK, the ARNA was a bit sad, and the 145 wasn't all that it could have been, but honestly...! ALFA Romeo must surely wonder what they have to do... isn't the latest crop, the 147, 156, 159 and Brera enough?

Apparently not. Most shocking of all was to find that Alfa had gone soft since its brief mid-’90s renaissance. Steering got dopey, gearchanges sloppy and ride mushy.. "Dopey" steering must refer to the 147's turning circle, not sure what else it could be. Sloppy gearchanges? Has this guy driven a rear-transmission Alfa? That is sloppy. And a mushy ride? Alfas soak up the bumps, and roll. Not as bad a French car, but obviously so. Only the hardened-edge of the GTAs truly eliminates the bodyroll and high-speed comfort of the classic Alfa. Yet they still run fast and corner hard. That is the essence of it.

I can remember swapping from a stiff-as-a-post Ford Escort with "Rally Pack" to a stock 1982 Giulietta and being amazed at the body roll. It put me off until I realised I was going 5-10kmh faster around sharp corners in the dry, twice that in the wet -and much faster again over bumpy roads that I had previously had to slow down on... simply a better suspension setup.

Yet most people when given a car to drive are clots and clods with no finesse and can't see or feel what they have... which is why we shouldn't trust anyone else's opinion, certainly not mine, just your own.

It's been done before but here we go again

Maybe this will work? Sharing some components with BMW's MINI makes sense, in fact it's high time the car industry woke up and realised it needs to rationalise all of the wasteful duplication of components, including engines. Some 'sharing' goes on at the supplier level already, and some also happens within a multi-brand company - Ford switchgear in an Aston, for example, or various components shared between VW Group products. But it needs to grow much faster in order to cut out waste and remove the carbon emissions that plague this industry.

WHAT do you get if you cross a Mini with an Alfa Romeo? No it's not a joke, Mini owner BMW really is joining forces with Alfa Romeo maker Fiat to build cars together.

We just don't want another ARNA debacle, Alfa Romeo ;-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Under the rear: my GTV

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
My all-time 3rd most popular photo on Flickr! And it's just the rear end of a production coupe... not a supercar or something rare at all.

Anyway it's a look underneath my 1982 Alfetta GTV showing the rear mounted transaxle, de Dion tube, Watts linkage and inboard disc brakes. Most cars of course don't have de Dion tubes, so that's a bit special. The Watts linkage is more common. The rear mounted transmission is much more rare and gives the car better weight distribution (ie 50:50) and a polar moment of inertia that lends the car stability rather than twitchiness.

The inboard brakes are also unusual on a road car, but were an Alfa specialty in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, both with their rear and front drive cars. On this car it meant that even the rears could overheat a tad on mountain descents... but OTOH the rear wheels didn't have to carry the extra unsprung weight so an Alfetta could menace much more powerful cars around corners. (The Alfasud from this era had inboard front brakes, which probably worked better than the Alfetta's rear brake arrangement and helped to make the 'Sud a great handler - but suffered from the occasional accidental ill-placed drop of engine oil... ooops.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's an Alfa in here somewhere

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Alfa Giulietta 1.8 at Oran Park, '82

My Giulietta at Oran Park, NSW, Australia in 1982. Nice understeer... It's an Alfa Romeo Owners' Club event, probably a lap dash. If you don't know BP corner then you haven't lived. Basically you come hurtling out of some fast bends, go down into a ditch, come up and go hard left into a long straight. So you've picked up some speed, bottomed and released the suspension and then chucked it left into understeer territory. You can see how the rear wheels remain planted square to the road by the deDion tube and the fronts are trying to get the car around the bend... and not into the wall.

Once out of BP you pick up speed (on the GP circuit) and the 1.8 litre Giulietta was good for 160km/hr (in my hands) by the kink. Then hard braking, hard left, mind the concrete wall all over again and into the twisties.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The interior of a 116 GTV

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
There's a bit of cheating here - it's an '82 2.0 GTV with tan interior but with an '84 model's chocolate faux-Recaro "mesh" seats and side panels in the doors. The original seats had headrests on a sliding laminated wooden "slat" - you'd know it if you saw it! Anyway these seats have the "mesh" insert into the headrest. It's a Momo steering wheel seen here of course, but the car came with a wooden-rimmed example that was just too large (but made turning effort more manageable). The leather gear knob is Momo as well, replacing the chunky wooden number so many Alfas had back then...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Alfa Romeo P3 wins GP, parks in Croydon

A startling little story about a car that should be in a museum but has been restored in NZ and is being 'looked after' in Australia..This month Mr Anderson, a plumber by trade, was asked to look after a 1932 Alfa Romeo, a car which once dominated racing, winning 28 Grand Prix races including the 1932 Italian, French and German Grands Prix. The slim-line eight-cylinder car, which carries a price tag of $4 million, was once road tested by a young Enzo Ferrari before he went on to form the company which bore his name. Mr Anderson has been keeping the vintage car, owned by British millionaire Peter Giddings, finetuned for demonstrations at this year's Grand Prix and Phillip Island races, with a last appearance scheduled at next month's Historic Winton race in Benalla.

