Sunday, June 14, 2015

Show Car Sunday returns with "The car you can test drive for the rest of your life"

Italian cars tend to look recognizably Italian much the way American cars look American. The following ride is so Italian it's out of control!
I found this little dart crouched on Greenwich St in Greenwich Village looking like a red arrow. From the color to the exotic, sexy shape you can tell this was built in Italy.
This is a 1985 Alfa Romeo GTV-6 2.5. The name is a mouthful to be sure! It is the high horsepower version of the venerable Alfetta (as it was known in its home country) which was introduced in 1974 and continued through 1987 with only a minor facelift in 1980. The long run without a body change is a tradition in both Italy and the UK where a car might go several decades without a restyle.
The slippery roofline is beautiful on this ride, as is the trapezoidal overall shape. Remember that this thing left Milan during the era of perfectly square cars.
This was basically a factory built hot rod which prompted the print advertising slogan "The car you can test drive for the rest of your life". The larger engine of the full-size Alfa 6 Saloon was installed in this tiny ride, replacing the standard 2.0 liter engine (and a mere 1.6 before that). The motor was too large for the bay so a pronounced hood bulge was fabricated to make room.
Pinning down the date on these rides is almost impossible as this looked exactly the same from '80-'97. However, those particular wheels were standard only for the '85 GTV-6, so assuming they are original (and the car looks to be unchanged from new) then it most likely is. I say most likely because Italian automakers are legendary for their nonchalant record keeping. I read an article once about a guy trying to restore a Fiat X-19 and he couldn't get a single straight answer about how many were built, what year things changed (often midyear with no announcement), or which parts went with which models! The prevailing attitude seemed to be "Yeah we probably built that car, and it's beautiful and fast, so what's the issue?"
It is beautiful though. That side molding jjust under the door handle is a bit of a mystery as I found some Alfas that have it but most don't. Who knows?
The wooden steering wheel is beautiful but not original as far as I can tell. It looks identical to the one from the mid-'70s Alfas that came before the GTV-6. The radio is super duper for 1985 playing all kinds of cassettes and having lots of little buttons.
Just look at this sporty little wedge!
Here you can see the additional engine clearance in the form of a hood bulge. I find the black bit of plastic on the hood confusing because it seems like the location for a hood scoop but it's all sealed up. I tried researching it but the consensus from Alfa collectors is that it was just an '80s styling add-on that served no particular purpose.
One more look at that plastic rectangle on the hood.
One detail that makes this car so much tougher looking than the pre-1980 version is the fact that the chrome has been replaced with blacked-out trim from the factory. The window surrounds, vents under the wipers, and grill would have all been metal or chrome in the '70s but it looks great like this.
A close-up shot of the Speedline "Phone Dial" wheels that mark this as an '85. The funny thing is that these wheels earned their nickname after touch-tone dialing had already taken over.
We'll leave this little red rocket here to hold down its corner of the Village. After the 1987 model year the GTV6 was finally discontinued which left a hole in the Alfa Romeo lineup that wasn't filled until the GTV was released in 1995 (which unfortunately coincided with Alfa Romeo pulling out of the U.S. market). The fact that this design, whose roots hail from 1974, looks as fierce today as it did then is remarkable.

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