Saturday, February 27, 2021

Alfa Romeo GTV - The Champion You Drive To Work

 Quite appropriate -  this advertising slogan used by Alfa Romeo.  Indeed, the champion you drove to work if you owned a Giulia Gran Turismo Veloce back in the '60's and '70's. 


Kind of like the american version that says' Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday'.  All car guys (and gals) want to drive a winner, a racing winner!  Alfa Romeo was tearing up race tracks all across Europe and to a lesser degree in the US back in the glory days of the late '60s and early '70's . The race version of the GTV, known as the GTA where 'A' stands for alleggerita, or 'lightened' was actually available to purchase.  There were only 500 of the GTA's built but they looked almost identical to the GTV's. So if you bought a GTV you could say you drive a race car, sort of,  and be correct.  

I thought this post would be appropriate because my GTV has emerged from the shop after seven months of an intense refurbishment that included many new suspension/ brake parts and a total body refresh, as in metal work, topped with an impeccible paint job done at Realistic Auto Restorations, in St. Petersburg, FL.

A lot of love and passion goes into one of these 'refurbishments'.  I found myself becoming obsessed in getting the car back to as close to factory spec as possible, right down to leaving the right amount of orange peel in the paint to duplicate the factory look.  When I look at this GTV sitting in my garage I can see myself 50 years ago walking out into the garage admiring my new car after driving her home from the Alfa dealer. The feeling is sureal and only a true petrolhead can relate to that feeling.

I do feel part of this car as I did as much work on it as I could, given the tools and knowledge I posess.  Eibell Performance in Clearwater, FL did the mechanical improvements and as mentioned before, Realistic Auto Restorations did the body and paint.  My contribution was to source all the parts needed (including a 3 month search for a new windshield), final sanding and buffing of the paint, spray dying the headliner and putting the car back together after it emerged from the sanding and buffing operation. I can appreciate why it costs so much to do a good restoration on one of these; the number of hours that goes into the process incredible.

                                       A good friend, Delmas Greene helping bring her home.

From paint booth to my garage.

                                              Hours of work sanding and final buffing.

                                      The biggest problem was getting a winshield shipped from 
                                       the UK.  Cost was high but have to have it.

In the end it is worth it- you can also feel good about the accomplishment including knowing you have preserved a piece of history. If not for dedicated enthusiasts, these cars would be lost to time and future generations would lose touch with these engineering marvels of their time.  Here's some pictures to prove it.

I'll cap off this post with two things- the first is my write up about the car I've named 'Snow White' that I prepared for her first showing at the Festivals of Speed in St. Petersburg last weekend  and I follow that up with a video that captures the emotion and passion of bringing a GTV back to life.  I'll warn you the video is rather long and it is in Italian with captions, but it is very well done, and at the end you will be thrilled seeing the final product of a process similar to my journey, only more involved with engine modifications. If you have time watch it, if not at least look at the last 5-10 minutes.

Look for more stories of my travels with Snow White in the future.  The journey is just beginning!

First my write up-  Alfa Romeo GTV - The Champion You Drive To Work

An old advertising slogan for the ALFA GTV was “The champion you drive to work” and it was literally true.  In the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s this little coupe was winning on the track on Sunday and you could drive the street version you see here to work on Monday.  To appreciate the GTV one needs to look back in history.

Alfa Romeo was founded in 1910 and is a marque associated with famous engineers, design houses and racers. One notable person we all recognize is Enzo Ferrari. As one of the Alfa team racers, he was hired in 1929 to set up and run the racing operation for Alfa Romeo. He would eventually go on to start his own company in 1947.  You could say Alfa Romeo has a cousin and they call it Ferrari.

Alfa’s racing cars were so successful, they dominated the sport in the 1930’s. Continuing its winning ways into the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, Alfa Romeo conquered the Targa Florio, the Millie Miglia, Le Mans, and Formula 1 to name a few. For decades the company produced some of the world’s fastest and most beautiful cars.

In addition to speed, Alfa worked with the world’s best design studios including Zagato, Touring, Pininfarina and Bertone to create automotive art on wheels. That’s where a young designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro comes into the picture. Giugiaro was unhappy working at Fiat and Nuccio Bertone hired him to join his Bertone design studio. Not yet 20 years old, he penned the design for the Giulia GT Junior in the early 1960’s that would later be known as the GTV.  The total run of cars started in 1963, continuing to 1977, which was remarkable for those times. Giugiaro created what is today recognized as one of the most elegant yet simple designs ever.  You could say a masterpiece!

These stylish coupes were considered a mini exotic and were comparable in price with the Jaguar E type.  It is said buyers had a choice of an Alfa GTV or a Jaguar E type and it was often a tough decision which car to buy.  In Europe it was the equivalent of the Mustang/ Camaro duel, only twice as expensive.

The Alfa was ahead of its time with four wheel disc brakes, five speed transmission and a limited slip differential. Not even BMW could compare.

With that as the background, the car you see here is one of the few remaining that is in original condition. Many of these fine automobiles have been modified, raced, wrecked, or more likely rusted and rotted.

Remarkably rare, ‘Snow White’ has only been driven by two owners during its 49 year life. The first owner took delivery in March 1973 and sold the car in 2001. The second owner sold it to a collector in 2018 who never drove it. I stay in touch with the second owner in Bridgeport, CT who regrets selling her. I have confirmed the odometer reading to be correct at a little less than 63,000 miles.  A nice touch that I left intact during restoration was an oil change reminder taped on the inside of the driver’s door indicating the original owner changed the oil on February 9, 2000. Based on my research, that owner was 75 years old at the time, a testament to the type of mechanically minded, hands on kind of owners these cars attracted.

In March 2020, a mild restoration was begun that concluded in early February 2021. The car was given all new tires, suspension parts, and new brake lines by Eibell Performance of Clearwater followed by a complete refurbishment of metal and paintwork done by the craftsmen at Realistic Auto Restorations of St. Petersburg.  The car has never been in an accident and incredibly the front and rear bumpers are in excellent condition and are the originals, a rarity with these cars.

This beauty left the factory in June of 1972 dressed in Bianco Spino (Hawthorne White) with Tessuto Plastificato Nero (Black) interior. Whenever possible I have attempted to keep original nuts, bolts, screws and fasteners and trim it left the factory with to stay in keeping with the originality of the car.

The  Alfa Romeo GTV (Gran Turismo Veloce) is a true classic and if you were a young buck in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s this was the car to have. It still is the champion you can drive to work! 

‘Snow White’   presented by Paul Ziegler of Seminole, FL.

Publisher,    Follow on Instagram @wownowpics

Author of “Echoes From The Glen”, Reflections of Race Fans After Forty Years


And finally, the video: Davide Cironi - Drive Experience Video   It will touch your heart.

Thanks so much for following me and look for more about my journey with 'Snow White' in the future.


Paul Ziegler, Publisher