It looks like a P3, and the description fits, so I'll assume that to be the case. More on the P3 here:
The P3 was first genuine single seater racing car, and was powered by a supercharged eight cylinder engine. The whole car weight just over 1,500 lb (680 kg), very light for the period. Had it not been for the engine block being cast in iron the car would have been even lighter. The P3 was introduced in June 1932, halfway through the European season, winning its first race at the hands of Tazio Nuvolari, and going on to win 6 races that year driven by both Nuvolari and Rudolf Caracciola, including all 3 major Grands Prix in Italy, France and Germany. 1933 brought financial difficulties to Alfa Corse so the cars were simply locked away and Alfa attempted to rest on their laurels. Enzo Ferrari had to run his breakaway 'works' Alfa team as Scuderia Ferrari, using the older, less effective Alfa Monzas. Alfa prevaricated until August and missed the first 25 events, and only after much wrangling was the P3 finally handed over to Scuderia Ferrari. P3s then won six of the final 11 events of the season including the final 2 major Grands Prix in Italy and Spain.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Alfetta GTV rear transaxle

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Another Alfetta feature is the diff and gearbox in combo with the clutch. Yes folks, this is a production sedan, yet it comes with in-board discs and rear mounted gearbox, like an F1 racecar from the 50s, or a front-engined Porsche from the late '70s. The rear mounted gearbox gives 50:50 weight distribution and the resulting 'weight at each end' polar moment of inertia gives a very controllable feel to sideways driving. Nothing sudden here.

You can see the in-board discs on either side of the transmission. Yes, they are out of the cooling wind but for road applications the rear brakes don't do a lot of work anyway. And this arrangement lessens unsprung weight in the suspension.

Underneath the rear end

Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Alfettas aren't just pretty faces with lovely engines, they are technically interesting underneath as well. In this shot you can just see the rear wheel (by famous bike component maker Campagnolo), the coils, the de Dion tube, the Watts linkage and the inboard Brembo (or is it ATE?) disc brake. An expensive solution that lightens the unsprung load on the rear wheels, so the wheels track the road much better. And keeps the rear wheels perpendicular to the road at all times for maximum grip.

Most cars compromise with rear wheel movement, mounting brakes on the hubs and allowing wheels to easily lift off the deck or go to extreme angles to the road surface, compromising contact with the road surface. This Alfa solution (used in Alfa's earlier 159 GP cars and several other road and race cars from the 50s and earlier) does result in a bit of understeer as the rear end can be hard to break free.

Top Gear GTI W12 650

Obscene yet amazing, it's barely able to lap faster than a 147 GTA.... but it's a bit of fun, eh?


That sinking feeling... and then "my brakes are gone... nothing...". Hmmm. A hot road car at twisty Wakefield Park... not that surprising, is it?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Alfa Romeo 159 GTA - maybe?

Is it, or isn't it? It's not exactly hiding, is it? It's rough around the edges... and has no plates?

Ahhhh, the twists and turns

Of global car manufacturing, I mean. I just read this: The ongoing international saga surrounding Jaguar and Land Rover may be gaining an Italian player in the not too distant future. Italy's Fiat, one of the automakers approach by Ford when it first put its British luxury brands on the block, is interested in collaborating with Tata-owned Jaguar/Land Rover.

I had just written this, elsewhere: An iconic powerhouse like Ford is dumping its prestige brands one by one, raising cash for a last gasp attempt at survival, or just getting rid of failing brands. Does this say anything about the US economy, or US car companies in general, or US car company management vision? Probably a yes in all 3 boxes. From Fairfax: US automaker Ford has agreed to sell its luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors for more than $US2 billion ($A2.2 billion), a source familiar with the deal says. So what does this say about India's economy, or the growth of Tata (a company that has fingers in many pies and plans to sell a super-cheap small car around the world)?

So Ford sells off its prestige brands to an up-and-comer in India, who presumably sees profit in the deal (hoping to buy street cred and brand awareness, perhaps?). Ford shrinks back to core competencies, like building gas-guzzling fat cars that will sink like a stone when global warming really kicks in. And FIAT? Well for starters they could do with a big real-wheel-drive platform like the big Jag's, and a 4WD platform like Landrover's for Alfa. Maybe.

