Three Liter Engine Project

By Michael Harris

Starting Point - the bottom end
February 1999

Rumour has it that the last GTV6's that rolled off the production line in Arese were fitted with the then new 3.0 liter engine that Alfa had developed for the Alfa 75 (Milano) & 164.  This stands to reason since GTV6's were available until 1987 in Europe and this matches the introduction of the 75 in 1987.   Of course, South Africans are very familiar with 3 liter GTV6's, since Alfa Romeo South Africa produced 200 of these specials for homologation into the SA saloon car racing series in the early 80's.   The bottom line is that it is an obvious (and factory approved) means of increasing the performance of the GTV6.


The engine I am rebuilding seems to be in excellent condition.  It did have the tell-tale symptoms of oil in the cooling system so I needed to change the head gaskets.  When I removed the heads, I found that it still had the original multi-piece head gaskets which means that the heads had never been off this engine! 

Here you can see the pistons with the new Hastings rings I installed.  I also honed the liners to make sure the new rings will seat properly.   Even with 140 000 miles on the engine, the original 'cross-hatchings' were visible on the cylinder liners and the crankshaft journals looked brand new.  A check on the bore of the liners revealed minimal wear and "oval-ation."  I did decide to replace all the engine bearings since the engine is currently completely disassembled.


(Newly honed) Liners going back into the block


Most of the performance enhancements will to the cylinder head and have been entrusted to the capable hands of Sperry Valve Works.   The head is being prepared to Stage 2 specifications which includes porting and polishing of the intake and exhaust ports.  I also decided to use a set of Alfa 164S cams which are supposed to be good for another 15Hp over the stock cams.

Check back here every so often as I'll post more pics as the re-assembly of the engine progresses!

By the way, this is my first engine rebuild project so I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has done this before and has some tips or tricks to share.


Cylinder Head - & initial assembly
March 1999

intake ports 

The heads came back from Sperry ready to bolt onto the block.  As you can see, the ports have been finished nicely.  The picture below this gives a good view.

exhaust port - close-up

This is actually an exhaust port.  I will need to match port the exhaust manifolds to match the exhaust ports - should be easy enough with a dremel tool.  I'm considering making the exhaust manifold diameter slightly larger than the port diameter to benefit from the suction effect created as the gas pulse exits the port and expands into the manifold.  

top view of engine - partially assembled fuel injector
The engine as it is currently assembled - with one head installed (but not torqued down yet). 
A lot of work went into removing the injectors from the fuel rail [right] in order to replace the (severely) rotted fuel hose.  I'd advise all GTV6 owners to check these small hoses since this engine is considerably younger than most GTV6 engines (coming from a '88 75 Milano) and the hoses were all at the point of rupturing.

engine front view - partial assembly



Engine assembly
March 1999

engine front view - partial assembly


Heads are on as is the rest of the cooling system thermostat coolant manifold.  The timing belt is installed - took some time to make sure that the tension on the belt was properly set (see below).

thermo-mechanical timing belt tensioner

I'm a big fan of the thermo-mechanical tensioner.   This engine had already been converted to this so it made things that much easier for me.

exhaust manifold match port

It took quite a few hours with a dremel tool to match all 6 exhaust ports, gaskets and the exhaust manifolds.  A large amount of metal needed to be ground from the lower regions on the manifold ports.
I ended up making the manifold ports 1mm or so oversize. 
Long term however, I can see the need for a set of headers - if I can just find a good set!

complete engine - ready for installation ...

1st of April, ready to be installed - the rear engine mount has also been replaced since the original was in bad shape.


Engine installation
April 4,5 & 6 1999

The 3 liter engine was finally installed during a marathon weekend - since I only have one car, it had to be completed by Monday morning.  As it turned out, it was not running in time because of some problem with installing the Milano Ignition computer - resolved *late* Monday night.  In the end, I was forced to revert to the GTV6 ignition computer though the car is currently running the 3 liter fuel computer.  I'm not sure if this is the optimal situation since many people have advised me that it is common (and acceptable) to retain all the GTV6 (2.5 liter) electrics when installing the 3 liter engine.  Others have said that this might cause problems such as lean running.  My plan is to use the current configuration until I have solved the wiring conundrum, at which time, all the 3 liter bits will be installed.

engine compartment - being painted

In anticipation of a future colour change (to Ferrari Rosso Corsa), I needed to paint the engine compartment with the engine out.  This was fairly easy, though it took many hours to prep the engine compartment and clean off all the old muck and grease.

engine compartment - being painted

Another picture of the engine compartment after painting.   It came out quite well - the paint was excellent (DuPont Polyurethane, single stage).

engine compartment - being painted

It was extremely easy to install the new steering rack (since the engine was out) - only 4 bolts (and removal of the ball-joints and pinch bolt).   This is actually a rebuilt Alfetta rack as can be seen by the missing steering damper.  GTV6 steering racks are NLA (No Longer Available in the USA)
Luckily, Alfa left the vestigial second set of mounting holes so the rack literally bolted in place.

clutch master cylinder

Another item that was changed at the time of engine installation is the clutch master cylinder.  The old one still worked OK, but had started to leak fluid inside the car, which in turn turned the carpet beneath the pedals into a soggy mess.

engine - resting on the mounts


The engine finally going in!  I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easily the engine dropped into place! 

I'm presently 'running-in' the engine - so have not been able to experience the full potential of the new engine - it does feel *very* fast up till 4000 rpm's (I have limited myself to this until a decent running-in period has elapsed).  Since it has S cams in it, it should really start moving only after 4000rpm's!
So far, it even seems leak free!!  I used Permatex Hylomar gasket dressing extensively which apparently has really paid off.

I'll have more pics and details soon ...

engine compartment - overhead

engine compartment - passenger side

engine compartment - driver side

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