Maybe what they really want are dealerships in the US, through which to sell US-bound Alfas? And maybe it ties in somehow with this idea: According to the Financial Times, Fiat Group's chief executive says the company is discussing potential build of Alfa Romeo cars in North America with GM, Ford and Chrysler but as yet, no partner has been selected.

Or maybe not: Fiat SpA could choose BMW as partner to produce its Alfa Romeo model in the US as of 2011, the daily MF said, citing sources close to Fiat.

What a prospect. The Alfa Mi.To is launched into head to head US sales competition with the BMW-built MINI... and Alfa team up with BMW to manufacture cars in the US. Maybe even the Mi.To...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is the Mi.To for real?

Wow. Now that's a classy small car. 

I thought it was a joke at first. Mi.To? As in "me-too"? You have got to be kidding me! Oh dear. Name aside, at least the car looks good, and it's the right size (at last - haven't I asked for a REAL small ALFA for years!?!). But that name! It apparently stands for Milan.Torino, reflecting Alfa's heritage location as well as the more recent reality of production at FIAT's works in Turin. But dear oh dear, please change it before selling it. (Interestingly slashgear.com got a bit confused about all of this foreign geography and said: "The name, Mi.To comes from the two designers for Alfa Romeo, their names being Milan and Turin". Hmmm, does it really?)

Fullboost said nice things as well (although they must stop printing gushing press releases as copy - or is it just a bad translation from Italian?): The Alfa Romeo Mi.To’s family heritage can be seen in the grille, headlights and LED taillights, along with the frameless side windows endowing it with a coupe appearance. It could genuinely be called a mini-Alfa Romeo 8C. Technologically, the Alfa Romeo Mi.To promises to be highly innovative with the debut of the Alfa Romeo DNA system, the next generation of electronic stability control and a first in this class. Controlling the engine, brakes, steering response, suspension and gearbox, the Mi.To can be set to offer a super-sporting dynamic range of responses, a normal setting for city use and a special high grip setting for snow, ice and mud conditions. This remarkable new technology will set a new safety standard when allied to VDC, ABS brakes and a design developed to achieve the highest EuroNCAP crash test rating.

And yes, Alfa have a blog on the subject as well. And carscoop have more pics.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

8C Spider star of Geneva show

Well so says the press. It looks OK, but I prefer the coupe myself. But I always prefer the coupes!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So it's not just Alfas then...

The GTV is running fine... it did a massive 10km today in fact, purring like a large grey kitten. But in the (now distant, let's keep it that way) past it has on occasion failed to proceed. Typically this would happen in dark confined places like the tunnel under Sydney Harbour; or famously after a long trip to Queenland and back. It ran faultlessly for almost 4,000km and then refused to start once back in Sydney. Sigh.

So here's a similar quote from an Aussie pro-bike-racing Tour de France green jersey winner and Maserati owner, Baden Cooke: "It kept losing power. I was coming into Milan, on the freeway. I know what to do when it happens; you have to turn it off and turn it back on again," he spoke with some concern. The issue was his dark green Maserati, but the automotive ailment is similar to the leg problems he has had for the last two seasons.

I'd check the relays, mate. By the way, when the trusty 4-cylinder engine died under the harbour I switched the ignition off and back on and started it again in gear. I was on the downhill section but nearing the bottom, so I still had some momentum. It did give me a moment's slight panic, yes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A chorus of Alfas

Not the most environmentally sensitive orchestra in the world but a very fine one indeed...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A racing Alfetta GTV, circa 1979

I think you've seen this, but here it is again... Amaroo Park... nice racing GTV. Here it is apexing at what I call 'Volvo corner', the hard right into the short 'main' straight before the uphill to the blind left hander into 'The Loop'. But where is it now?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Changed the oil, oh joy. And broke the exhaust

On the good side the GTV has been humming along, touch wood. I need to lean it out a bit but it starts and runs well, even if it gobbles the gas a bit. Not that it costs much to run - it's only done 2,000 km in 2 years. But it needed an oil change, so it got one, bless its little 2litre soul.

What was a little unexpected was the increasingly noisy exhaust. I've been taking it to local bike races (criterium bike in boot) at Wyong, an 80km round trip. It's been sounding a little too good lately and it all came to an end on the overrun down Kariong hill into West Gosford. You know that hollow pop-pop-pop sound that you get with a rich mixture on overrun? Well I was enjoying that down the hill when it went pop-pop-crack-bang-rattle instead. It proceeded to rattle and rasp with a metallic twang all the way home. Oh well, a baffle has broken, I thought.

Indeed it was the centre offset silencer. Cheap and quick to fix and another adventure for this Alfa owner. Muffla-Fit at West Gosford is a crazy Dante's inferno of showering sparks in a tiny factory unit but Steve did a good job and - gasp - it sounds like new again. Well like a GTV4 with a slightly bigger diameter exhaust, anyway.